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