HAYS COUNTY, Texas -- A lawsuit to stop construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline began with hearings Tuesday.
- Hays County, City of Kyle, and residents signed lawsuit
Pipeline would stretch 430 miles
Hays County, the city of Kyle and property owners affected by the pipeline signed onto the lawsuit against energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan and the Texas Railroad Commission.
The pipeline would stretch 430 miles from West Texas to Houston. More than 1,000 land owners would be affected.
Plaintiffs of the lawsuit claim that Kinder Morgan cannot claim eminent domain over their property without following Texas Railroad Commission rules for project approval. Under the rules of the commission, private companies aren't required to follow the same rules as government entities for these types of projects, but classifying the pipeline as a "gas utility" gives the company condemnation and eminent domain rights.
Andrew Sansom said those rules aren't fair to landowners like him. He's the owner of the Hershey Ranch, a privately owned ranch dedicated to conserving wildlife. The property received a conservation easement to protect it from certain government projects.
"Private land owners affected by this pipeline have not been given due process. If you look at Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution it says that the government cannot take private property without due process." -- resident Andrew Sansom.
Kinder Morgan held five public meetings to discuss the pipeline with affected communities, despite not being required to do so. Kinder Morgan Vice President Allen Fore said they readjusted the pipelines route in over 150 personal cases with land owners along the route.
He said his company is only following the rules as they're written and land owners are disputing rules that can only change through legislation.
"This lawsuit isn't really about Permian Highway Pipeline, it's about the industry. The discussions here are about how and when and why the state of Texas can regulate infrastructure and that is certainly in the purview of the legislature,” said Fore.
The judge is expected to make her ruling later in the week.