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We are happy to see Trans-Pecos Pipeline is following industry standard and donating money to the communities it has affected. The $2.8 million donation is approximately the amount of TPP’s gross transportation revenue for a single day of pipeline operation, based on natural gas prices in today’s market. The donations will be used to build and support much-needed projects, like the library in Alpine and a new recreational complex in Presidio. Brewster County and Alpine will also invest some of these funds in emergency services, with the help of matching contributions from other sources.

In light of the good news, we want to keep TPP’s donations in perspective. Thirty-nine area landowners went to court for low-ball easement offers on their properties, won fairer settlements and still have not been compensated by TPP. The cost of clean-up for an explosion event, should one happen, will
fall initially on the communities. For example, the Cuero fire in June of 2015 cost DeWitt Country and associated utilities around $800,000 to repair roads and electrical lines. They will need to negotiate or even sue to be compensated. Our region is susceptible to higher damages and more extreme emergency situations. Remember the Rock House Fire that swept through Big Bend in 2011 caused an estimated $4.3 million in damages.

We are not taking an alarmist approach, but want to recognize that oil and gas projects in our area are not risk-free and come with other price tags: the cost to our local landowners and the cost of safety of our community. It is important to remember these issues as we continue to see an uptick of activity in our area, and to keep in mind that although there are benefits like these voluntary donations, there is more that may be lost.