Kinder Morgan Inc. has filed a lawsuit challenging an ordinance enacted earlier this month by the City of Kyle, which sits in the path of the sanctioned 2 Bcf/d Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP), calling it another attempt to “hinder construction and impermissibly interfere.”
Not only is Kyle’s ordinance unconstitutional, said Kinder management, “but it is also preempted by existing federal and Texas laws and regulations that have effectively governed pipeline projects, like PHP, for decades.”
The Kyle City Council approved an ordinance requiring gas pipelines of a certain size to apply for additional permits before beginning construction. The pipelines, according to the city, pose a threat to residents, may impede development and may not be moved or modified once they are built. Because of potential issues, the ordinance requires increased oversight of pipelines before they are built.
PHP, sanctioned by Kinder and its partners last year, would transport Permian Basin natural gas via a 430-mile pipeline from the Waha hub in West Texas to Katy, outside of Houston, with connections to the Gulf Coast and Mexico markets.
PHP is routed through part of northern Hays County and Kyle. The Kyle City Council previously had approved a unanimous resolution opposing the project, as did Hays County. The city also is a plaintiff in a lawsuit through the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition (TREAD) along with several other government agencies and private landowners, to impose more oversight on pipeline projects.
The pipeline tentatively is scheduled for service in late 2020. However, it has faced sustained challenges not only from Hays County and Kyle but Texas Hill Country landowners and environmentalists, a heretofore uncommon occurrence in the Lone Star State.
“Pipelines are already heavily regulated by both state and federal agencies that are dedicated to ensuring the safety of people, wildlife, property and the environment,” Kinder management noted in the lawsuit, filed last Monday.
Kinder also has filed a complaint with the Railroad Commission of Texas to appeal what it said were unsupported and excessive fees that Kyle has attempted to levy on PHP through the ordinance.
“While municipalities have the authority to impose certain fees in discrete circumstances under Texas law, those fees must be both reasonably calculated and tied to the actual costs incurred by the city administering valid municipal regulations,” according to Kinder. “The fees the City of Kyle is attempting to collect are neither.”
Enacting the ordinances “left us with no choice but to take action,” as PHP “is vital to the State of Texas in order to alleviate the flaring of natural gas in the Permian Basin and move the energy needed to heat and cool homes, schools and public buildings in Texas -- while providing substantial local and state revenues.”
The ordinance is attempting to influence the company to reroute the gas system, but “we believe this route is a good one that minimizes the potential impacts to the environment and landowners of the state of Texas,” Kinder management said. “We are dedicated to this project, and will continue to engage all stakeholders as we work to complete PHP.”
The proposed 42-inch diameter system is facing another assault by plaintiffs that have filed a notice of intent (NOI) to sue Kinder, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Hays County joined the Travis Audubon Society and private plaintiffs in preparing for the lawsuit. Under the ESA, plaintiffs must wait for 60 days to file a lawsuit after filing an NOI.
PHP as designed would cross recharge zones of the Edwards and Edwards-Trinity aquifers, which provide drinking water supplies for more than two million people, as well as habitat for listed endangered species that include the golden-cheeked warbler.