‘Trans Pecos’ Teaser | SXSW ‘ Luck Reunion ‘

Honored to have our teaser featured at SXSW for Willie Nelson’s ‘Luck Reunion’ sharing a discussion alongside Darrel Rhyne from Camp Toyahvale and Frank and Rochelle Bullhead | Community leaders from Standing Rock while hosted by Matt Lara from the Big Bend Conservation Alliance. We stood with the intention of sharing our stories of similarities but differences. Two separate pipelines constructed by the same company and with a small group of us assimilated in color, culture and class with an operative statement offered by our friend, Darrel Rhyne:

“This is not a right vs. left issue. This is right vs. wrong.”

An Oil and Gas Lawyer Against Eminent Domain Abuse

 

Mr. White has been a board certified oil, gas and mineral lawyer in the state of Texas for almost 50 years.  He represented the Texas Railroad Commission in all courts for 9 years as an assistant attorney general and 3 years as general counsel for the Railroad Commission before going into private practice.


On April 3rd, Mr. White testified before the Texas Legislature and offered an amendment to S.B. 740, Senator Kolkhorst’s bill to change eminent domain law in Texas.  Rex’s amendment would strongly fill out the incremental approach taken in S.B. 740 and would prevent companies from taking land without due process and a court’s ruling that the taking is justified, before construction begins.


S.B. 740 is causing such a buzz that the State Affairs Committee delayed the vote on S.B. 740 one week.  Senator Kolkhorst and other are listening, even potentially the Lieutenant Governor.  This is our opportunity to contact the bill’s authors and the State Affairs Committee to urge them to get S.B. 740 to the full Senate floor.  We have until April 10, when the bill will likely be voted up or down, to make our voices heard in the Legislature and in the media.


The following names and contacts are important folks to reach during this VERY IMPORTANT time. 


We can make a difference in the voting process.


Author of S.B. 740 

Senator Lois Kolkhorst

lois.kolkhorst@senate.texas.gov | 512-463-0118  


Co-Authors of S.B. 740 ~

Senator Brian Birdwell 

brian.birdwell@senate.texas.gov | 512-463-0122

Senator Charles Schwertner

charles.schwertner@senate.texas.gov | 512-463-0105

Senator Charles Perry

charles.perry@senate.texas.gov | 512-463-0128


State Affairs Committee ~

Senator Joan Huffman, Chair, 512/463-0117 – joan.huffman@senate.texas.gov

Senator Bryan Hughes, Vice-Chair, 512/463-0101 – bryan.hughes@senate.texas.gov

Senator Brian Birdwell, 512/463-0122 – brian.birdwell@senate.texas.gov

Senator Brandon Creighton, 512/463-0104 – brandon.creighton@senate.texas.gov

Senator Craig Estes, 512/463-0130 – craig.estes@senate.texas.gov

Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., 512/463-0127 – eddie.lucio@senate.texas.gov

Senator Jane Nelson, 512/463-0112 – jane.nelson@senate.texas.gov

Senator Charles Schwertner, 512/463-0105 – charles.schwertner@senate.texas.gov

Senator Judith Zaffirini, 512/463-0121 – judith.zaffirini@senate.texas.gov


Suggested message for phone calls:

We urge you to support S.B. 740 and add Rex. White’s proposed amendment to Texas Property Code Section 21.021 to the bill to prevent companies from misusing eminent domain and taking private property for private gain.  


Suggested text for emails:

Mr. Rex White testified on Monday April 3rd in detail in support of Senator Kolkhorst’s S.B. 740 and offered an amendment to the bill that would not conflict with the provisions of S.B. 740, but would add an amendment to Texas Property Code Section 21.021 to add strength to the senator’s effort to balance the interests and rights of landowners and pipelines.  Mr. White’s amendment to Texas Property Code 21.021 would prevent nongovernmental pipelines from being able to take possession of private land, trench the land, and lay pipe until a fair resolution of compensation is reached for the landowner and the pipelines bona-fide entitlement to the powers of eminent domain is legally determined.


We ask you to consider this amendment for those in the West Texas region who have endured the misuse of eminent domain due to the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and who do not want to see inappropriate future industrialization of the Big Bend.  


We urge your nonpartisan support for S.B. 740 and Mr. White’s amendment to Texas Property Code 21.021 so that together we can end eminent domain for private gain. Thank you.

Coyne Gibson | Our Insider

Coyne Gibson is a member and volunteer at BBCA ( Big Bend Conservation Alliance ). He has a background in electrical and control work for pipeline systems, compressor stations and natural gas facilities both in the United States and the Middle East. He currently is the observing support manager at the local observatory in Fort Davis, Texas.

‘It’s one pipeline today but it’s a half dozen pipelines or a dozen pipelines in the next two decades. And that ultimately we become a sacrificial route, if you will, to get that gas to Mexico for export.

Maybe the most important things I can convey – most of us are here, in this place, not because we have to be here, but because we want to be here. We are purposeful, in this place, in this time. There are many places we could all be, many things we could all be doing; we could choose a place with more convenience. We could choose a place with less isolation.

We could choose a place that pays more, with better access to many things, shopping, fine dining, cultural experiences, and so on. Speaking for myself, I choose to live, and to be here. I have this place, different every single day, a new vista, a new sky, a new experience. I have the cultural richness of living in a border community, with my friends and my neighbors from every walk of life. I have the darkest skies at night, I can read a book from the glow of the zodiacal light at the new Moon. I can see Andromeda, with my naked eye, no telescope required. I can see a hundred shooting stars on all but the cloudiest of nights. I can take in the scent of Pinyon, and Ponderosa pine, the fragrance of desert creosote bush. I can hear the “quiet,” like no where else. I can be at peace. Come back here, and look at the night sky with us. Use your eyes, and your mind, and your imagination to see back in time, and to look for hope into the future. That is what we have here.

Look at the desert during the monsoon, and see it come alive. Look at the mountain slopes, gold, yellow, green. See the cactus in bloom, pale yucca flowers, bright red on the prickly pear, yellow on the cholla. Observe the Aoudad, the cattle grazing peacefully, the deer and antelope herds fleeting against the dusk. Watch the sunset at the Mimms Ranch, see the sun rise near Alamito Creek. Get to know the people – ranchers, stewards of the land, the small business owners, who strive to make a living in thinly populated communities, feeding us, clothing us, and caring for us. Experience the real people who live here, some scientists, educators, engineers, some parents, grandparents, some who are activists, many who are artists and musicians. We are brown, white, black, indigenous, men, women, and children. We are liberal, conservative, deeply spiritual, agnostic. We all have one thing in common – this place, and the way we feel about it. I’ve come to understand that this place speaks to a person, and this place is “inside” a person, or it isn’t.

I hope this place speaks to you.

Trap Spring Archeological Site Destroyed

This past week, the Trap Spring Archeological has been destroyed by the work of Energy Transfer Partners for the Trans Pecos Pipeline. Alpine Archeologist David Keller has evidence of at least 5,000 years of cultural antiquities within the Trap Spring site in West Texas’ Brewster County, near Big Bend National Park. Keller, a member of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, has stated that the site is now irreparably damaged despite being determined eligible as a State Archeological Landmark (SAL) – 

the highest honor bestowed upon archeological sites in Texas. In much the same way that the Standing Rock Sioux’s sacred burial grounds were callously bulldozed several weeks ago, Energy Transfer Partners ( the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline) has trenched through the site despite repeated appeals to re-route the pipeline away from the site. ETP has refused.   

 

David Keller | Archeologist

I realize these words could be challenged on many levels – that one pipeline doesn’t mean a place is so compromised as to be considered “gone.” But it is more than one pipeline, it implies more to come, and in any case, is symbolic of a great loss we cannot sustain.

There are a great number of reasons to be against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and all have merit. But for me, it is not because the project will be of no benefit to U.S. customers—that it does not serve the public good—nor because we are dealing with a corrupt and violent foreign government and a heavy-handed and over-empowered pipeline company. Nor because we are subject to state and federal laws that are unjust and unlawful—laws that disdain basic human rights, that disregard the well being of our citizens, that ignore the sanctity of life. Nor because it is a health and safety risk for our citizens, one that will overtask our emergency response teams, and overwhelm our limited resources. These things are all important but they are not what keep me awake at night.

What keeps me awake is that the pipeline is an affront and a brutality against a sacred landscape, the last bastion of wild nature in Texas. The state is covered in a dendritic network of hydrocarbon pipelines. Only here and a few other far pockets remain free of its scars. And only here do you find the greatest relief, the highest biodiversity, and the most magnificent vistas in the state. It is not a stretch to say that the greater Big Bend is hands down the crown jewel of Texas—a place we cannot afford to squander.

People come here from all corners of the state and beyond to rejuvenate themselves physically, spiritually, emotionally. They come here to seek solace and peace and quiet, to recalibrate their minds and reopen their hearts and reconsider their places in the universe. They come here and leave refreshed, leave bound to thousands who passed before by a love for the land that often borders on reverence. In its therapeutic effects alone, as idea as much as its physical reality, it is a vital resource, a treasure whose absence would diminish us all.

To me, the Big Bend is one of the last best places anywhere, which is why I have chosen to live here. It is a celebration of wildness in a time when the natural world—our true ancestral home—is constantly being whittled away, is constantly bent to our will, is constantly disregarded and trashed and degraded until nothing worth caring about remains. I see the Big Bend as one of the last holdouts in humanity’s battle against wild nature and I stand ready to defend it. To sacrifice this place in the waning years of our love affair with fossil fuels would be tragic. For me personally, it would be heartbreaking.

David Keller | Archeologist | Landowner Coordinator

Texans Stand for Texas Land | Bill SB 740

Fifteen Texas-based organizations today announced the Texans for Property Rights coalition, which will lead a grassroots initiative for meaningful reform to state eminent domain laws. 

More info regarding the Texans for Property Rights initiative, visit the website at www.texansforpropertyrights.com. The site includes information on the legislative efforts and serves as a place for property owners to share their eminent domain stories and sign a petition to support the effort. Look for our ‘Trans Pecos’ coverage of local Big Bend landowners, James Spriggs and Joel Nelson, sharing their story of the loss of property rights due to the Trans Pecos Pipeline.

Read More

James Spriggs | Landowner

James Spriggs, one of 39 landowners who have been sued along the route of the Trans Pecos Pipeline while Energy Transfer Partners ( ETP ), through convoluted state law, is using eminent domain to take land while not required to prove that the pipeline will be for the ‘public good. “You’re trying to defend something your family spent a lifetime trying to pay for and they come at you like you’re a criminal.” – James Spriggs

Thoughts from Production Week

Its quiet here. I watch my step for rattle snakes but don’t want to miss out on the raptors from above. They watch me too or so I think as you can almost hear their wingspan. If one were to skillfully watch and watch closely to land like this, you just might be allowed to experience all sincere desires, even the bloodthirsty ones in total innocence of which something feral looks back.

A rancher recently asked me what I see most while documenting those who have had land taken for the route of a pipeline. I thought carefully as there is a certain intonation. Its the sound of the result of wrong doing. Its not of ideology nor a fair indigenous treaty to hold injustice to. Its a reverence for a place, a sense of belonging and a helplessness due to an imbalance of law with an undeterred gaze that quietly says ‘what can we do?’. 

2u7a2548

There is no sensationalized rally, it is hardly in the news, only the raptors from above and an imminent haunt of trucks driving through carrying a pipe half the size of grown men with remnants of dust in the wake of unearthing.

I find myself having a quiet conversation with those in deeds and works that take land and destruct the wild. I wonder of the blind spot somewhere between economic drive and moral wakefulness. Somewhere in between considers us all.

A man called ‘Terence’ just recently reminded me that ‘Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with the countryside’. I have here but mostly with folk who work in the margins, with no reward, building an accretion of change while shouldering through setbacks and continuing on with the perseverance to change law.

2u7a2484
These country folk, steadfast and bold with a march of land stewardship we all should learn from. In deep gratitude of allowing our cameras to document your efforts towards a just world and the protection of a place called the ‘Big Bend of West Texas.’ Onward.

2u7a2754

One Rancher’s Legal Fight

A federal court has denied one Far West Texas rancher’s request for an injunction against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.2u7a2162

U.S. District Judge Robert Junell on Wednesday denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked the Trans-Pecos Pipeline (TPP) from taking possession of part of John Boerschig’s Presidio County ranch. Boerschig has filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

Boerschig, who owns the South Shurley Ranch, said the denial is based on a technicality and that he is prepared to fight the decision.

“We are appealing to the fifth circuit court of appeals in New Orleans today,” Boerschig said. “If they lose there, that whole pipe is coming out of the ground. It’ll be [TPP’s] undoing.”

Full Story

State Democratic Party Measure | Oppose the Trans Pecos Pipeline

Saturday, in San Antonio, the State Democratic Party Convention passed several measures that are now the official 2016-2018 Party Platform, as submitted by the Platform Committee of which Alpine resident, Barry Zavah, was elected to serve from our 19th State Senate District.

Among them:

1) Oppose the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and Keystone XL.

2) Amend the state Constitution and related laws to prevent for-profit entities from using government-like authority to seize private property; and to provide a state court hearing to prove the proposed seizure is a public use/& benefit — prior to allowing it to be seized.

Screening with BBCA | Patagonia Austin

Please join us for a screening of the documentary trailer as well as public discussion with folks from the Big Bend Conservation Alliance who will share their knowledge and direct action campaign.

tp blog entry

Sunday, June 5th | Patagonia Austin

316 Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78701

Doors open – 5:00 p.m | Discussion and Screening – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m

For more info on the event, please visit our

Facebook page

And for more info on the BBCA, please visit

Big Bend Conservation Alliance 

Dozens Caught in Land Rights Fight

james

Big Bend landowners are finding out that not only can they not say no to ETP, it’s hard to even get fair compensation. Spriggs says he didn’t want the pipeline on his property in the first place. To avoid a lengthy legal battle with ETP, he attempted to negotiate, believing he could convince the company to increase its offer. When ETP offered a one-time payment of $7,000 for a 50-foot easement that runs a little more than a mile across his property, Spriggs pushed back. The company filed suit anyway.

Read More

Joel Nelson | Landowner

So far, ETP has filed 45 lawsuits against landowners along the Trans-Pecos Pipeline 143-mile long route. Joel Nelson explains his experience of offers by the company.
Initial offer: $28,779 ($90/rod or $5.43/LF)
2nd offer: $150/rod
3rd offer: $180/rod
4th offer: $250/rod
5th & FINAL offer: $6140 ($19/rod or $1.16/LF)

Presidio | Division and Economics

presidio

“I’m saddened that the company would deceive the residents of Presidio and the city management but its very unlikely that natural gas will ever be supplied to Presidio, at least as a consequence of this pipeline. People try to make this into a divisive socio-economic issue. It’s purely economics.” Read More

Trans Pecos | Safety Concerns

safety pipes

Public safety issues are one of several concerns about the Trans Pecos pipeline. An area through which the pipeline will run, Sunny Glen, inhabits a small community with one road in and road out, and with only a volunteer fire department. As we’ve learned, this is a 42” pipeline that is of significant scale in comparison to the most lines for public use that run between 6” to 12”.

Read More

Production Week

Its quiet here. I watch my step for rattle snakes but don’t want to miss out on the raptors from above. They watch me too or so I think as you can almost hear their wingspan. If one were to skillfully watch and watch closely to land like this, you just might be allowed to experience all sincere desires, even the bloodthirsty ones in total innocence of which something feral looks back.

A rancher recently asked me what I see most while documenting those who have had land taken for the route of a pipeline. I thought carefully as there is a certain intonation. Its the sound of the result of wrong doing. Its not of ideology nor a fair indigenous treaty to hold injustice to. Its a reverence for a place, a sense of belonging and a helplessness due to an imbalance of law with an undeterred gaze that quietly says ‘what can we do?’. 

There is no sensationalized rally, it is hardly in the news, only the raptors from above and an imminent haunt of trucks driving through carrying a pipe half the size of grown men with remnants of dust in the wake of unearthing.

I find myself having a quiet conversation with those in deeds and works that take land and destruct the wild. I wonder of the blind spot somewhere between economic drive and moral wakefulness. Somewhere in between considers us all.

A man called ‘Terence’ just recently reminded me that ‘Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with the countryside’. I have here but mostly with folk who work in the margins, with no reward, building an accretion of change while shouldering through setbacks and continuing on with the perseverance to change law.

These country folk, steadfast and bold with a march of land stewardship we all should learn from. In deep gratitude of allowing our cameras to document your efforts towards a just world and the protection of a place called the ‘Big Bend of West Texas.’ Onward.

Roberto Lujan | What it means to be Native

‘I understood in the closed community of Alpine,TX of fences but no matter what I would look out at the horizons and mountains. I knew that they were there for us even though we were fenced in. I tapped into that appreciation which led me into venturing out into this region. When I learned of this pipeline and realized that others had an appreciation for this land, I thought of what Malcolm X has said ‘The chickens have come home to roost’ and that this is now about all of us.

Some landowners have said ‘I’ve been here 5 generations’.. but it doesn’t matter, its being taken away. I wonder how this story will end. It’ll probably end similar to where i am. Not long ago, my grandfather used to own that, my people used to be part of that. We can associate it with these surroundings but its now all going away within the last frontier of West Texas.’ – Roberto Lujan

 

 

 

Financial Roots | Link to International Waters

Story by Dahr Jamail | Truthout

 

The oil and gas industry is in a state of free fall. With prices for both commodities lower then they have been in years, oil companies are cutting jobs and many major drilling projects across the United States have ground to a virtual standstill.

Unlike the US, countries around the globe whose political apparatuses are not heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry are actively moving away from fossil fuels. With the mounting and unarguable impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption escalating daily, the oil and gas industry now resembles embattled dinosaurs desperately groping for their survival.

Meanwhile, vocal protest against oil and gas companies is only growing.

Recently, a coalition of 165 organizations – including environmental, faith and political groups and businesses – signed a massive petition calling on the Government Accountability Office to launch a full-scale investigation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that, while it has never declined a permit request by a company to build a gas pipeline, theoretically regulates them.

Even in oil and gas friendly Texas, there is a growing outcry about the egregious abuse of landowners rights’ carried out by the company behind a new gas pipeline.

That pipeline, the Trans-Pecos high-pressure gas pipeline project that will transport natural gas from Far West Texas into Mexico, is moving forward nonetheless.

The proposed 143-mile Trans-Pecos pipeline would deliver up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of Permian Basin natural gas into Mexico each day. The pipeline consortium is led by the richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim, and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), headed by CEO Kelcy Warren, who Forbes says is worth $6.7 billion, and is being built for the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission.

ETP, however, is on rocky terrain financially: It recently experienced its largest one-day drop in stock price since 2006 when its value lost 15 percent and reached a seven-year low.

“The [industry] downturn has led investors to worry that pipeline stocks can’t raise dividends, finance growth, and pay their debt after values collapsed and spending outpaced revenue,” The Dallas Morning News reports.

How can the CEO of a company that recently lost 15 percent of its total value in a single day – and dropped to its lowest value in a decade – think this new pipeline will turn a major profit given that the gas industry is experiencing such a dramatic downturn in the United States?

The answer lies in Japan, where wholesale gas prices are roughly 10 times higher than they are in the United States.

 

Full Story

More on Japan in the LNG Market

James Spriggs | A landowner’s story

James Spriggs, one of 39 landowners who have been sued along the route of the Trans Pecos Pipeline while Energy Transfer Partners ( ETP ), through convoluted state law, is using eminent domain to take land while not required to prove that the pipeline will be for the ‘public good. “You’re trying to defend something your family spent a lifetime trying to pay for and they come at you like you’re a criminal.” – James Spriggs