San Marcos files intent to sue federal agencies

Materials for the Permian Highway Pipeline

Photo courtesy from Blanco Stop The Pipeline

Materials for the Permian Highway Pipeline

Christopher Green, News Reporter

The City of San Marcos authorized Eubanks & Associates attorney William Eubanks to file a formal letter of intent to sue the United States Fish and the Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The intent to sue is regarding the proposed route and prospective environmental impact on the Permian Highway Pipeline, a 430-mile natural gas pipeline slated to be built from West Texas through the Hill Country and to the Texas Gulf Coast area. Kinder Morgan Inc. is the company planning to construct the pipeline.

San Marcos is now aligned with cities Austin, Kyle and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District along with Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, in its intent to sue. The notice of intent to sue calls on federal agencies to hold Kinder Morgan accountable to requirements outlined in the Endangered Species Act.

San Marcos city officials released a statement declaring, “The San Marcos City Council, in a unanimous vote, has authorized environmental attorney William S. Eubanks II to file a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to request a more robust environmental review of the proposed Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline under the Endangered Species Act.”

The proposed route does not require approval from any state agency despite it crossing the Edwards and Edwards-Trinity Aquifers.

In a press release, Attorney William Eubanks said Kinder Morgan and federal agencies must adhere to national requirements regarding environmental policies.

“It is beyond legitimate scientific dispute that Kinder Morgan’s construction and operation of its large pipeline through these sensitive areas will pose a serious threat to these aquifers and the endangered and threatened species that live there,” attorney William Eubanks said. “As a result, there are several legal obligations that the USACE, USFWS and Kinder Morgan must satisfy to ensure compliance with the ESA, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act.”

Additionally, Eubanks said the entities are trying to get federal agencies to abide by national requirements through the intent to sue.

“We are asking the federal agencies involved to make sure they go through the full, vigorous analysis under federal laws we believe apply here,” Eubanks said. “We have good information and understanding that the agencies are not planning to go through the process that we believe is appropriate and required. They’re trying to short-circuit that process.”

In addition, the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, a bipartisan group advocating for and defending Texas landowner rights on the state and local levels, released a statement regarding the intent to sue.

“The TREAD Coalition believes that in doing so, Kinder Morgan is attempting to avoid the robust steps needed to fully mitigate the impact of pipeline construction and operation to the aquifers and myriad endangered species in the area.”

The agencies outlined in the intent to sue have 60 days to respond to violations raised in the letter of intent before the lawsuit is taken to court.

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