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4 Pipeline Fights Intensify as Dakota Access Nears Completion


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1. Trans-Pecos Pipeline

Nearly all of Texas is webbed with oil and gas pipelines, except for the virtually industry-free Big Bend region, known for its night skies devoid of light pollution. There, another pipeline last stand is underway.

Energy Transfer Partners' 148-mile Trans-Pecos pipeline will carry 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day south from the Waha pipeline hub near Fort Stockton, Texas, south to Mexico, crossing the border near Presidio. Graphic: The Intercept Source: Trans-Pecos Pipeline Project web site, Feb. 17

Former president Barack Obama's administration quietly approved the Trans-Pecos pipeline's border crossing last May. It is now 96 percent in the ground, set to be complete in March. The 42-inch pipeline would transport 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing from the state's Permian shale basin. It would travel along 148 miles before continuing into Mexico. Although it was commissioned by the Mexican government's Comisión Federal de Electricidad, the line will have a few taps between the U.S. and Mexico, and has been permitted as a domestic project that benefits the public. This means it gets common carrier status, allowing the company to acquire access to private property via eminent domain, despite landowners' objections.

With guidance from local indigenous leaders, Frankie Orona and Lori Glover have been helping run a camp called Two Rivers on Glover's land near the route since January, regularly carrying out direct actions to stop construction. The camp hosts around 10 people during the week, ballooning at times to between 50 or 100 on weekends. Still, the resistance operates on a much smaller scale than Standing Rock. "We don't have the numbers to do the same kind of direct action, because [police] can wipe us out in one day, and we're pretty much done," Orona said.

A march of solidarity on Sept. 30, 2016 in Alpine, Texas, included the American Indian Movement (Central Texas division), members of Defend Big Bend, Big Bend Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club and many local citizens.Nicol Ragland/Director of 'Trans Pecos' Documentary

A second camp called Camp Toyahvale opened soon after Two Rivers in objection to plans by Apache Corporation to use hydraulic fracturing to access newly discovered oil and gas. For now, it is dedicated to education rather than direct action.

For years, the idea of stopping the Trans-Pecos pipeline seemed to be a lost cause, said Glover, who has been trying since 2014. She and others oppose the pipeline because it boosts the economic sustainability of fracking operations and opens the door to further industrialization of the remote area. But neighbors once fired up over the project had begun to let it go. "All the money that was spent, all the meetings — just wasted, just worth nothing," she said, and the pipeline permitting agency "did not give it a second thought."

But then Orona, head of a group called Society of Native Nations, was called to North Dakota last August by fellow members of the American Indian Movement to fight the Dakota Access pipeline. When he returned, he began protesting at the headquarters of Energy Transfer Partners, which is also in charge of the Trans-Pecos pipeline. He met Glover there.

"I thought, that doesn't look good for us," Orona said, "if we're working on this pipeline in North Dakota, but we're not working in our own backyard.

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