Judge: Pipeline through Hill Country can move forward

Judge: Pipeline through Hill Country can move forward

A federal judge has rejected an effort to halt construction of a pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Texas to refineries on the Texas coast. Officials from the city of Austin, Travis and Hays counties, and other local governments joined private landowners in arguing that the Permian Highway Pipeline would harm a rare species of bird and therefore violates the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, however, ruled Friday that the plaintiffs had not shown that…

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Oil companies are building pipelines wherever they want in Texas

Oil companies are building pipelines wherever they want in Texas

Just southwest of Austin, TX sits a 14,000 square-mile region known as the Hill Country. To those unfamiliar, picture it as a Texas version of California Wine Country. Each year, the region draws an estimated 30 million visitors with its natural beauty or the drinking and upscale shopping. Oil and gas operators working in more industrial parts of the state have typically looped their pipelines around the Hill Country rather than go through it, such as the Cactus II pipeline…

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Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will be plaintiff in Permian Highway Pipeline lawsuit

The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will sign on as a plaintiff in the anticipated endangered species lawsuit over the Permian Highway Pipeline, the organization announced Jan. 17. Citing its commitment to protect local aquifers, the BSEACD board of directors stated in a news release regarding its Jan. 16 meeting, “[B]ecause there is not a reasonable assurance that the aquifers will be protected during the construction and operation of the pipeline, the Permian Highway Pipeline should not be located…

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Council may pump $100K into Permian pipeline legal battle

Council may pump $100K into Permian pipeline legal battle

Austin City Council members will vote on a resolution Thursday earmarking as much as $100,000 to the city manager to participate in civil litigation against the Permian Highway Pipeline. The 42-inch, 430-mile buried natural gas pipeline would run from just north of Fort Stockton in West Texas through the Texas Hill Country en route to the Houston area. It has drawn the ire of landowners and local governments along its route who have raised concerns about both property rights and…

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Texas regulators want stiffer penalties for company whose Port Neches plant exploded

Texas regulators want stiffer penalties for company whose Port Neches plant exploded

In a surprising vote, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rejected a staff-proposed penalty against TPC Group’s Port Neches chemical plant — which was rocked by explosions last month — for a slew of 2018 pollution violations and asked that they be referred to the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Environmental and watchdog groups have long criticized the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for taking it too easy on polluters — and the TCEQ has often countered that its job is…

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‘I don’t believe it’s in until it’s in’: Gillespie County landowner still fighting pipeline

‘I don’t believe it’s in until it’s in’: Gillespie County landowner still fighting pipeline

“This is Texas, by God. I am fifth generation Texan and I am not going to roll over for a multi-billion dollar company,” says Kay Pence. She has been fighting Kinder Morgan for more than a year now. The company offered her $45,000 to run part of the Permian Highway Pipeline through her property. “Our appraisal is based on what we’ll actually be physically touching,” explains Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan vice president of public affairs. Pence and many other landowners…

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Report: Texas ranks second in budget cuts for environmental protection

Report: Texas ranks second in budget cuts for environmental protection

In the past decade, a historic industrial buildout has taken hold in Texas — thanks to the fracking revolution — and has created vast wealth and greatly increased the need for government permitting of new facilities, as well as pollution monitoring. But during the same time period, Texas lawmakers cut funding to the state agency responsible for doing those things by 35%, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit founded by former U.S.…

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Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance In this issue’s Q&A, Texas+Water Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Todd Votteler, interviews Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, a regional nonprofit focused on protecting the water, land, communities and night skies of the Texas Hill Country. She has more than a decade of nonprofit and legislative experience in natural resource issues and holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Romans serves on the board…

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Hill Country landowners say Kinder Morgan is lowballing them. Special courts are agreeing.

Hill Country landowners say Kinder Morgan is lowballing them. Special courts are agreeing.

Kay Pence owns a ranch in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. About a year ago, she got a call from the pipeline company Kinder Morgan. The caller told her the company planned to run a section of its 430-mile Permian Highway natural gas pipeline through her property. Pence didn’t like that. “This is going to sound overreactive, but you felt violated,” Pence says. “They have access to your property, and there was nothing you could do.” In Texas, pipeline…

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Pipeline opponents focus on ESA: Agencies put on notice to comply with law or be sued

Pipeline opponents focus on ESA: Agencies put on notice to comply with law or be sued

Opponents of Kinder Morgan’s routing of its Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) have put two federal agencies on notice – either comply with existing federal law or face legal action. In one of the latest challenges to the 435-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline, which is planned to cross the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, the focus has turned to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last month, the T.R.E.A.D. Coalition (Texas Real Estate Advocacy & Defense Coalition), along with the cities…

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