U.S. Rep. Will Hurd paints himself as a defender of Big Bend National Park after penning a 2015 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling for greater federal oversight in construction of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.
But former Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, doesn’t see Hurd, R-Helotes, as much of friend to the national park, which includes 118 miles of U.S.-Mexico border and is entirely within the sprawling 23rd Congressional District of Texas. Gallego is challenging Hurd in the Nov. 8 general election, a rematch that saw Gallego lose to Hurd two years ago in the “swing” congressional district.
In a press release, Gallego said Hurd co-sponsored “a bill that would militarize our border and allow 200 miles of new roads to be built in the Big Bend region — cutting up our beloved park.”
Gallego said he was concerned about the Secure Our Borders First Act, or House Resolution 399, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, on Jan. 16, 2015.
The bill would bring an increase in federal agents and hundreds of new miles of roads in Texas’ most scenic area.
McCaul has said his measure sets new infrastructure requirements for each U.S. Customs and Border Protection sector along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and provides penalties to step up security.
According to congressional records, Hurd was one of 15 original cosponsors of HR 399.
The bill authorizes new roads across the entire southern U.S. border with Mexico, and it specifies construction in what U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls the Big Bend sector. The sector, formerly called the Marfa sector, encompasses 77 Texas counties and the state of Oklahoma — 165,154 square miles.