By June 25, 2015 Read More →

Drug cartels, terrorists crossing Texas border along pipelines – TRCC

Railroad Commission inspectors can carry firearms, use buddy system, receive satellite phones

The Texas Railroad Commission is taking steps to beef up safety and security for its employees working in South Texas near the border.

Railroad Commission

David Porter, Commissioner, Texas Railroad Commission.

Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter says the federal government has been “ineffective in preventing illegal activity along the border” in recent years as oil and gas activity has skyrocketed in the Eagle Ford Shale. Commission inspectors have told him they are concerned about their safety as they check pipelines in South Texas.

“It is the Railroad Commission’s duty to protect the health and safety of all Texans – and as Railroad Commissioners, this responsibility extends to ensuring that our staff is protected while doing this important work,” he said in a statement.

“The federal government has been ineffective in preventing illegal activity along the border and with the unprecedented amount of oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford Shale in recent years, Commission inspectors in South Texas have voiced concerns about their safety,” said Porter.

Railroad Commission staff and inspectors who want to carry firearms for self-protection on duty will now have the opportunity to obtain their concealed handgun license in a timely manner, according to Porter.

And inspectors in areas of concern will be required to use the “buddy system” to ensure they are not alone in potentially dangerous areas.

The Railroad Commission also plans to purchase satellite phones for inspector vehicles in remote areas of South Texas that are close to the border and have limited access to mobile communications.

“Commission staff will continue to evaluate the potential need for additional safety measures in the future if necessary,” Porter said.

In an August 8 letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, Porter outlined the Railroad Commission’s concerns about importation of illegal drugs after several published reports of relationships between ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and Mexican cartels, which have long used energy infrastructure right of ways to smuggle across the border.

“The reports detail some very disturbing accounts of Mexican drug cartels using Texas oil routes to transport narcotics and illegal aliens, which endangers the lives of RRC inspectors, the oil and gas industry and in turn, the economic security of the United States,” Porter said.

Porter also expressed grave concerns that some of these illegal aliens may in fact be terrorists, citing a CBP report that reveals hundreds of illegal aliens caught trying to enter the U.S. by crossing the Mexican border have been from nations that sponsor terrorism — namely Pakistan, Egypt, and Yemen.

Chairman Porter has visited several South Texas oil and gas facilities and pipeline rights-of-way near the border and met with field staff, operators, law enforcement and security officials to ensure the safety of Texas’ critical energy infrastructure. An inspection of the area exposed potentially dangerous situations for RRC inspection staff.

“While oil and gas operators take every precaution to limit any threat to their equipment and product, the unfettered flow of illegal aliens complicates their efforts,” said Porter last fall. “South Texas pipelines are vulnerable because the federal government has abdicated its most basic function to protect our borders.”

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