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Alpine City Council Will Consider Resolution to Oppose Pipeline

Study corridor for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline through the Alpine area. (Energy Transfer)

Update Tuesday, June 2, 9 p.m.

The proposed Alpine City Council resolution to oppose the Trans-Pecos Pipeline failed before getting to a vote Tuesday evening.

Ward 4 Council Member Julian Gonzales motioned for a vote on the resolution, but no other council member seconded, so the resolution died.

We'll have more on this story in the days ahead.

Original Post

The Alpine City Council will consider a resolution to oppose the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and "any and all activities that advance and promote" the pipeline on Tuesday.

Alpine Mayor Avinash Rangra added the resolution to the agenda for Tuesday's city council meeting.

If passed, the strongly-worded resolution would oppose the building of the 143-mile natural gas pipeline through "any portion or portions of Alpine, Brewster County and Big Bend," and would characterize the pipeline as "being against the expressed will" of the city council.

It would also put the city in a bit of an awkward situation.

Publicly opposing the pipeline and any related activities would directly contradict the city's water sales to Pumpco, Inc. - the contractor building the pipeline.

It's not clear if passing the resolution would have any impact on that practice.

"That would be my question to the attorney," says City Manager Erik Zimmer. "The ordinance today allows for selling of bulk water."

Resolutions of this kind are often symbolic gestures, and the wording of this one doesn't call for any specific actions other than an acknowledgement of opposition.

Zimmer says if the resolution passes, he'll ask for clarification on what it means for selling water to Pumpco.

"That would be up for council to decide," he says, "if they wanted to change the ordinance to have different types of selling arrangements for selling bulk water."

"I'm not going to read into it myself," he says. "I work for council - they would have to express to me what their intent is from their resolution."

Zimmer says he would also want guidance from the city attorney over whether there would be any legal ramifications if the city did decide to change its bulk water sales ordinance.

"My expectation is that if council were to take action on a resolution that they would be very clear and specific on any changes in direction, based on how we've been operating up to this point," he says.

"Short of that, I'm kind of left flapping in the wind."

Mayor Rangra hasn't said much about his opinion on the pipeline, though he did tell KRTS in early May that information distributed by the pipeline company - Energy Transfer - was "incomplete at best, if not completely conflicting."

The council will consider the resolution at Tuesday's city council meeting at 5:30 p.m.

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