Pipe for TransPecos Pipeline being unloaded off trains at PumpCo site to the northeast of Alpine

By Marlys Hersey, Editor

We have yet to officially confirm the nature of this activity with PumpCo or Energy Transfer Partners, however, there appears to be further action towards construction of the TransPecos Pipeline, with the aim of transporting natural gas across private properties in the Big Bend, from the WaHa Hub near Fort Stockton, to Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas.

Early this afternoon, The Gazette was alerted to increased activity at a PumpCo site to the east of McElroy Ranch, which is north of Alpine.

This reporter was able to get a couple of miles down a private dirt road of the main McElroy Ranch road and take a few photos before being thwarted from closer access by a driver in a large white Toyota who stopped, got out of his vehicle, and informed me I was on private property, “ever since you crossed that last cattle guard.” We had a very brief, nonconfrontational conversation, during which I was able to obtain verbal confirmation from the man only that he was a PumpCo employee, that this is private property, and that pipe is indeed being moved as part of the TransPecos Pipeline project.

I turned my vehicle around and retraced my route off the private property and back to HWY 118,  and was followed by the same PumpCo representative in the big white Toyota, until I was close to the aforementioned cattle guard.

Suzanne Bailey, who lives near another PumpCo site, on the road to Sunny Glen, west of Alpine, said she drove out the McElroy ranch road just a little earlier than I had, and was able to get close to the railroad line. “I expected someone to come stop me, but no….”

Bailey videotaped activity at the PumpCo staging area, albeit only from her car while also driving. She reports she saw two individual railroad engine cars, each pulling about 30 flatbed cars loaded with giant pipe, as well as “a giant machine being used to unload the pipe” off the railcars and onto the cleared staging area.

Since unwittingly becoming neighbors with PumpCo since last March, Bailey said she has developed “a finely tuned instinct” about when the pipeline company is “up to something.” Yesterday, Bailey noticed that the company was pulling most of its heavy equipment from the Sunny Glen site; she made an educated guess about where the resources might have been moved.

Mattie Matthaei, Executive Director of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, the non-profit organization spearheading efforts to stop the pipeline project, issued this statement in response to the increased activity: “The unloading of pipe in the Alpine vicinity is to be expected. The citizens of Alpine have put up the fiercest resistance, and efforts by [Energy Transfer Partners] to effect morale [are] not surprising. However, we are undeterred. We will continue in our efforts to bring to light the unconstitutional tactic being used by ETP of taking private land for private profit.”

We will update this story as we glean more information.

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