Texas Senate okays Kelcy Warren’s seat at Parks & Wildlife

Divers and a fish swim by a rig that has become an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico. (Chris Ledford / Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

The Texas Senate overwhelmingly approved Kelcy Warren’s nomination to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission on Wednesday, despite months of environmental protests against the chief executive’s pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners.

The Senate voted 22-9, largely along party lines. Democratic Senators Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) voted with the Republican majority.

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, his offices and home.

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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 numerous 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 the Senate to oppose Warren’s nomination, the Sierra Club said.

“Kelcy Warren cares about pipelines, not the protection and preservation of our state’s most treasured spaces,” said Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “Today, the political contributions made by Kelcy Warren and Energy Transfer Partners to Governor Abbott, Senator Lucio, Senator Hinojosa, and many others won out over democracy.”

Warren has said he is honored to have been appointed.

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