Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunny Glen Residents to Present Petition to Commissioners Court

Residents of Sunny Glen will present a petition (text below) to Brewster County Commissioners Court regarding evacuation routes for the Sunny Glen residential area at the Brewster County Courthouse, Commissioners Courtroom, 6th and Avenue E in Alpine, Texas TOMORROW, Tuesday April 19, 2016 at 9:00 am, during Public Comments.

Approximately 135 homes in the Sunny Glen residential area of Brewster County depend on FM 1703 as the only road in and out of the area. Residents representing a majority of the affected homes in Sunny Glen have signed the petition.

The Trans-Pecos pipeline poses an increased risk of fire to Sunny Glen, an area of already elevated risk, by the planned construction and operation of a 42” high-pressure natural gas pipeline, which is sited immediately bordering Sunny Glen to both the east and south and crossing under FM 1703, the only road in and out of the area.

The pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) stated during its town hall meeting on July 8, 2015 that it had analyzed alternate routes, which would route the pipeline outside of Sunny Glen, but according to the map Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on October 6, 2015, ETP has decided the route the that passes right up against the Sunny Glen residential area is the most feasible (affordable and profitable). It was also stated by Rick Smith of ETP at that meeting, that the company was aware there is only one access road to Sunny Glen and with respect to another exit they were looking into it and working on it and that is all he could say at that point; this is all the residents have heard about it since.

Regarding the stated intent of ETP to provide additional means of evacuating Sunny Glen, the residents of Sunny Glen will present a petition to the Brewster County Commissioner’s Court asking the county to require Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC. to fund and, in conjunction with the county, construct two all-weather evacuation roads, prior to construction of any pipeline through the Sunny Glen area. One road to serve the north end of FM 1703 as an escape route to State Highway 118 and one road as an evacuation route exiting the west end of Sunny Glen canyon.

If you would like to express your safety concerns related to evacuation roads and plans, sufficiency of emergency equipment and manpower, lack of medical facilities or just want to express your general safety concerns and worries, please sign up to make a three minute comment before the meeting!

For those who don't wish to speak, just your presence will express the to the Commissioners Court that safety should be of the highest priority.

Text of the Petition in Favor of Brewster County Building Evacuation Roads for Sunny Glen:

Approximately 135 homes and families in the Sunny Glen Subdivisions of Brewster County depend on FM 1703 as their only means of access. The hundreds of people living in Sunny Glen choose to live here despite the dry environment and threat of fire. However, the increased risk posed by construction and operation of a 42” high-pressure natural gas pipeline immediately bordering our subdivision and under the only road in and out of the area is unacceptable. The pipeline company has analyzed alternate routes, but has apparently decided that a route that travels right up against our residential area on both the east and south sides is the most feasible (affordable and profitable). Should a spark ignite a fire during construction or should a gas line rupture or explosion occur, hundreds of residents could rapidly become trapped in an inferno, with no means of evacuation or emergency vehicles reaching the fire.

Therefore, we the undersigned residents of Sunny Glen petition Brewster County Commissioners Court to require Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC. to fund and, in conjunction with the county, construct two all-weather roads, prior to construction of any pipeline through the Sunny Glen area. One road to serve as an escape route to State Highway 118 and one road as an escape route to the west of Sunny Glen canyon. This access should be capable of supporting trucks and heavy equipment necessary for fire control and emergency services access; at least one road should be paved. These roads should be maintained over the life of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, and made available to all residents of Sunny Glen, and as a general use county road, without restriction.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tears & Letters Delivered to Energy Transfer Partners' Dallas Headquarters

Yesterday afternoon Alpine native Ashley Baker successfully delivered our tears and letters to Kelcy Warren at Energy Transfer Partners Headquarters in Dallas. ETP was tipped off that she was coming – in an act of extreme cowardice, rather than look her in the eye, hear what she had to say, and accept our letters, upon her arrival they locked the door and called the police (!!). A detective was filming as Ashley poured our 4 gallons of "tears" out onto some plants in front of the ETP building and left our letters in their mailbox. Afterwards, Ashley said she said it felt like a "great weight was lifted".

Thank you, Ron, Cindy, and Linda for support on the ground in Dallas!

Thanks to all who contributed ideas, encouragement, and supplies!

Heartfelt thanks to Ashley (and daughter Berkeley!) from all of us for her courage and willingness to make this pilgrimage on behalf of our community!

All photos by Linda Cooke.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren to Receive Tears from the Big Bend

On behalf of the West Texas community being affected by the proposed 42" Trans-Pecos Pipeline, a Big Bend resident will deliver letters and "tears" to Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren at ETP Headquarters in Dallas.

On Friday Alpine resident and lifelong Texan Ashley Baker will bring a 4-gallon jug filled with “Tears from Big Bend’ and 26 heartfelt letters from local residents inscribed on silk handkerchiefs to the billionaire pipeline mogul. The letters implore Mr. Warren to reconsider his plans to put a 42" high pressure gas transmission pipeline through the heart of the Big Bend region of far West Texas.

The proposed Trans-Pecos Pipeline would deliver US gas across the border into Mexico and beyond to Asian markets. The pipeline is part of a massive network of new infrastructure designed to export domestically-derived fossil fuels. So far, 45 landowners in the Big Bend region have been served with eminent domain lawsuits by Energy Transfer Partners.

WHO: Ashley Baker, born and raised in the region directly impacted by ETP’s proposed Trans-Pecos Pipeline. Ms. Baker is compelled to visit ETP headquarters in Dallas because she wants Kelcy Warren to understand how upset people are about his pipeline. "Kelcy Warren has come to my home uninvited, so I felt compelled to pay his headquarters a visit while I'm in Dallas – he needs to understand that there are real people whose lives are being ruined by his business venture."

WHEN:  Friday April 15, 2016, 1pm

WHERE: Energy Transfer Partners, 3738 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Letters to Kelcy Warren on Silk Handkerchiefs: Tears from the Big Bend

Big Bend residents are writing heartfelt letters to Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren. The letters are being inscribed on silk handkerchiefs (of the sort one might use to wipe away one's tears). Many of the letters are included below:



Kelcy Warren,

You are a significant contributor to the Republican Party which has for many years vocally represented private property rights in Texas and the United States.  Yet you and your Trans-Pecos Pipeline has managed to influence legislators and Texas custodians of due legal process (Railroad Commissioners and the Governor, for example) into supporting your misuse of the legal concept of Eminent Domain.  The result so far is 41 (at this date) lawsuits against private property owners, claiming your company’s right to take their property for a pseudo “public use”.  Eminent Domain was established to provide an avenue for a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.  The key word in this definition is “public use”.  The Trans-Pecos Pipeline that will go through the Alpine, Marfa, and Presidio areas of Big Bend has no “public use” (no public benefit) for U.S. citizens.  It is instead the conveyor of privately owned mineral interests to a customer whose ultimate market will be in another country(ies), not the USA. 

The misuse of a sometimes necessary government “takings action” to benefit privately-held, commercial interests for a project that has no benefit for the citizens of the United States or Texas, is unconscionable and unacceptable. 

We citizens of the Big Bend are uniting against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and the environmental damage that will occur to our pristine area.  The damage will not only occur during the construction of the pipeline but will also continue as a result of the use of access easements. 

We Big Bend area residents take pride in our beautiful landscape.  We also take pride in the area’s traditional values of honesty, hard work, and appreciation for the land.  The land itself is a treasured resource, to those who own it, manage it, enjoy it. 

It is unacceptable that you propose to destroy and/or damage large swaths of our countryside with a project that has no public benefit.

It is unacceptable that you are attempting to misappropriate the concept of “government takings” to benefit the pocketbook of yourself and a few others. 

If you live your life based on the western values of honesty, hard work, and appreciation for the land, you will determine that the Trans-Pecos Pipeline project should be stopped immediately.

If you value the dearly held concept of private property rights, you will determine that the Trans-Pecos Pipeline project should be stopped immediately. 

If you value the concept that a government should use its powers judiciously and only within the boundaries necessary to protect and provide for its citizens, you will determine that the Trans-Pecos Pipeline project and the misuse of eminent domain should be stopped immediately. 

Linda Shank

Alpine, Texas


Dear Mr. Warren,

I am a resident of Alpine, Texas and I'm concerned about the proposed routing of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.  I am thinking that a rational person in your position might also have reservations about the wisdom of the current plan.  It seems to me that a consideration of the risk/reward ratio involved would call for a more serious look at routing the pipeline away from our vulnerable community. Yes our community is vulnerable to a serious uncontrolled fire as a result of the pipeline tracking very closely to the western perimeter of our town and then transiting towards the prevailing winds through a long narrow canyon leading towards Marfa.  

Are you aware of the very high west winds and tinder dry conditions that occur in our area?

Are you aware of the devastating fire that swept through Fort Davis and beyond just a few years ago?

Are you aware of the fire that swept through the very canyon that you currently propose to site your pipeline?

Are you aware that the previous fire in the canyon was caused by a spark and still managed to gather enough force to jump an extensive fire break and almost enter our town?

Are you aware that we don't have the infrastructure in this town to come close to stopping a fire of this magnitude?

Do you think that a fire along your pipeline at an inopportune point would present a threat several orders of magnitude greater than the spark induced fire miles into the canyon?

Yes, I realize that the risk of a fire along the pipeline at a spot that would constitute this sort of threat is small.

But consider the major tenant of risk management.  Low risk but dire consequences requires extreme preventative measures. 

My  mind does drift to the gulf and BP and considering our situation and your other options, could the word negligence apply. 

I'm not a lawyer so I don't know.  Also massive pollution of the Gulf vs burning down a small  town, I don't know how to weigh that.


Rerouting the pipeline is not that extreme.  We are a small island in a vast ocean of mountains and grasslands. Other routes abound. We also happen to love our town and lifestyle and thus the intensity of our opposition to this project......But that's another story.  A good story, but another story.

So there are other paths to Presidio.

If you took one of those paths the following might happen.

You and the company that you are the steward of would indemnify yourselves from the notable damage/destruction of a small but well known Far West Texas town, and the massive financial and moral consequences thereof.

My understanding of your position as CEO and Chairman of the Board of ETP is that you have a fiduciary duty to your stockholders to make the wise choice.  Often the wise choice is not the default choice but the creative choice.

So please, take a few minutes.  Look at a map.  Study a bit of our recent history.  Consider what might happen is there was a fire in the wrong spot.  Talk to some fair minded people.

It appears to be your call.  Please choose wisely.


Karen Nakakihara

Alpine, Texas