Days after the police assault and mass arrest of about 120 pipeline resisters at Standing Rock, North Dakota (see below), the majority owner of the contested Dakota Access Pipeline there—pipeline “cowboy” Kelsy Warren—will take his seat with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission in Austin to deliberate on the fate of natural Texas.
Continuing a pay-to-play practice perfected by his predecessor Rick Perry, Greg Abbott appointed Warren to a Parks term that won’t expire until after 2020 after Warren had donated $555,000 to Abbott, according to the Dallas Morning News. Previously he had ladled $6 million onto a Perry-backing PAC.
A large gathering, including members of Defend Big Bend and several indigenous group’s who joined up for a recent Standing Rock solidarity march on the under-construction Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Alpine, Texas, are expected to show up at the meeting Thursday morning to call for Warren’s immediate resignation from the commission.
You can see the meeting agenda here, which includes a vote on running a pipeline through the W.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.
A press release of a protest action by self-described water protectors is below:
Rally at Parks & Wildlife To Call Out Dakota Access Pipeline’s Kelcy Warren
Several groups to voice concern over pipeline and fracking impacts to state parks, wildlife areas
What: Peaceful demonstrators rally at Parks and Wildlife HQ to call out Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren
When: Thursday, November 3, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters, 4200 Smith School Rd Austin, TX 78744
AUSTIN, Texas — More than 100 Texans are expected to gather at Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin for a peaceful demonstration to speak out against Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren’s presence on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Energy Transfer Partners is attempting to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline (aka, “DAPL”) from North Dakota to Illinois and the Trans-Pecos & Comanche Trail Pipelines in the Big Bend area and El Paso County.
The main organizer of the rally, Alpine-based Defend Big Bend, will be joined by Native leaders from Texas and North Dakota as well as Sierra Club leaders and supporters from Big Bend to Austin. The organizations see Warren’s presence on the TPWC as a conflict of interest and a huge distraction from TPWD’s generally positive role in protecting parks and wildlife in Texas. The groups are calling for Warren to step down immediately.
Aside from the rally, the Sierra Club and several other organizations are also raising concerns about the potential impact oil and gas development could have on the Balmorhea State Park and San Solomon Springs area. The Sierra Club aims to work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to look into how it could do more research into the oil and gas industry’s impact on state parks and wildlife areas.
Warren gave Gov. Abbott approximately $550,000 during the 2014 election cycle, according to Texans for Public Justice, and was appointed by Gov. Abbott to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission last year. Warren has not yet been confirmed by the Texas Senate, which votes on all Governor appointments, but it is expected to vote sometime in the next legislative session.
Those not able to make the Thursday morning action looking for armchair opportunities may appreciate this recent Sierra Club letter-writing campaign calling for Warren’s removal.
Some of our most treasured natural spaces in Texas — Balmorhea & San Solomon Springs, the Big Bend area, the Rio Grande River, and South Padre Island — are threatened by the fossil fuel industry.
The task of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission is to protect and preserve many of these most treasured natural areas, but how can that happen when Governor Abbott appoints the likes of pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, to the Commission?
Kelcy Warren’s Energy Transfer Partners is the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota and the Trans-Pecos & Comanche Trail Pipelines in West Texas.
Now Warren’s friends in big oil & gas are coming after one of Texas’s most pristine natural areas: the springs and land around Balmorhea. It’s time to speak out against the destruction and corruption of our lands, water, air, and democracy.
We need to stop this pernicious influence in order to prevent further fossil fuel development from threatening our state parks and wildlife areas.
Help us get Kelcy Warren off the commission: Tell Governor Abbott to say NO to Pipeline Billionaires.
There’s also this petition circulating for his removal already approaching 5,000 signatures.
Updates on the West Texas pipelines can often be found on the No Trans-Pecos Pipeline Facebook page.
Lastly, if you missed this past weekend’s heavily militarized response at the standoff at Standing Rock, check out this coverage from Unicorn Riot:
For hours, the water protectors attempted to hold back the authorities sent to remove them from the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline towards the Missouri River.
High Mobility Military Vehicle (HMMV) trucks driven by the North Dakota National Guard flanked Highway 1806 on the hills as fires burned at barricades set to slow the authorities’ march.
At close range, law enforcement personnel repeatedly fired a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) sound cannon at water protectors in an attempt to drive them out. LRAD attacks were expected and many water protectors had earplugs to mitigate likely permanent damage.
Tasers, beanbag shotgun rounds, concussion grenades and batons with sniper rifle overwatch from MRAP and Bearcat armored vehicles, surrounded with HMMVs were depolyed against the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) people and their supporters. One Unicorn Riot reporter was struck with a baton by a Hennepin County (MN) deputy acting in a force unit.
In a continuing pattern of foregoing transparency, law enforcement from multiple states concealed their identities by hiding nameplates and badge numbers, which can prevent individual officers from being named and deposed in lawsuits around police brutality and abuse.
Video of the weekend police action from UR: