Kyle joins fight against Permian Highway Pipeline — again

Hays

City council members vote to join environmental lawsuit as they also mobilize safety plans

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Kyle continues to fight against the Permian Highway Pipeline.

This week, city council members voted to join a lawsuit filed against the pipeline company, Kinder Morgan.

It claims the pipeline could harm endangered species along its route.

Hays County commissioners voted to join the suit last week and Austin city council members the week before.

At the same time, Kyle city officials are trying to come up with a safety plan in case the pipeline project moves forward.

Kinder Morgan vice president Allen Fore says that could happen very soon; Permian Highway pipeline markers are in the ground, pipes delivered in Blanco and, as of last week, 1,000 tracts of land secured.

“Once the permits are issued, we are literally ready to go,” Fore says, referring to federal permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But in the highest-density city along the route, Kyle’s emergency management coordinator Alex Villalobos says there are a lot of unanswered questions.

“Do we have the resources to respond to a leak or a large explosion? Do we have the appropriate staffing? Do we have the equipment to respond?” says Villalobos, who is also a city council member.

City council member Alex Villalobos says the proposed pipeline will run through some of the city’s biggest developments.

The city is now starting to prepare for emergency management and public safety before the pipeline creeps into city limits.

“We’re talking about thousands of people being displaced at any one time with even a medium sized gas leak or explosion within our city,” Villalobos says.

Villalobos says preparations could easily cost millions.

“It’s not required but we often partner with emergency responders for training, for equipment,” Fore says.

He says in the past, the company has collaborated with crews financially and logistically.

“Any emergency responder entity that has coverage in the pipeline area, we’ll be doing briefings for all those folks,” Fore says.

Fore says those conversations will happen before the pipeline begins service, which is set for the first quarter of 2021.

But Villalobos says Kyle should already be involved in contingency plans.

“That is probably the largest anxiety for the community is we don’t know,” Villalobos says.

Along with joining the lawsuit against Kinder Morgan, Kyle city council members also pledged $5,000 in legal funds.

This is the second case Kyle has joined against the pipeline.

That translates to $155,000 in legal fees.

The last lawsuit resulted in a settlement with the company for $2.7 million.

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