HB 3547 by Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville), Chair of the House Business & Industry Committee, would prohibit a person who owns, operates, or manages a pipeline from exercising the power of eminent domain to construct a pipeline without a determination from the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) that the person is a common carrier. The bill defines “common carrier” to exclude a pipeline owner, operator, or manager unless at least 10 percent of the pipeline’s capacity is used or is reasonably likely to be used to transport substances for one or more unaffiliated persons.
To obtain a determination of common carrier status, the pipeline must apply to the Railroad Commission and SOAH. SOAH must conduct one or more hearings under the contested case procedure in the Administrative Procedures Act (Chap. 2001, Government Code). If requested, at least one hearing shall be open to the public and held in the county where the pipeline will be located. SOAH has the discretion to have additional hearings in other affected counties. The introduced version of the bill does not specify whether judicial review of SOAH’s decision is by trial de novo or substantial evidence.