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Home | Tag Archives: trans-pecos pipeline

Tag Archives: trans-pecos pipeline

Guest Columnist: The Other End of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline

Texans are a strange bunch. They consume more energy than residents of any other state, yet they oppose the infrastructure necessary for providing energy.

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline, which will carry natural gas from the Ft. Stockton area in West Texas south into Mexico, is a case in point. Discussion, pro and con, has paid little attention to what will happen once gas from the pipeline reaches Mexico.

Given repeated charges by critics, it’s worth considering what the Trans-Pecos Pipeline won’t do. It won’t carry natural gas to Mexico to be re-exported from Mexico to Asia. That is about as likely as someone building a pipeline to carry water from El Paso to Houston.

The demand for natural gas in Mexico has been soaring because it’s used to replace fuel oil in the generation of electricity.

Not only is Mexican natural-gas production declining, but at the current rate of production its reserves will only last for six years. (1) In contrast, natural-gas imports increased by 26 percent annually between 2010 and 2015. (2) Last August natural-gas imports from the United States totaled 4.190 billion cubic feet a day. (3)

Nor will the pipeline put Mexicans (or Texans, for that matter) at undue risk. Moving energy always involves some risk—remember the Exxon Valdez. The record of pipelines indicates that if energy is to be moved, pipelines are the way to go.

The oil industry gives a good indication of pipeline safety. It is roughly 40
times safer to move oil by pipeline than by rail and 100 times safer than by road tankers. (4)

What the Trans-Pecos Pipeline will do is greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by allowing natural gas to substitute for fuel oil in electrical generation. Using natural gas to generate electricity emits only 53 percent as much carbon dioxide as using fuel oil. (5)

Generating electricity with natural gas will also reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides emitted, thus contributing to public health.

In addition to cleaning up the skies, natural gas from the pipeline will reduce the cost of electricity. Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission reports that generating electricity with natural gas is only 27 percent as costly as generation with fuel oil. (6) Lower energy costs not only benefit residential consumers, but favor the establishment of job-creating industries in Mexico.

In anticipation of gas from the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, a German company has started construction of what will be Mexico’s largest fertilizer plant. It will use natural gas as a raw material.

In an ideal world, both Mexico and the United States would shift to renewable energy with the same intensity that industry shifted to arms production during World War II. (7) However, given political reality, this doesn’t appear to be likely anytime soon in either Mexico or the United States.

Rather, the shift to renewables looks to be a long, drawn-out process, just as the shift from wood to coal and from coal to oil were. (8) In the United States only 5.5 percent of electricity comes from wind and 1.4 percent from solar. (9) Mexico is still further away from zero emissions.

During this protracted process of shifting to renewables, gas from the Trans-Pecos Pipeline will lessen greenhouse-gas emissions—benefiting not only Mexicans but the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants.

1. BP Statistical Review 2016, p. 20.
2. IEA, Mexico’s Energy Outlook, pp. 23-24.
3. Expansión.newsletter, Jan. 16, 2017.
4. Vaclav Smil (2015) Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century, p. 59.
5. La Jornada, May 8, 2016, p. 8.
6. Reforma, Feb. 2, 2016, p. 1 negocios.
7. Bill McKibben discusses this scenario. New Republic, Sept. 2016, pp. 22-31.
8. For a superb graph depicting this transition see Atlantic, Nov. 2015, p. 60.
9. PV Magazine, March 2, 2017.

Author: Philip L. Russell

Russell is an independent author based in Austin, Texas. His writings on Mexico have appeared in publications ranging from the New York Times to Mexico City’s La Jornada. He has also written seven books on Latin America, the last of which is The Essential History of Mexico: from Pre-Conquest to Present (Routledge, 2016).

Big Bend Conservation Alliance Partners with Sofia Coppola to Release Limited Edition T-Shirt

The Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) announced Tuesday a partnership with director Sofia Coppola to release a limited edition t-shirt in support of BBCA’s fight against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and its mission to preserve and celebrate iconic West Texas.

The Save Marfa t-shirt, designed by Coppola, intends to bring awareness to the environmental challenges facing Marfa and the Big Bend region including the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, light pollution, and increased fracking.

Through conversations with Rainer Judd, daughter of artist Donald Judd, Coppola designed the Save Marfa t-shirt with handwritten text that reads “Marfa Special Forces,” invoking a task force of the popular travel destination.

“I’ve known Rainer since we met as teenagers and we have been friends over the years,” said Coppola. “We share a love of art and revolutionary spirit. I remember visiting her childhood home in Marfa with her years ago and when she told me about the pipeline there, I helped her make this t-shirt to bring whatever attention it can to keeping Marfa’s land and sky protected.”

All proceeds will benefit the BBCA in support of their fight against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and other threats facing the Big Bend region. The t-shirt can be purchased for $40 online and locally in Marfa at The Capri.

Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) is a volunteer-driven organization that seeks to celebrate and preserve the natural, cultural, and economic resources of the Big Bend region of Texas.

BBCA was started in response to the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in order to provide a reputable source of accurate, important information about the project, its progress, and its effects to the area’s environment and residents. As BBCA’s work has developed, the organization’s focus has broadened to address four topics that represent the core challenges to the region’s integrity: landowner rights, eminent domain abuse, clean water, and dark skies.

Further, BBCA seeks to protect the fundamentally American right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as due process when one of those rights is threatened.

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline (TPP) is a 42-inch natural gas transmission line designed to send and receive up to 1.35 billion cubic feet of United States fracked gas to Mexico for further shipment overseas. The pipeline crosses through Big Bend, running east of the Davis Mountains, through the famed Marfa Lights area, and alongside the Chinati Mountains before tunneling beneath the Rio Grande into Mexico.

Although the United States is covered with oil and gas transmission pipelines, these existing pipelines until now have ended in the Permian Basin, far north of Marfa and the Big Bend Region.

The pipeline opens the door to additional industrial infrastructure in the Big Bend region, destroying the area’s pristine nature. The Big Bend is an unparalleled geological and ecological showcase, famous for its brilliant night skies and panoramic vistas. There is no precedent in this region for the scale of ground disturbance required during construction: a 125-foot wide bladed corridor along the entire 148-mile pipeline route.

Along the way it cuts through intact native grasslands, desert scrublands, and across intermittent and ephemeral desert streams that harbor rare species with limited distributions.

With the construction of the pipeline, a network of new roads and associated pipeline infrastructure such as block valves, meters, and blowdown stations are being built. In the process the pipeline and its infrastructure fragment one of the largest intact bioregions in the country uniquely sensitive to human disturbance. It is a fragile bioregion that can take generations to recover.

For more information on the impact of the pipeline, click HERE.

Texas Groups Vow to Block Natural-Gas Pipeline Project

ALPINE, Texas – A recent victory by protesters in North Dakota to stop a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline has inspired West Texas environmental groups that oppose a similar project.

Protesters of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, including the Big Bend Defense Coalition, have recently escalated from informational pickets to civil disobedience, with more confrontational protests planned in the coming weeks.

Lori Glover, leader of the coalition, said it took a while for West Texas residents to fully understand what’s at stake if the project is completed.

“That realization, when I started talking to people, that they knew nothing about our pipeline, which is also an Energy Transfer Partners pipeline, and we had been fighting it before Standing Rock had started fighting theirs,” she said.

Glover said the groups plan to establish an encampment in the path of the pipeline to permanently block its progress. She calls it ironic that, since the gas would flow to Mexico, the pipeline wouldn’t benefit anyone living along its route. Builder Energy Transfer Partners said in Mexico, the gas will replace coal to run power plants with less pollution.

The 148-mile pipeline would transport natural gas from Fort Stockton into Mexico, under the Rio Grande River. In early December, Glover and others were arrested after they chained themselves to a fence at a construction site. She said the pipeline is routed through pristine parts of West Texas, and completing it will damage the ecosystem.

“If you see how much displacement happens when they create a pipeline, it’s easy to understand how this huge space going through a creek bed is going to disrupt the flow of these important tributaries to the Rio Grande,” she explained.

Glover said many of the groups that protested in North Dakota have pledged to join the Texas encampment, which she said should be in place at an undisclosed location along the pipeline route by early next year.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

El Pasoans Stand With Dakota Pipeline Protesters; Same Company Building Pipeline in Region

Opposition over the Dakota Pipeline hit close to home for four El Pasoans, representing the Causa Unidos organization.

Earlier this month, Rosemary Martinez and three others journeyed to North Dakota to deliver medical supplies and lend their support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to its construction.

In their hopes of raising spirits and bringing positive energy with them, the four took prayer staffs.Resized_20160906_113034_1473364041972

“One of the main reasons we came up here (to Standing Rock) was to leave the staffs at the river here and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in North Dakota.”

Martinez arrived in Standing Rock, North Dakota on September 5, just after protests opposed the demolition by crews actions that resulted in the destruction of native burial grounds.

Martinez and the group also brought along more than 200 letters from Riverside and Del Valle High School students were delivered to officials protesting the pipeline at Standing Rock.

During Labor Day weekend, construction crews in North Dakota destroyed gravestones and sacred stone features according to the emergency injunction appeal the Sioux Tribe filed on September 12.    

On September 16, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an injunction and a halt in construction of the pipeline for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

In a Facebook post, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued this statement:

Photo Courtesy: Rosemary Martinez Causa Unidos
Photo Courtesy: Rosemary Martinez Causa Unidos

“This is a temporary administrative injunction and is meant to maintain status quo while the court decides what to do with the Tribe’s motion. The Tribe appreciates this brief reprieve from pipeline construction and will continue to oppose this project, which will severely jeopardize its water and cultural resources. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

Tez Soto, 18, of El Paso said he went to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with those opposing the pipeline as well. Soto said he has friends and relatives in South and North Dakota.

Soto traveled with Martinez earlier this month.

“It’s a big deal to me,” Soto said. “I have a lot of friends and relatives that are on Facebook and I was keeping up with their posts. I’m here because water is life and the only thing keeping us alive.”


According to the Energy Transfer Company website and their January press release, the Dakota Pipeline, a $3.7 billion infrastructuredapl project, will cross through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois and is expected to transport about 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken and Three Forks in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

“During construction, Dakota Access will pay substantial state sales taxes to North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Dakota Access also will pay significant property taxes to the four states once the pipeline is in service,” The release states. “Additionally, Dakota Access will employ up to 4,000 construction workers per state to build the 1,168 miles of 30-inch pipeline. One hundred percent of these workers will be union contractors with up to 50 percent sourced from local union halls. Dakota Access is projected to be in service by late 2016.”

In July the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, North Dakota filed a lawsuit against Energy Transfer. The lawsuit details that the pipeline traverses through a site of “religious and cultural significance” to the Oceti Sakowin, in the pipeline’s route to Iowa.

The pipeline’s construction would also affect Lake Oahe, a primary source of drinking water for the tribes along the route. The pipeline would cross underneath the lake. In addition the pipeline would cross Lake Sakakawea.

“The current proposed route crosses Lake Oahe a half of a mile upstream of the Tribe’s reservation boundary, where any leak or spill from the pipeline would flow into the reservation,” The lawsuit states. “The Tribe and its members have been deeply concerned about the potential impacts of the Lake Oahe crossing since its inception, for two primary reasons. First, the Tribe relies on the waters of Lake Oahe for drinking water, irrigation, fishing, and recreation, and to carry out cultural and religious practices. The public water supply for the Tribe, which provides drinking water for thousands of people, is located a few miles downstream of the proposed pipeline crossing route. Additionally, the cultural and religious significance of these waters cannot be overstated. An oil spill from the pipeline into Lake Oahe would cause an economic, public health and welfare, and cultural crisis of the greatest magnitude.”

In  response to the protests against the pipeline in North Dakota others have taken to raising their voices on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Facebook page to raise awareness about other pipelines in the works including the Diamond Pipeline

According to the company website, Diamond Pipeline LLC, the project is estimated to cost $900 million and will consist of 440 miles of a 20-inch pipeline that, if built, would transport 200,000 of sweet crude oil per day from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis Tennessee.  

Construction is expected to be complete in 2017.

While the pipeline, the protests and the controversy may seem light-years away to most borderland residents, our region has a connection to the on-going situation in the Dakotas.

Close to home: Orogrande Basin drilling and the Trans-Pecos Pipeline

Energy Transfer, the same company that is currently in litigation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota is also looking at Texas for the construction of a pipeline that would cross through the Rio Grande and into Mexico.

The Trans Pecos Pipeline is currently under construction, said Vicki Granado, spokesperson for Energy Transfer in an email to the El Paso Herald Post.

For additional questions and information Granado referred the El Paso Herald to the Trans Pecos Pipeline website for details.

According to the website the Trans-Pecos Pipeline will transport 1.4 cubic feet of natural gas. The 148-mile pipeline will run from WahatPPppline Hub, outside of Fort Stockton, Texas and will conclude at the U.S.-Mexico Border, just south of Presidio, Texas.

The gas will then be delivered to Mexico and anticipated date of service, according to the website, is May of 2017.

The pipeline is to be 42-inches in diameter; and would be buried at a minimum of 48 feet; and perhaps deeper in some areas according to Energy Transfers.

According to Energy Transfers, the project:

“Will benefit air quality in the region by replacing Northern Mexico’s fuel source with clean-burning natural gas. Northern Mexico’s power generation plants currently produce harmful greenhouse gases from burning diesel, coal and wood.”

projectsJust 2 hours east of El Paso another project is underway – the Orogrande Basin drilling project in Hudsepth County.

Torchlight Energy, the company leading the project, did not return messages for comment on Thursday; nor respond to an email sent via their website contact form on Friday.

However, according to Torchlight Energy Investor Presentation dated for August, in February 2016 Founders Oil and Gas approved initial plans to drill three wells in the Orogrande Prospect.

The timeline indicates that in April drilling commenced on a second well for the project; and in June a depth of 6,1052 feet was reached for the second well.


To read a previous story on the project, click HERE.

Protested Big Bend Pipeline now closer to approval

A coalition of ranchers, environmentalists and disgruntled landowners has suffered a major setback in its battle to block a proposed pipeline that would carry natural gas beneath 143 miles of largely untouched Big Bend-area land.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff offered a key endorsement of a stretch of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, writing that it “would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” in a draft environmental assessment issued Monday.

The agency, which would regulate a part of the project that crosses into Mexico, also declined to expand its environmental review to the entire project as opponents had sought.

“Unfortunately, the most negative, worst-case outcome is what we’ve received,” the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, the group leading the protest, said in a statement that accused the agency of “burying its head in the sand.”

The 42-inch-wide pipeline would start at the Waha storage hub near Fort Stockton and cut through Pecos, Brewster and Presidio counties before crossing beneath the Rio Grande near the town of Presidio. It could bring up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of gas each day into Mexico, where officials have recently opened up the energy sector to private companies.

Its planners include Energy Transfer Partners and Mexico’s Carso Energy — a partnership that links Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren with Carso’s Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men.

Vicki Granado, an Energy Transfer spokeswoman, said Monday that the company was “pleased” with the federal agency’s latest assessment. Energy Transfer plans to start construction in the coming months.

Supporters say the pipeline will bring jobs to West Texas — even if almost all are temporary — and yield a few million dollars in local tax revenue. Bringing natural gas into Mexico could help wean the nation’s border cities off dirtier-burning coal, wood and heating oil.

Opponents say the pipeline will at least temporarily mar the near-pristine landscape and come with safety risks such as explosions and wildfires. Others simply don’t want to lose their land to eminent domain.

The federal energy commission says it will oversee only the 1,093-foot stretch of pipeline that crosses below the Rio Grande and into Mexico. Texas has authority over the rest, which is considered an “intrastate” pipeline.

Since Texas plays no role in routing pipelines or studying environmental impacts, those protesting the Trans-Pecos project asked the federal commission to study the environmental impacts of the full project.

The agency declined to do so on Monday.

The commission “has no jurisdiction for the intrastate pipeline facilities; therefore the scope of the proposed action in this [environmental assessment] is the Presidio Border Crossing Project,” Monday’s report said.

The project’s full application is still pending at the agency, and the public has until Feb. 3 to formally comment on the draft assessment.

If federal regulators ultimately follow Monday’s recommendations in approving the pipeline, opponents plan to challenge the decision in federal court, said Coyne Gibson, a former pipeline industry engineer who is advising the Big Bend Conservation Alliance.

About 426,000 miles of pipeline — about one-sixth of the nation’s network — crisscross Texas, carrying oil, gas and other hazardous liquids. But large swaths of the Big Bend area are pipeline-free, largely because the region – with its mountains, state and national parks, and famously dark skies — is so secluded.

Trans-Pecos Pipeline: FERC Environmental AssessmentPDF (1.4 MB) download

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a statement from an Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman.

Author: by   – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

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Bordertown Undergroun Show 728