Montezuma County Attorney John Baxter filed a motion in District Court Nov. 11 asking for the dismissal of Kinder Morgan’s lawsuit against the county’s limitations on its plans for a billion-dollar expansion of its CO2 operation in the Cow Canyon area.
As a condition of granting permits for construction of 10 miles of power lines to operate compressor stations and other equipment, the county required KM to obtain signed agreements with all affected landowners before the power lines could be installed. Kinder Morgan immediately filed suit in District Court accusing the county of placing illegal and unreasonable obstacles in the path of its development.
KM maintains that its only requirement, established through legal and leasing precedents, is to make reasonable attempts to come to such agreements with what are known as surface owners, who commonly do not own or control whatever mineral resources may be beneath the surface.
However, in his brief response to KM’s lengthy request for the court finding that the county commission had both exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its authority in imposing this condition, Baxter concedes that on several points the defendants (the commissioners) “lack sufficient knowledge or information to admit or deny (various citations of law and precedents offered by KM) and therefore deny the allegations.”
On one point, Baxter contends that the commissioners “deny that Kinder Morgan needs to install 10 miles of power distribution lines.”
In conclusion, Baxter states that “the plaintiffs are not entitled to the requested relief or any other relief.
“Defendants (the county commissioners) deny all allegations in the Complaint not expressly admitted to which a response is deemed required.”
No hearing date has been set to hear arguments in the case, and there remains a possibility that Kinder Morgan may ignore the county’s condition and proceed with construction at any rate.