Kyle City Council unanimously condemns Permian Highway Pipeline, requests immediate legislative action

6

Kyle City Council unanimously signed on to a resolution at its Feb. 19 meeting, opposing the natural gas pipeline that Kinder Morgan plans to build through Hays County and asking state legislators to take immediate action to impose stricter regulations on the project.

“This item is being brought forward by the entirety of the City Council,” Mayor Travis Mitchell said. “And while we recognize that resolutions are in no way binding legal documents, they certainly reflect the will—in this case particularly, I think—of every single man, woman and child in the city of Kyle.”

The Permian Highway Pipeline is a $2 billion, 430-mile project from one of the largest pipeline companies on the continent. Kinder Morgan has released only an inexact map of the pipeline route because negotiations with landowners are ongoing, but it does show a path that runs just north of Wimberley before passing between Kyle and San Marcos.

Other council members joined Mitchell in condemning the plan and urging Kyle citizens to learn more about it and take action.

“It’s not time to be quiet,” Council Member Alex Villalobos said. “It’s not time to sit back and let other people take care of the issue. It’s time for you to get engaged and be vocal and be active—that is my challenge.”

In the months since the plan for the pipeline became public, significant opposition—evident at the public meetings Kinder Morgan held in Wimberley and Kyle—has developed in Hays County among residents, landowners and elected officials.

Much of the controversy around the pipeline has stemmed from the company’s likely ability to use the power of eminent domain to take private land along the pipeline route, which is permitted in some circumstances under Texas law as long as the landowner is fairly compensated.

In addition to the use of eminent domain, both residents and officials have said they are concerned about sensitive environmental features of Hays County and the lack of transparency and public notice around the development of the pipeline.

The three parts of the resolution adopted by Kyle City Council address these concerns, asking the Legislature to impose requirements for public process around oil and gas pipelines, which currently do not have to hold community meetings, to require “formal and thorough” environmental and economic impact studies, and to impose “substantial” oversight or rescind the power to condemn land through eminent domain.

“This pipeline is not something that we want,” Council Member Daphne Tenorio said. “It is not something that is good for our families; it is not something that is good for our environment; it is not something that is good for the future of our cities, our communities, our future here.”

The passage of the resolution was followed by applause from the larger-than-usual crowd at City Hall, which included former mayor Lucy Johnson, who spoke during the public comment period.

“I’ve never seen a resolution that has each and every council member’s name on the title,” Johnson said. “I’m just blown away and so thankful that we have the City Council in Kyle that we do. So thank you all.”

Johnson, whose family’s land is transected by the pipeline route, has been active in the opposition to the pipeline, saying at a January meeting in Wimberley that her family is “prepared to fight this pipeline with all of our resources.”

Though the state Legislature has traditionally supported pipeline construction, new state Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, said at the January meeting in Wimberley that potentially limiting eminent domain, as well as imposing stricter public processes, has been a topic of discussion among lawmakers during the start of the 86th legislative session.

At a Feb. 13 meeting, Zwiener told Community Impact Newspaper that in addition to supporting the already filed eminent-domain reform bills, she would be filing a new bill that would—among other measures—prohibit pipelines from carrying crude oil or hazardous liquids through areas with sensitive aquifers.

Several council members urged residents to go to a March 6 community meeting organized by Hays County commissioners Debbie Ingalsbe and Mark Jones at Hays High School. 

“Find out how to get involved to stop it,” Tenorio said. “We can’t do it by ourselves.”

Share this story
6 comments
COMMENT
  1. I am a citizen of Kyle, lived here since 2002 and I plan to live here until I die. I am also a Kinder Morgan shareholder. I bought into Kinder Morgan because I believe in their safety record and I believe in the project to carry natural gas from the Permian Basin to the city of Corpus Christi to be liquefied and sold to other governments.

    Currently the excess natural gas in the Permian Basin needs to be “flared” or burned off at the drill site. This pipeline allows that excess gas to be sent to market to be sold and allowing other governments to get off of dirtier fuels and use much cleaner natural gas.

    I do not approve the Kyle City Council to pass resolutions in my name. This is what is wrong with government today. Let the market continue their work, following the current rules in place by the Railroad Commission and all Texas benefits.

    Thank you.

    Glenn G Webb
    Kyle, TX

  2. Welcome to Kyle! I have lived here since the 1980s and the Kyle City Council did speak for me last night – loud and clear.

    I’m certain you would feel differently if this pipeline was going so close to your house that it could threaten your future safety or the safety of your family. Or perhaps you would feel differently if a private corporation was actually taking your land for their profit-making, private venture – against your will.

    I bothered to show up at City Hall. As did many, many other citizens of Kyle. No one spoke against this Resolution. Not a single person.

    Good luck with your investments.
    Lila Knight

    • Lila,

      Due to medical reasons I was and am unable to attend anything outside of my home.

      We have gas lines running under our roads all over Kyle without issue. This map shows current pipe lines in Texas. Pipe lines are safer than any other gas transportation.

      So unless you are willing to not have any fossil fuels drilled, to allow OPEC to dictate our costs, to adopt the Green New Deal and disallow cattle, airplanes and any methane producer then you should support the KMI pipeline going to the city of Corpus Christi.

      Thank you.

  3. Theresa Ferguson

    Your reporter did not talk to everyone at the meeting. My husband and I are in favor of the pipeline. There were others there that supported it. We were harassed because we are in favor. The city council passed a resolution on the assumption that everone wanted it stopped. That kind of thinking is irresponsible.
    The dangers are exaggerated. Having worked in the production of pipe for oil, gas and water we are more knowledgeable of the high standard for piplines.

    Theresa and Robert Ferguson

  4. This pipeline will be a 42 inch transmission pipeline running to the plants at the coast, where the natural gas will be liquified and exported to other countries. This is not the same kind of small, natural gas line that serves our homes and businesses.
    Kinder Morgan never contacted our city officials about the plans for their route, which runs through areas planned for major development and in the right of way of future road widenings.
    Kinder Morgan never contacted TxDOT or Hays County about their proposed route, which runs into the future realignment of FM 150 which has been in the planning stages for years. Perhaps you may have attended one of the many public meetings on that proposed road?
    Our public officials only heard about it when Kinder Morgan contacted private landowners about taking their private property for an easement for their pipeline.
    Shouldn’t a private company, blessed with the power of eminent domain, be regulated like our government projects? If they are so safe, they shouldn’t have anything to hide, should they?
    If we are going to grant governmental powers to private companies – they need to be prepared to be transparent like our governments.
    I understand that Kinder Morgan has a large Public Relations budget for this project. They have assured their investors this pipeline will be operational according to a very aggressive schedule.
    Personally, I prefer to hear from people who are independent from the oil and gas industry on this matter. Kinder Morgan’s safety record is not perfect. Are you willing to gamble the lives of the citizens of Kyle on the safety of this pipeline?
    I’m not.
    Our city council voted the right way.
    Lila Knight

  5. These pipelines do not create lasting jobs and the monitoring is not full proof at all. All one has to do is read about the previous built pipeline to see that this is the case. Our elected officials on the local and state levels need to work for us instead of the oil companies. We do not have a shortage oil and gas in this country, actually we have a glut. So we will let these corporations pollute our land, and sell their products overseas? Why do politicians act like Imminent Domain is the answer, this is the homeowners property not our Government or private Corporations property. What kind of Compensation are they talking about, and do these people just assume these property owners can be bought? This pipeline will affect future generations and the wildlife in the area. This is not just a onetime deal. Just my opinion.

Leave A Reply

Katharine Jose has written about politics, infrastructure, environment, development, natural disasters and other subjects for The New York Observer, Capital New York, and The New York Times, among other publications. She was an editor for several publications in New York City before she moved to Texas, and has a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Texas-Austin.
Back to top