Kinder Morgan Inc can begin work on a $2 billion natural gas pipeline without having the Texas energy regulator approve its proposed route, a state judge ruled on Tuesday.
The decision removes a challenge to the state’s licensing process that lets gas pipeline companies determine their own route and acquire land without a landowner’s consent. Texas is in the midst of a pipeline-construction boom with multibillion-dollar projects under way to bring shale oil and gas to market.
A Travis County District court ruled the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator, is not required to set standards for routing the pipelines or private land-takings, Judge Lora Livingston wrote on Tuesday. The state allows gas pipeline operators that qualify as utilities to use eminent domain to take land for the public good.
“The court finds no authority for…