Senate vote delayed on pipeline CEO’s post on Parks Commission

Kelcy Warren, CEO and chairman of the board of Energy Transfer Partners, stands for a portrait in the company’s offices in Dallas Thursday November 19, 2015. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

A state Senate committee delayed a vote on the confirmation of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department commissioners on Wednesday because of a lack of a quorum.

The appointment of energy CEO Kelcy Warren is still likely to be approved, despite months of environmental protests and marches against his pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed the billionaire to the sought-after post 18 months ago. Warren has since been the subject of regular activism, at the parks department, at his offices and at his home.

Nine spoke against Warren’s appointment on Wednesday.

“Warren’s nomination is a slap in the face to Texans who take seriously the preservation and protection of our treasured places,” Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said in a statement. “His presence on the Commission is disruptive and distracts from the good work of the Parks and Wildlife staff”

The Senate’s nominations committee had four parks commissioners to consider at the meeting Wednesday, but didn’t have a quorum. The committee meets again next week.

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Energy Transfer Partners, based in Dallas, built the Trans-Pecos pipeline in West Texas and Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, both the focus of regular protests. Environmentalists argued the Trans-Pecos traversed 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, the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to the south.

More than 5,000 Texans have contacted their state Senator to oppose Warren’s nomination, the Sierra Club said.

The Senate, however, has not asked Warren to appear personally at the committee meeting, which starts at 8 a.m. and will be webcast. Only Commissioner Anna Galo, a business woman from Laredo, was asked to come to the meeting, the parks department said.

It is very rare for the Senate to deny a confirmation. Parks department staffers could not remember a recent example.

“The department is deeply appreciative for those Texans who volunteer their time to serve on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission,” said department spokesman Josh Havens. “And we look forward to working with each of the governor’s appointees to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of our state.”

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