The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Monday it would not try to delay or block a large natural gas pipeline planned for the Big Bend, dealing a blow to opponents who argue the project will damage the pristine West Texas region.
An environmental assessment issued Monday by FERC — focusing on the 1,093-foot Rio Grande crossing portion of the 148-mile long pipeline — concluded it will not “significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”
In the report, FERC staff also recommended an overall finding of “no significant impact,” the best outcome pipeline decision developers could have hoped for in their effort to export natural gas to Mexico through one of the state’s least developed regions.
Opponents in the Big Bend, who had hoped the FERC review would at least delay the project, reacted with dismay.
“This action by FERC is certainly the worst possible outcome for the preservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Big Bend region but at the same time not surprising or unexpected,” said Mattie Matthaei, director of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance.
“The Big Bend is one of very few and rapidly dwindling unspoiled places left in this country and its protection is the mission of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance,” she added.
A spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, part of a bi-national consortium seeking to build the pipeline, applauded the decision.