Cities and groups threaten lawsuits to block $2 billion natural pipeline in Texas

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan has begun construction of a controversial $2 billion natural gas pipeline in the Texas Hill Country, prompting three cities to join environmental groups threatening lawsuits over the project.

The cities of Austin, San Marcos and Kyle joined two groups that contend seven endangered and threatened species are in the path of the pipeline that would carry natural gas from the Permian Basin to a hub near Houston. The groups are threatening a lawsuit against the federal agencies that approved the Permian Highway Pipeline that goes through the Texas Hill Country.

Leaders of the three cities voted to join the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in filing a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean recently told investors the company acquired nearly 85 percent of the right-of-way needed for the line that will carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

The project still needs permits from the two federal agencies for the eastern end of the 430-mile route but Kean explained that construction on the 42-inch pipeline is already underway on the western end.