KYLE, Texas,– The consistent failure of the Texas Railroad Commission to oversee the routing of oil and gas pipelines leaves Texans vulnerable to abuse, landowners and officials from the City of Kyle and Hays County said today.
A coalition of landowners, joined by the City of Kyle and Hays County, today filed suit in Travis County state District Court asking that condemnation activity for the Permian Highway Pipeline be halted until proper routing oversight by the Railroad Commission is established.
The suit asks that the Railroad Commission be ordered to follow legislative mandates and “adopt administrative rules, policies, and practices that provide objective, enforceable standards for the exercise of eminent domain authority” by pipeline companies, specifically including Permian Highway Pipeline, LLC and Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, LLC.
“This suit is about one thing: giving landowners a voice in the process,” said Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell. “We put a great amount of thought into our options. We understand just how important the oil and gas industry is to the State of Texas, and we don’t want to do anything to undermine their contribution to our economy.”
“As important as the oil and gas industry is to Texas, they are the only private industry in the state with the power to take someone’s land without a governmental hearing process,” said Walt Smith, Hays County Commissioner. “These companies currently enjoy a privilege that is only granted to governmental entities. They should be held to the same standards of accountability and oversight. It’s as simple as that.”
The lawsuit will be paid for by the local non-profit Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, or TREAD Coalition. Last Tuesday, elected officials at the City of Kyle and Hays County Commissioners Court voted to join the lawsuit, which they hope will result in the creation of an oversight procedure within the Railroad Commission for the pipeline routing process.
“We realized we had no recourse, no real way of compelling Kinder Morgan to listen to our concerns and change the route of their pipeline,” said Lana Nance, landowner and plaintiff. “The state lets them take our land with zero accountability.”
Private property owners and small business owners in the Hill Country are paying close attention. They have recently become ground zero in the fight against energy giant Kinder Morgan, whose proposed pipeline threatens to disrupt the land, ranches, and aquifers of one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in the state.
Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition (T.R.E.A.D.) is a bi-partisan group that advocates for and defendsTexas landowner rights on the state and local levels. For more information visit www.treadcoalition.com