Shared from the 6/24/2020 San Antonio Express eEdition

Pipeline in Hill Country targeted in court

Eric Gay / Associated Press

The Sierra Club argues that the Army Corps of Engineers skirted federal environmental laws when it issued a federal permit to Kinder Morgan.

Environmentalists with the Sierra Club are asking a federal judge to halt construction of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline being built through the scenic Texas Hill Country by Houston-based Kinder Morgan.

Arguing that the Army Corps of Engineers skirted federal environmental laws when it issued a federal permit to Kinder Morgan, the Sierra Club is asking U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman for an injunction to stop ongoing construction on the Permian Highway Pipeline, a 430-mile project to move natural gas from the Permian Basin of West Texas to the Katy Hub near Houston.

The Sierra Club in April sued the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming the project is a threat to endangered species.

The environmental group’s request for injunction alleges that agency officials approved the project without the required analysis of environmental impacts across 129 waterways, public participation or consideration of alternative routes.

“The Army Corps is allowing construction of the Permian Highway fracked gas pipeline despite not having considered the environmental impacts and alternatives that (the National Environmental Policy Act) requires. This illegal construction activity is putting Texas waterways and communities at risk, and the court should put a stop to it immediately,” Sierra Club attorney Rebecca McCreary said.

Kinder Morgan stands behind the project as well as the state and federal permitting processes used to approve the pipeline.

Designed to move 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, the company said the pipeline is more than 65 percent mechanically complete and expected to be put into service during the first quarter of 2021.

“The Sierra Club’s preliminary injunction filing seeks to invalidate a longstanding permitting process in order to delay critical infrastructure projects like” the Permian Highway Pipeline, Kinder Morgan said. “In the development of PHP, Kinder Morgan has adhered to the rigorous verification process established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in addition to oversight by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Railroad Commission.”

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