In an end to a court room battle that will surely set back landowners, a Travis County District court recently ruled that the Kinder Morgan can move forward with its Permian Highway Pipeline Project. In the State of Texas, for-profit pipeline companies can use eminent domain to seize private land to build their pipeline projects. As long as the pipeline company follows the mandates of the legislature’s delegation of the power of eminent domain, the for-profit pipeline company can forcibly take landowners’ private property.
The lawsuit was initiated by landowners in response to Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline, which was then in the planning stages. Their legal theory advanced two points. The first was that the TRC was obligated to seek public input with regards to planning route planning. They also argued that the TRC had failed to adequately supervise Kinder Morgan’s route planning process.
Judge Lora Livingston found that no authority existed to support the notion that the TRC had the right to oversee the exercise of these powers. She also granted Kinder Morgan’s request to have the landowner’s suit thrown out of court. Kinder Morgan had argued that the power to change the pipeline permitting process resided with the legislature, not the court.
In light of this decision, Kinder Morgan is now free to proceed with the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline. Once completed, the project will carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day a distance of approximately 400 miles. The line connects an origination point in West Texas to the U.S. Gulf Coast and will cost an estimated $2 billion. The project is just one of the latest in a pipeline building wave propelled by the massive uptick in U.S. shale gas production. The current projected production level for July 2019 alone is 81.4 billion cubic feet per day.
Written by Christopher Chan and Justin Hodge