Trans Pecos Pipeline Open For Business

MARFA, TX (Ben Caxton) — Quietly, and without fanfare, the Trans-Pecos Pipeline has begun operation. 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas is flowing every day through west Texas, under the Rio Grande, and into a pipeline across the border where it’s replacing wood and coal in fueling nearby Mexican power plants. Still, the court challenges continue. While no one so far has chained themselves to a judge’s desk, courthouses from Marfa to New Orleans to Washington are still hearing disputes. Most of the disagreements stem from landowners who think that Energy Transfer Partners, who built and own the pipeline, illegally used eminent domain to seize the right-of-way needed for the pipeline. A number of landowners have settled by accepting checks being held in trust for the use of their property, while others are holding out. The next hearings are scheduled in early May in a Federal Court in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Alpine-based environmental group “Big Bend Conservation Alliance” is hanging its hopes on challenging the legality of the presidential permit that allowed the 1000′ long international segment under the border. So far the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied the group’s requests to review the order. That case has a briefing scheduled in Washington. In the meantime, the gas flows, Energy Transfer Partners says they have a business to run, and local Sheriff’s Deputies find themselves with less work to do with the protesters packing up.

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