Songbird Delays TX Pipeline Construction


The presence of an endangered songbird is blocking another infrastructure project in Texas, according to reports: The golden-cheeked warbler is one of a number of other endangered species living in the way of the Permian Highway Pipeline.

According to Grist, a number of Hill Country landowners, the Travis Audubon Society, Hays County and a chunk of the Austin metro area have announced intentions to sue if Kinder Morgan does not provide a plan to protect the area in question.

Permian Highway Pipeline History

In September 2018, Kinder Morgan, along with EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, a portfolio company of Blackstone Energy Partners, announced the decision to proceed with the Permian Highway Pipeline.

Civil and environmental surveys also began in September 2018 and were set to conclude in June of this year. Construction is slated to begin in the fall, with an in-service date set for late 2020.

The pipeline would carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily over 430 miles of 42-inch pipeline, running from the Coyanosa, Texas, area to Gulf Coast markets. According to Kinder Morgan, KMTP will both build and operate the pipeline.

An estimated 2,500 construction jobs and 18 full-time ongoing positions, available once construction is completed, will be created as a result of the pipeline.

In March, the San Marcos city council announced plans to oppose the development of the pipeline, requesting action from both houses of the Texas Legislature in protecting landowners and their rights, along with communities.

In late spring, Hill Country, Texas, landowners, along with City of Kyle officials and Hays County, filed a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline and the Railroad Commission in regard to the company’s proposed pipeline, citing that the state agency responsible for oil and gas regulation and eminent domain needed to be challenged. The group asked a judge to put a stop to construction.

In late May, Judge Lora Livingston and the 261st State District Court in Austin began listening to arguments to decide the outcome of the anti-eminent lawsuit. In late June, construction on the pipeline was allowed to proceed.

Pipeline Blockage, Songbird Problems

In late July, Kinder Morgan sued over a measure that would prevent the pipeline from running through town. The lawsuit alleges that the City of Kyle transgressed boundaries in passing an early July ordinance that regulates the construction of natural gas pipelines within the city, which mandates that all pipelines 30 inches in diameter or more would need a city permit.

Pipelines would also need to be 13 feet below ground and at least 200 feet away from areas such as schools and hospitals. Fees would also apply, with a $2,500 permit application fee and a fee for every linear foot of right-of-way.

At the time, Kinder Morgan also filed a complaint with the Railroad Commission, saying that the current route, which is, according to the company, environmentally sound, impacted the least number of landowners.

Now, the Audubon Society notes that the Permian pipeline cuts a “roughly 80-mile route” through one of the reportedly last parts of Texas not being marked by extraction. Romey Swanson, director of conservation strategy for Audubon Texas, also added that the presence of the pipeline would further impact golden-cheeked warbler populations in the area.

The golden-cheeked warbler is black and white with yellow along its face and currently has a population of around 27,000. The birds migrate from Central America to nest in the Hill Country in the spring.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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