By Christopher Green
Kyle city leaders have now joined the Texas Municipal League (TML) in approving a resolution that aims to regulate pipeline routing through the state of Texas.
Approval of the resolution, completed by a 7-0 vote at the Aug. 20 Kyle City Council meeting, was the result of TML officials approaching Kyle in its attempt to ask for more transparency in the pipeline routing process, said Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell.
The resolution was passed during a regular Kyle City Council meeting on Aug. 20.
TML seeks to advocate on behalf of all cities in regard to pipeline routing.
Mitchell said the resolution won’t have any effect on existing pipelines, but will bring awareness to people who oppose the pipeline approval process.
Per the resolution, TML and those who support its resolution are vying for more regulatory process for pipeline routing. One primary component is offering affected communities and landowners more options to oppose a pipeline if it is planned to be routed through their community or private land.
The resolution states that elected officials of municipalities and cities believe their ability to address and/or to collaborate with accountable entities is impeded under current State of Texas laws. Officials have noted that state regulations concerning oil and gas pipelines have delegated governmental authority of eminent domain to private companies. As such, they complain there is a lack of a public process, particularly environmental and economic impact studies for intrastate pipelines.
“The resolution will serve to build awareness throughout the state,” Mitchell said. “The primary way pipeline oversight should be administered is through legislative oversight, and the best way to create demand at the capitol is for cities throughout the state to speak as one.”
Mitchell said citizens in Kyle are supportive of the resolution.
“The community has expressed unanimous support in our efforts to have Kinder Morgan held accountable,” Mitchell said. “Many districts and cities throughout the region have passed similar resolutions.”
Kyle City Council member Daphne Tenorio said it is a resolution of support to show unity in the community advocating for more pipeline routing regulations. However, Tenorio said the resolution won’t have any legislative authority behind it.
“We don’t have the authority to do that, but it’s just saying we’d want something like that,” said Tenorio.
The TML resolution comes after a lawsuit aiming to change the pipeline regulation process was struck down by a Travis County District Judge in June.
That lawsuit, which included Kyle and Hays County, was filed on behalf of landowners who are fighting Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline, a 430-mile, 42-inch project that will stretch from west Texas to the Houston area.
Kyle, along with a handful of entities and municipalities, have crafted resolutions in opposition to the PHP, which is slated to go through the Texas Hill Country, including Blanco, Hays and Caldwell counties. Kinder Morgan officials estimate the pipeline will be operational by late 2020.
Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan Inc., said Kinder Morgan would be open to a dialogue in regard to the resolution.
“I think there’s room to discuss with involvement in a respected group like the Texas Municipal League,” Fore said. “Whenever the city acts in coordination with a large trade association in the state, that’s meaningful and I think we should have a dialogue.”
Fore said that if the resolution were to go through the legislative session Kinder Morgan would follow the standards set forth by the legislature. However, changes would not be enacted unless proposed and approved during the next legislative session in 2021.
“We’re going to follow it. There’s a regulatory process in place in Texas and we follow that. If there are changes to the law, we are going to follow that,” Fore said. “Whenever we look at a project in building it we look at the laws and regulations and see if we can meet that threshold.”