Eminent Domain and Condemnation

Q: Does a pipeline operator or construction company have to notify the RRC before beginning construction on a pipeline?

A: Yes, the Railroad Commission must be notified when the construction involves a pipeline longer than one mile. Commission rules require the operator to file a pre-construction report 30 days prior to the commencement of construction. However, new construction on natural gas distribution systems of pipelines less than five miles are exempt from this reporting requirement.

Q: What is the typical width of a pipeline easement?

A: Unless specified in a right-of-way agreement, the standard easement is set by statute at a width of 50 feet (Texas Natural Resources Code, ?111.0194).

Q: How close can a pipeline come to my house or other permanent structure?

A: There are no minimum setback requirements concerning natural gas pipelines and structures. However, a hazardous liquids pipeline must be buried an extra 12 inches in addition the 36 inches/3 feet depth that pipelines must be buried at when installed, if the hazardous pipeline is within 50 feet of a permanent structure. Examples of hazardous liquid pipelines are any pipelines other than natural gas pipelines.

Q: How can I get a copy of a new construction report?

A: You can obtain a copy of a new construction report by calling the Safety Division at (512) 463-7046 , or e-mailing to safety@rrc.state.tx.us.

Q: Does a pipeline operator or construction company have to notify the RRC before beginning construction on a pipeline?

A: Yes, the Railroad Commission must be notified when the construction involves a pipeline longer than one mile. Commission rules require the operator to file a pre-construction report 30 days prior to the commencement of construction. However, new construction on natural gas distribution systems of pipelines less than five miles are

Q: How deep does a pipeline have to be buried?

A: A minimum of 3 feet depth. However, pipeline operators are not required to maintain this depth if erosion occurs after the pipeline’s installation.

Q: Do all pipeline operators have the power of eminent domain?

A: Generally speaking, common carrier pipelines in Texas have a statutory right of eminent domain. Common carrier pipelines are operators that transport oil, oil products, gas, carbon dioxide, salt brine, sand, clay, liquefied minerals or other mineral solutions.

Q: Where can I get more information on pipeline easements, eminent domain, and condemnation proceedings?

A: A good source of information on these issues can be found at Texas A & M University’s Real Estate Center’s web site, at http://recenter.tamu.edu/pubs/. From that page, select a topic from the left side of the page, such as “Condemnation,” or “Easements.”

Q: How can we contact pipeline operators authorized by the Railroad Commission in Texas?

A: The Railroad Commission provides a listing of authorized operators on the Commission website (PDF) that is updated monthly. You can view the actual T-4 Permit in the Commission’s searchable online application at http://rrcsearch.neubus.com/. Click here to view the instructions on how to search for T-4 Permits.

Q: What rights do I have as a landowner?

A: We suggest that you review the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights published by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

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