Nun of That! Nuns against the Pipeline

In 1824, in the knobby hill portion of central Kentucky between Springfield and Bardstown, Father Theodore Bardin gave a large farm to a group of ‘sisters’ (i.e. nuns) so that they could build a convent and a life together. Now there are a variety of monastic communities in Kentucky, perhaps most famously the monks of Gethesemane Abbey. Much of middle Kentucky was settled by Catholics, and more specifically Irish Catholics who only brought their faith to the ‘western frontier’ as it was called in the early 19th century, but they brought their stone masons, their ferriers, their love of horses, and yes their love of whiskey (read bourbon). To this day you see the landscape dotted with Catholic churches and cathedrals (like the one in Bardstown near Gethsemane and near Maker’s Mark Distillery). Yet another of these groups led to the nunnery that we find now in Nerinx Kentucky. They are called the Sisters of Loretto.

When you think of nuns, you don’t think of protestors, revolutionaries, radicals. And this particular group of nuns would scoff at such labels. In their view, they are simply be Christians. And they want to have nothing to do with a fracking pipeline being put through the middle of their line. So, naturally they have come to be called the anti-fracking nuns. I don’t blame, fracking is a desperate attempt to get some chemicals or fuel out of shale– it involves hydraulic fracturing of rocks (see the Matt Damon movie)hoping for oil or gas or oil sands. It’s a lot of work for not that much reward, and it tears up the land. Now in the case of the nuns they were simply being asked to sell some land so a pipeline of this stuff could go through their real estate. Natural gas liquids are not in fact used in Kentucky, so its not as though this pipeline would serve Kentuckians anyway. On top of all that, this particular pipeline group would not be answerable to any Kentucky group of regulators or legislators at all. This is important because it means that it is doubtful this company could claim imminent domain, and simply take the land from the nuns, at least legally. Now this order of nuns is dedicated to: 1) social justice, and 2) a clean environment, in which they currently live. The nuns have planted 15,400 trees on their property, some fruit bearing. They don’t want pipes which can leak polluting the water table, or the soil, or anything else Good for them. Nun of that! They say.

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