Judge's ruling helps pipeline company

Travis County state district court dismisses claims against Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) is celebrating this morning after Tuesday’s state district court ruling in Travis County that dismissed all claims against the proposed Permian Highway Pipeline project.

Landowners in Gillespie County and beyond, represented by the Texas Real Estate and Advocacy Defense Coalition, are promising an appeal of Judge Lora Livingston’s decision.

“Kinder Morgan is very pleased with the ruling made by the Travis County District Court,” said Tom Martin, president of Natural Gas Pipelines for KMI. “The court’s finding validates the process established in Texas for the development of natural gas utility projects, as well as the steps we have taken to comply with that process. We will continue to engage all stakeholders as we work to complete PHP.”

Opponents of the process sued to try and stop the eminent domain process for a private company. Hill Country opponents in many counties want the 430-mile, $2-billion pipeline project routed around rapidly developing and aquifer-sensitive areas.

 “We respect but disagree with Judge Livingston’s ruling. We continue to believe the Texas constitution does not allow for the delegation of this awesome power to a private company without oversight,” said Elyse Yates, spokesperson for the TREAD Coalition. “This issue should be heard by an appellate court. We are weighing our options for an appeal and planning additional legal actions in other venues to challenge this severely problematic route.”

Martin said the eminent domain process ensures that no single landowner can block critical infrastructure necessary to moving the energy needed to heat and cool homes, schools, businesses and public buildings in Texas — while providing “substantial local and state revenues.”

Counties and municipalities all along the route passed resolutions against the project, which will see a 42-inch natural gas pipeline stretch from the Permian Basin in West Texas, through the Hill Country to near the Katy area. Part of the project also will go south to provide natural gas to the South Texas and Mexico markets.

“Throughout its development, the route has been carefully evaluated to minimize potential impacts to the environment and landowners, while also being cost-effective and constructible,” Martin said.

He said upon completion, PHP will transport up to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of dry natural gas, and only dry natural gas, through approximately 430 miles of 42-inch pipeline from the Waha, Texas area to the Katy, Texas area, Texas Gulf Coast markets, and Hill Country area.

As Texas has few legislative roadblocks for oil companies to add infrastructure projects, opponents fear this project will mean more pipelines coming through the Hill Country area. They cite potential aquifer contamination and potential explosions as reasons to oppose the project.

Supporters say pipelines are a more efficient and safer way to transport the fuel.

Fredericksburg Standard

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