The Big Bend Conservation Alliance has launched a presidential petition drive to oppose the Trans Pecos Pipeline, a project still in development that would transport natural gas from a hub near Coyanosa in Pecos County to Presidio, thence to another pipeline in Ojinaga, Mexico, and eventually provide natural gas into Mexico’s interior.
“As one of the last unspoiled places in Texas,” says the Alliance, “the Big Bend cannot be sacrificed for Mexico’s energy future.”
The precise route of the pipeline has not been determined – the operators, Energy Transfer Partners are currently surveying potential routes, but in its presidential petition, the Alliance describes the project as “a high-pressure 42″ gas pipeline (LARGER than the 36″ Keystone XL) cutting through our region with brightly illuminated, noise- and toxic gas-emitting compression stations located every 30 miles along the route.” Construction of the below-ground pipeline is planned to begin late next year, for a 2017 completion, if the company can define the route and acquire the easements from property owners – either willingly, or through eminent domain.
Not everyone in the region opposes the project; some people in Presidio and elsewhere argue that it will generate jobs and other economic development, and perhaps even allow residents access to natural gas (Presidio is currently fueled by propane). Others say providing natural gas to Mexican industry might mean less reliance on dirtier coal, a major source of air pollution in the region. A series of thorough stories by Sasha von Olderhausen in The Big Bend Sentinel has reported on the process and the controversy. Supporters of the Alliance note that many visitors to Big Bend country – Marfa, Terlingua, etc. – arrive from Central Texas, and they are asking folks to sign the petition before May 5 – the deadline to submit the 100,000 signatures needed to evoke a presidential response. The petition asks President Barack Obama not to issue the permit that would allow the pipeline to cross the international border.