Pipeline project running through Hill Country raises concern

Hays

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — A $2 billion pipeline project has landowners in the Hill Country concerned about their property.  

The project is backed by Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, a company out of Houston and EagleClaw Midstream Ventures. In a press release issued by Kinder Morgan, the company says the Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) will prove an outlet for increased natural gas production from the Permian Basin to growing market areas along the Texas Gulf Coast.  

The company says the pipeline will be able to pump 2 billion cubic feet per day through 430 miles of 42-inch pipeline from Waha to Katy with connections to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mexico markets.  

The pipeline will cut through multiple counties near Austin including, Hays, Blanco, Gillespie, and Caldwell. Many landowners in those counties have already been contacted by the gas company and warned about the potential project.  

The Becker family in Wimberley was notified sometime in September. “To think that a pipeline could come though here is just devastating to us,” said Arlene Becker. “It’s a major intrusion to our retirement home.”

Arlene describes her property with words like heaven, haven and paradise. “We’ve worked hard to preserve it and maintain it,” she said. 

The family’s home overlooks a spring-fed creek, with another spring trickling just up a hill, and they’ve started their own tiny bee farm. They came out here to find peace in retirement. 

“The very edge of the corridor would be right on top of the path of this particular basket in this course, taking down the trees and across the creek over here,” said Larry Becker referring to a disc golf course he’s created within the trees in his front yard. 

A map provided by Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline doesn’t show much detail of its path. That’s because they say nothing is final at this time as they work to find a compromise with landowners. 

“We fully understand that there are going to be impacts from pipeline construction and we want to make them the least impactful that we possibly can,” said Kinder Morgan Vice President of Public Affairs Allen Fore

The company says the way you do that is to talk with surveyors and see if you can find common ground. 

For the Beckers, that compromise may be hard to find. “I believe that it’s too much of an intrusion on us and too much of an environmental impact on what’s going on here in the Wimberley Valley,” said Larry. 

The pipeline company says more than 90 percent of landowners have been notified by this point if they have plans to use their property. It also says it will be holding public meetings to address concerns, but those have yet to be scheduled.

Many state leaders are pushing for new pipelines, including Governor Greg Abbott. Earlier this month, he spoke on CNBC about the importance of pipelines to get oil and gas from west Texas to ports on the coast. 

“The country, and I think the administration, wants to see this get done because they know the country can profit, states will profit, employees will be hired, the more we can produce this oil and gas and get it out of the ground. We need those pipelines to get that done,” said Abbott.

One factor affecting pipeline construction is ongoing uncertainty over trade policy. Pipeline steel is largely made in other countries and subject to tariffs. 

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