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Judge throws out lawsuit against pipeline

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A state district court judge on Tuesday evening dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hays County, the City of Kyle, a pair of landowners and a trust against the Texas Railroad Commission and Kinder Morgan that sought to stop the routing of a natural gas pipeline through Central Texas.

Judge Lora Livingston with the 261st State District Court in Austin dismissed all claims against the Permian Highway Pipeline, a $2 billion project to build a natural gas pipeline spanning from the Permian Basin of West Texas to a gulf coast terminal.

Kyle, Hays County and a coalition of Hill Country landowners, who filed the lawsuit in state district court in Travis County, asked a judge to block construction of the 42-inch pipeline, claiming that the railroad commission is allowing it to run through residential areas of Kyle, near the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, and less than a mile away from popular Wimberley swimming hole Jacob’s Well.

Lockhart City Council members indicated during a meeting last week that a ruling in the lawsuit could influence their decision on passing a resolution with wording pertaining to the pipeline, which runs through Lockhart’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Councilmembers were originally asked by a cadre of Caldwell County landowners to consider passing a resolution similar to that passed by Hays County, Kyle and San Marcos earlier this year. Each public entity passed a resolution expressing opposition to the pipeline.

Resolutions do not prohibit pipeline companies in Texas from being able to exercise eminent domain to condemn land needed for their projects.

A majority of councilmembers and commissioners have instead expressed support for attempting to negotiate with Kinder Morgan, asking the pipeline company for added protections for residents living near the pipeline.

Caldwell County officials are currently in talks with Kinder Morgan representatives about getting the company to agree to certain safety measures that include burying the pipeline five to six feet underground around parks and schools and five feet deeper where it crosses state and county highways.

The company is only required to bury the pipeline three feet below the ground’s surface.

Kinder Morgan representatives expressed support for the ruling, which upholds a private entity’s right to use eminent domain to condemn land it needs for a project, as long as it can prove the project serves a public good.

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