Photo: Cecilio Martinez
Permian Highway Pipeline to cut through Hill Country
In September, Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline LLC and partners announced a new pipeline project that will connect the natural gas production of the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast. The $2 billion project will create a 42-inch pipeline that travels 430 miles across the state, including through the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
The Permian Highway Pipeline would include the purchase from landowners of a 50-foot easement, plus an additional 25-50 feet of work easements, that would preclude certain activities (e.g. building and planting long-rooted trees). Projected to start construction in Fall 2019, Kinder Morgan has already started to contact landowners. The proposed route would cross multiple Hill Country counties, including Kimble, Gillespie, Blanco, and Hays Counties.
Since the announcement, landowners have started to gather across the Hill Country to express their concerns about the project, including potential adverse impacts to surface and groundwater quality, decreased real estate and agricultural values, spread of oak wilt, and public safety risks.
Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) has created website pages specific to the pipeline, where they are tracking planned community meetings and Kinder Morgan sponsored open houses, have a petition to get the pipeline routed away from the Hill Country, and video from a February town hall that took place in Wimberley.
Landowners that are being contacted by Kinder Morgan should know their rights, understand the condemnation process, and have access to resources to inform their decision-making. Knowing the cultural and natural resources that may be impacted by the proposed pipeline route can help landowners in their easement negotiations.
Lawyers experienced with the eminent domain process encourage impacted landowners to talk with their neighbors, share information, and negotiate together, rather than be isolated through this process.
Agencies that will review the proposed pipeline project include state entities (e.g. Texas Railroad Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office, Texas Historical Commission) and federal entities (e.g. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers).
Although not exhaustive, we have included some key resources in the following section.
Informational Resources Available for Landowners
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Texas Pipeline Easement Negotiation Checklist
- Braun & Gresham’s Interactive Map of the Proposed Pipeline
- Attorney General of Texas Landowner Bill of Rights
Organizations Addressing this Pipeline Project
Multiple organizations are mobilizing to oppose or mitigate the impacts of the pipeline project. In Gillespie County, for example, a grassroots effort of concerned landowners, Save our Hill Country Heritage 1846, has organized to preserve the historical, cultural, and ecological heritage of the region. To learn more about this grassroots effort, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizations that have been at the forefront of providing informational resources to Hill Country landowners include the following:
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