From Marfa Public Radio:
West Texas activists are continuing their face-off against Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.
Now, they’re joining a broader Native American-led movement protesting the same company.
At least 100 people from the Big Bend region and across Texas gathered in Alpine on Friday for a march against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, a protest also billed as a “solidarity march” with Native Americans opposing the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.
Members of the American Indian Movement of Central Texas helped lead the march from downtown Alpine to an equipment site for the West Texas pipeline, and later to where the pipeline’s actually going in the ground near the Sunny Glen neighborhood off FM 1703.
With Brewster County sheriff’s deputies escorting them along the way, protesters waved signs and chanted slogans criticizing the pipeline and the extraction of fossil fuels in general.
“No more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil,” protesters chanted, some wearing shirts emblazoned with the “Water is Life” slogan that’s become a rallying cry for people joining the cause of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota.
Though the Trans-Pecos line is a natural gas project, local opponents have increasingly sought to tie their struggle to the much more high-profile protests in North Dakota.
Trey Gerfers is the board president of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, a local opposition group. He said the BBCA has been motivated by legal challenges Native Americans are waging against that North Dakota project, especially after the Obama Administration recently halted construction on part of that pipeline.
“The Army Corps of Engineer permits that were granted – a very similar one of which was granted for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline – that permit is gonna be questioned under all the litigation that’s happening around the Dakota Access Pipeline,” he said. “So we’re following that very closely to see how we can apply that to our case.”
Much of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline’s already been trucked in, unloaded along the route, and is currently waiting to be put together. You can see it for miles as you travel the highways from Alpine to the border city of Presidio – the 42-inch green pipe cutting across wide-open ranches.