Permian Highway Pipeline Clears Key Legal Hurdle

HOUSTON (P&GJ) — Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline reached a major milestone as the City of Kyle, Texas, approved a settlement agreement allowing construction of the pipeline through the city. 

Kinder Morgan sued Kyle in July for attempting to block construction.  Kyle had issued a restrictive ordinance requiring the company to bury the pipeline 13 feet below ground so the city could place its utility lines above the natural gas pipeline. Kinder Morgan contended that neither state nor federal law allows cities to regulate pipelines.

“The agreement represents a significant piece of what we have talked about from the outset: finding a way to make our pipeline compatible with all the areas we're passing through,” said Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan’s vice president of Public Affairs.

Fore said Kinder Morgan now has all the permits needed to travel through Hays County and expects to have all permits required for road crossings within a matter of weeks, clearing the last of local approvals.

The Kyle agreement marked an important step in the project’s development, as it represented the longest distance the pipeline would need to travel through a single city.  Permian Highway, which also has overcome previous legal challenges, now faces no other outstanding litigation, the company said.

Some local officials said they still oppose the project but viewed the settlement as a better use of city resources than an extended court battle.

“We still share in the concerns of thousands in our community who fear the impacts of the PHP on our safety and our environment,” Travis Mitchell, Kyle’s mayor. “Settling this case has no bearing on those risks, which would have remained in full force either way.”

In exchange for agreeing to exempt the pipeline company from the ordinance, Kinder Morgan will pay the city $2.7 million in two separate payments and will coordinate with the city on the design and construction of future infrastructure projects the city might plan along the pipeline's path.

Kinder Morgan has secured about 80% of the needed right-of-way from property owners along the pipeline route, Fore said, and is working on securing permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies.

The 430-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline is being built in the three phases, with construction already underway on the western end of the pipeline. Construction is expected to begin soon on the eastern portion, with the central portion, which comprises the Hill Country, to be completed last.

Kinder Morgan estimates an in-service date for the pipeline of fall 2020, Fore said.

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