Hays County, Kyle, landowners file pipeline-related lawsuit against Kinder Morgan and Texas Railroad Commission

Mayor Kyle Mitchell speaks at a press conference announcing a lawsuit relating to the Permian Highway Pipeline.

Mayor Kyle Mitchell speaks at a press conference announcing a lawsuit relating to the Permian Highway Pipeline.

Image description
Permian Highway Pipeline lawsuit

A coalition of landowners, joined by Hays County and the city of Kyle, filed a lawsuit in the Travis County state District Court on April 22 to at least temporarily halt eminent domain proceedings in relation to the planned Permian Highway Pipeline.

The suit names as defendants both Kinder Morgan, the company developing the 430-mile natural gas pipeline, and the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency in charge of permitting oil and gas pipelines.

“We are asking for the court to enter a declaration that the Railroad Commission’s current process of approving pipeline applications is unconstitutional,” said Clark Richards of Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, at the press conference announcing the suit. “We are asking the court to enjoin Kinder Morgan from proceeding with eminent domain proceedings until a constitutionally permissible form of application process exists and has been applied to this pipeline.”

Oil and gas pipeline companies in Texas historically have been afforded the power of eminent domain, which means as long as landowners are compensated, their land can be taken even if they do not want to sell it. That authority—stemming from a provision in the state constitution and delegated by the Legislature—dates back to the building of the railroads, which were considered “common carriers” undertaking projects for the public benefit.

Public officials and landowners have objected not only to the fact that the oil and gas companies can use eminent domain but also that they can do so without any kind of public process.

“[Pipeline companies] don’t have to justify or explain their decision to any higher authority,” said Lana Nance, a plaintiff in the lawsuit whose Hays County property is in the proposed route of the pipeline. “We hope that the result will be the formation of a way to participate in the process.”

The lawsuit is funded by the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, an organization founded last fall around the time the Permian Highway Pipeline became a major issue, though it includes other issues in its mission.

The filing of the lawsuit was announced at an April 22 meeting attended by landowners, representatives of the TREAD Coalition and numerous elected officials, including state Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood; Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra; three Hays County Commissioners; several members of the Kyle City Council; and Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell.

“As an elected official, when the community disagrees with me, they show up and let me know, and they have many ways to remedy their disagreements with me,” Mitchell said. “Kinder Morgan has 420 miles of power to take people's land, and they are not held accountable by anyone in this room.”

By Katharine Jose
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 publicat


Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

Former Cedar Park Police Department Chief Sean Mannix is pictured in this 2015 file photo. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Cedar Park police chief moves to Burnet, driver's license offices reopen: Most popular news this week from Central Texas

Read the most popular Central Texas news from the past week on Community Impact Newspaper's website.

Green Guy Recycling opened in January of 1995. (Courtesy Green Guy Recycling)
Green Guy Recycling in San Marcos expands community options

Green Guy Recycling specializes in purchasing ferrous, or iron-based metals, and nonferrous metals.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Beijing Bistro is located at 3420 FM 967, Ste. 110B, Buda (Courtesy Beijing Bistro)
Buda's Beijing Bistro offers customized eats and family atmosphere

Eduardo Martinez started working in Chinese restaurants in 1995, shortly after he arrived from Mexico. He started in the food industry as a dishwasher, then eventually became owner of his own restaurant.

Hays County's number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rose July 8. (Community Impact staff)
Hays County reports 85 new coronavirus cases, 1 additional death July 8

The Hays County Local Health Department confirmed 85 additional coronavirus cases July 8, bringing the total to 3,328.

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.