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


Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

JAMS Music owner Ace Pepper restrings an acoustic guitar at his shop on Aquarena Springs Drive. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
JAMS Music in San Marcos to close by end of April

Owner Ace Pepper, who also plays in several local bands and works as a sound engineer, said the company that owns the building he leases is selling the property, and is not sure if he will continue his guitar shop at another location.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine wait after receiving their shot at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
National supply issues with Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect Austin-area shipments

After a manufacturing error ruined 15 million doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the supply will not increase until the plant in Baltimore is once again allowed to participate in production.

Courtesy Oldham Family Orthodontics
Oldham Family Orthodontics now open in Kyle

The practice provides comprehensive orthodontic treatment of braces and Invisalign to children and adults of all ages

A memorial for Officer Justin Putnam will be held April 18 at Five Mile Dam Park's soccer complex. (Courtesy city of San Marcos)
Memorial to be held for slain San Marcos officer

A memorial for Officer Justin Putnam will be held April 18 at Five Mile Dam Park's soccer complex.

Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Zoi Market plans to open its new store location April 15. (Courtesy Zoi Market)
Zoi Market is relocating to a larger space in Buda

Zoi Market's new location features a juice bar and fresh meals.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Courtesy Stonebound Treasures
8 new businesses now open in San Marcos

Several new businesses have opened recently in San Marcos.

Courtesy Memorial Mini Golf and Museum
7 businesses now open or coming soon to Buda and Kyle

Several new businesses are either now open or are coming soon in the Buda and Kyle area.