By Mark Richardson, Texas News Service
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.