City Of San Marcos Joins Litigation Against Federal Agencies Regarding Permian Hwy Pipeline

By Terra Rivers | Managing Editor

The City of San Marcos has joined the cities of Kyle and Austin and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in filing a lawsuit against federal agencies regarding Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.

On Tuesday, the San Marcos City Council held an executive session to receive legal counsel regarding the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.

According to the City of San Marcos, “The San Marcos City Council, in a unanimous vote, has authorized environmental attorney William S. Eubanks II to file a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)  and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to request a more robust environmental review  of the proposed Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline under the Endangered Species Act.  Based on the eventual responses received as a result of the NOI, this matter may be litigated in Federal court.  For this reason, this City has no additional comment at this time.”

The notice of intent letter (NOI) states that under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, it would be a legal violation for the company to obtain a general permit from the Army Corps of Engineers; under the Endangered Species Act, the company should seek an incidental take permit and prepare a habitat conservation plan.

“In addition to the threat posed by the PHP to several endangered species in the region, the district is also deeply concerned that our hydrologically sensitive aquifers, which provide drinking water to 70,000 people in our district, will be impacted by PHP,” said Blayne Stansberry, President of the BSEACD.

According to BSEACD, pipeline companies are exempted from having to comply with TCEQ’s Texas Edwards Aquifer protection rules, a fact which advocates say makes it all the more important that kinder more comply with the decision.

“Over two million people rely on the Edwards and Edwards-Trinity Aquifers every day for their drinking water,” said David Baker, Executive Direct of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association. “They are home to eight endangered species that can only survive with the clean water flowing from these federally protected springs.”

TREAD Coalition said this is the second NOI issued from communities of interest along the PHP route in just three months.

“The concerns are similar to the one submitted over the summer, insofar as both NOIs raise legal violations concerning Kinder Morgan’s attempt to obtain a general permit from the USACE called a Nationwide 12 permit instead of seeking a more rigorous individual permit under the Clean Water Act,” Tread said in a press release.

“It is beyond legitimate scientific dispute that Kinder Morgan’s construction and operation of its large pipeline through these sensitive areas will pose a serious threat to these aquifers and the endangered and threatened species that live there,” said lead attorney William Eubanks. “As a result, there are several legal obligations that the USACE, USFWS, and Kinder Morgan must satisfy to ensure compliance with the ESA, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.”

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