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Oil and gas companies can use eminent domain to route pipelines

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2020 | Eminent Domain

Texas has enjoyed an oil and gas boom in recent years. Unfortunately, residents in the state may not have as much say in the use of their private property as they thought. The oil and gas companies file their application with the Railroad Commission of Texas to receive the grant of eminent domain.

NPR ran an article before the 2019 legislative session focused specifically on oil and gas companies. The growing urban populations has increased the need for energy resources. The oil and gas industry has boomed in response requiring additional pipelines throughout the state to carry the hydrocarbons from the field to the refineries.

Many of these companies cite public use for the fuel traveling in the pipelines allowing them to use eminent domain to acquire land from private landowners. The focus on eminent domain is a hot topic but not as prominent as other issues such as property tax reform. These companies would rather work with landowners rather than implementing eminent domain to run their pipelines.

The Railroad Commission of Texas does not actually enforce or grant companies eminent domain rights. Pipeline companies receive those rights through various state laws. The company only completes a T-4 permit through the RRC that grants them the ability to operate the pipeline.

The RRC is most interested in the nature of the material carried within the pipeline and staying within their jurisdiction. These permits are not an application process but a registration one. The only pipelines that have eminent domain are common carriers transporting carbon dioxide, liquified minerals, gas, clay, oil, salt brine, oil products or sand.

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