Bernheim response to LG&E

By Amy Joseph Landon

In this post, we are responding to LG&E. The bold sentences are their talking points, which we answer in the text below.

The pipeline will only impact a small percentage of Bernheim land
This would be the first time in its history LG&E has broken the legal protections of a conservation easement, setting. a dangerous precedent. The 4,000 foot by 75 foot wide construction zone would destroy 8 acres of forest, reducing the effectiveness of Bernheim’s Cedar Grove Wildlife Corridor by prohibiting forest regrowth on this land forever. Additionally, every cut across Bernheim adds to a reduced quality of life for all due to loss of clean water, air and beauty. Bernheim plans to exist for 90 more years and 900 after that, so we must avoid the slow death by a thousand cuts over time.

The pipeline was approved by the PSC after Bernheim was engaged with the conservation of this property
Bernheim has been actively planning wildlife corridors through land extensions for over 11 years and began active negotiations with the previous owners in 2013. Previous owners have repeatedly expressed their interest in preserving this land.  LG&E’s secretive planning may date back to 2015 or 2016, but in America, we as landowners have the right protect the integrity of the land from the moment it is purchased.

The proposed pipeline would run parallel to an existing transmission line
An easement for a Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) transmission line was granted by a previous owner. Today, our conservation easement would prevent such a use of forest land. LG&E has sued EKPC because they will not allow the use of their existing easement for this pipeline. Widening this forest cut by 75 feet will destroy springs, muddy creeks and eliminate rare habitats and animals.

LG&E says this pipeline is prohibiting gas service to new customers and blames Bernheim
LG&E is already years behind and is reporting a spike in cost for this proposed route from approximately $20 million to current estimates of $40 million dollars, which will be paid by all LG$E customers. Why doesn’t LG&E reinstate conservation programs and incentives? These are a cost effective and quick means to reduce the need for expensive new pipeline while serving more customers. LG&E studied many possible routes to serve the big box distribution warehouses – perhaps it is time to move to plan B. We must remember – there is no Planet B!

LG&E, like many corporations has been a limited supporter of Bernheim programs in the past
We appreciate and make great use of the support by individuals, grants and corporations in order to connect people with nature.  We thank LG&E for their past support for tree plantings and a portion of Forest Giants programming, but this in no way excuses their effort to destroy miles of land, including ¾ of a mile through Bernheim Forest. To say their destruction of 7.5 acres of forest trees, unique spring, creek and limestone outcrop habitats is somehow offset by their past support would be truly egregious “green washing” by LG&E. Bernheim will not compromise our efforts to protect and steward this land in response to financial support.

The proposed pipeline route is an integral part of Bernheim and our conservation goals
Far from being “disconnected,” this land forms a vital wildlife corridor reaching toward the Salt River and a beautiful parcel of the 1,750 acres Bernheim has painstakingly acquired for conservation, recreation and research over the last 11 years.  We have led hikes and tours from the arboretum to the Cedar Grove Wildlife Corridor and have begun habitat restoration on this unique and historic land. Bobcats, bats, birds and other wildlife use ALL of Bernheim, for they know no borders and require space to feed, find mates, and raise offspring.

How does Bernheim see LG&E in the community?
Bernheim is being sued by LG&E, a for-profit company, to take Bernheim’s private land through condemnation under the power of eminent domain. We have told LG&E that Bernheim is legally and morally obligated to fight this non-conservation use of land protected by conservation easements and deed restrictions.  Bernheim is an LG&E gas customer.  In spite of this, Bernheim understands LG&E’s business and knows many fine people work at LG&E in numerous roles.  We have no problem with those workers, only the decision makers and planners at LG&E and its parent company PPL. We encourage LG&E to solve this issue and all future power issues by greatly enhancing its nascent energy conservation and renewable energy programs. We encourage LG&E to take this opportunity to be a leader in environmental protection.

What is the big deal about a tiny snail?
Actually, two snails have been discovered in the proposed pipeline path. They are so rare and have so little known about them – one may be a new species to science – that they are not listed officially listed as rare or endangered. But we know their existence indicates pure limestone filtered water that can only be found in untouched springs. On a philosophical and moral note: Bernheim is speaking up for all the trees and animals that cannot speak for themselves. We are also speaking up for the next generation who will inherit this Earth. We simply need to give them a beautiful future.

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