(Article & photo by Moses Leos III from Hays Free Press News-Dispatch)
The fight against Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) is now heading into the court system.
On Monday, a multi-party lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court on behalf of several plaintiffs, including the city of Kyle and Hays County, against Kinder Morgan and the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) in an effort to create more oversight on the pipeline routing process. The suit also seeks to temporarily halt condemnation activity for Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) until the state establishes more oversight.
David Braun, an attorney representing the Texas Real Estate Advocacy Defense (TREAD) Coalition, a local non-profit paying for the litigation, said the current process taken by entities such as Kinder Morgan to route pipelines is “not balanced, unilateral and needs to be improved.”
Braun said the point of the suit is to ask the TRC, which oversees the oil and gas industries in Texas, to establish rules and supervision requirements so landowners and communities are part of the routing process.
The PHP is a proposed $2 billion 430-mile, 42-inch underground pipeline that will transport natural gas from far west Texas to the Houston area. Officials with Kinder Morgan estimate getting the pipeline operational by late 2020.
The challenge is one of the first of its kind, said Clark Richards, with Richards Rodriguez and Skeith, the law firm that authored the litigation.
Richards said the Texas Constitution grants eminent domain power to private entities, but it also requires standards, which have not been set, in how they exercise that power. “We think the courts will require the Railroad Commission to adopt standards that create transparency and openness.”
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell, who said Kinder Morgan has “kicked over an ant pile,” felt the lawsuit is an example of people “all over the political spectrum coming together in unison.”
Part of the frustration extended to discovering “months ago” that the city had no real voice regarding the PHP and its routing, Mitchell said. Another factor was finding out only two forms were needed to be filed with the TRC for Kinder Morgan to build its pipeline and if it was going to use public highway, road or public utility easement.
Who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit
• Andrew Sansom – Travis County resident
• Heinz Stefan Roesch – Blanco County resident
• Bee Spring, LTD – owned by Lana and Scott Nance, owners of land impacted by the project
• Hays County
Who are defendants in the lawsuit
• Texas Railroad Commission
• Christi Craddick – Texas Railroad Commission Chair
• Ryan Sitton – Texas Railroad Commission Commissioner
• Wayne Christian – Texas Railroad Commission Commissioner
• Wei Wang – Texas Railroad Commission Executive Director
• Kari French – Texas Railroad Commission Director of the Oversight and Safety Division – Pipeline safety
• Permian Highway Pipeline, LLC
• Kinder Morgan Texas Pipelines, LLC
TREAD officials said they expect there will be more lawsuits filed against the PHP by other communities in the near future. In recent weeks, Gillespie County Commissioners and the city of Fredericksburg have passed resolutions opposing the project.
Read the entire article: Kyle, county part of lawsuit filed against Kinder Morgan