SAN MARCOS – After several weeks of deliberation, Judge Lora Livingston of the 261st District Court in Travis County dismissed a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan Inc., brought on by several landowners along with Hays County and the City of Kyle.
According to Livingston’s letter to counsel, the suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs who claimed the defendants acted unconstitutionally. The system granting the power of eminent domain over gas utilities lacks constitutionally as mandated safeguards for a private delegation authority and provides an insufficient due course of law.
Livingston wrote, “the court recognizes the important interests at stake for both sides of this dispute. Plaintiffs are facing an unwanted invasion onto their property with fears of explosions and other potentially dangerous condition.”
The Pipeline Defendants point to their $2 billion investment and the public’s much-needed increase for accessible natural gas from the Permian Basin. However, the court must be conscious of its role to apply the law and not dictate the policy of the state.
Representatives of Kinder Morgan had previously asked the lawsuit to be dismissed, stating it was up to the state legislature to decide if there was a violation by the entities and not the courts.
The court granted the pipeline defendants motion for summary judgment – rendering in favor of the pipeline defendants.
Kinder Morgan Inc., an energy infrastructure company, plans to develop the gas pipeline to transport up to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. The project has been deemed the Permian Highway Pipeline.
According to Kinder Morgan Inc., the development of the pipeline aims to increase natural gas production from West Texas to growing market areas along the Texas Gulf Coast.
According to Kinder Morgan, the project has an estimated cost of approximately $2 billion and is expected to be in service late 2020. It will generate $42 million of increased annual revenue to applicable state and local taxing bodies.
After the final decision was reached regarding Judge Livingston’s favor, the president of Kinder Morgan, Tom Martin, released a statement where he expressed his support of the decision.
“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,” Martin said in the statement.
Some of the parties involved with the lawsuit feel the process of appeals and opposing the Permian Highway Pipeline is not over. The Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, a landowner rights group that paid the legal fees for the lawsuit, issued a statement saying the group respects the judge’s ruling but disagrees.
“We continue to believe the Texas constitution does not allow for the delegation of this awesome power to a private company without oversight,” the coalition stated. “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.”