June 5, 2022

 

 

The Matterhorn pipeline route stretches across Texas.

The Matterhorn pipeline route stretches across Texas.

 

 

Wilco residents speak out against proposed pipeline

 

By KATE THURMOND

Williamson County commissioners heard from concerned Taylor-area landowners on Tuesday about the potential path of a natural gas pipeline. 

The proposed Matterhorn Express Pipeline is estimated to span 490 miles across Texas, from Waha near Odessa to the Katy area outside of Houston. The pipeline would cross Williamson County, entering from the northwest, passing through the Florence, Circleville and Taylor areas, and exiting in the southeast. 

It is a joint venture with Austin-based WhiteWater,  an infrastructure company. 

The Taylor-area property owners said they were contacted a few months ago by representatives from Matterhorn to agree to conduct a land survey on their properties. Surveys lead to the company making an offer to use the land as an easement once the pipeline path is decided. 

Three Williamson County residents spoke out against this process in commissioner’s court Tuesday. 

“The State of Texas has given private, for profit pipeline companies the governmental power of eminent domain, apparently without restriction,” said Carol Fox, who owns a property in Taylor along the San Gabriel River. “How Texan is it simply to barge in and ruthlessly run over people? A pipeline company such as Matterhorn should be willing to listen to and work with the people.”

She said the proposed route would have the pipeline cut directly through the middle of the land owned by her and her brother. She spoke about family gatherings that have taken place on the property, and how the pipeline would put them to an end. 

“Are you willing to build a bonfire near a natural gas pipeline?” she asked. 

She called on commissioners to express “solidarity” with county constituents by passing a resolution to oppose the path of the pipeline, in the hope of redirecting its path around their and other residents’ land. 

“If a company can waste money by choosing the very most expensive place to build its pipeline, surely it can accommodate landowners to minimize the damage to their properties,” she said. 

Betty Zimmerhanzel, former owner of Circleville Store and Grain Inc., also implored commissioners to weigh in on the pipeline. 

“With your help, we got Samsung to come to our area,” she said. “I was told that route at one point was being considered until [Matterhorn] found out Samsung was being built there. 

“There are other routes they could take that would not affect this county. All we’re asking is to consider this.”

The court did not respond to the speakers or the request for a resolution against the project, but Commissioner Russ Boles, who represents Precinct 4, said he will be reaching out to speak to the citizens privately. 

Many of the families whose land is being considered for the pipeline project have hired legal counsel and intend to fight the survey, which would then likely lead to easement agreements with Matterhorn.