Your Connection to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

April 25, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 08

A delegation of Ports to Plains supporters is in Washington, DC this week for meetings with our members of Congress seeking to advance the corridor and our energy and agriculture driven economies.

Our group will let Congress know that we are supportive of a major investment in our country’s infrastructure. The Trump administration and Senate Democrats have each proposed spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next ten years, but there is still a long way to go before we get to a final bill. We have key elements that see as important to be addressed in a federal infrastructure bill. First there must be a funding mechanism that will allow for projects in rural areas. There has been a lot of discussion about public-private partnerships to be a key funding source in the Trump plan. That usually means toll roads to generate revenue to repay the private investment. While that is a viable option to move projects forward in urban areas, it will not work for rural areas. We also believe that the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor is a corridor of national significance and projects on our corridor should be addressed in the bill. We also realize that there is no free ride, and support our members of Congress in making tough decisions that are necessary to provide a sustainable, long-term fix to the insolvent Highway Trust Fund. We will also tell our Texas members about our efforts to extend Interstate 27 in that state.

Trade is also a hot topic in Washington these days, and we will reiterate the importance of trade for our economies, especially the agriculture industry. We need to improve NAFTA, not scrap it. This is especially important for agriculture as Canada and Mexico are two of the top markets for US ag products.

Thanks to all of those who are travelling with us to make these meetings this week. We will have representatives from throughout the corridor from Alberta to Texas in our delegation. As you can see from the other articles in this newsletter, there is lots of activity still going on back home. We appreciate them making the time to join us for these important meetings.

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.


 Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

The Texas Department of Transportation published an Initial Assessment Report on the Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor in November , 2015 which stated: “The corridor will continue to be a critical link to state, national and international trade, growing population centers and critical energy and agricultural business sectors.

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Energy & Agriculture Summit Registration Open 

June 13-14, 2017, Denver, CO


Energy and agriculture provide a key basic economy across the Ports-to-Plains region which requires a robust transportation system to connect those resources with global markets.  Our communities and others must be able to tell the story… provide clear information in response to attacks on these rural economy drivers.  TOGETHER DRIVING CHANGE will focus on bringing together an agenda that will enable attendees to tell the economic story of energy and agriculture productivity.

Registration Now Open!

Energy Day, June 13, 2017 Confirmed Speakers

  • Patty Silverstein, President and Chief Economist and David Hansen, Senior Economist, Development Research Partners
  • Brad Ayers, Government and Industry Relations, TransCanada
  • Kirk Scheitler, Manager, Policy and Outreach, Xcel Energy
  • Tracee Bentley, Executive Director, Colorado Petroleum Council
  • Kelly Davila, Director of Regional Services, South Plains Association of Governments

Agriculture Day, June 14, 2017 Conformed Speakers

  • Rick Robbins, Colorado Mills, Lamar, CO
  • Tom Sell, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to the House Committee on Agriculture, Southwest Council of Agribusiness
  • Kelsey Pope, Rancher, River Bend Ranch, LLC and CattleFax Digital Communications & Marketing

Click here for Complete Summit Information 

Mark your Calendars to join us for the
20th Anniversary Reunion Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference
September 12-14, 2017 -- Lubbock, TX

Trump wants regulations streamlined in infrastructure bill

The Trump administration intends to propose a package of tax breaks meant to help spur $1 trillion in new spending on roads, bridges and other construction over the next decade. But as part of that bill, Trump also wants introduce measures to drastically shorten approval times for projects.

The strategy appears aimed at building support for an effort with little momentum in Congress. Democrats are critical of Trump's focus on public-private partnerships, rather that more traditional funding, while many conservative Republicans have balked at the idea of a massive government investment.

Trump, a former real estate executive who claims a passion for building, is looking for enticements that might bring his party on board.

His National Economic Council is currently crafting changes to the law to speed up the regulatory process, so that construction could start sooner and builders would find it easier to finance projects.

Trump and his Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao have played up the problem of regulatory hurdles for infrastructure.

"We're going to try and take that process from a minimum of 10 years down to one year," the president said at an event earlier this month. On Tuesday, the president hosted a gathering of business leaders to discuss infrastructure and regulations, among other subjects.

But the measures being considered for Trump's infrastructure package would follow a series of streamlining efforts that began under President Barack Obama.

At the end of 2015, Obama signed a measure called the FAST Act. Its title stands for "Fixing America's Surface Transportation." In addition to providing funds for infrastructure through 2020, the law established the steering council that reviews the permitting process to ensure projects were reviewed in a timely manner. The law also put limits on the environmental reviews which in theory should shorten a process that could cause permitting to drag on well beyond five years.

Some business groups say the Obama-era law is working and see little reason for an aggressive overhaul.

"You've got it down to a process that is two and a half years," said Bill Kovacs, a senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Read on…

Trump took something from America's cattlemen, and now they want it back

One question loomed large Tuesday during the vice president's first diplomatic mission to Japan: Where's the beef?

Take that literally: The $60 billion U.S. beef industry was one of the most ardent backers of the now-defunct free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That sweeping deal covered a dozen nations along the Pacific Rim, but the big prize for the United States was improved access to the 127 million consumers in Japan.

That is, until President Donald Trump formally withdrew from the agreement on his fourth day in office. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence called TPP "a thing of the past."

"The United States seeks stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships with every country, including Japan," Pence said. "Our goal is simple: We seek trade that is free, and we seek trade that is fair."

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — the administration's point person on trade — joined Pence in Tokyo for bilateral trade talks with Japan's deputy prime minister and other senior officials. Pence emphasized the role of Japanese investment in the United States in creating jobs and fostering economic growth. But some tensions remain: The Treasury Department last week said it is "monitoring" Japan's currency practices amid the large trade deficit.

Read on…

Alberta - U.S. Trade Summit 

Ports-to-Plains President Michael Reeves will be part of a panel at the 2017 Alberta-US Trade Summit, in Calgary on May 2-3. The event is hosted by the Alberta Government, Calgary Economic Development, Edmonton Economic Development and the University of Calgary. Featured keynote speakers include Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Full details and registration information is available at

The summit is a forum for discussion and information sharing. Expert panels will discuss the current political and economic environment and help business look ahead with greater certainty. It is also a unique opportunity to make connections and build partnerships with other export focused business leaders from Alberta and the United States.

Reeves will be part of a panel titled, “The Political and Economic Realities in Alberta and the U.S.: Opportunities and Challenges for Cross-Border Trade”. Calgary Herald Business Columnist Deborah Yedlin will moderate the panel that will also include University of Calgary Assistant Professor of Economics Trevor Tombe. This session will look closely at the political and economic dynamics in Alberta and the U.S. and interpret what this means for cross-border trade. What will a Trump administration mean for cross-border business? What impact will protectionism and economic nationalism have on either side of the border? Changing global energy dynamics have left the Alberta economy in a state of transition with increased focus on economic diversification. What opportunities and challenges face U.S business wanting to export to or invest in Alberta given the current political and economic realities on both sides of the border?

“The organizers have put together a strong agenda and I am really honored to be included,” said Reeves. “I am really looking forward to taking advantage of such a great learning and networking opportunity.”

NAFTA has staying power, especially if Texas supporters keep speaking out

About 40 percent of the content in Mexican imports comes from U.S. companies. In 2014, $136 billion in U.S. goods were used in Mexican products, according to a study by the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington.

In one of his first acts in Washington, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade deal involving a dozen countries.

Unwinding the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada would be much tougher, even if Trump wants to go there.

That’s no accident. Before NAFTA took effect 23 years ago, Mexico was angling for more than easy access to U.S. consumers, which is usually the primary goal for a developing country.

Mexico wanted an accord that would also benefit the U.S. and Canada, and strengthen economic ties among all three countries. Such multi-sided trade deals are more stable and durable, and that’s helpful when there’s a change in popular opinion -- or elected leaders.

NAFTA has created impressive growth in trade and jobs, especially for Texas. But it’s also spawned large networks of suppliers and manufacturers whose goods often criss-cross the border before final assembly.

“The North American trade agreement has evolved,” Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, Mexico’s new ambassador to the U.S., told reporters from The Dallas Morning News last week. “It’s about joint production. It’s about the supply chains that go throughout Mexico and the United States. And that is not often known.”

Read on…

Sand mining industry grows in Texas amid drilling needs 

Keeping in line with the industry's growing demand for frac sand, traffic has exploded over the past few years for Texas Pacifico Transportation Ltd., the railroad that runs through San Angelo. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Elizabeth Grindstaff said via email that from 2001-11 about 2,500 cars per year moved through the area, mostly carrying grain, steel, pipe, agriculture products and railroad materials. The number of cars skyrocketed to almost 25,000 in 2013, in large part thanks to frac sand. 

Grindstaff told the Standard-Times in 2013 that about 60 percent of the rail cars moving through San Angelo contained the sand. Last month, frac sand accounted for 92 percent, she said. And although gas prices plummeted and the industry took hard hits the past few years, Texas Pacifico's traffic has only continued to increase, eclipsing 30,000 cars in 2016.

In a deepening pit in this small town southeast of Waco, workers aim a high-pressure water cannon that reduces small hills of clay-like sand into a watery slurry that is filtered, processed, dried into fine particles, and loaded onto trucks bound for hydraulic fracturing operations across Texas.

It will take up to 1,000 trucks to haul enough of this sand to frac a single large well.

As drilling has recovered in recent months, particularly in West Texas' Permian Basin, the sand mining industry has exploded.

It is producing more than ever to meet the demand of an oil and gas sector that is using up to 20 times more sand per well than it did during peak of the last energy boom. Across the state, already home to nearly 10 frac sand mines, operators are moving to expand quickly, setting the stage for Texas to become a bigger player — and competitor — in an industry long dominated by purer Wisconsin and Minnesota sands.

At the same time, the growth of sand mining is opening a new front in the battle between the energy industry and environmentalists, who argue the mines despoil pristine land and create health hazards by kicking up silica dust, which has been linked to lung cancer, tuberculosis and other lung diseases when inhaled.

Read on…

13 Ways: Chapter 11 - Ignore Outsiders

This is for those concerned about the future of their community and are looking for answers on how to find success.

13 Ways: Chapter 11 - Ignore Outsiders


Upcoming Events


April 25 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors Quarterly Meeting, Washington, DC

April 24-28 Washington DC Fly-in, Washington DC

May 2-3 - Alberta- U.S. Trade Summit, Calgary, AB

June 12 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors Meeting, Denver, CO

June 13-14 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Energy & Agriculture Summit, Denver, CO

September 12-14 - 20th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference, Lubbock, TX

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981

Fernando Madero
Vice President of Mexico Operations
Jazmines 123, Torreon Jardin
Torreon, Mexico
P: 011 52 (871) 120 1030

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369

Richard "Buzz" David
Economic and Business Development
5629 NE Foster Rd.
Bainbridge Island, WA  09110
P: 806-678-3160

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424