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:
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.
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.