Kinder Morgan sues city of Kyle over pipeline-related development ordinance

Kinder Morgan's preliminary map of the planned pipeline route was released before negotiations with landowners were completed.

Kinder Morgan's preliminary map of the planned pipeline route was released before negotiations with landowners were completed.

Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan has sued the city of Kyle, striking back at the city in the latest of a series of legal actions over the Permian Highway Pipeline.

The suit, filed July 22 in U.S. District Court in Austin, charges Kyle with overstepping its authority when the City Council approved a new set of rules that places additional restrictions on—and requires additional steps of—pipeline companies working on projects within the city as well as developers building near those pipelines.

“I’m not going to far as to say we expected it,” Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell told Community Impact Newspaper. “But it’s not unexpected."

Mitchell added that the city would confer with its legal team in the coming days and decide the best course of action.

Kyle’s ordinance, which originally appeared in May before being passed on second reading July 2, cites the city’s obligation “to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.” In addition to requiring pipeline companies to pay additional fees and obtain additional permits, the ordinance prohibits certain types of buildings near pipelines.

Kinder Morgan’s suit against Kyle, which asks for both a preliminary and a permanent injunction, argues that the city does not have the power to regulate oil and gas pipelines because it is preempted by both state and federal law.

“In addition to occupying the field, the [federal Pipeline Safety Act] also expressly preempts municipal regulation of pipeline safety in Texas,” the suit states, later adding, “[t]o add further clarity, the Texas Legislature provided that cities and counties do not have the power to regulate the safety of gas utilities and gas pipeline facilities.”

The suit was filed just a week after the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense, or TREAD, Coalition, said it would appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit in which both Kyle and Hays County were plaintiffs.

That challenge, which was filed originally on April 22 before being dismissed June 25, is mentioned several times in the suit brought by Kinder Morgan, which calls the ordinance the “defendant’s second attempt to impermissibly interfere with the construction and operation of the Permian Highway Pipeline.”

In a lengthy statement, Kinder Morgan said that in addition to challenging the Kyle ordinance in court, the company has also filed a complaint with the Texas Railroad Commission over the fees that it imposes.

"While municipalities have the authority to impose certain fees in discrete circumstances under Texas law, those fees must be both reasonably calculated and tied to the actual costs incurred by the city administering valid municipal regulations," the statement reads. "We are confident the Railroad Commission will find them to be unsupported and, thus, invalid."

The TREAD Coalition also announced July 16 that, with Hays County as one of the plaintiffs, it had filed a letter of intent to sue several federal agencies and Kinder Morgan over the potential impact of the pipeline on the environment and on the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

Members of the TREAD Coalition are funding both lawsuits.

According to court documents, a hearing on Kinder Morgan’s lawsuit has been scheduled for Sept. 17.

This article has been updated with additional information.
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


Residents will be able to comment on projects funded through the CDBG-CV grant at a June 2 City Council meeting. (Anna Herod/ Community Impact Newspaper)
City of San Marcos seeks public input on projects for COVID-19 response funds

A virtual public hearing will take place at a June 2 San Marcos City Council meeting to comment on proposed programs and projects to be added to the 2019-20 Community Development Block Grant Action Plan using CDBG-Coronavirus Response funds.

LIST: What is open, closed in Texas and how businesses can operate

Texas openings are staggered with different opening dates and operating limits.

New Braunfels is the third-fastest-growing city in the U.S. from 2010-19, according to the latest census numbers. (Community Impact staff)
These 5 Central Texas cities are among the fastest-growing in the U.S.

Four of the five cities represent notable growth in Williamson County.

All patients, residents and staff at Texas' 23 state hospitals and supported living centers are to be tested for coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas to test all state hospitals, supported living centers for COVID-19

All patients, residents and staff at Texas' 23 state hospitals and supported living centers will be tested for coronavirus regardless of symptoms or exposure.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra is encouraging testing for residents. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
MAY 23 ROUNDUP: Top stories from this week in Central Texas

Read the most popular stories from the past week of Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of Central Texas.

With social distancing measures still in place, celebrate Memorial Day weekend from the comfort of your home with these takeout family packs. (Courtesy Hopdoddy Burger Bar)
MAY 25 ROUNDUP: Business updates from Central Texas

Read Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of Central Texas business news here.

In a letter addressed to state agencies and higher education institutions, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said the reduced budget comes in preparation to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on state finances expected to be felt in the coming months. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Budget cuts slated for Texas state agencies, higher education institutions in 2020-21 biennium

Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education to expect a 5% reduction in budget plans for the 2020-21 biennium as part of the state's response to the economic ramifications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott is waiving the late fee for Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license and permit renewals that have lapsed since March 13, according to a May 20. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott removes late-fee barrier for Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license, permit renewal

Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to waive the late fee for license and permit renewals that have lapsed since March 13, according to a May 20 press release.

Here are the coronavirus updates to know in Hays County. (Community Impact staff)
746 coronavirus tests have been reported in Hays County in 2 days, yielding 20 new cases

22% of all coronavirus cases recorded since March have been reported in the last 2 days

San Marcos continues to add residents at a steady pace. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
DATA: Population growth for San Marcos mirrors Hays County increase since 2010 census

San Marcos has seen a 44% population increase, while Hays County has gained 47% since 2010.

Pinstack opening during coronavirus
As entertainment centers across Austin reopen with bowling and more, the future of arcades remains murky

Concurrent with the governor’s Phase 2 rules, several Austin-area entertainment centers will reopen in the coming days and weeks with bowling, axe throwing, karaoke and laser tag.