Hays County Commissioners vote to continue legal action against Permian Highway Pipeline

Materials for the Permian Highway Pipeline

Photo courtesy from Blanco Stop The Pipeline

Materials for the Permian Highway Pipeline

Christopher Green, News Reporter

Hays County Commissioners voted July 16 to join Travis Audubon Society and three private plaintiffs in filing a notice of intent to sue Kinder Morgan, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in connection with the proposed 42-inch Permian Highway Pipeline.

According to a press release from the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense, the notice cites a, “thinly-veiled attempt to avoid obtaining the necessary federal permits to allow (Kinder Morgan) to lawfully ‘take’ federally listed endangered species during the construction, operation, and maintenance of the PHP.”

In T.R.E.A.D’s press statement, plaintiffs are calling for a full environmental impact study under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Kinder Morgan intends to use the Nationwide Permit verification process instead. Plaintiffs claim Kinder Morgan is using the alternative verification process to speed up their timeline and avoid public transparency.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell released a statement regarding the court’s decision to file an intent to sue.

“In requesting that an environmental review process be followed and a study performed by Kinder Morgan, we are asking for nothing more than what Hays County has to do when planning and building county infrastructure,” Shell said. “The County conducts extensive environmental studies when developing roadways to protect endangered species habitat and water quality.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, plaintiff parties must wait 60 days to file a lawsuit after filing a notice of intent to sue.

The Travis Audubon Society currently has no comment regarding the lawsuit at this time.

Additionally, Hays County voted Tuesday to appeal the lawsuit that was ruled in Kinder Morgan’s favor with the City of Kyle joining as a plaintiff.

Kyle City Mayor Travis Mitchell released a statement regarding the decision to join Hays County in the appeal.

“The City of Kyle remains firm in its assertion that greater transparency is needed in the pipeline routing process,” Mitchell stated. “While we respect Judge Livingston’s ruling, the Texas Constitution clearly calls for the Railroad Commission to establish rules and policies for how eminent domain is utilized by private, for-profit corporations to forcibly seize others’ property. No such process currently exists.”

In response to the notice of intent to sue and the appeal from Hays County and the City of Kyle, Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan vice president of public affairs, released a previous statement regarding the lawsuit and controversy over the Permian Highway Pipeline. The original statement was released after the ruling delivered by Judge Livingston.

“We feel confident that the Travis County District Court ruled in accordance with settled law, and we continue to work with all stakeholders, including state and federal regulators, as we complete PHP,” Fore stated. “We are also complying with all applicable laws related to endangered species along the pipeline route.”

The University Star will continue to follow the Permian Highway Pipeline lawsuit appeal as it unfolds.

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