Future Of Pipeline Construction To Be Decided In Federal Court

By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
November 16, 2016
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
A roadside sign informs motorists of the construction site where workers are building a pipeline that's supposed to deliver natural gas from the U.S. to Mexico.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe/KJZZ
Workers dig underground at a site near an irrigation canal in San Elizario, Texas along the path of the Comanche Trail pipeline.

A federal judge in El Paso is scheduled to decide on Friday whether to continue and expand upon a construction hold on a natural gas pipeline near the U.S./Mexico border. 

Construction on a portion of the Comanche Trail pipeline near San Elizario, Texas has been on hold since last week when the judge approved a temporary restraining order requested by the federal government.

The Department of Homeland Security is concerned the construction might impact the structural integrity of the steel border fence and wants time to study the plan.

The pipeline is supposed to be buried beneath the fence in order to deliver natural gas from the U.S. to Mexico. 

Pipeline construction has already damaged farmers' fields and caused the collapse of an irrigation canal, according to Jesus Reyes, manager of the El Paso Water Improvement District. Reyes said his district is a plaintiff to a suit now in federal court.  

"One of our major canals runs parallel to the border fence, so if it has an impact on our canal it can have an impact on their border fence as well," Reyes said.

A spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, said they don't anticipate the delay to impact construction of the overall project.

The Comanche Trail pipeline starts at a storage hub in Pecos County and goes 192 miles to the Mexican border just south of El Paso. It promises to deliver 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day as part of an agreement with Mexico's federal electricity commission.