Activists join in pipeline protest

Indigenous group pleas to reject project; council agrees to value of easement, but not its sale

Before Fredericksburg City Council took a vote regarding a potential easement with Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline project at their July 1 meeting, residents from neighboring cities and a national activist group voiced their concerns about the proposed 42-inch pipeline.

Kinder Morgan wants to run the natural gas pipeline through city-owned land.

In late June, a State District Court Judge in Travis County dismissed claims against the company’s 430-mile, $2 billion project.

A few residents said they felt like fighting it was no use. Others said people need to keep fighting.

“In the last eight months, what we’ve lived through has been absolutely unbelievable,” said Sandy Dare, a resident who has land on the proposed pipeline route.

Rosie Torres, a San Antonio neighbor, had tears in her eyes when voicing her concerns of a pipeline going through the Hill Country.

“I’m concerned about the repercussions of a pipeline going through the heart of Texas and the heart of the Hill Country,” Torres said. “I love this country and I love this land. I love everything about growing up in South Texas. The waters are where I would go rafting, canoeing. I feel like a lot of our city councils throughout West Texas, all the way down to South Texas, even our legislatures in Austin are giving our lands up for this commodity.”

“It’s God’s country, it’s beautiful and that is about to be lost with this decision,” she said. “Please say no.”

Heath Frantzen, who has opposed the pipeline since it was announced, educated the council on laws regarding the pipeline contract and offered them his assistance in fighting back.

“Get with me offline for appraisers and lawyers and understand that the strategy for maximizing your ROI (Return on Investment) is to go to condemnation and put it on the community members who are your neighbors,” Frantzen said.

Mixed in with residents’ comments were the voices of activists from the Indigenous Environmental Network, a nonprofit organization founded by “Indigenous peoples and individuals” who address what they believe are “environmental and economic justice issues,” according to the group’s website.

The group arrived during the beginning of the meeting with signs protesting the pipeline. Their concerns were about hazards the pipeline might have on people.

“I’m from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and I can tell you for 30 years the Indian reservation has not had clean drinking water because we made deals just like this,” activist Jennifer Falcon said.

The group also stated they wanted the project shut down completely, rather than moved to a different area.

“What is this going to do to our communities? I’ve heard a lot of talk about moving the pipeline to other communities. Why would you guys put this in somebody else’s backyard,” Falcon asked. “There is only one answer and that is no pipelines. To just transition away from fossil fuels. We see climate crisis all over our country. People should have priority over pipelines.”

After public comment, the council took almost an hour and a half discussing projects in its Capital Improvement Plan. Afterward, they held executive session, a private meeting allowing no public access.

When the public meeting reopened, council voted 4-1 to agree in principle to a value of $150,000 for an easement across its property. They did not agree to a sale, but stated it will retain an attorney to assist during the sale or condemnation process.

Councilmember Gary Neffendorf made the motion, which was seconded by Councilmember Charlie Kiehne. Councilmember Tom Musselman opposed.

The council took no further action.


Other business

City council took public comment regarding projects that should be listed in the fiscal year 2020 budget. They also approved awarding a $43,506 bid for the purchase of Christmas lights to Décor IQ.

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228