With the Trans-Pecos Pipeline complete, West Texas pipeline protests have faded over the past month and organizers say they’re closing down the largest of the camps.
“Yeah, we’re in transition mode,” said Frankie Orona, executive director of the San Antonio-based Society of Native Nations and a camp leader. “The pipeline is pretty much in the ground.”
Activists were able to successfully complete 13 “direct actions” — civil disobedience aimed at slowing down the progress of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s main builder. Many of the protests involved activists chaining or locking themselves to heavy machinery in the early morning, which forced the company to wait for police before beginning work.
The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office said the most recent arrest was almost three weeks ago. Deputies found Anna Joy Kruger, a 21-year-old Greeley, Colo. resident, with her arms wrapped around an excavator and then affixed together with a homemade cast of PVC pipe, chicken wire, concrete, tar and duct tape much more difficult and time-consuming to remove when compared to the chains protesters used earlier in the year. Deputies say they had to use a grinder to cut through the concrete and metal. Kruger was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, a misdemeanor, and criminal mischief, a felony.
On Thursday the Trans-Pecos pipeline received federal approval to run gas across the border. The pipeline is “operationally ready for service”, said a spokeswoman.
Less than 10 are left at the camp, Two Rivers, which is a mix of tents, teepees and at least one yurt on private land near Big Bend Ranch State Park located 40 miles south of Marfa and 25 miles north of the Mexican border. Orona said he will close it within the next few weeks and begin looking for a new target.
Another group of activists have gathered near West Texas’ Balmorhea State Park which is home to the popular spring-fed swimming pool, in order to protest fracking operations conducted by Houston-based Apache Corp. Camp leaders are equally interested in targeting Calgary-based Enbridge’s Valley Crossing Pipeline, which is set to run from near Corpus Christi to the southern tip of Texas.
Since that pipeline is still setting its course, activists have much more potential to affect the outcome.
But, Orona worries he wont get much traction. Despite activists having blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Trump administration has green-lighted both.
“I think the movement’s dying down a lot throughout the country,” he said. “I think people are discouraged.”
However, in the meantime campers at Two Rivers could use a hand with gas money, they need it to cover their upcoming move.
Article written by HEI contributor Lydia Ezeakor.