Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Indian Tribe Drops Opposition to Eagle Pass Border Coal Mining Project

Photo by Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

The Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass at sunset, looking west toward the International Bridge to Piedras Negras, Mexico.

Our friends at the Texas Tribune report today that the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas has dropped its opposition to a coal mining project along the Texas-Mexico border.

The project in question is the Dos Republicas Coal Partnership, which would take coal from a strip mine along the border in Maverick County, Texas and ship it to Mexico. As we reported in February, that coal would then be burned in power plants that would outside the city of Piedras Negras, right across the border.

While some people in Maverick County welcome the jobs that could bring, many, including city and county governments, are vehemently opposed to it. Several locals have formed the Maverick County Environmental and Public Health Association to fight the mine.

“We’re sending coal over there that the United States will not use because it’s so low quality, and then we’re sending it to Mexico so they can burn it over there, and it pollutes us over there and it pollutes us over here when it goes through town every day,” Association member Martha Baxter told StateImpact Texas earlier this year.

Now that opposition has lost an important member.

More from the Texas Tribune:

““That [withdrawal] hurt us really, really badly from all sorts of angles,” said George Baxter, the vice president of the Maverick County Environmental and Public Health Association, which opposes the project. “We lost their expert witnesses, the attorney who was the most dedicated of all opposition lawyers, and, of course, we lost their financial resources.”

Until less than two weeks ago, the tribe and its lawyer, Elizabeth Berkhardt, were major players for the opposition. Berkhardt presented some of the hardest-hitting objections, which more than once led to heated verbal exchanges with hearing examiner Marcy Spraggins.

The abrupt exit has left Baxter wondering exactly what happened, and has fueled speculation in the border city as to why the tribe, which even offered an expert witness on air contamination but who never testified, would opt out.”

Dos Republicas already has a water permit from the Texas Commission on Enviromental Quality (TCEQ) but still needs permits from the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), which oversees drilling and mining in the state. Commissioners are expected to make a decision later this year.

The Tribune also notes that the opposition group has “collected and turned over more than 6,500 petition signatures from Maverick County residents opposing the project to the Texas Railroad Commission, which will decide on the permit.”

Further reading: Coal Project Sparks Fears at Texas Border


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »