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Kelcy Warren nomination to state parks panel faces opposition

April 20th, 2017 under Community
Dave Cortez and Eric Borja, both of the Sierra Club, Will Mederski  of Forward Action, Lori Glover-Big Bend Defense Coalition,  Natasha Nolan of ATXEJ.

Dave Cortez and Eric Borja, both of the Sierra Club, Will Mederski of Forward Action, Lori Glover-Big Bend Defense Coalition, Natasha Nolan of ATXEJ.

AUSTIN – The Texas Senate Nominations Committee heard vehement opposition from the Sierra Club and others on Wednesday, April 12 over the nomination of Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, according to a Sierra Club of Texas news release.

Thousands of Texans have contacted their state senators urging them to oppose Warren’s nomination saying he is unfit for office. Warren, who is behind the construction of the notorious Dakota Access Pipeline across the Midwest and plains states as well as the Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail pipelines in Texas, was nominated by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015 during the last interim session.

“Warren’s nomination is a slap in the face to Texans who take seriously the preservation and protection of our treasured places,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “His presence on the Commission is disruptive and distracts from the good work of the Parks and Wildlife staff. The Nominations Committee should send a message to Governor Abbott that this department needs leadership that actually has relevant experience – not just a big checkbook.”

Warren, who has been participating in Commission business unconfirmed by the Senate, gave approximately $550,000 personally to Governor Abbott during his 2014 campaign, and almost $900,000 through Energy Transfer Partners in political contributions, according to Texans for Public Justice. Many believe his political contributions to Abbott was the reason he was appointed.

Opponents of Warren’s nomination point to inherent conflicts of interest given his extensive pipeline network throughout Texas and the fracked gas infrastructure filling the pipelines. Warren’s application, obtained through an open records request by the Sierra Club, indicated multiple permits issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to Energy Transfer Partners but does not specify them.

To further illustrate the conflict of interest problem, Reed referred to a November 2016 Commission meeting in which Warren recused himself from a vote to approve a pipeline easement through the JD Murphree Wildlife Management Area, citing a conflict of interest.

“We don’t know how many existing or proposed pipelines either intersect or otherwise affect Parks and Wildlife land that are associated in one way or another with Energy Transfer Partners, its parent – Energy Transfer Equity – or other entities connected to its parent. This really needs to be examined before the governor appoints someone like Kelcy Warren to carry out the mission of Parks and Wildlife,” said Reed.

The Sierra Club also recently brought to light an under-reported case filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in which they alleged that Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiaries manipulated natural gas prices in Houston before, during, and after Hurricane Rita. Warren’s company paid the oversight agencies $40 million to settle, an amount Warren referred to in his Parks & Wildlife application as a “minor fine.”

Citizens from West Texas were also expected to appear before the Nominations Committee to protest Warren’s place on the Commission, citing destruction of ancient Native sites, risk to treasured spaces such as the Big Bend area by the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, unscrupulous condemnation practices using eminent domain, and other reasons why Warren was not an appropriate nominee to lead an agency who is charged with managing and conserving the natural and cultural resources of Texas.

If the Nominations Committee votes to approve Warren’s nomination, a full Senate vote could follow with an up or down vote.

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