AUSTIN, TX. - The $2 billion, 431-mile Permian Highway Pipeline project would pump natural gas from one end of the state to the other.
Its route runs right through the Hill Country, and that's led to a legal fight from landowners.
The proposed project would run through three miles of the Johnson's family land in Kyle. The Halifax Ranch has been in the family since 1933. Lucy Johnson remembers roaming the ranch as a child.
"Dad would show us his favorite live oak trees that he liked to climb when he was a boy and we'd climb them up with him," said Johnson.
Johnson worries construction, and the pipeline itself, will threaten wildlife, native plants and ground water that feeds into aquifers. She said she never had a chance to pitch an alternative route.
"There was no opportunity for landowners or communities affected by the pipeline to be able to talk or negotiate any kind of route," said Johnson.
Hays County, the City of Kyle and three landowning families are suing the pipeline company, Kinder Morgan, and the Railroad Commission of Texas.
They argue the Railroad Commission, the agency charged with regulating pipelines, should have imposed standards over the private company’s project, but failed to do so.
"The Commission does not have any authority or jurisdiction over the siting or routing of a planned pipeline" Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said in a statement.
Through a court filing, lawyers for the Commission also argued the Texas Utilities Code grants gas corporations and utilities the power to exercise eminent domain. Several eminent domain reforms bills seeking to better protect property owners failed during the legislative session.
Johnson said she's discouraged, but that she won't stop putting up a fight until ground is broken.
"We've made it our family's mission, and this is a generational mission: to conserve land in the Hill Country starting with our property," said Johnson.
A ruling has not yet been issued in the case against Kinder Morgan and the Railroad Commission.
Kinder Morgan is set to break ground this fall and have the pipeline in service by late 2020.
Landowners have asked a state District Judge to grant temporary relief that would likely delay the start of construction until the case proceeds to trial.
Click the video link above to watch our interview with Allen Fore, the Vice President of Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan.