Click here for the letter with signatures, posted below. Letter to Lt. Governor, Speaker of the Texas House and Texas Legislators
Dear Speaker, Lt. Governor and Legislators:
We visited your offices today, realizing you were busy with the current Special Session. However, we ask for your help to secure public hearings for Texans immediately following this Special Session – in the communities affected, starting with East Texas — who have suffered from the abuse of eminent domain in our great state. One of these individuals is a signatory of this letter, Julia Trigg Crawford, a farmer from Lamar County.
It is our understanding that Lt. Governor Dewhurst and/or House Speaker Straus, in order to secure these hearings, must call for an Interim Study, when the Legislature is not in session. Governor Perry recently put rumors to rest about adding to the Call. However, rumors abound that there could be an additional Special Session beginning just after July 4th. Therefore, we are asking for your commitment now for an Interim Study, for hearings to begin immediately following this session and for you to urge that the Governor hold on any additional sessions.
As you know, Texas eminent domain laws do not provide due process for individuals until after their land is seized. This is where the problem begins. There is also a list of problems that were heard in committee in the regular session, but there was not enough support to pass them. We believe public hearings would help bring about the support needed to secure passage in the next session.
We urge that the hearings for the Interim Study we ask for begin immediately in East Texas along the route of the TransCanada/Keystone XL Pipeline. This pipeline is due for completion sometime early next year. It is our additional concern that Landowners, together with Towns, Cities and Counties along the route, may be inadequately prepared for emergency measures needed if there is a pipeline breach. The fact that the pipeline is carrying diluted bitumen under high pressure, which carries particular dangers to health, safety and our water supply, has somehow been lost in the eminent domain shuffle. Moreover, given the high profile of Texas water availability, we believe that the protection of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which serves 10-12 million people, and which is traversed by this pipeline, deserves a special look by the Legislature. Last, the recent anomalies in new pipeline being laid by TransCanada were in the press last week. This points to the immediate need for hearings and full public disclosure. These landowners and nearby residents deserve at least this much.
Debra Medina, We Texans
Julia Trigg Crawford, Landowner, Lamar County
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
Congratulations for all those involved, especially the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and the Brown family of Lee County, for standing tall against the water profiteers. This could turn out to be a landmark fight for Texans, if the marketers keep pushing it, which is likely.
On an even more difficult note, the Legislature has passed $2B to be taken from the Rainy Day Fund for a water bank. Those funds will, no doubt, be used for pipelines to move groundwater and for reservoirs. One such reservoir that NE Texans have been fighting for years, would flood heritage farmland for more water for Dallas, despite Dallas’ failure, so far, to implement water conservation on par with other major Texas cities.
The good news is that the $2B water deal will be on the November ballot! So stay tuned for an analysis that will take some time.
I have not yet begun to fight! (John Paul Jones)
How ’bout you?
Folks, we were so stunned last night by the stand of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District to ratchet back two of the three permits for groundwater from the Simsboro Aquifer, it took us a few minutes to realize what a HUGE victory it was!
Click here to read Environmental Stewardship’s cogent analysis of the Board’s truly courageous stand last night.
Please get a note to the Lost Pines Board and to our two County Judges below and give them a BIG THANK YOU! Let them know that if Forestar Real Estate Group even so much as thinks about suing OUR groundwater district, you will help us raise the funds to turn this into a landmark case for the people of Texas!
We also are making regional news! Here’s a radio report from Statewide Impact News. YNN Austin TV News continues their extensive coverage and the Austin American-Statesman (Asher Price) attended last night’s meeting. If water marketers continue to try to raid the Simsboro Aquifer, we WILL fight back and this might just get us a real chance to win new rounds beyond our water district.
More coming soon. Yahoo y’all — get some rest for the next round!
PS Despite being in a recent car accident, Lee County Judge Fischer was present last night, so we especially appreciate him and wish him the best!
For Immediate Release May 13, 2013
Legislature’s Water Infrastructure Fund Deflates,
Local Water Wars Escalate
Simultaneous to the Legislature’s scramble to find the votes to get $2 billion to fund water infrastructure, residents living in counties just to the east of the Capitol are headed for a critical skirmish in the water war over their aquifer – the Simsboro portion of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. What’s at stake is an aquifer that water marketers have had their eye on for years, and the setting of a precedent that could open the door for draining Texas aquifers to feed exponential growth, doing great harm to Texas landowners.
Citizens from across the affected counties of Bastrop and Lee, together with others from counties that could receive their exported water, will show up on Wednesday, May 15th, starting at 5 pm, at the Bastrop Convention Center to witness a contested hearing as Aqua Water Supply Corporation faces off against private water marketers, Forestar Real Group (Temple-Inland), End Op LP (owned by former Williamson County Commissioner, Frankie Limmer) and the LCRA. In dispute are groundwater permits totaling 111,000 acre-feet per year (approximately 99 million gallons per day). The first battle will be over whether Aqua Water has filed in time, according to the rules of the administrative hearing process, to mount a proper challenge to Forestar’s permit request for 45,000 acre-feet/year and LCRA’s permit request for 10,000 acre-feet/year.
Of great interest will be whether the Lost Pines GCD will also grant “party status” to nine landowners and one community organization, Environmental Stewardship, that has led the fight for years to protect the Simsboro. Seven members of the Brown family in Lee County have filed for party status.
The Browns have owned land in Lee County since the 1800s at ground zero where Forestar plans to sink 10 deep-water wells. Adding to the drama is that their cousin and neighboring, Garry Brown and State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt, have either leased or sold their own water rights now part of the Forestar deal.
On hand for interviews will be the following individuals and organizations:
• Betz Brown and other family members who filed for party status against the Forestar and End Op permits. Betz Brown provided this 2-minute riveting testimony at the most recent hearing in Giddings: click Betz Brown here and watch Madeleine Stiffelmeyer Brown here talk about how her family has been divided by this issue.
• Darwyn Hanna, a Bastrop landowner whose family has owned land in Bastrop County since the late 1800s. Hanna has filed for party status against the permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op.
• Andrew Meyer, a young, new farmer who recently purchased land in Paige to start an organic farm. Meyer has filed for party status against permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op. Video of Meyer’s 2-minute testimony to the LPGCD is here.
• Steve Box, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship, who has provided his considerable policy and scientific expertise to Bastrop and Lee County landowners and residents for years. ES has filed for party status against permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op. Watch this 3-minute testimony by Steve Box here.
• Phil Cook, Bastrop landowner, Sierra Club – Lost Pines area. Watch Cook’s 3-minute testimony here.
• City of Austin resident, Dick Kallerman, Chairman of the Save Our Springs Alliance Board, to support the call for ‘conserve first, move water later.’
• Tom Sherman, Concerned Citizens for Texas Water Resources, who lives in New Ulm, and is working to stop the 20-well application by Electro Purification to export water to Richmond and Rosenberg.
• Jimmy Gaines, President of Texas Landowners Council, an original sponsor of House Bill 3250 that died in committee this week. Mr. Gaines will talk about groundwater as a private property right and because it is a private property right, state law should protect individuals against the taking of groundwater and it does not.
Travis Brown, President of Neighbors for Neighbors and 20 year Lee County landowner.
• Linda Curtis, Director of Independent Texans, a citizen-led political action committee for non-aligned voters. Independent Texans has sounded the alarm to residents bringing out large crowds to previous hearings.
Linda Curtis of Independent Texans said, “What is at stake in Bastrop and Lee counties is no different from what is at stake for all Texans — rural, urban and suburban. Most of our officials have turned their head to any genuine effort to protect Texas aquifers or landowners living over them. Texans are crying out for what we all need — the common sense notion that we should conserve first, move water later. The Legislature should be helping us, not helping those who are set to profit from draining our aquifers.”
Lots more details on this battle are in the News section of this blos and the website of Environmental Stewardship. Maps obtained by Environmental Stewardship delineating potential damage to well owners are here.
• Note: The three permit requests under dispute at the time of this release are: 45,000 acre-feet/year for Forestar Real Estate Group (Temple-Inland), 56,000 acre-feet/year for End Op LP and 10,000 acre-feet for the LCRA. LCRA is asking the Bastrop County Commission at a special meeting called for Tuesday at 9 a.m. to pass a resolution in support of their permit application.
For more information: