Hays might join ESA-centered lawsuit against Kinder Morgan

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Hays County Commissioners will consider joining as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Kinder Morgan for violation of the Endangered Species Act. 

“Hays County takes this matter seriously and intends to address it formally on the Court’s January 28th agenda,” said Commissioner Walt Smith, who sent out a press release about the action. 

In late 2018, Central Texans learned that Kinder Morgan’s (#KMI) plans to build a 42-inch, high- pressured natural gas pipeline from West Texas to the Houston area would include transporting the toxic and flammable substance through some of the most ecologically sensitive features in Central Texas and the Hill Country. 

The proposed route does not require approval from any state agency even though it crosses theEdwards and Trinity Aquifers, which supply drinking water for over two million people. The pipeline will also cut directly through the habitat of endangered species such as the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander, among others. All ESA-listed species are granted certain protections from such development under the ESA. 

Kinder Morgan is attempting to avoid the proper steps needed to fully mitigate the impact of pipeline construction and operation to the aquifers 

and endangered species in the area. These steps include obtaining a biological opinion from USFWS as well as the preparation of an incidental take permit and the creation of a habitat conservation plan, both of which are called for when any action–direct o rindirect–presents a significant threat to a species or its habitat in wetlands under the USACE’s jurisdiction as well as in uplands on private lands. 

“We are pleased to see so many jurisdictions joining this cause and realizing the seriousness of the issue,” says Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell. 

For more information about Hays County and the Commissioners Court, visit https://hayscountytx.com. 

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