By Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
AUSTIN — As Texas Land Commissioner and the elected head of the General Land Office, my job is to generate income from state land and mineral resources that are constitutionally dedicated to funding public education, provide veteran’s benefits through the Texas Veterans Land Board, and protect the environment associated with state owned land, particularly along the Texas coast.
In fact, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office is the oldest continuously existing office in Texas government, having been established in 1836.
I’ve recently learned that a bunch of out-of-state, self-appointed “eco-anarchists” think they know better than Texans and have arrived to save us from ourselves. They’re trying to block the Keystone Pipeline Gulf Coast Project, the pipeline that’s under construction in East Texas that will create thousands of jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
Fortunately, they’re not succeeding.
The only thing they’ve managed to do so far is get arrested and waste the time and resources of local law enforcement officers. They have also generated publicity for a clueless Hollywood actress who was recently arrested, and thanks to her mug shot, probably received more press than she’s received since she played a mermaid in a movie a couple of decades ago.
The protesters are under the misguided notion that they know better than Texans about what’s good for Texas. I’ve got news for them: they don’t.
Their scare tactics and misinformation won’t work in Texas. Gangs of tree sitters who trespass and defecate on landowners’ property don’t understand Texas values and culture. Their antics aren’t going to convince Texans to “rise up” and abandon our energy industry, an industry that has made this state the economic envy of the United States.
If anything, they’re going to convince most Texans to tell them to shut up and go home.
TransCanada has worked responsibly to ensure it has the legal authority and regulatory approval needed to build the pipeline and will diligently work to restore property to its original condition. Along the way, the company has treated Texas landowners with integrity and respect, which is more than I can say about the protesters and their trespassing, tree climbing, drum beating antics.
Like all Texans, I expect TransCanada to meet high expectations regarding environmental and safety standards. As an elected steward of the land, a proponent of responsible energy production, and an advocate for private property rights, I expect TransCanada to continue to treat landowners fairly and respectfully.
Texas is a proud leader in the development and transportation of oil and gas in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. As part of the Keystone Pipeline System, the Gulf Coast Project will be constructed using industry-best practices and will meet or exceed all regulatory standards. TransCanada also has agreed to meet 57 additional safety and operating standards above and beyond existing codes.
One last point: If you think these folks are motivated by private property rights, think again. They are simply part of the environmental lunatic fringe that hates the oil and gas industry and is attempting to co-opt their message using the private property rights tradition that Texans hold dear. If you don’t believe me go to their website: www.tarsandsblockade.org.
Given all those indisputable facts, it’s time for the protesters to come down out of the trees, take a bath, and hit the road.
JERRY PATTERSON was re-elected to a third term as Texas Land Commissioner in 2010 and is responsible for managing billions of dollars of state assets, investments and mineral rights on behalf of the schoolchildren of Texas. He is a retired U.S. Marine, Vietnam veteran and former state senator.