At the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin this weekend, policymakers were at center stage, with several West Texas issues in the spotlight. Christi Craddick, a native of Midland, serves on the Texas Railroad Commission.
KRTS reporter Graham Dickie asked her about the Trans Pecos Pipeline, the proposed natural gas route from the Permian Basin through the Big Bend into Mexico.
Craddick dismissed comparisons between the Trans Pecos Pipeline and Keystone XL. “I wouldn’t call it the Keystone Pipeline,” she said, “so don’t say that.”
The moderator, Russell Gold, energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, asked again, “But the question was: There is obviously some element of community opposition to this pipeline. How would you address that?”
Craddick described the three types of pipeline in the state: gas utility, private pipeline, and common carrier. “Here’s what we did this past year at the Railroad Commission. We adjusted our rules. When you are putting a pipe in the ground in this state, you come get a T-4 permit from the Railroad Commission. So, TransPecos has a T-4 permit from the Railroad Commission at this time. We do not get involved in routing. That is not our world.”
Craddick said Texas is the biggest pipeline state: “by one-sixth more than anywhere else.” She explained the Railroad Commission is involved only in permitting and safety inspections. These other issues – like opposition to a proposed pipeline within a community – are in a different arena. “It’s a private contract between that company and the landowners.”
When Gold asked again what a community can do to prevent a pipeline from being built, Craddick replied that there are legal options. “They definitely can go to the courthouse,” she said. “That’s the best remedy.”
“Lawsuit, basically?” asked the reporter. “Lawsuit, yes,” the Commissioner answered.
Gold: “Essentially, it’s a private legal matter?” Craddick: “That’s correct.”
Graham Dickie contributed to this report.