Dear Friends of the Hill Country,
The Hill Country is a unique and precious place that is known for its incredible open spaces, clean water, and dark skies. The individuals and communities that live within and around these precious natural resources appreciate them not only for their incredible beauty but for the economic value they bring to individual properties, municipalities and county coffers in the form of tourism dollars.
Unfortunately, these precious natural resources are threatened now, more than ever, with numerous and destructive development projects including the proposed Permian Highway pipeline.
As a board member for the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, I watched a similar 42-inch pipeline go into another pristine area of Texas treasured for its unique natural beauty and diverse ecology.
Working as a volunteer advocate for the people and places of the Greater Big Bend region, I witnessed firsthand how a project like this could go in with little to no public input, and how the power of eminent domain could be used by a private entity to condemn the land of private property owners who help to provide the open spaces cherished by visitors to the Trans-Pecos.
This pipeline was touted as “critical infrastructure” and “in the public good” yet, three years after installation, no gas flows across the border into Mexico, where a significant portion would potentially be destined for Asian markets.
A once pristine, unbroken landscape now bears a multi-county long scar that shows little sign of being returned to its natural state, as was promised by the company installing it.
We at the Hill Country Alliance certainly understand the need for clean-burning natural gas as a portion of our state and national energy portfolio but, as advocates for the Hill Country, we have to ask: are we, as a united Hill Country, willing to exchange short-term gain, for something that could have a longer-term impact on hydrological resources, endanger the health and safety of residents, and usher in a corridor of industrialization that diminishes the inherent value of our region?
After asking these questions and engaging with a broader coalition of stakeholders across the Hill Country, the answer is clear: the Hill Country is simply not the place for this pipeline.
If there is a better route that does not disturb critical riparian habitat or the karst formations that provide clean water to our communities and avoids one of the fastest growing regions in the state, then why should a company with an annual revenue of over $14 billion not be able to do the right thing? I, along with HCA’s Executive Director, Katherine Romans, have met directly with staff at Kinder Morgan to ask them this and many other pressing questions.
I encourage everyone to pay attention through HCA and organizations such as Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, Texas Wildlife Association, and Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association to the many issues surrounding this pipeline and similar industrial activity that are now in front of the 86th Texas Legislature.
This is a key opportunity to engage with your elected officials and let them know you want to protect what you love about the Hill Country by empowering local groundwater districts and giving landowners and communities more of a voice in the use of eminent domain by a private entity.
Please help us unite our communities against the pipeline by writing your elected officials and urging them to support these bills, by supporting the Hill Country Alliance and our partner organizations engaged in this issue, and by attending town hall meetings in your community (keep an eye on HCA, WVWA, and TREAD websites for meeting announcements). We hope to see you there!
Thank you for your support,
Matt Lara, Board President
Hill Country Alliance