Representative Erin Zwiener Files HB 2277 to Require Pipeline Corporations to do an Environmental Impact Study for Intrastate Projects

UNITED STATES – AUGUST 25: A portion of the Rocky Express Pipeline is lowered during its construction in Lancaster, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. Once complete, the natural gas pipeline system will stretch 1,679-miles from Rio Blanco County, Colorado, to Monroe County, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On February 22nd Representative Erin Zwiener House Bill 2277 that would require corporations such as Kinder Morgan to do an Environmental Impact Assessment when building a pipeline within the state of Texas. Currently there is no such regulation and pipeline companies have very little they have to do before choosing a route. Please write your representatives in support of this bill!

“Our aquifers are so porous, our rock is so porous that our aquifers recharge quickly, and there’s very little filtration of the water down to them,” Zwiener said. “That means we’re a lot more vulnerable to contamination.”

Zwiener’s bill would strengthen oversight of pipelines and provide specific protections for environmentally sensitive areas such as Hays County by placing limits on what a pipeline can carry—a topic raised by residents both in Kyle on Feb. 13 and at Kinder Morgan’s meeting Feb. 12 in Wimberley.

“To me the thing that was very disturbing is that they’re talking about it being a gas line, but they’re able to switch that over to moving anything they want at some point,” Wimberley resident Jaime Sterling said. “It could be oil in 10 years.”

Zwiener hopes to get Kinder Morgan to commit to carrying only natural gas in the Permian Highway Pipeline in perpetuity, but either way, she will include rules around converting pipelines in new legislation.

“Regardless of what they do, I’m going to be bringing a bill to limit the transportation of [oil and hazardous]liquids over karst-based aquifers,” Zwiener said. “We’re just too vulnerable.”

Having spoken before about how little is required from pipeline companies when it comes to public process, Zwiener noted in addition to her own bill, she is supporting eminent domain reform legislation filed in January by state Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham. Known as House Bill 991 and Senate Bill 421, the bills would require a public meeting and additional protection for landowners.

“Other major infrastructure goes through public, transparent processes,” Zwiener said. “And any time the state’s power of eminent domain is being used to take landowner rights from Texans, we need that transparent and public process.”

It is important time in Texas history. We have to stand up now against corporations, such as Kinder Morgan that would threaten our sensitive ecosystems and landowner rights with no recourse.

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