But the Dakota Access pipeline company and Donald Trump have close financial ties
As the Guardian reported in October 2016, Donald Trump’s financial disclosure forms show he invested in Energy Transfer Partners, operators of the controversial pipeline, and its CEO donated to Trump’s campaign.
The Guardian – Wednesday 26 October 2016 – Oliver Milman in New York
Donald Trump’s close financial ties to Energy Transfer Partners, operators of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, have been exposed, with Donald Trump investing in the company and receiving more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from its chief executive.
Trump’s financial disclosure forms show the Republican nominee has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed. The information was disclosed in Trump’s monthly filings to the Federal Election Commission, which requires candidates to disclose their campaign finance information on a regular basis.
The financial relationship runs both ways
- Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, has given $103,000 to elect Trump and handed over a further $66,800 to the Republican National Committee since Trump secured the GOP’s presidential nomination.
- On 29 June, Warren made $3,000 in donations to Trump’s presidential campaign. The limit for individual contributions to a candidate is $2,700 per election and it’s unclear whether Trump returned $300 to Warren. Trump’s campaign was contacted for comment.
- Warren made a further $100,000 donation to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee among Trump’s campaign, the RNC and 11 state parties, on 29 June. A day earlier, the Energy Transfer Partners chief executive doled out $66,800 in two separate donations to the RNC.
- Warren has been an enthusiastic backer of Republican politicians, contributing the maximum allowable amount to the campaigns of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and Fred Upson, chairman of the energy and commerce committee. He also contributed $6m to a committee backing an unsuccessful presidential bid by the former Texas governor Rick Perry.
- Greg Abbott, the current Texas governor, received $555,000 from Warren during the 2014 election cycle and subsequently appointed the businessman, and his wife Amy, to state boards. Energy Transfer Partners has teamed up with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to build an 148-mile natural gas pipeline through west Texas to the Mexican border – a plan that has been opposed by affected ranchers and environmentalists.
Trump is therefore indirectly linked to Dakota Access, a $3.8bn pipeline development that will funnel oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The 1,170-mile pipeline has caused uproar among Native American tribes as it runs close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. A protest camp, set up over fears the pipeline will poison water and destroy cultural heritage, has been the scene of repeated clashes between protesters and Energy Transfer Partners security staff.
A court challenge has allowed the project to go ahead but the federal government, which initially approved the project, is now reassessing its decision following an outcry by tribes and has placed a temporary halt to construction on federal land.
Trump has signaled his opposition to any restrictions on the development of oil, coal or gas, telling a crowd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that he would “lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks to allow these vital energy infrastructure projects to go ahead”.
“We have roadblocks like you’ve never, ever seen – environmental blocks, structural blocks,” he said. “We are going to allow the Keystone pipeline and so many other things to move forwards. Tremendous numbers of jobs and good for our country.”
Jesse Coleman, a researcher at Greenpeace, said Trump seems to know “very little” about energy policies other than to side with wealthy fossil fuel interests.
“Trump likes to say he’s an outsider candidate but he’s very close to fossil fuel tycoons and accepts campaign donations from them,” he said. “Warren wants powerful people to be sympathetic to his business plans and donating to them is his MO.”
Warren has worked in the energy industry for the past 25 years and has a net worth of $3.8bn, according to Forbes. The Texas-based businessman has said concerns over the Dakota Access pipeline are “unfounded” and insisted there are no Native American artifacts at risk from its construction. He vowed that Energy Transfer Partners will press ahead with the project.
Dakota Access has sparked the most vociferous protests, however, with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe escalating its grievances to the UN and, most recently, the US justice department. On Tuesday, the tribe requested that the US attorney general, Loretta Lynch, investigate alleged strip searches, dog attacks and pepper-spraying by police and security personnel against Native American protesters.
“Peaceful protests are being met with military vehicles and heavily armed law enforcement personnel in riot gear,” the tribe’s letter states. “To many people, the military tactics being used in North Dakota are reminiscent of the tactics used against protestors during the civil rights movement some 50 years ago.”
Energy Transfer Partners refused to comment on the donations.
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