With the Trans Pecos Pipeline project already under way with shipments of pipe making their way across West Texas via train, the pipeline’s opposition movement has also become a more cohesive and united front.
At Tuesday’s special city council meeting in Alpine, the purpose of which was to discuss the Trans Pecos Pipeline and hear residents’ concerns about it, some 150 people were in attendance. Several residents, who brought picket signs bearing the words “No Pipeline,” were asked to leave – but not without a fight.
“That’s bullshit,” an audience member remarked. Another attendee asked the city council to cite the legal code upon which they were making the demand.
Tensions settled, and the meeting proceeded with more than an hour allotted to hearing from area residents about their concerns regarding the pipeline project. Despite the earlier tussle, attendees lined up behind the podium in an orderly single file.
“It’s good to see so many people in the community here – many who can’t agree on anything else – but who are here in opposition to the pipeline,” said one area resident, who approached the podium to address the city council.
Most residents in attendance were familiar faces – many of whom have allied themselves with The Big Bend Conservation Alliance’s efforts to stop the pipeline – but there were new ones, as well. Jeff Bennett, a geologist who works for Big Bend National Park, delivered a lucid and rousing speech.
“I understand construction. I know it is messy, often ugly, and also sometimes necessary,” Bennett said. “I also know that when a project is covered in red flags, at best it’s a boondoggle, at worst it’s a disaster.”
“The insistence by TPP and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) that this is an intrastate pipeline and needs no federal approval is not supportable and should give everyone reason to doubt everything about the project and the partnership,” he added. “Claiming that they are a public utility before having a plan in place to distribute gas to customers is disingenuous. The proposed project is obviously a transmission line, not a distribution line.”
The narrative of those opposed to the pipeline was consistent with what’s already been said: Energy Transfer Partners has not been transparent about its plans, there are real environmental and human concerns pertaining to the pipeline project, and residents of Alpine and Sunny Glen are concerned about its proximity to the city – particularly, that the proposed route is projected to run near the city’s only hospital and airport.