Spalding University’s School of Liberal Studies presents the 2014 Keenan Lecture “The Bluegrass Pipeline: Working for Justice” featuring Tom FitzGerald (Kentucky Resources Council), Sr. Kathy Wright (Sisters of Loretto) and Cara Cooper (Kentucky Student Environmental Action Coalition) at 7 p.m. on April 10 in the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium (901 S. Fourth St.). The event is free and open to the public.
Fitzgerald, Wright and Cooper will address the environmental effects of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, which would transport natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico, and will talk about the rights of the residents who live along the pipeline. Dr. Pattie Dillon, chair of the School of Liberal Studies, says that this year’s Keenan lecture interconnects religion with politics and environmental justice.
“We chose the Bluegrass Pipeline as the topic for this year’s lecture because it ties to the School of Liberal Studies’ theme this year—the natural environment—and because it links to the university’s mission of social justice and responding to the needs of the times in terms of the environment and the promotion of peace and justice,” Dillon says.
Kentucky counties directly impacted by the Bluegrass Pipeline include Bracken, Pendleton, Grant, Harrison, Scott, Owen, Franklin, Woodford, Anderson, Nelson, LaRue, Hardin and Breckinridge. But Wright says that this is an issue that impacts a much wider audience.
“Because of Kentucky’s geography, any leaks or problems with the Bluegrass Pipeline offer the possibility of leaking toxic natural gas liquids into the water table or aquifer. Once these liquids have leaked into the ground or into nearby creeks or streams, they can travel through the waterways and potentially contaminate a much larger water supply,” says Sr. Kathy Wright. “In addition, questions of eminent domain and its use by private companies ‘passing through’ Kentucky can set a precedent that could impact every landowner and resident in the state.”
The Keenan Lecture was established in 1982 to honor the memory of Dr. Mary Emily Keenan, S.C.N. Her career in the fields of religious studies and classical languages was distinguished by fifty years of teaching at Spalding University, and for twenty of those years, she served as chair of the religious studies department.
“Institutions of higher education have always served as a place to have healthy conversations about controversial issues because of the focus on education and discovering new knowledge,” says Cooper. “Furthermore, the Keenan Lecture series focuses on ethical issues of broad social and cultural significance.”