The Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project is affecting landowners in many counties including Wharton County, Fort Bend County and Austin County. In the video, Landowner Condemnation Rights Attorney Philip Hundl talks about the latest information on the project. And he talks about some of the things landowners should be thinking about before granting temporary access to their land through a temporary right of access agreement.
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Summary of the Latest Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project Update
Hi, I’m Philip Hundl. I’m an attorney in Texas. I represent landowners facing eminent domain or condemnation proceedings. This might be condemnation involving pipelines, power lines, road expansions, or waterline projects. We’ve also helped landowners facing water irrigation and canal condemnation takings.
I’ve posted several other videos related to this new massive pipeline project called the Matterhorn Express Pipeline project. This 400-mile-long project extends from West Texas, in the Permian Basin, to Fort Bend County.
This is the beginning of this project, so landowners are getting contacted by right-of-way agents or sometimes by the law firms representing the pipeline companies. There’s a lot of pressure to sign agreements early on. There’s a lot of anxiety about what the pipeline might do to your land.
So, that’s why I want to put these videos out there. Hopefully, they’re educational and informative and help you make good decisions about your land.
I want to help you understand where you are in the process. You should know what your rights are and what rights the condemnors have. An excellent website, Oilgasleads.com, has an article on WhiteWater. I’ll mention WhiteWater because that’s the Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project line operator.
Whitewater and the Pipeline Approval Process
What is WhiteWater? It is a joint venture group or entity that joins with various investors to own this pipeline project and then operate it. WhiteWater also operates the Agua Blanca and the Whistler pipelines.
We attorneys in the condemnation practice area have known about a new WhiteWater project coming online. It’s called the Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project. And it spans a whole group of counties — Austin, Burnet, Concho, Fort Bend, Glasscock, Irion, Lampasas, Lee, McCulloch, Midland, Reagan, San Saba, Tom Green, Waller, Wharton, Washington, and Williamson Counties. So quite a few counties.
Whitewater started the approval process with its first request for a permit and to be classified as a gas utility. Whitewater requested permitting for this line of 410 miles. The request stated the pipeline varied in diameter, with 42 inches the largest section of the trunk line. And then it splits off into different laterals. There’s a Katy lateral. The lateral branches have different pipeline sizes, from 30 inches to 36 inches.
The Railroad Commission rejected the first request on March 1st, and then on March 24th, it was again rejected. Their T4 Permit Application ID was 28859, if you want to look that up.
Then on March 28th, they did get permitted for the Matterhorn Express Pipeline project. WhiteWater is saying the operator will be WWM Operating LLC. The economic operator of it is Matterhorn Express Pipeline LLC.
The pipeline owner is Matterhorn Express Pipeline LLC also. So, the operator WWM Operating LLC. WWM refers to WhiteWater. Click this link and scroll down for a Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project map. This is not an exact map of the route.
Your Rights and Temporary Right of Access Agreements
We’re getting calls from landowners who have been contacted by the right-of-way agents. The right-of-way acquisition company that WhiteWater or Matterhorn is using on most of this project is Norfleet. It’s just one of several different right-of-way acquisition companies out there.
These right-of-way acquisition companies contact landowners to get permission to enter their property for surveying purposes. There are different types of surveys — civil engineering surveying, archeological surveying, and environmental assessments.
So if you’re watching this video, you’ve probably been contacted by a right-of-way agent saying we need to get on your property to do surveying. And, they probably sent you a one-page document stating, sign this so that we can get on your property, but if you don’t, you’re going to hear from our lawyers.
And many of you have already heard from the outside counsel law firms that WhiteWater has hired to convince you to give them permission to enter your property. And if you’re not willing to grant that permission, they have probably already said in the letter; we’ll take you to court and get a court order allowing us to go on your property.
So, let’s unpack this. A condemnor will need to evaluate your property to determine whether it does or doesn’t suit its project. They need to be able to do that.
Should they have carte blanche to have complete access to all of your property? I don’t think so. I think they should have limited access. They should have access to do the specific things they need to do to survey and evaluate your property.
So that might mean limiting access to specific days of the week or times during the day. When the survey crews are on your land, would you want to be there? It might mean having someone open the gate to allow them entry.
You might want to limit where they go on your property. Would the survey crew be limited to roads or walking or using a four-wheeler or UTV? Your temporary access agreement should state that the pipeline company is not allowed to begin construction. In other words, this temporary access agreement is not an agreement saying that the pipeline company can start its project.
Many things can be covered in that temporary access agreement. I recommend that you talk with an attorney familiar with condemnation proceedings and dealing with pipeline companies. Your attorney can guide you through the process from the very beginning.
People often say, well, I probably don’t need a lawyer right now. I’ll hire one later on, and that’s fine. That can be your decision, but I think getting an attorney familiar with these cases early on in the process is only beneficial to you, the landowner.
So, if you’re watching this video, you’ve probably been contacted about the Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project. If you have either granted temporary access under terms that you’ve negotiated or, if you’ve accepted their terms, so be it. Just pay attention to what they’re doing on your property.
I’ve linked to a list of the steps of a condemnation case on my website. You’re step one right now. It’s early on in the process. Don’t be nervous about having to make decisions immediately just because you’ve received some correspondence from the law firm of the condemnor. You’ve got time to research attorneys and visit with your attorney about these condemnation proceedings and the condemnation process.
So with that, I hope this information’s been helpful. I’m going to link more information about WhiteWater Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project, the different filings with the Railroad Commission, and a route map.
Get the Help You Need
Call 800-266-4870 for the help you need in protecting your rights in the condemnation process. We have offices in Fort Bend County, Wharton County and Matagorda County, and our appointments can be in-person, online by Zoom or by phone. You can request a no-obligation case evaluation by clicking the button and filling out the form.
- Matterhorn Express Pipeline Update for Landowners
- TROs and the Matterhorn Express Pipeline
- Interview with KXAN TV in Austin Regarding the Matterhorn Express Pipeline
- Are You Affected by the Matterhorn Express Pipeline Project?
- Oilgasleads.com Information
- Steps in the Condemnation Process
- Negotiating Temporary Access Agreements
- Access Agreements for Pipeline Construction