#TxWaterProtectors confront Kelcy Warren at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

Written by: Vanessa Ramos & Max Anderson (V&M Productions) 
Videos by: Vanessa Ramos & Max Anderson (V&M Productions)

Photos by: Vanessa Ramos

BRIEF:

  • Nearly 200 Texas ‘water protectors’ protested outside of the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission meeting on Thursday morning

  • Texas water protectors asked commissioner Kelcy Warren to step down from his board seat

  • Commissioner Warren agreed to recuse himself from the meeting after a testimony from a member of the Society of Native Nations

Austin, Tx. - Nearly 200 water protectors from across Texas gathered outside of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commission meeting on Thursday morning and called for commissioner Kelcy Warren to step down. The water protectors burned sage, held banners and signs that read “Parks not Pipelines” and “Water is sacred. Stop DAPL,” and sang songs and chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Kelcy Warren has got to go.” 

Kelcy Warren is the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas based pipeline company building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in the Great Plains, and the Trans Pecos and Comanche Trails Pipelines in West Texas. Warren was appointed to the board one year ago by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Many protesters point to Warren’s appointment to the board as an example of cronyism, because Warren has given more than $700,000 to Gov. Abbott’s Political Action Committee since 2013. Tane Ward, an organizing manager at the Sierra Club, fears that the pipeline billionaire may have the bottom line in mind when making a decision about the parks.

“The parks department should be part of the state infrastructure that is protecting our water, protecting our wild places, and to have oil and gas industry people serving on that [board] is completely irresponsible,” said Ward. “Item 7 on the agenda today is actually for a pipeline near a park, and they’re asking for an easement. Now, this company isn’t owned by Kelcy Warren. However, they do run projects with a company that is core partners in Dakota Access Pipeline along with Energy Transfer Partners. So, these are friends of friends, and when we have this sort of nepotism going on in government we see corruption and we don’t see the best interest of the people being served.”

Inside of the meeting Texas water protectors were able to speak to Warren directly and accused him of destroying native burial grounds and sacred sites. Pete Hefflin, a member of Society of Native Nations, expressed pain for the desecration of his ancestors. 

“How would you feel if I went to your place and dig up your ancestors like you have been doing to our people?” said Hefflin. “Because that’s what you have been doing to my people, and it hurts.”

Warren said that he did not believe that he was disturbing burial sites, but Warren did agree to sit down and have a meeting with Hefflin and the Society of Native Nations to discuss the desecration of sacred burial sites.

Other Texas water protectors spoke out against Item 7, which is a proposed easement corridor for six pipelines through the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County. GT Logistics, LLC is proposing the easement because they recently acquired leases for tank farms and industrial dock facilities near the Wildlife Management Area, and are hoping to connect the two facilities. 

Warren recused himself from voting on the pipeline easement through the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, along with another commissioner because of conflict of interest, and due to lack of quorum the item was tabled until the next TPWD meeting in January.

Several water protectors were removed from the meeting for speaking out from the audience. 

Warren and Energy Transfer Partners have received increased scrutiny for their handling of peaceful water protectors at encampments near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Water protectors say the pipeline will damage native burial grounds and sacred sites, and they are worried about the possibility of a pipeline spill in the future that could impact the Missouri River, a source of drinking water for millions of people. Police and National Guard troops clad in riot gear have cracked down on water protectors over the past couple of months and have used heavy handed tactics, including militarized police vehicles, sound concussion canons, low flying helicopters, pepper spray, tasers, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds fired from shotguns, flash bang grenades and even attack dogs. 

Texas water protectors also vow to fight the Trans Pecos and Comanche Trails Pipelines in West Texas. Lori Glover from Defend Big Bend said that although the nearly 150 mile Trans Pecos Pipeline, which runs near Big Bend National Park, was approved by federal regulators, it still faces significant opposition from local residents.  

“We’ve reached a real critical point in our area, and I really thank the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux for what they’ve done, because our people had basically given up,” said Glover. “But because of the outrage of what’s happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline and saying, ‘Hey, this is happening to us too.’ We’re standing up again and we’re fighting this, and now we’re at a point where we have a very short time to bring this into connection with the Dakota Access Pipeline, to the national forefront.”

After the meeting, Pete Heflin, Mescalero Apache, Society of Native Nations Board Member, made the following comments: 

“I came to him in a prayerful way and he agreed to meet with us. I couldn’t believe it. I told him, “I’m not mad at you nor angry. I have prayed for you and your family. How would you like it if I was to go and dig up your ancestors, like you’ve been doing to my people?” to which Warren responded “I don’t think I’ve done that.”

Hefflin continued, “It means we’re moving in the right direction and that prayer is powerful. It’s got more power than any weapons or any money out there. The elders of North Dakota have been telling us to remain in prayer and to remain peaceful.”

“We want to make sure this meeting happens. Not only for Texas, but for North Dakota and anywhere else in the world where these pipelines are hurting people, the land, and our future generations.”

“We will be in contact with representatives from Standing Rock and West Texas groups like Defend Big Bend and Big Bend Conservation Alliance to gather and review the evidence of the desecration of these sacred sites.”

“Our relatives in North Dakota and our historian contacts in West Texas have the information about desecrated sacred sites in both areas, and we appreciate Kelcy Warren’s willingness to sit with us and review that information together.”


**Currently under construction below-will be updated soon. Please come back again, thank you. 

Native texans stand in solidarity with
Standing Rock #NoDapl


Opposition to the Dos Republicas Coal mine Solidarity march - April 2016

Written By// Vanessa Ramos & Max Anderson (V&M Productions)
Video By// Vanessa Ramos & Max Anderson (V&M Productions)
Photography// Vanessa Ramos

Eagle Pass, Tx. - On April 16, 2016, more than 150 people marched over 8 miles from Eagle Pass to the Dos Republicas coal mine just outside of the city. The march was led by native peoples who come from the region. They argue that the coal mine is destroying native sites, artifacts, burial grounds, and culturally significant areas. The people of Eagle Pass have been fighting the Dos Republicas coal mine for more than two decades. The coal being mined is shipped across the border and burned in some of the dirtiest power plants in Mexico. The mine also threatens the only source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people in Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico, because waste water and runoff from the mine flows into Elm Creek and eventually the Rio Grande River one mile upstream from where the water is sourced.