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Public Meetings on Trans Pecos Pipeline Scheduled as New West Texas to Mexico Pipeline is Announced

The latest company rendering of the Trans Pecos Pipeline route (Energy Transfer)

Dallas-based Energy Transfer has announced a series of public meetings in West Texas on the proposed Trans Pecos Pipeline, as some Big Bend area residents begin to formulate their strategy to fight the project.

Meanwhile, another West Texas to Mexico gas pipeline project from a seprate company has been announced.

Energy Transfer's 143-mile, 42-inch pipeline would carry natural gas south from the Permian Basin near the towns of Monahans and Pecos to the Mexican border at Presidio, TX.

The company has already approached a number of landowners in the area about the possibility of constructing the pipeline through their property. Some have expressed reservations about the process, saying they'd like more information before signing on.

Company representatives will be on hand at three public meetings in April to talk about the project's details:

- Tuesday, April 21st in Presidio - Presidio Activity Center - 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
- Tuesday, April 21st in Alpine - Alpine Civic Center - 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 22nd in Fort Stockton - Community Hall - 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

23rd District Congressman Will Hurd said Tuesday he had expressed to the company his "deep concerns over a lack of transparency" surrounding the project.

Hurd said some residents of Brewster, Presidio and Pecos Counties had voiced their own "significant" concerns about letters they'd received from Energy Transfer informing them the pipeline may run through their land.

At the meetings, company representatives are likely to argue their case that the pipeline would benefit local economies by creating construction jobs, and that it could reduce haze over Big Bend National Park by giving northern Mexico access to cleaner-burning natural gas.

Those reassurances haven't eased other concerns from some Big Bend area residents who worry the sizable infrastructure project could hurt the quality of life in this remote part of West Texas.

Fears about noise and light pollution, heavy truck traffic and environmental effects from the pipeline project have prompted the Big Bend Conservation Alliance to organize its own public meeting and layout a strategy for blocking the pipeline. That meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8 in Alpine at the Alpine Public Library.

Meanwhile, another company - Oklahoma-based ONEOK Partners - has entered into a joint venture with Mexico City-based Fermaca Infrastructure B.V. to build the Roadrunner Gas Transmission pipeline - a 200-mile pipeline that would carry natural gas from near Coyanosa, TX to the Mexican border near San Elizario, TX.

There, it would connect with the company's existing Tarahumara Pipeline that extends south into Mexico. ONEOK already operates the WestTex Transmission pipeline that carries gas from the Permian Basin to the El Paso area.

"We see Roadrunner as a gateway asset that will connect Mexico's rapidly-growing natural gas markets with U.S. producers in the developing Permian Basin," ONEOK's President and CEO Terry K. Spencer said in an April news release.

The company says that 30-inch pipeline would carry 640 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from West Texas to Mexico.

ONEOK expects to have the first phase of the Roadrunner project finished and operating by early 2016, while the second phase is slated for an early 2017 finish.

Energy Transfer is also working on a similar pipeline that would stretch between the same areas as the Roadrunner project.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.