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Alpine Mayor on Trans-Pecos Pipeline: "I Feel Uncomfortable"

"It all is a big media deal - we read the ads in the newspapers, talking about we are gonna be neighbors, this or that, but neighbors don’t speak through newspapers." - Alpine Mayor Avinash Rangra (Graham Dickie / KRTS)

Earlier this week, in an interview with Marfa Public Radio, Alpine Mayor Avinash Rangra laid out his views on the planned Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

The 143-mile pipeline would carry natural gas from producers in the Permian Basin, through the Big Bend region, to the border with Mexico.

The pipeline, intended to supply Mexican power plants, represents a significant step forward in cross-border energy partnerships, in the wake of Mexico opening up its oil and gas sector to foreign investment. Investors on both sides of the border are itching to cash in.

Rangra spoke to us at length about his feelings on the plan, with this takeaway: he’s concerned about what he sees as a lack of transparency from the company behind the project, Dallas-based Energy Transfer.

“I feel uncomfortable, simply because we don’t have any information that we can verify available from the outfit that is engaged in laying the pipeline,” he said.

Energy Transfer has published fact sheets about the project, held a series of open houses, given presentations to local county commissioners, and spoken with the media about its plan, but Rangra feels that’s not enough. He’s disappointed the company hasn’t had frank, one-on-one discussions with him to address his specific concerns about the safety of the pipeline.

“What are the safety measures? Are they going to assure me that the material of the pipeline is stable enough to withstand the pressure of the gas that’s going to be going through the pipeline?” he asked.

“It all is a big media deal,” he said. “We read the ads in the newspapers, talking about ‘we are gonna be good neighbors,’ this or that, but neighbors don’t speak through newspapers.”

Listen to highlights from our Wednesday interview above, in which Mayor Rangra said he was surprised a recent resolution opposing the pipeline died before getting to a vote.

When asked if he would consider trying to get a similar resolution in front of the council, Rangra said he’s “thinking about that, yes.”

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