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Protests Against Oil and Gas Go Local

The head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association says environmentalists are trying to block production.

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Vocal opposition to pipeline production has grown across the nation—and in Texas.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Although the oil and gas industry in 2015 won a major victory in the Legislature with a law that prohibits local governments from regulating energy exploration, the head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association said anti-industry activists are continuing to put up roadblocks at the local level—especially now that Congress and the White House are controlled by pro-production Republicans. “What we are seeing is the anti-oil-and-gas forces going state to state and local governments to thwart oil and gas activities,” said association president Todd Staples. “They’ve lost the [Obama] Administration, so what we are seeing is they are making it tough at every level.”

Staples in particular pointed to opposition that has grown in South Texas to building Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals at the Port of Brownsville. Gas from hydraulic fracturing wells in the Eagle Ford shale would be transported across the Lower Rio Grande Valley in pipelines to a facility that would condense the volume of the gas for export overseas.

Local opponents claim the project would harm the environment and create pollution. The project has the support of a local drainage district and chamber of commerce, but the Port Isabel ISD board in December voted down a tax abatement to make the project attractive to investors.

Staples noted that seven protesters were arrested over the weekend in Brewster County while trying to block the Trans-Pecos Pipeline. He also said the protesters are trying to do nothing more than halt the use of fossil fuels. “Even major forecasters say fossil fuels are going to be the dominant fuel source for the foreseeable future,” Staples said.

The protesters claim they are trying to protect the nature of Big Bend. According to a report by Earth First!: “The best hope for us is to let the public know just how the deck is stacked against us and that the gas industry is allowed to do whatever they want,” Roger Siglin told the Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International as the chains were still wrapped around his torso. “The public has no say in where the pipelines go as they do public entities like power lines.”

Staples said the protests just help drive up the cost of fossil fuels for families in Texas and around the world.

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  • John Young

    Damn straight! A bunch of us on the south most tip of Texas are doing our damnedest to stop three LNG export companies seeking Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permission to build and operate at our local Port of Brownsville, next door to South Padre Island. Back in 2015, four of our local communities passed resolutions opposing LNG and a local school board denied Annova LNG’s request for an Economic Development Act Chapter 313 tax cut. But our Port and the companies have continued to ignore local concerns and opposition to LNG. We also have natural gas pipelines headed our way to supply the LNG companies with the natural gas they want to liquefy plus a pipeline Spectra’s building for Mexico to take natural gas from the Corpus Christi area down to our Port, then under our ship channel and South Bay, over Brazos Island, and then out into the Gulf of Mexico on its way down to Veracruz, Mexico. And we have explosive oil trains heading our way because our Port’s building a new oil dock and repairing an old one and several condensate and petroleum products operations at Port are building and/or expanding their operations there. Visit saveRGVfromLNG on Facebook.

    • Mesquite_Thorn

      You’re an uninformed envirowacko… you do understand that a LARGE portion of why “greenhouse gases” (which aren’t) have been reduced is because of the use of LNG, right? It’s helping you kooks cause until we can come up with a REAL solution to the energy supply. People aren’t going back to living like before oil… PERIOD. Even you couldn’t handle that… everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you own has an element of energy in the cost, and that, in most cases, comes from OIL. If you have a VIABLE alternative, how about you stop wasting people’s time and money protesting and start building something USEFUL. All you protest nutjobs are doing now is being REEEEEALLY annoying.

      • Zephyrine Diallo

        1. We do have viable alternatives
        2. Disrupting local industry, stealing land through eminent domain (paying some landowners pennies of what their land is worth or threatening to take it with no payment), and adding to more fracking (like eagle ford) where residents are already sick and leaving from the oil and gas development.
        3. If one of those carriers were to ever spill it would devastate our coasts and oceans
        4. You dont know what you’re talking about at all and name calling is the lowest form of critical engagement.

        • Mesquite_Thorn

          1. Where is that alternative then? We have solar farms and wind farms… big ones… and they still only provide a tiny fraction of the energy necessary for what we require. Are you willing to build more nuclear plants?
          2. I’ve been working in the Permian Basin for years… development land owners are paid VERY well. The few eminent domain instances I’ve seen, the people involved were paid A LOT more than the land was worth. That’s the norm in that instance… and fracking is done at depths that communication between higher level ground water is nearly impossible. We use things called packers and bridge plugs to isolate the targeted formation from anything above it. Additionally, the hole is completely cased in cement, and often sleeved with a steel casing also. If they’re having problems with surface water in Eagle Ford, it was likely present before they fracked anything.
          3. Pipeline is still the safest and most efficient way to transport hydrocarbons. Period. If you research how many accidents, including fatalities, are associated with truck transport of hydrocarbons, you’d probably want a pipeline also.
          4. I do know what I’m talking about, and have a degree in this field…. and it’s the internet. People don’t filter themselves, so feel free to be offended, but it doesn’t change my opinion.

    • biff

      This is a good thing you are doing. Keep it up.