Kelcy Warren’s nomination to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission was narrowly approved on Thursday by a committee of the Texas Senate, despite months of environmental protests and marches against his pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners.
Four Republicans voted in favor, but all three Democrats on the Senate’s Nominations Committee voted against the move. A full Senate vote with a two-thirds majority is now necessary to approve Warren’s appointment.
About 18 months ago, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed the billionaire CEO to the sought-after post. Since then Warren has been the subject of regular activism at the parks department, at his offices and also at his home.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners built the Trans-Pecos pipeline in West Texas and Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, both are the focus of regular protests. Environmentalists argued the Trans-Pecos pipeline passed through pristine wilderness and the Dakota sacred Indian burial ground. They also worried the North Dakota pipeline, which cuts under the Missouri River, could spill and contaminate the river, which is the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to the south.
Over 5,000 Texans have contacted their state Senator to oppose Warren’s nomination, according to the Sierra Club.
“It’s disappointing that the majority on the committee would support a nominee with such inherent conflicts, but not surprising given the stranglehold the oil and gas industry has on the Texas Legislature,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.
Committee members voting against Warren’s nomination were State Senators Kirk Watson (D-Austin), José Menéndez (D-San Antonio), and Boris Miles (D-Houston). Voting for Warren were State Senators Brian Birdwell (R-Waco), Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), Van Taylor (R-Plano), and Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway).
Warren said he is honored to have been appointed. “As a native Texan, he looks forward to continuing to serve on the Commission,” a spokeswoman said in a statement, “and to carry out its mission to manage our state’s natural and cultural resources.”
Article written for HEI contributor Lydia Ezeakor.