by Novena Sadasivam at Texas Observer
In a victory for Big Bend ranchers and conservationists, a Presidio county special commission has awarded six landowners about $2.8 million in compensation for the use of their property to construct the Trans-Pecos pipeline and the resulting loss in property value.
The assessment is close to 30 times the amount the company vying to build the pipeline offered as compensation for rights-of-way around the buried pipe.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has so far filed eminent domain lawsuits against about 40 landowners in Brewster, Presidio and Pecos counties. At least seven of those cases were heard by special commissioners in the last week, according to attorney Zachary Brady, who represents landowners seeking higher compensation from ETP. Landowners prevailed in six cases, and commissioners ruled a seventh case in favor of the pipeline company.
The Trans-Pecos, a 143-mile pipeline that will move natural gas from the Permian Basin to the border at Presidio and into Mexico, has been a controversial issue in the Big Bend region since ETP announced plans to build it more than a year ago. Landowners and environmental advocates say the pipeline will ruin the region’s pristine wilderness and pose safety threats to nearby residents, while ETP says the project will improve air quality in the region by providing northern Mexico with low-carbon natural gas.