The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to give Houston-based pipeline giant Kinder Morgan the go-ahead to clear land for a hotly contested natural gas line through the Texas Hill Country within the next two days, attorneys for the company and the federal government said Wednesday.
A lawyer for Kinder Morgan said during the hearing that the company would not move forward with construction on the planned Permian Highway Pipeline until another hearing in the case that is tentatively set for Friday, February 14, even if it does receive the Corps’ approval.
The U.S. is among the defendants named in the lawsuit, which was brought against the pipeline company in early February by Central Texas landowners, the City of Austin, and other local governments over concerns about possible environmental damage and allegations of regulatory violations.
Opponents say the planned 430-mile pipeline from the West Texas oil patch to the Gulf Coast could harm federally protected birds and salamanders in the Texas Hill Country. They claim the company is therefore required to obtain federal permits to “take” the animals but has failed to do so.
The lawsuit specifically claims Kinder Morgan has failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental regulations.
While the company has already started construction on the pipeline in the West Texas oil patch, the work has yet to move east into the ecologically sensitive Hill Country.