We know that Kinder Morgan doesn’t play fair. And that they can be pretty clever.
They know which laws they can use to their advantage, whose campaigns and pet projects they should “donate” to so that their own projects are consistently pushed down the paths of approval, without much anticipation of rejection.
They dropped this pipeline project into our lives right before the Texas Legislature finished their session (they only meet every two years), so that we had far too little time to get the outdated eminent domain laws challenged.
And the ability to use the power of eminent domain to seize privately owned land for their own profit is what will allow Kinder Morgan to build the Permian Highway Pipeline through the geologically sensitive Texas Hill Country.
Unless we stop them.
Evidently, there are permits that Kinder Morgan MUST be awarded before they can actually start laying pipe. Legally, anyway.
Our friend, John Watson, an attorney, has spent the past several months researching the fine print in this matter. His goal is to determine where Kinder Morgan is falling short in following the law, and where government agencies (responsible for giving KM the permissions they need to construct their pipeline) are not being as, shall we say, thorough, in upholding the rules they are tasked to enforce.
He has written a letter to the Chief of the Regulatory Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers that objects to the wholesale granting of these necessary permits. There is currently a pending permit application before the Corps that is to be processed under what is known as Nationwide Permit 12 of the Clean Water Act.
This Nationwide permit is sort of like a generic, one-size-fits-all, “our project is perfectly acceptable” document that is part of the reason that pipeline companies seem to get that approval rubber stamp so effortlessly.
We contend that one generic document does NOT fit all circumstances.
Among other things, the Nationwide Permit asserts that the named project would not “have minimal adverse impact on the environment, individually and cumulatively.”
We all know that a 42 inch high pressure gas pipeline would have a huge adverse impact, beginning with property values, then damage during construction, and finally, the ongoing risks to our aquifer, the health and safety of residents (human and animal) and physical property. Not to mention the emotional stress of living with the knowledge that the PHP could leak or explode at any time during its 50 year use expectancy.
John’s letter requests that the Army Corps of Engineers review and assess the proposed pipeline as an individual permit, rather than allowing Kinder Morgan to apply the generic Nationwide Permit.
An individual permit process would require Kinder Morgan to perform an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, something that is not specifically required for an intrastate pipeline (only lies within Texas state lines).
Sidenote: Why should the PHP be classified as intrastate rather than interstate, when it is a part of a national and international pipeline network?
Considering our local sensitive geology, some sort of environmental assessment is absolutely crucial in protecting our aquifer (that millions of Texans rely on as their water supply).
Environmental assessments take a good while, sometimes years, to complete. And they are usually an expensive undertaking. This means they will cost Kinder Morgan TIME and MONEY.
And this is to our advantage.
John has sent this letter to the appropriate office, and now BlancoSTP is asking you to support our common cause by endorsing John Watson’s letter.
Click the link below to download this three page document.
[UPDATE: The fax number in the letter is no longer a working number. We have been instructed by a lawyer from the Corps to use the mailing address only. Thanks!]
Please print it out, sign it, and add your county of residence at the bottom of the first page.
Pages 2 and 3 contain a copy of John Watson’s actual letter, which obviously you should read before endorsing.
Send all three pages.
Unfortunately, the Corps of Engineers does not accept emails for this type of thing. They will only accept letters sent via fax or US Postal Service.
The mailing address is
Mr. Stephen Brooks
Chief of the Regulatory Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
819 Taylor Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Anyone living in the Texas Hill Country may endorse this letter. If you own property here and live elsewhere, you are welcome to use the endorsement copy and write your own letter, changing whatever wording is appropriate for your situation.
This letter to the Corps may seem a small thing, but together with other small things, we can slow down Kinder Morgan enough to get things changed in a legal manner.
The proposed Permian Highway Pipeline is NOT a done deal.
Let’s get it stopped.
Photo credit: Tuyet Hang Nguyen