Here Comes the Gas

Attorneys for the city of Austin, two landowners, and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will present arguments in federal court next month in the long-running legal battle against the Longhorn Pipeline. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has set a hearing date for 2pm, July 12.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to set aside a November 2000 environmental assessment study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Dept. of Transportation, which determined that the gasoline pipeline would have no significant impact on the environment or human safety. The underground line follows a route across the Edwards Aquifer and through neighborhoods in southwest and southeast Austin. Longhorn Partners Pipeline and the U.S. Dept. of Justice have filed motions seeking to have the federal study upheld. Longhorn has performed remediation work on the idle, 52-year-old pipeline in parts of Southwest Austin and Hays County, and continued conducting pressure tests on the line this week.

No amount of remediation work will satisfy the city and other plaintiffs trying to halt Longhorn's plans to move gasoline from Houston to West Texas. But despite community-wide sentiment against the pipeline, Longhorn has the federal government in its corner. The company is so confident of a legal victory, in fact, that it has set a date of July 31 to crank up the old pipeline to begin transporting fuel through Austin.

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