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LG&E revising suspended permit for Bullitt County gas pipeline  

Louisville Gas & Electric has proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Bernheim's Cedar Creek Wildlife Corridor beside existing transmission lines.
Ryan Van Velzer
Louisville Gas & Electric has proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Bernheim's Cedar Creek Wildlife Corridor under existing transmission lines.

Last year federal officials suspended Louisville Gas & Electric’s permit to build the pipeline through Bullitt County because utility contractors failed to complete a cave survey along the proposed path, even though it’s critical habitat for endangered bats.

More than a year later, officials say LG&E and Kentucky Utilities are still revising a biological assessment that explores the pipeline’s potential impacts to threatened and endangered species.

“We anticipate that will be submitted soon. Timing for construction has not yet been determined,” said LG&E spokesperson Natasha Collins in an email.

Earlier this year, a Bullitt County judge ruled LG&E can seize conservation lands in Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest to build a natural gas pipeline, but construction can’t move forward without a permit.

LG&E officials say the pipeline is necessary to expand natural gas capacity and reliability in northern Bullitt County. Opponents say the utility has repeatedly failed to address the full extent of the pipeline’s environmental impacts.

The nearly 12-mile-long gas pipeline through Bullitt County would remove about 40 acres of forest including roost trees for the endangered northern long-eared bat and the Indiana bat. It would also cross at least six major waterways and impact wetlands, sinkholes and habitat for other threatened and endangered species, according to an LG&E stormwater pollution prevention plan.

LG&E’s revised assessment will survey the pipeline’s path for critical habitat for endangered species including the Kentucky glade cress, several freshwater mussel species and the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The utility will then submit their findings to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will prepare a biological opinion on the project. The final decision will be made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They could choose to reinstate, modify, or revoke the suspended Nationwide Permit 12, which is a national permit necessary to build any new oil and gas pipelines.

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

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