For months, locals and landowners have tried to stop the Kinder Morgan from building a pipeline in the Hill Country. Several salamander species, including the federally protected Barton Springs salamander and Texas Blind salamander, occupy waters downstream of the proposed pipeline. As a first step, Kinder Morgan needed a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The scale of this fight is unprecedented—and so is its power to unify. “Natural gas pipelines cause all kinds of problems for the community,” wrote Emma Pabst, a global warming solutions associate with Environment Texas who heads up the organization’s oil and gas work, in an email to Reform Austin. (Credit: Madeleine Turner). Sansom points to a power line strung across the hillside, where he conducted a controlled burn to promote the growth of native grasses. Sansom says he was shocked to learn how easy it was for them to get approval.
“The way it’s going, hopefully, are keep making that price tag go up, up, up, up, up,” says Kevin Booth, a Gillespie County landowner who attended Pence’s hearing.
Johnson, a former mayor of the nearby city of Kyle, lives in San Marcos but visits the property two or three times a week. "They keep it from eroding. (Credit: Madeleine Turner), take the land without the landowners' permission, state grew from 25 million to nearly 29 million residents, fastest-growing metro area in the nation for the last eight years, In an op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman. “This is what has made this project so unique,” Clint Schumacher, an attorney at Dawson & Sodd specializing in eminent domain, told Reform Austin in a phone interview. But Sansom sees signs of damage from historical overgrazing: there are not enough mature cedars to attract the golden-cheeked warbler, an endemic species in Hill Country, a region named for its steep, craggy hills. Especially in times like these, it is important to focus on facts and not fear. Still, for landowners directly affected by the project, the outlook is grim. "I think the settlement agreement was the best of all possible outcomes," Mitchell said. Flames billowed 300 feet high and melted a nearby railroad track. Between 2010 and 2018, the state grew from 25 million to nearly 29 million residents. "And they have the funds and wherewithal to do it. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kinder Morgan did not agree to respond to questions for this article but referred Reform Austin to a link that contained a series of article links to recent news stories. "Accidental release of hydrocarbon liquids to surface water or groundwater could occur," Herrington writes. The ordinance required Kinder Morgan to bury the pipe 13 feet in the ground, instead of only 3 feet. Kamala Harris coming to Texas on Friday, including a stop in Houston, sources say, Federal disaster team sent, overflow hospital set up as COVID surges in El Paso, Woman shot and killed at Texas Renaissance Festival campground. After many town halls, the city is conducting an environmental impact study for the highway, which would loop around to the west of Kyle. Sansom points to a historic right of way, which cuts straight across a hill. At issue are land valuation and the offers the energy infrastructure giant has made to property owners. We hear cars passing on highway 150 and the sound of grasshoppers whizzing past our shins. Kinder Morgan is exempt from the city ordinance, but that ordinance is still intact. Multiple owners of the Nance Tract originally planned to develop their land in phases: first, they would build houses on a small portion of the property that abuts old city limits. Economists say he inherited it. In an op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman, Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan's vice president of public relations, wrote that the company is "working with a karst expert to mitigate potential subsurface impacts.
Whether it’s methane leaks accelerating global climate change or condensed gas contaminating our waterways, fossil fuels are a dirty business.”. In the United States and around the world, natural gas pipeline explosions are not unprecedented. In 2000, a 30-inch natural gas pipeline in El Paso, Texas, exploded, killing 12 campers sleeping about 600 feet away. Thanks to the $2.7 million settlement, Kinder Morgan is not allowed to convert the pipeline from natural gas to crude oil. We see a flash of movement: a wild hog, about the size of a Labrador retriever, scoots through the vegetation. "As noted by previous courts, Texas's eminent-domain laws are longstanding," Livingston wrote in a letter explaining her decision. They're part of what makes the Hill Country so beautiful to live in.". "It's not in the ground yet because we're going through all these steps, in order to engage the public and follow regulations. If both the pipeline and the new highway existed, they would intersect five times. When Mitchell talks about the settlement, he uses the word "strategic." To receive the permit, Kinder Morgan would face scrutiny for the entire length of the pipeline, not just the 2 to 3 percent crossing water. Andy Sansom at his ranch in Texas' Hill Country. Far more than what you would see in other parts of the state.”. They must construct the pipeline at least 200 feet away from any developments within city lines. We're not even using eminent domain for it," Mitchell said. In August, Watershed Protection Department and Environmental Officer Chris Herrington published a report looking at potential impacts on water quality. A circular, dark pond sparkles in the morning light. They also believe Kinder Morgan is either intentionally lowballing landowners or seriously misjudging the value of Hill Country real estate. Four miles down the road from Halifax Ranch, visitors find themselves at the center of the City of Kyle. Opinion: Lawmakers must restore trust in election process. Without more analysis, it would be impossible to know which chemicals would condense, and at what concentrations. The most recent major explosion happened in August, when a natural gas pipeline erupted in Lincoln County, Kentucky, killing one person and injuring five others. Pipelines are the safest way of transporting the energy we all need to sustain our economy and way of life. Moreover, we have worked directly with the handful of landowners impacted by the Blanco River incident. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ), Andy Sansom closes the gate to his property where a proposed new natural gas pipeline would pass through his ranch in the Texas Hill Country near Stonewall, Texas Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. They work on restoring the native habitat at least five hours a day, three or four days a week. We have chosen the route carefully and paid landowners handsomely for the easements. Enormous cypress trees loom over the river. Property tax from those homes would pay for a bridge crossing the Blanco River. He has written for Culture Crush, Growing America, Ranch & Rural Living Magazine, No Depression, For The Love Of Bands, and Bee Culture. On the other hand, they support oil and gas. Despite eminent domain and the pipeline’s advances, optimism remains. The blast killed 8 people, and witnesses saw a "wall of fire more than 1,000 feet high.". If a judge granted Kinder Morgan a temporary injunction to throw out the ordinance, the company would have been able to install the pipeline even before the lawsuit was resolved. "The lack of communication with local and county governments is creating a lot of conflict and a lot of problems," attorney David Smith told EHN. We stir up dust and the air is thick with pollen. Currently, the lawsuit is in limbo; it will continue if Kinder Morgan forgoes applying for a separate permit through the U.S. The pipeline would run within 400 yards from the river. It will reduce wasteful and environmentally destructive flaring in West Texas and will benefit countless people in Texas and elsewhere. Water quality is not the only concern; the project could also have a negative impact on wildlife in the system. Another primary concern for folks is the environmental impact of the natural gas pipeline. Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer “Kinder Morgan has appealed some of the awards. But pipeline opponents are pointing to the results of these hearings as evidence the company is undervaluing Hill Country land,” KUT reports. Others include the Coral Springs dryopid beetle, the Coral Springs riffle beetle, and the Fountain darter, a minuscule freshwater fish. The water is turquoise, a byproduct of an algae that thrives in the summer. Sansom and his wife, Nona—both in their seventies—split their days between Austin and the ranch, where they have devoted much of their time since 2011 when Andy Sansom inherited the property as a life estate. "The grass is much thicker and richer," he told EHN, sounding like a proud parent. Residents in Carlsbad, New Mexico, saw the fireball looming 20 miles away, and the explosion left a crater 86 feet long and 20 feet deep. "But in this case we're all aligned with a common enemy," Travis Mitchell, the mayor of Kyle, told EHN. Smith represented Hays County, along with citizens and conservation groups, in a lawsuit filed in July against Kinder Morgan, the U.S. Typically, a company submits its plans for installation and includes a list of endangered species living in the area. Testing shows there is no well-water contamination today from the drilling fluid used by PHP. Back at Halifax Ranch, Johnson and I stand on a wooden deck perched at a high point above the vast turquoise river. "It's like if you had the flu for a decade and [it] was always contagious," Johnson said. In a condemnation hearing, a judge appoints three local landowners as special commissioners who will hear the case. Although it seems unlikely the Permian pipeline will be stopped, the movement opposing it has gathered momentum. "It creates some wins for the city we weren't going to get otherwise." Putting all of these benefits aside for a moment, let me shed some light on the event that is the basis of much recent criticism about our project. We made over 150 individual adjustments to our proposed route based on feedback from landowners and the community, as well as to avoid sensitive environmental and geological features. Only then could the rest of the property be developed. Hershey Ranch covers 1,565 acres and is the largest protected property in Gillespie County, located west of Austin and in the heart of Hill Country. Combined, they would create 19,000 living units—mainly residential neighborhoods, with some plans for commercial developments, too. "Not only are they coming through the city of Kyle, they're coming very nearly through the center of the city.". As Kinder Morgan gears up for construction in Hill Country, communities across Texas—expressing concerns over safety, environmental destruction and landowners' rights—are staging battles to oppose the route. Fifty-five miles to the southeast of Sansoms' property, I met Lucy Johnson on an early Monday morning at Halifax Ranch, which stretches more than 3,800 acres and is owned by Johnson's father and his two sisters. Before filing the lawsuit, they must wait 60 days for the two government agencies to respond. Between 1928 and 2011, a much smaller pipeline, one used to transport crude oil, ran through this passage. By the time the lawsuit enters a courtroom, the pipeline could already be in the ground. Johnson motions to the slope we just came down. Owners of the three tracks had already submitted plans for development and received approval to build. The Sansoms spent years stewarding and restoring their land. But, critically, the pipeline would cut straight through the first section, making it impossible for the developers to get past the first phase. "For the most part, a thorough investigation of the area is really one of the key factors they have to rely on," he said. Beneath the oak trees and grasses, a network of caves and porous crannies run below the surface of the earth.
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