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We are an organization of dedicated Democrats. We join together to stay informed about state, county and local politics and to take action on our principals. We also get together sometimes just for fun. Member meetings and social events are free and open to the public.  We encourage our 600+ members to contribute and volunteer for Democratic candidates. We have no membership dues, but gladly accept contributions. We also encourage our members to contribute and volunteer for Democratic candidates. 


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No Permian Highway Pipeline in Hays County and the Hill Country

Heiko Stang

February 4, 2019

Opinions in this post are those of the author and do not reflect a position of the Wimberley Democrats.

The Wimberley Valley is renowned for its natural beauty. It is the main reason people choose to live here, and it is also a major source of income for many connected to the tourism sector. The proposed Permian Highway pipeline, a mega-sized 42-inch diameter tube, would damage the local environment, endanger the water supply, lower property values, and inflict local economic damage.

Companies building oil and gas infrastructure like pipelines have traditionally been given the status of “common carriers” (which entails the ability to use eminent domain) because they arguably served the broader public good by supplying indispensable energy. However, our knowledge about climate change and current developments in the Permian Basin should change this evaluation.

Climate change has become one of the major threats to our economy, safety, health, and environment. However, the recent surge in oil and gas production has made the US the global leader in the expansion of oil and gas production, with Texas at the forefront. New infrastructure like the Permian Highway pipeline will only exacerbate this development. Whereas Texas could lead the way tackling climate change and revamping the economy for the future with expanding renewable energy, increasing oil and gas production will instead harm the environment and have long-term disadvantages for the economic well-being of our state. On a local level, the National Climate Assessment 2018 suggests that climate change could have a major negative impact on the Edwards Aquifer, a karst aquifer more immediately subject to direct effects of droughts and floods. With climate change causing more and more serious weather events, the aquifer could suffer from rapid drawdown during frequent droughts and, during floods, from declining water quality because of run off in a rapidly developing area of Texas.

More immediately, there are grave concerns about the threat the pipeline poses to our water. Kinder Morgan has a less than stellar safety record. Possible spills and explosions could contaminate groundwater and creeks and rivers endangering residents of the area. Its route is proposed in the close proximity of Jacob’s Well. It would threaten this very significant ecological preserve in the Texas Hill Country that constitutes a major attraction of the Wimberley Valley and feeds Cypress Creek. Jacob’s Well is both an important ecological and economic resource.

While all this already suggests that new pipelines are not in the public interest, this is especially true in the case of the Permian Highway pipeline connecting the West Texas oil and gas fields with export terminals on the Gulf Coast. The gas (and later possibly crude oil or other hazardous products) this pipeline would carry will be almost exclusively used for export. It would serve overseas markets meeting demands in Asia or Europe. Although there is currently no shortage of supply of natural gas in the US and a new pipeline is not needed domestically, it would create new demands and intensify consumption elsewhere increasing the total of greenhouse gas emissions globally. While not supplying the American public with energy, the export of fossil fuels might hurt Americans in the long-term by decreasing local supply and raising prices for American consumers (as has been the case in Australia).

For all these reasons, giving a private company the power of eminent domain to build the Permian Highway pipeline is not appropriate. A pipeline would decrease property values and endanger people living close by. It would be a violation of property rights of Texans not for the public good but for the short-term profits of a few corporations while harming our environment and long-term economic progress both locally and on a state and national level.

While not building a new pipeline for the export of fossil fuels would be by far the best option, rerouting it away from environmentally sensitive areas like aquifer recharge zones would at least prevent the most immediate harm and enjoy overwhelming support from citizens. Eminent domain laws must also be reformed to bring the powers of the oil and gas sector in line with the common-sense regulations applied, for example, to electric utility companies. Using pipeline easements already existing elsewhere for a new pipeline would also lessen the impact on the environment and the rights of local property owners – while still endangering our planet’s future, of course.

Pipeline Update - More meetings and resources

February 7, 2019

In the last newsletter we asked you to tell us about other meetings and actions regarding the Permian Highway Pipeline project. Here is what we got back.


Kinder Morgan Open House Meetings

The January 29th meeting was held by Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell, and there was no presentation from Kinder Morgan. The following meetings are being held by Kinder Morgan to give the public the opportunity to “ask questions and learn more about the project.” The announcement says nothing about providing feedback to Kinder Morgan, but I imagine there will be some of that anyway.


All of the following meetings will occur from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 12, Wimberley Community Center 14068 Ranch Rd. 12, Wimberley
  • Wednesday, Feb. 13, Wallace Middle School 1500 West Center, Kyle
  • Wednesday, Feb. 20, Old Blanco Co. Courthouse 300 Main St., Blanco
  • Thursday, Feb. 21, Gillespie Co. Fairgrounds (Exhibition Hall) 530 Fair Drive, Fredericksburg

For additional information or questions: https://www.PHPproject.com, 833-626-0339, and [email protected]


Hays County Pipeline Information Page

The County has put up an excellent page on the pipeline project at https://www.co.hays.tx.us/kinder-morgan-permian-highway-pipeline.


Wimberley Valley Watershed Association Petition

Visit their web site at http://wimberleywatershed.org/ to sign a petition to reroute the pipeline.


- Robert Smith, Registrar

News and Events

February 12, 2019

________________________________________

ANNOUNCEMENTS

________________________________________

Erin Zwiener Introduces Bill That Would Protect Groundwater Resources

State Representative Zwiener (doesn't that sound great?) has introduced HB 1304, which would authorize the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District to collect production fees from certain commercial wells. (Household use and agricultural use are exempted.) This would provide the District a stable source of funding with which to protect our groundwater resources. Read more and sign a petition supporting this bill at the TESPA website.

Important Series of Programs on Voting Rights

The League of Women Voters of Hays County is presenting a series of three programs that spotlight voting and voter rights. If you are at all interested in voting rights, you should try to attend this series. Times, places and descriptions are below.

________________________________________

EVENTS

________________________________________

Kinder Morgan Open House

Tuesday, February 12th, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Wimberley Community Center

14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley

This meeting is being held by Kinder Morgan to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Permian Highway Pipeline project.

________________________________________

Kinder Morgan Open House

Wednesday, February 13th, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Wallace Middle School

1500 West Center, Kyle

This meeting is being held by Kinder Morgan to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Permian Highway Pipeline project.

________________________________________

Expanding Voter Participation in Hays County

League of Women Voters - Hays County

Saturday, February 16th, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Sententia Vera Cultural Hub

4002 Highway 290 (at Sunset Canyon), Dripping Springs

Program 1 in a series of 3. This program focuses on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity as it relates to diverse populations in Hays County by examining significant data from the county and methodologies of inclusion and equity. Presenter: Teresa Carbajal Ravet, [email protected]

________________________________________

WimDems Social Saturday

Saturday, February 16th, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Milagro's Hill Country Tex Mex

9595 Ranch Rd 12, Wimberley (at junction with FM 32)

Social Saturdays are free of charge and open to all.

________________________________________

Kinder Morgan Open House

Wednesday, February 20th, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Old Blanco County Courthouse

300 Main Street, Blanco

This meeting is being held by Kinder Morgan to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Permian Highway Pipeline project.

________________________________________

Kinder Morgan Open House

Thursday, February 21st, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Gillespie County Fairgrounds (Exhibition Hall)

530 Fair Drive, Fredericksburg

This meeting is being held by Kinder Morgan to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Permian Highway Pipeline project.

________________________________________

Supporting Voting Rights in Hays County

League of Women Voters - Hays County

Thursday, March 7th, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Wimberley Village Library

400 FM 2325, Wimberley

Program 2 in a series of 3. This program focuses on protecting the right to vote for all populations. It will include information and a discussion on the challenges to voting rights, proposed legislation to watch and systemic changes necessary to protect voting rights. Presented by a panel from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Common Cause, Fair Maps Texas and the League of Women Voters of Texas.

________________________________________

Protecting Voting Rights in Hays County

League of Women Voters - Hays County

Thursday, April 4th, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

San Marcos Government Center

712 Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos

Program 3 in a series of 3. This program focuses on the challenges to voting rights in Hays County. Information about the process of voting from voter registration to conducting elections, including early voting and plans to implement new voting machines and voter centers. A panel of experts will include Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson.

________________________________________

Candidates Debate

League of Women Voters of Hays County

Wednesday, April 17th, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Wimberley Community Center

14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley

https://m.facebook.com/events/233318690938511/


- Robert Smith, Registrar

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