You'd think a guy with the job title "Texas land commissioner" would know a thing or two about Texas land. Little items, you know, like what the state boundaries are, what a landowner is and how to tell a Texan apart from, say, a Canadian.
See also: - Keystone Pipeline Protesters Tie Themselves to Construction Equipment, Halt Work - TransCanada Can Move Ahead With Texas Portion of Pipeline, But the Fight Isn't Over - Tiny East Texas Towns Join Fight Against Keystone Pipeline. Should Dallas?
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson certainly has some definite ideas about who's a Texan, and his definition doesn't include a whole swath of East Texas folks who oppose the Keystone Pipeline Gulf Coast Project. Patterson's office circulated an op-ed last week about pipeline protests near Winnsboro. Cops arrested several protesters who climbed trees and tried to blockade machinery, including actress Daryl Hannah, who was born in Chicago.
Out-of-state "eco-anarchists," the bunch of them, Patterson wrote.
"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."
True-blue Texan though he is, Patterson apparently doesn't buy into old-fashioned notions of how a gentleman from the Lone Star State should speak about a lady. Good ol' Texas bullshit though? He's got that down better 'n a rodeo clown.
Those East Texas landowners whose property is being taken include plenty of Frito-pie eatin', Roger Staubach-lovin' Texans. The tiny towns of Reklaw, Alto and Gallatin, which have joined a Sierra Club lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers trying to halt the pipeline's march, are in Texas. So are a whole bunch of citizens who fear that the pipeline, designed to carry corrosive oil-bearing tar sands at high pressure down from Canada to the Gulf, will leak and poison their land and water supply.
"There is community support, and believe me, these towns have minds of their own, and nobody can lead them by the nose," says Rita Beving of the Dallas chapter of the Sierra Club, which is consulting with the locals. (Experts believe Dallas is also in Texas.) Most of the people arrested at the Winnsboro protest are from Texas, she says. And opposition is stretching across partisan lines. Beyond fears of pollution, landowners object to the use of eminent domain to swallow their properties.
To Patterson, all those people aren't right-thinking Texans, in that they don't think like him. "If you think these folks are motivated by private property rights, think again," Patterson writes. "They are simply part of the environmental lunatic fringe that hates the oil and gas industry and is attempting to co-opt their message."
Got it? Any property owner who likes his land and the environment is just a dupe of Daryl Hannah, and not a true Texan like, say, someone living in Saskatchewan.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
See Patterson's full op-ed below, plus a bonus video capturing his writing and editing process.