eminent domain

Media Advisory: Monday, June 17th, 3 pm Media Conference

Contacts:  Debra Medina, We Texans, 512.663.8401, Linda Curtis or Jessica Ellison, Independent Texans, 512.657.2089 and 512.653.9179, Julia Trigg Crawford, 713.443.8789, Laura Ehrlich, Jim Hightower & Associates, 512.477-5588

Cross-Partisan Coalition Calls on Lt. Governor and House Speaker for Interim Study and Full Public Hearings on Eminent Domain Abuse Starting in East Texas, to include Public Safety Concerns Related to Potential Water Threats from Tar Sands Crude and Hydraulic Fracking

WHAT:  An unlikely coalition of leaders from across the partisan divide are starting a door knocking campaign to urge Lt. Governor Dewhurst and House Speaker Straus to call for an Interim Study on Eminent Domain Abuse following the close of the current Special Session.  Rumors abound that the Governor will call yet another Special Session in July, this one with eminent domain on the Call.  This would waste taxpayer dollars as consensus is unlikely because affected Texans have yet to be heard.

WHEN:  Press Conference is on Monday, June 17th at 3 pm, just following door knocking.

WHERE:  Outside the Capitol Grill, Capitol Extension, E1.002 (3 pm)

WHY: We believe a consensus on real eminent domain reform is impossible without FULL PUBLIC HEARINGS in the affected areas of Texas (not Austin).  The Lt. Governor and House Speaker are empowered to call for an Interim Study.  This should begin immediately following this Special Session in the areas where land was seized by TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline, before any hearings took place whatsoever.  Hearings that did take place were limited to the parties and excluded critical issues such as the potential harm from a spill over one of the largest Texas aquifers, the Carrizo-Wilcox that serves 10-12 million people and countless farms.  If the aquifer is polluted, the aquifer is dead and so would be Texas farming and our economy.  In addition, these hearings should address hydraulic fracking’s excessive use of potable water in the midst of our severe water shortage.

SPEAKERS:  (and possibly more)

Julia Trigg Crawford, Lamar County farmer

Debra Medina, We Texans

Jim Hightower, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner

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Plan now dudes in the legislature!

Just moments ago a bad bill on eminent domain and pipelines was pulled on a point of order in the House. Nice!

ON THE WATER FRONT: 

Read this piece in the Austin-American Statesman, then call or contact your legislators and ask them to stand tall on this issue.  Legislators can focus on conserving water first!  For pennies on the dollar, fixing leaky pipes and getting everyone — the municipalities and large agricultural entities, in particular — to conserve, must be done now.  Do not spend tax dollars on building pipelines to drain rural Texas dry, potentially doing great harm to our aquifers and landowners.  And for the small towns that need help, our understanding is that there are low interest loans available to them already.  If someone tells you differently, we’d like to hear what they have to say.  The bottom line is that building costly infrastructure won’t make it rain.  It doesn’t appear we’re going to get much of that over the next few years, until the lege meets again.

Plan now dudes in the legislature!  More soon…

Latest Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Legislative Update is here.

BASTROP & LEE COUNTY MEETING REMINDER!
Wednesday, May 8th, 6 pm
First National Bank in Elgin
1312 Highway 290 map here

This meeting is to prepare you for the May 15th, 5 pm hearing of the
Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District at the Bastrop Convention Center.

Hope to see you Bastrop and Lee County folks next Wednesday!

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Call off the hogs! Legislative Update & Action & Bastrop/Lee Meeting Notice!

What’s the difference between a feral hog and a water marketer?  The hog only wants what he can eat.

The Texas legislative session is down to the wire — May 27th is sine die (the last day of the session).  Will the legislature provide any protections at all for Texans and their land, water and roads?  Or will they fail us again, like so many times before?

Let’s just spell it out for them and see if they can get their priorities in order these last few weeks.

ON WATER:  Tell your legislator that you want protections for aquifers and landowners living over them.  House Bill 3250 should move out of the Natural Resources Committee NOW!  Everyone — including “Big Ag” and Big Cities — needs to conserve now, before they move water and drain rural Texas dry.  Click here for details.

ON EMINENT DOMAIN/PIPELINE REFORM:  Read this, just in from Debra Medina and We Texans — then, call the Calendars Committee about this eminent domain reform bill.  If all the lege can do to reform the Railroad Commission is a name change, they should all be put to pasture with the feral hogs!

ON PROTECTING SMALL FARMERS:  Read this, just in from Judith McGeary and Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance — stop the despicable attempts by agribusiness to crush their small farmer competitors with these absurd regulations!  No matter where you live in Texas, call your Texas House and Texas Senate members now!!!

ON ROADS:  Boy howdy, hallejuah, State Senator Eltife has been honest with us about road funding.  He says we need to go back to pay as you go and ask the citizens for tax money — and stop hiding it in mountains of debt.  Read this!  

Will the legislature put a plan to move $5.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund on the ballot in November for roads, water infrastructure (including pipelines to move our groundwater) and a pittance to public education?

This should just about make everyone’s day for the 2014 statewide election.

Keep calling y’all!

BASTROP/LEE COUNTY MEETING NOTICE:   Independent Texans will hold an important strategy meeting for Lee and Bastrop County residents on Wednesday, May 8th, 6-7:30 pm at the First National Bank in Elgin, 1312 US 290, map here.

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The Battle for Private Property Rights in Texas & Pipelines

IMPORTANT HEARING TUESDAY 1:30 p.m. in AUSTIN.

There are two competing bills addressing common carrier pipeline designations currently working their way through the Texas House.  WHY? Well, because, one bill favors the industry, HB 2748, authored by Rep. Tryon Lewis and one attempts to create an objective process and oversight, HB 3547, authored by Rep. Rene Oliveira.

It is critical that Texas Landowners attend this hearing and share with the committee their concerns about the common carrier pipeline designation process (or lack thereof).

Landowners need notice.
Landowners need access to the courts.
Texans deserve agencies that insure the industries they regulate follow the law.
WHAT: Business & Industry Committee Hearing on HB 3547
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, 2013 (or when the House stands adjourned, if that is later than 1:30 p.m.)
WHERE: E2.014, Texas Capitol Extension

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There’s truth to the name “Railroad” Commission: Action Request

The stuffed suits were stuffed in the room at the Sunset Advisory Commission hearing on Wednesday, December 19th.  It was a terrible time to hold a hearing and it was a terribly important hearing.  But was anyone really heard?

Yes, we know it’s the yuletide season, but we couldn’t celebrate the holiday without at least attempting to inform you of the broad array of community activists, landowners, pipeline safety advocates and political reformers that attended a hearing on Wednesday, December 19th, held by the Sunset Advisory Commission.  The Sunset Commission was empowered by the legislature in 1977 to, ” identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies.”

Folks from across the state who are concerned with protecting our resources — land and water, in particular — testified about the need for thoroughgoing reform of the Railroad Commission.

The unlikely coalition comes together at Sunset Advisory Commission hearing - Debra Medina (We Texans), Rita Beving (391 Commissions) and Dick Guildi, Richardson resident

These reforms go far beyond the proposal to simply change the name of the Commission to better reflect what it does – since the RRC’s primary function is to regulate the oil and gas industry, including pipelines.  Still, the legislature has continued to fail to even change the name.

Julia Trigg Crawford still fighting TransCanada's eminent domain abuse

There are far deeper problems with the RRC that have been festering for years as it has really served as a lapdog for the oil and gas industry. We can begin with the fact that they are allowed to take unlimited contributions from the very industries they are regulating.  (Perhaps this is why the leading “change” to the Commission continues to be the name change.)  One is forced to understand why RRC member David Porter, in justification for his opposition to shutting off these contributions, that all statewide officials are allowed to do the same so why not the RRC!

East Texas landowners, Mr. & Mrs. David Holland, with Chris Wilson (center), fighting TransCanada's eminent domain abuse

We have attempted to cover at least some of the ongoing fight about the Keystone XL (TransCanada) pipeline.  (And, in fairness, they’re not the only pipeline we need to worry about.)  Our unlikely coalition is coming together to raise the more perplexing questions about eminent domain abuse and the intractable problems, particularly with our water supply, that could stem from a pipeline breach.  Then there’s the fracking issue and the many questions that remain and new ones arising.

Sharon Wilson, Dallas (r), Cathy McMullen (Denton), fighting for fracking safety measures at: http://www.texassharon.com/ and http://dentondrilling.blogspot.com

Perhaps our problems really aren’t all the problems listed above.  Though these are not easy problems to resolve because the answers are often murky and are multi-faceted. The real problem is becoming increasingly clear to we ordinary Texans.  Our officials are incapable of working together, in an honest way, through the murky details of this moment in the history of our state, country and world.  There IS a real tension now between the increased scarcity of resources and the increased demands of so many people moving to Texas.  What are we going to do about that, besides allow our officials to ignore the problems or carry water (pun intended) for industry — the people be damned?

Ramsey Sprague, protest supporter, longtime Green

Folks, they’re not going to get it until we do.  We must dump the partisanship that is rendering us powerless to work together as Texans and as Americans to strike the balance and to find new and creative solutions we so desperately need.

This next legislative session is another opportunity for us to learn more as citizen activists and to build bridges to citizens across the state – rural and urban, conservatives and liberals, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and the many more of us who just think of ourselves as plain ol’ small “i” independents.

You can watch the hearing on Wednesday here at this site.  Just click on the date “Dec 19”.  You’ll have to scroll through until you get to the testimony on the Railroad Commission at:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/?yr=2012

CALL TO ACTION — here’s what you can do:

What are we asking for?  At least two things:

1.  To pass meaningful legislation to prohibit contributions to statewide elected officials, including the Railroad Commission, from companies (including their employees) that have business or disputes before those bodies.

2.  To meaningfully close the “T4 loophole” that allows the Railroad Commission to effectively give pipeline companies the right to claim common carrier status without any oversight whatsoever.  This gives pipeline companies the automatic power to use eminent domain to seize private property for private gain.

These are very modest requests in light of this report in the NY Times about our Governor and the reputation Texas has garnered for our seemingly unlimited commitment to corporate welfare:  Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza

If you read this article with enough time today, December 21st, to send a comment to the Sunset Advisory Commission — click here to send an email.

If you read this after December 21st, or in addition to meeting the above request, please contact your Texas House and Texas Senate legislators (go here for a full list).  Ask them to fight for FULL and REAL eminent domain and campaign finance reforms in this session.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y’all!  Get some rest, we’re all surely gonna need it!

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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

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Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

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Make Growth Pay for Itself

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