Important Texas Infrastructure Moves Forward
As Texas producers look ahead to the future, additional infrastructure – like pipelines – are needed to help facilitate a post-pandemic recovery and help drive important environmental and economic benefits. But proposed projects have faced significant opposition from fringe environmental activists promoting misinformation about the safety and importance of pipelines, and in turn, causing delays and, in some cases, even cancellations.
As Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean recently explained:
“Pipelines are the safest way of transporting the energy we all need to sustain our economy and way of life. Unlike roads, rail lines and power lines, pipelines move this energy underground with the ground above restored following construction. The 810 miles of pipelines already operating in the Hill Country today include Kinder Morgan’s Hill Country Pipeline, which has operated safely for decades. Actually, we’d argue that the pipelines in the Hill Country are safer than some of the roads Texans travel routinely.” (emphasis added)
And yet, the company’s Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) – a 430-mile natural gas line traversing from the Waha Hub in West Texas to markets along the Gulf Coast – has been the focus of a coordinated effort to prevent it from being built, largely because of misinformation surrounding the project. As Kean explained:
“Especially in times like these, it is important to focus on facts and not fear. Those facts bear out what we all know: landowners in Texas and across America have long lived in safe proximity to pipelines, enjoying the benefits of both affordable energy and a clean environment.”
In Kean’s op-ed he describes the efforts his company has made to engage with the community and, when possible, adjust its construction to be responsive to community concerns. For instance, the company plans to re-route part of the line to avoid crossing the Blanco River. This re-route adds approximately two additional miles of pipe but removes the need to use deep drilling during construction.
In fact, over the lifespan of the project, Kinder Morgan has made more than 150 adjustments to the initial route proposal to avoid sensitive geological regions and accommodate landowner requests.
Kean also addressed a recent incident resulting in the loss of drilling fluid during construction in Blanco County. Though drilling fluid is non-toxic, typically consisting of bentonite clay mixed with a small amount of additives, Kinder Morgan permanently halted construction at the river. According to Kean, testing concluded there was no groundwater contamination caused by drilling fluid used by the pipeline:
“Testing shows there is no well-water contamination today from the drilling fluid used by PHP. That’s not surprising, given that the drilling fluid is certified for use in drilling water wells by the international standards authority NSF International.”
Texas pipeline projects like the PHP support more than 150,000 high-paying jobs and it’s estimated these projects will contribute $374 billion to the state in the 10-year period between 2014 and 2024. As Kean explains:
“Shutting down the pipeline, as some have demanded, denies these benefits and sends over 2,000 workers home months ahead of the project’s anticipated completion early next year.”
In more good news for the pipeline, on August 11, 2020, the Hays County Commissioners Court unanimously reissued Kinder Morgan the road crossing permits, which they had previously revoked, after the company presented a scientific report to Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District who deemed it is now safe for construction to resume.
The pipeline is nearly 80 percent complete and scheduled to be in service during the first quarter of 2021. And the best part: It’s just one of several projects underway that will be crucial in helping drive post-pandemic recovery, reduce operators’ need to flare off excess natural gas, provide high-paying jobs for hard-working Texans, and help power our homes, towns and businesses.