Texas senators met Wednesday morning to consider confirming Kelcy Warren, the CEO of the Dallas-based company building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, to the state’s Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The commission manages Texas' natural resources and guides the state’s conservation decisions. In November, opponents demanded Warren’s resignation from the commission. Some say there’s a conflict of interest for Warren, whose company Energy Transfer Partners is behind a number of high-profile pipeline projects.
No one gave testimony supporting Warren on Wednesday, but a number of Texans voiced their concerns.
Natasha Nolan, from Austin, argued that Warren does not meet the qualifications stated in the Parks and Wildlife code.
“I would suggest that Mr. Warren cannot be considered an expert in any of these fields and indeed his record of environmental devastation precedes him,” she said. “According to Good Jobs First, an initiative promoting accountability and economic development, Mr. Warren’s company Energy Transfer [Partners] has paid out over $23 million in environmental violation penalties.”
The Dallas pipeline billionaire donated $700,000 to Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Abbott appointed Warren to the commission in November 2015. This is the Legislature's first opportunity to confirm Warren because he was appointed after the 2015 session.
David King, from Austin, testified about Warren’s campaign contributions. “He can donate money if he wants to. I’m not criticizing him for making that donation. I am simply saying that creates in my mind a situation of quid pro quo.”
Laredo businesswoman Anna B. Galo is also being considered for confirmation on the commission. The senate committee is scheduled to vote on April 20.
Jen Rice is a legislative intern with the Texas Station Collaborative, a statewide partnership among the following public radio stations: KERA, KUT in Dallas, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Houston Public Media and Marfa Public Radio.