Kay Pence owns a ranch in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. About a year ago, she got a call from the pipeline company Kinder Morgan. The caller told her the company planned to run a section of its 430-mile Permian Highway natural gas pipeline through her property. Pence didn’t like that.
“This is going to sound overreactive, but you felt violated,” Pence says. “They have access to your property, and there was nothing you could do.”
In Texas, pipeline companies have the power of eminent domain. That means they can take private land even if the landowner doesn’t want to sell. The company only needs to pay a fair price. Companies say this allows them to build the infrastructure necessary to move oil and gas.
But a fair price can be hard to settle on.