Trans-Pecos Pipeline: A Capitalist Hydra Attacks the Texas Big Bend

Trans-Pecos Pipeline: A Capitalist Hydra Attacks the Texas Big Bend

The Capitalist Hydra

‘Capitalism in many ways is like the mythical hydra of Greek legend, a gigantic serpent with multiple heads, the center one being immortal; every time an attacker chopped off one of its outer heads, two others grew in its place… Capitalism resembles the hydra in that its own dynamic generates multiple agreements and institutions that represent and defend its interests. All work to promote the expansion of private profit-making activities regardless of their overall social, economic, political, and environmental costs.’

The Hydra’s New Head

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline

The proposed Trans-Pecos natural gas export pipeline project is a textbook example of the capitalist hydra:

‘The Trans-Pecos Pipeline would run 143 miles of 42-inch pipe through far West Texas, known for its unspoiled and stunning desert landscape, and conclude halfway across the Rio Grande. There, it would connect to pipe on Mexico’s side of the river that extends into the country’s interior. Once completed, the pipeline would transport [as in EXPORT] up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.’

Mexico Wants to Run a Pipeline Through West Texas

‘The proposed pipeline threatens human health and safety, the region’s economic and ecological well being, and sets a dangerous precedent in an area largely untouched by industry… Natural gas transmission lines present very real dangers. On June 15th, in Cuero, Texas, a pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners exploded, releasing a fireball that could be seen more than twenty miles away. If such an explosion occurred in our semi-arid grasslands, resulting catastrophic wildfires could be devastating… The Big Bend is also part of the most seismically active area in the state, significantly increasing the risk of pipeline ruptures. Resulting leaks would vent methane – a potent greenhouse gas – directly into the atmosphere… If this pipeline is built, additional pipelines could be laid along the easement. Spur lines could be built to take gas to other sources. Over time, compressor stations are likely to be constructed along its length. And with each additional piece of infrastructure, we inch closer to becoming yet another casualty of industrialization.’

Big Bend Conservation Alliance: Concerns

‘A consortium that includes two energy companies, Mexico-based Carso and Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, won the contract to construct the pipeline in January. Carso is owned by Carlos Slim [a major contributor to the perpetually-investigated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton], the world’s second-richest man, who made his original fortune by charging Mexico’s phone customers monopoly prices, while levying some of the highest fees disproportionately on the poor… ETP is led by Republican megadonor and multibillionaire Kelcy Warren [a major contributor to the recently-indicted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry].’

The Pipeline That Texans Are Freaking Out Over

‘Texas’ leaders extoll the sanctity of private property while turning a blind eye to a system that routinely lets private pipeline companies condemn the private lands of hundreds of people. This is particularly delicate for the three Texas Railroad Commissioners, whose office rubber stamps minimalist “T-4” applications granting pipeline companies powers of eminent domain. This may explain why the commission falsely disavowed responsibility for two dicey pipeline projects in West Texas for the better part of a year, seeking to shift responsibility to the Obama administration… Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a billionaire-led company in Dallas, has teamed up with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú to build two 42-inch pipelines stretching 336 miles across the lands of hundreds of private landowners in West Texas. Awkwardly, the three current Railroad Commissioners have taken almost $225,000 from ETP’s PAC and executives since 2010.’

Texas Railroad Omission: Eminent-Domain Billionaires Spark West Texas Pipe Lying

‘Elected officials in the Big Bend region are getting increasingly involved with a planned pipeline that would bring natural gas from producers in the Permian Basin to Mexican power plants… Now, after pressure from those grassroots efforts, the counties are asking the government for stricter federal regulations on the pipeline… As it stands, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) only has jurisdiction over a small part of the pipeline that will stretch halfway across the U.S.-Mexico border, where it would connect with another line coming from the Mexican side. The Railroad Commission of Texas has authority over the rest… FERC is currently reviewing a “presidential permit” application for the pipeline – the government approval needed for it to stretch across the border – but both Big Bend counties say they want the government to regulate the pipeline’s entire length… “We feel that if we’re gonna keep it safe at the end, that it be safe from the hub all the way to where the custody is taken over by Mexico,” said Brewster County Judge Eleazar Cano… He hopes expanding the fed’s jurisdiction would lead to stricter safety and environmental controls than what the Railroad Commission requires.’

Big Bend Counties Want More Federal Oversight on Trans-Pecos Pipeline

‘Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Norman Bay announced his agency would soon issue a ‘best practices manual’ to help the gas industry win permits for fracked gas infrastructure projects… That FERC operates as an arm of the fracked gas industry comes as no surprise to many communities that have contended with FERC-approved projects firsthand. Ann Nau is a member of Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, a group in Myersville, Maryland that has unsuccessfully fought FERC for years to stop fracked gas compressor stations in their town… “FERC holds free three day interactive seminars where it teaches the industry to ‘successfully’ navigate the FERC Process,” Nau said. “They go so far as to invite the industry to sponsor snack times and evening social gatherings. They hold ‘pre-conferences’ where FERC staff ask ‘Do you have conflict in your pipeline work – maybe with a property owner’ and offer to ‘strategize for dealing with difficult behavior using your examples.’ Affected communities on the other hand get a brochure. It is obvious FERC looks at communities, at people, who are adversely affected by these projects as problems…” It remains to be seen if FERC’s earthly sojourn can be anything but a blight on humanity. At this time of crisis when everyone must take sides, FERC is standing with the industry. In their eyes, people who love their family, friends, and the places they live are a problem. The real question is whether enough people will wake up to this troubling reality in time to stop it from causing more suffering and death.’

FERC Teaches Oil And Gas Industries To Silence Protest


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