A windstorm wailed outside the Alpine Public Library on Wednesday evening. Inside, the howls were just as embittered.
Nearly 200 area residents crowded into the library to participate in a meeting concerning the Trans Pecos Pipeline project, which was organized by the Big Bend Conservation Alliance. Another 50 or so flowed out onto the front lawn, barred from entering the building due to fire safety policies.
But the gathering, which was designated an “informational meeting,” more closely resembled a public forum for voicing dissent. The Big Bend Conservation Alliance impressed that it was not a meeting to oppose the pipeline. However, it soon became evident that few voices in the audience strayed from that stance, and that the information available was still very much rooted in speculation.
Chief among the questions posed by audience members was the issue of whether or not the pipeline project will include compression stations, which would require much more infrastructure, and thereby have a more significant environmental impact.
Representatives from Energy Transfer – one of the energy companies comprising the consortium of companies that will head the pipeline project – have stated that the initial plan will not consist of compression stations. However, several audience members expressed skepticism over that claim.
Additionally, concerns over a 23-acre plot of land in west Alpine that was recently cleared by the pipeline construction service Pumpco, Inc., which has worked with Energy Transfer on projects in the past, incited more speculation.