KYLE, Texas -- A multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline project could change the landscape of Central Texas, but some state lawmakers are doing what they can to make sure landowners in their district are protected.
- Kinder Morgan operator of Permian Highway Pipeline
- Would run 430 miles from Waha, Texas, to the Gulf Coast
- Project would cost $2B if approved
Bill Johnson of Kyle grew up on the 3,800-acre Halifax Ranch.
"It's been in the family since the 1930s," said Johnson.
Johnson worries a proposed natural gas pipeline project is threatening his home and his livelihood.
"They'll be clear-cutting a broad swath through this area, 125 feet wide for the construction easement for their pipeline," said Johnson.
If project operator Kinder Morgan gets its way, the Permian Highway Pipeline will run 430 miles from Waha, Texas, to the Gulf Coast, and right through a three-mile portion of Johnson's property.
State Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, has filed bills in hopes of better protecting landowners. The first would allot bond money to make sure property is restored to its original state after pipeline construction is complete.
"If the operator does not perform the restoration work to the satisfaction of the landowner, the landowner can reach out to the Railroad Commission and request that they use that bond to pay someone else to come complete the work," Zwiener said.
Zwiener's second bill would make sure local first responders are properly trained in case of a pipeline leak or explosion.
"That's something that my district isn't yet prepared for and we need a process for them to get the additional training," said Zwiener.
The $2 billion project hasn't been approved yet, but Zwiener said it's her job to prepare her constituents it if does.
"These bills are not about taking down the oil and gas industry," said Zwiener.
Instead, she said the legislation is about empowering landowners like Johnson.
"It's a place I want to protect, that's for sure," said Johnson.
Another bill that affected landowners are backing is from a Republican state senator that would address eminent domain laws which currently allow companies like Kinder Morgan to use the practice to build the pipeline.
We reached out to Kinder Morgan and an official told us they're evaluating legislation but have no further comment.