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Friday, April 3, 2020

City of Austin cites threat to aquifer, salamander in lawsuit to block pipeline

Federal Court

By David Beasley | Feb 17, 2020

File photo

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) – The City of Austin has asked a federal court to stop construction of a natural gas pipeline it says would threaten an aquifer and endanger wildlife, according to a lawsuit filed by the city and others.

The pipeline will harm Austin’s “financial, recreation, and conservation interests in Barton Springs, the Barton Springs salamander, and the Austin blind salamander, as well as compromise its long-range water plan,” the suit says. The city has approved more than $150 million in funding over the last 20 years to conserve sensitive lands over the Edwards Aquifer, the suit says.

There are “many federally endangered and threatened species, as well as essential habitat for those species, within the footprint of the pipeline’s route and within the immediate vicinity surrounding the pipeline’s route,” the lawsuit states.

Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline LLC has announced that it will soon start construction of the pipeline segments near Austin, but lacks legal authority to do so under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to the suit. The 42-inch pipeline is designed to transport about 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. It would run 430 miles from Coyanosa, Texas, to Sheridan, Texas, the suit said.

In addition to Kinder Morgan, the suit names the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as defendants.

Plaintiffs, in addition to the City of Austin, include the City of San Marcos and landowners.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas case number 1:20-CV-00138 

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