Hays County, Kyle, landowner lawsuit against railroad commission questions pipeline oversight

Two years ago, Heinz Stefan Roesch bought a roughly 30-acre property along RR 1623, outside of the city of Blanco. His whole family is from the Hill Country, he said, and he had been saving all his life to buy something just like it.

Last fall, he started hearing about a natural gas pipeline that the company Kinder Morgan was planning, though in the initial routing his land did not fall in its path. In January, he noticed low-flying helicopters over his house. A week later, Roesch received a letter in the mail informing him that the Permian Highway Pipeline would, in fact, cross the approximately 1,000-foot-wide parcel he calls home.

“All my future plans are basically destroyed by this thing,” Roesch said. “It’s 300 feet from where I sleep.”

Though the installation of the pipeline will clear hundreds of trees from his property and render it nearly impossible to develop the highway frontage, Roesch quickly learned that his choices in opposing the pipeline’s path across his land were limited. In Texas, private oil and gas pipeline companies have historically been given the authority to choose routes and to exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire land for that route—in other words, to take the land even if the owner does not want to part with it.

Read more from Katharine Jose with Community Impact Newspaper here.