David and Goliath on the Border: Small Town vs. Big Coal

by Published on

From  NewsTaco, where this story was first published.

For the people of Eagle Pass, Texas, a small border town of about 27,000, trying to preserve their health and way of life has proven to be difficult. Especially because they find themselves fighting against corporate mining that is bringing resources from both the U.S. and Mexico.

In a word, the people of Eagle Pass are upset over what seems like the eminent expansion of the Dos Republicas coal mine in their town. The Housing Authority passed a resolution on January 27 of this year that says:

it is of great concern of the EPHA Board of Commissioners that the proposed project lies in a flood zone area and an expansion of the permit area might be granted to and the wastewater permit renewed for Dos Republicas Coal Partnership both or either with terms that do not fully protect the surface and water environment that is involved in the proposed activities of Dos Republicas Coal Partnership. This will negatively impact the water supply of our community and expose the housing authority tenants to detrimental environmental issues.

The city council has voted unanimously to oppose efforts by Dos Republicas to expand, hundreds of citizens have formally voiced their opposition, as well as countless public entities in Eagle Pass, and full disclosure, my uncle runs The Eagle Pass Business Journal where these articles link.

Similarly, in 2008 when I worked for a newspaper in South Texas, I wrote a story about locals opposing the Dos Republicas mine. Even then residents were worried about their water, their air, but perhaps most importantly, that their voices would not be heard when it came to these issues because they had neither the money nor the power to overcome a binational mining company.

Money and power versus clean air and water. This is not a new story, especially not along the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) where millions of people in the state of Texas (not to mention along the rivers’ long route from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico) get their water. How will it end? Let’s hope not now most of these stories end, where corporate interests get their way, hopefully it ends the way it would in the movies — with the triumph of the underdog.