Resolution to steer project around Gillespie County couldn't hurt, might help
Is there anyone along the Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) route who wants this thing?
While we appreciate the desire to use natural gas, currently being flared off at many West Texas drill sites, we’d appreciate it a lot more if this project moved south. Kinder Morgan representatives got an earful about the unfairness of the eminent domain rules that exist, safety concerns, family land heritage and much more at its meeting here last week, as detailed in our paper. The cherry on top would be official notices that Gillespie County doesn’t want or need any pipeline projects.
It’s time for the City of Fredericksburg and the Gillespie County commissioners to pass resolutions opposing the PHP. Though their power is limited in what they can do legally, there is little to gain and too much to lose. Hays County commissioners last week passed a resolution opposing the project.
We appreciate our state representative and state senator signing onto legislation to oppose eminent domain projects such as this. But that potential new law wouldn’t take effect until the PHP is well into the game-changing phase. So that’s like closing the barn door after the horses have gotten out. (It’s also noteworthy that large percentages of these candidates’ donations come from the oil industry titans, so pardon our tempered enthusiasm.)
Unfortunately, the legislature over the years has paved the way for the oil and gas industry to roll where it wants. Oil has been the big bear for decades in the Texas economy. And though we’re a more economically diverse state now, the bear still sleeps where it wants, as the old saying goes.
The thing that leaves us in complete wonder is why go through this most pristine part of Texas with this giant line, where natural springs and seeps give their life and the soil, cared for by generations in many cases, seems to do so well with crowd-drawing crops like peaches and, now, grapes? To add insult, it’s almost as if the company had a target on the Hershey Ranch, noted as the largest conservation easement in Gillespie County. Why go there?
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association began an ambitious fundraiser to fight this project. As of Monday afternoon, it has topped $200,000 of its $300,000 goal. Lots of people really do not want this project and are putting their money where their mouth is.
There is not much good to come of this project for Gillespie County. The tax revenue to the county is minimal compared to what tourism and sales taxes bring. We have heard zero landowners who think they’re getting a great deal.
So, maybe the city and county can go on the record as opposing these deals. (Just after we wrote this on Monday, locals against the pipeline asked the council to do the same.) It may not help in the end, but it sure won’t hurt. And it may deter future bright ideas of projects like these thinking they can roll through the beautiful Hill Country. — K.E.C.