What has been the environmental impact of the TC Energy Encino-Topolobampo pipeline in Chihuahua, Mexico?

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Mariana Villarreal of REDETI and Manuel Jabonero of PBI-Mexico are in Washington, DC this week before travelling to Ottawa.

Mariana Azucena Villarreal Frías of the Network in Defense of Indigenous Territories of Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI) will be in Ottawa next week. She will be accompanied by Manuel Jabonero from the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project.

One of the issues Mariana will discuss is the environmental impacts of the Calgary-based transnational TC Energy’s Encino-Topolobampo pipeline.

When the San Elías Repechique Forest community opposed the project in February 2014, that created sufficient pressure for a consultation.

The Chihuahua-based human rights organization Technical Community Consultation (CONTEC) was one of the organizations that supported them.

CONTEC is accompanied by PB-Mexico and is a REDETI member group.

Journalist Martha Pskowski writes that when the consultation began in November 2014, “Rarámuri communities voiced concerns that construction would impact their water sources, cause deforestation, and affect their farmlands.”

She adds: “The community of Repechike maintained that they wanted the pipeline route to be re-drawn so it would not cross their territory.”

By February 2015, the community decided to end the “dialogue” in this consultation process because TC Energy subsidiary Noreste Natural Gas Transporting corporation (TGNN) had not taken into consideration this request to redraw the pipeline route.

In a report about the consultation, CONTEC commented: “The logic of the state is to impose the project at the lowest social cost possible. That’s how the consultation is used as rhetoric, as discourse, without its real meaning.”

Proposed route. Image from the report El Gasoducto El Encino–Topolobampo: El derecho a la consulta a los rarámuri (June 2016).

Pskowski notes: “[TransCanada] eventually agreed to modify the route to avoid Repechike’s territory. However, in other communities where construction started before the consultation got underway, it was impossible to turn back the clock.”

By December 2018, the pipeline was operational.

Pskowski further comments: “Experiences like the El Encino-Topolobampo pipeline have soured many Indigenous communities and human rights lawyers to the state-run consultation process.”

She has also noted that the murder of Raramuri land defender Julian Carrillo and other acts of intimidations “discouraged some Rarámuri people from speaking out when the energy company TransCanada began building a natural gas pipeline through the area.”

Other TC Energy pipelines in Mexico

One month ago, on September 21, we held a webinar featuring Carlos Beas Torres of the Union of Indigenous Communities from the North of the Isthmus (UCIZONI) that is opposing the TC Energy Southeast Gateway (Puerta al Sureste) pipeline.

And this past week, we co-organized a visit to Ottawa of Wet’suwet’en land defenders opposed to the TC Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline on their territory in British Columbia, Canada and Otomi land defender Don Salvador Aparicio Olvera who is opposed to the TC Energy Tuxpan-Tula pipeline on his ancestral lands in Mexico.

TC Energy is the largest Canadian investor in Mexico.


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