Loretto Celebrates Williams Co.’s Decision to Suspend Investment in Bluegrass Pipeline Project

Ceciliana Skees SL

In the words of Ceciliana Skees SL, “We changed minds. People heard us.”

The Loretto Community celebrates the April 28 announcement by the Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners to halt development of the Bluegrass Pipeline – a controversial multistate pipeline that would have carried natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania to the Gulf of Mexico. They cited an insufficient customer base as the reason for suspending the project and insist that they could resume construction plans at a later date.

The Loretto Motherhouse Community has been vocal and active opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline. Their reaction to the news was one of great joy.

“We were overjoyed,” said Loretto Sister Ceciliana Skees, who has been involved in the pipeline activism. “All of us have tried to get the word out that this pipeline is not carrying gas or oil. It is carrying fluids that will poison the land and water if the pipe leaks.”

“We went to the legislature in Frankfort, (Ky.,) to strengthen our eminent domain law,” Skees said, referring to a Kentucky bill that would have limited the ability of companies like Williams from invoking eminent domain to gain property easements for private ventures. “The House of Representatives passed our law, but it stalled in the Senate. Nonetheless, we changed minds. People heard us.”

She continued: “Who is we? ‘We’ is Loretto, our friends and neighbors, other religious communities, their friends and neighbors, all the friends and neighbors of the Kentucky Resources Council, Kentucky New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and more. The most important thing is that we worked together. People here love their land and want to protect it. When they learned what was going through these pipes, when they saw the risks, they organized.”

Motherhouse Service Coordinator Maria Visse SL is also gratified by the news, but knows that the work is far from over. “We know this is just the beginning of a long journey,” she commented. “We will move on from here and continue to question the use of natural resources for private profit.”

Susan Classen, another Loretto pipeline activist, agrees. “Our work isn’t only about stopping pipelines; it’s about building a sustainable future,” she said. “We are committed to supporting the transition to renewable energy sources so that human needs can be met without putting the environment at risk.”

An Energy Vision Statement co-authored by the Loretto Community outlines the principles that motivate their ongoing efforts to seek clean energy solutions.

The Loretto Motherhouse Community’s vocal opposition to the Bluegrass Pipeline began in July 2013 after a surveyor sent by the pipeline partners visited the grounds asking for permission to survey their land. The Loretto Motherhouse women helped gain national attention for this project, and have become known as the “singing nuns” for their peaceful protests. The Williams Co. re-routed the proposed pipeline to avoid the Motherhouse property, but the Sisters maintained involvement in the movement.

Update, January 21, 2015:
Dec. 18, 2014, the Marion County, Ky., Fiscal Court unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline. In addition to other environmental concerns, the pipeline through Marion County passes through the watershed area for the county water supply.

For the Marion County Pipeline Resolution, please click here.

Most recent press coverage:
Religious orders raise pipeline concerns, Courier-Journal editorial
Pipeline builders halting Kentucky project, by Dylan Lovan, Associated Press
Kentucky newspaper celebrates nuns for efforts against Bluegrass Pipeline, by Maureen Fiedler SL, National Catholic Reporter

Loretto and the Bluegrass Pipeline – Press Resources

Media inquiries:
Jean M. Schildz
Communications Director
314-962-8112 x 106

Thanks to Mary Ann McGivern SL for interviewing Ceciliana Skees SL for this piece.

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