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Louisville Metro Council expected to vote on a resolution condemning proposed seizure of Bernheim lands

A fallen tree in Bernheim Forest on Dec. 13, 2022.
Ryan Van Velzer
A fallen tree in Bernheim Forest on Dec. 13, 2022.

Louisville Metro Council is expected to consider a resolution to oppose the seizure of land in Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest to build a natural gas pipeline. Council members are expected to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks.

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities are currently in a lawsuit with Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest to seize conservation lands to build a natural gas pipeline in northern Bullitt County.

Louisville Metro’s Parks and Sustainability committee voted 3-2 last week to support a resolution opposing the land seizure. The full Metro Council is expected to vote on the non-binding measure at its next meeting on April 13.

The text of the resolution urges LG&E and KU to immediately cease legal efforts to seize the conservation lands and divert the project funds toward sustainable alternatives. If it passes, the city would deliver the resolution to the utility executives.

Deborah Potts Novgorodoff is a member of the Save Bernheim Now coalition that pushed for the measure. She says the pipeline will cost ratepayers tens of millions of dollars and doesn’t align with the city’s climate goals, which include achieving clean energy communitywide by 2040.

“We’re really hoping that this resolution will amplify our voice and that LG&E will finally hear the voices of their customers, their ratepayers that this pipeline is not in the right direction,” Novgorodoff said.

Bernheim’s attorneys have argued the pipeline could be routed elsewhere to avoid impacts to habitat for endangered and threatened species. LG&E and KU say the pipeline is necessary to improve reliability and capacity in northern Bullitt County. The utilities have already acquired most of the land necessary to build it.

Bullitt County Circuit Court Judge Rodney Burress has not yet issued a decision in the case.

Democratic Metro Council Member Betsy Ruhe from District 21, which includes neighborhoods around the Louisville airport, is sponsoring the bill. She did not immediately return a request for comment.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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