Judge Approves Kinder Morgan’s Pipeline Route, But New Issues Arise


For many businesses, planning is everything. This is especially true when it comes to those who work within the oil and gas industry. Beginning new projects, forecasting logistics, and accounting for the safety of all employees involves significant time and planning. For Kinder Morgan, this rings especially true as new city ordinances are causing unforeseen issues to arise.

A Travis County judge has ruled construction on a natural gas pipeline through the Texas Hill Country can proceed. Kinder Morgan, the company constructing the 430-mile, natural gas pipeline, filed a lawsuit Monday (Permian Highway Pipeline, LLC et al v. City of Kyle, Texas, Case No. 1:19-cv-00734) against the city of Kyle, claiming that a pipeline safety ordinance the city recently passed violates both federal and Texas law. It also calls for a pause to the enforcement of the city’s ordinance while this case is being sorted out in court.

This was the City’s second attempt to “impermissibly interfere” with the construction of the pipeline. The City originally sued the pipeline companies seeking a declaration that the Texas regulatory scheme governing gas utilities is unconstitutional and requesting an injunction enjoining the construction of the pipeline.   After losing this suit, the City passed its ordinance to try to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan’s lawsuit argues Kyle’s ordinance is unconstitutional because natural gas pipelines are regulated first by federal law, and that “anything not reserved by federal law to federal regulatory authorities is reserved by Texas law to the Railroad Commission.” The suit maintains that federal and Texas laws that regulate pipelines preempt local laws that try to do the same thing. To be specific, the lawsuit points to the Texas Utility Code, arguing that for decades local governments have not been allowed to enforce ordinances that establish safety standards related to pipeline transportation. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the city’s ordinance, “runs rough-shod over federal and Texas law, ignores the regulatory schemes that have been in place for decades, and imposes criminal penalties for alleged violations.”

Texas Energy Attorneys

Today more than ever, energy companies need trusted representation from experienced attorneys who understand the increasingly complex issues in this challenging and rapidly evolving industry. At MehaffyWeber, our lawyers have a proven track record of success across 70 years of achieving favorable outcomes. Contact us today to discuss your situation and to learn how we can best help your business.