Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Ryan Van Velzer

While Louisville Gas & Electric was asking utility regulators permission to build a 12-mile-long natural gas pipeline through Bullitt County at ratepayers expense, internal utility records projected that nearly all of the additional gas would go to just one customer — Beam Suntory, the makers of Jim Beam Bourbon.

With the additional gas service, Beam Suntory would have become LG&E’s second-largest customer, after Ford, records show. 

Utility regulators granted LG&E approval to build the pipeline in 2017. Since then, however, the project has stalled amid a slew of pending permit approvals and lawsuits.

Ryan Van Velzer

The makers of Jim Beam bourbon asked Louisville Gas and Electric to supply additional natural gas to expand operations at its flagship site in Clermont, but didn’t want to pay for a new gas pipeline, according to subpoenaed records from the bourbon maker.

A year later Louisville Gas and Electric went before utility regulators to ask for ratepayers to shoulder an estimated $27.6 million for the 12-mile-long natural gas pipeline. Jim Beam was not mentioned in that request.


Anti-Pipeline Protest Bill Moves To Kentucky Senate

Feb 11, 2020
Erica Peterson

A bill discouraging protests against pipelines and other “key infrastructure” has passed out of the Kentucky House of Representatives after a receiving an amendment quelling some advocates’ free speech concerns.

Republican Sponsor Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence pre-filed the measure shortly after Louisville Gas & Electric began pursuing eminent domain actions to build a natural gas pipeline in northern Bullitt County.

The House approved an amended version of House Bill 44 on Monday that would make tampering with the operations of a “key infrastructure asset” in ways that are dangerous or harmful a Class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has fired its opening salvo in the fight over a proposed gas pipeline through Bernheim Forest.

Louisville Gas & Electric filed an eminent domain lawsuit against the state in September to overturn a conservation easement and acquire land to build the pipeline.

On Friday, the state filed a motion to dismiss the condemnation suit, arguing LG&E didn’t make an offer to buy the state’s conservation easement prior to filing the lawsuit, as required under state law.

Ryan Van Velzer

When the state of Kentucky pays to conserve natural areas, it tries to protect that land forever.

Now for first time in nearly 30 years, the power of those protections could be tested in the fight over the future of Bernheim Forest’s Cedar Grove wildlife corridor, according to state environmental advocates.


LG&E Suit To Condemn Bernheim Land Moves Forward

Oct 1, 2019
Ryan Van Velzer

The Bullitt County Circuit Court has served Bernheim Forest in a condemnation suit that would allow Louisville Gas & Electric to seize Bernheim land to build a natural gas pipeline through the Cedar Grove wildlife corridor.

Bernheim Research Forest and Arboretum has 20 days as of Monday to make a case showing why Louisville Gas & Electric does not have the right to seize the land, according to a court filing. The lawsuit moves forward at the same time as a complaint before utility regulators to stop progress on the pipeline.

Ryan Van Velzer

Acts of civil disobedience against pipeline operations in Kentucky would be considered a felony under legislation filed ahead of the 2020 regular session.

The measure comes less than a month after one person was killed and six more were injured in a large pipeline explosion south of Danville, Kentucky. It also comes shortly after Louisville Gas & Electric began pursuing eminent domain actions to build a natural gas pipeline in northern Bullitt County.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky utility regulators want more information to decide whether Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has legal standing to file a complaint over a natural gas pipeline in northern Bullitt County.

Bernheim filed a complaint with utility regulators in early August alleging Louisville Gas and Electric bypassed the typical process for a new natural gas pipeline and hid information from the public. Then the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office jumped into the fray last week asking to intervene and expand the scope of the case.

Ryan Van Velzer

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office has moved to intervene in the fight over a natural gas pipeline in Bullitt County that would cut through Bernheim Research Forest and Arboretum.

Attorney General Andy Beshear wants greater scrutiny over the 12-mile-long project through northern Bullitt County following the explosion of an interstate transmission line in Lincoln County earlier this month that killed one person and injured six others.

“Kentuckians deserve to know that pipelines running across their property comply with the law and are as safe as possible,” Beshear said.

Ryan Van Velzer

In a bid to stall or stop the Bullitt County Pipeline Project, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has filed a complaint with utility regulators alleging Louisville Gas and Electric bypassed the typical process for a new natural gas pipeline and in doing so hid information from the public.

LG&E first mentioned the need for a new gas pipeline during a 2016 rate case. Utility regulators approved the pipeline in 2017 and have also agreed to prevent public disclosure of a study and map identifying the proposed route.


Ryan Van Velzer

A green darner dragonfly buzzes over the waters emanating from the base of the knobs in the Cedar Grove wildlife corridor.

Above the spring, a millipede trudges over a mossy log teeming with mushrooms. A few feet away, in the loamy soil of the hillside, Bernheim Arboretum’s Conservation Director Andrew Berry points to the spot where they found a rare cave snail.

Then he dips his fingers into the creek.

“This water is coming out of an aquifer. You can feel it and feel how cold it is,” Berry said.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is conducting experiments to determine which grasses, flowers and herbs work best when planted on rooftops. The Courier-Journal reports that the experiment called "Gardens in the Sky" involves three garden beds and two bee hives on the roof of the American Life Building in downtown Louisville.