Trump’s stock in pipe­line com­pany raises con­cern

Pres­i­dent-elect Trump holds stakes in over 500 firms

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON:

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump holds stock in the com­pany build­ing the dis­puted Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line, and pipe­line op­po­nents warn that Trump’s in­vest­ments could af­fect any de­ci­sion he makes on the $3.8 bil­lion project as pres­i­dent.

Trump’s 2016 fed­eral dis­clo­sure forms show he owned be­tween $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners. That’s down from be­tween $500,000 and $1 mil­lion a year ear­lier. Trump also owns be­tween $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quar­ter share of Dakota Ac­cess. While Trump’s stake in the pipe­line com­pany is mod­est com­pared with his other as­sets, ethics ex­perts say it’s among dozens of po­ten­tial con­flicts that could be re­solved by plac­ing his in­vest­ments in a blind trust, a step Trump has re­sisted.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said this month it wants more study and tribal in­put be­fore de­cid­ing whether to al­low the par­tially built pipe­line to cross un­der a Mis­souri River reser­voir in North Dakota. The 1,200-mile pipe­line would carry oil across four states to a ship­ping point in Illi­nois. The project has been held up while the Army Corps of En­gi­neers con­sults with the Stand­ing Rock Sioux, who be­lieve the project could harm the tribe’s drink­ing water and Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­tural sites.

The de­lay, which comes as protests un­fold daily along the pro­posed route, raises the like­li­hood that a fi­nal de­ci­sion will be made by Trump, a pipe­line sup­porter who has vowed to “un­leash” un­fet­tered pro­duc­tion of oil and gas. He takes of­fice in Jan­uary.

“Trump’s in­vest­ments in the pipe­line business threaten to un­der­cut faith in this process - which was al­ready frayed by in­ter­ject­ing his own fi­nan­cial well­be­ing into a much big­ger de­ci­sion,” said Sharon Buc­cino, di­rec­tor of the land and wildlife pro­gram at the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, an en­vi­ron­men­tal group.

“This should be about the in­ter­ests of the many, rather than giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of look­ing at the in­ter­ests of a few - in­clud­ing Trump,” Buc­cino said.

Trump, a bil­lion­aire who has never held pub­lic of­fice, holds own­er­ship stakes in more than 500 com­pa­nies world­wide. He has said he plans to trans­fer con­trol of his com­pany to three of his adult chil­dren, but ethics ex­perts have said con­flicts could en­gulf the new ad­min­is­tra­tion if Trump does not liq­ui­date his business hold­ings.

Rep. Raul Gri­jalva, D-Ariz., se­nior Demo­crat on the House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee, called Trump’s in­vest­ment in the pipe­line com­pany “dis­turb­ing” and said it fits a pat­tern ev­i­dent in Trump’s tran­si­tion team. “You have cli­mate (change) de­niers, in­dus­try lob­by­ists and en­ergy con­glom­er­ates in­volved in that process,” Gri­jalva said. “The pipe­line com­pa­nies are glee­ful. This is pay-to-play at its rawest.” Be­sides Trump, at least two pos­si­ble can­di­dates for en­ergy sec­re­tary also could ben­e­fit from the pipe­line. Oil bil­lion­aire Harold Hamm could ship oil from his com­pany, Con­ti­nen­tal Re­sources, through the pipe­line, while for­mer Texas Gov. Rick Perry serves on the board of di­rec­tors of En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners.

Pos­si­ble con­flicts

Con­cern about Trump’s pos­si­ble con­flicts comes as protests over the pipe­line have in­ten­si­fied in re­cent weeks, with to­tal ar­rests since Au­gust ris­ing to 528. A clash this past week near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a po­lice of­fi­cer and sev­eral pro­test­ers in­jured.

North Dakota Repub­li­can Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple, along with GOP Sen. John Ho­even and Rep. Kevin Cramer, called on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to au­tho­rize the Army Corps of En­gi­neers to ap­prove the pipe­line cross­ing, the last large seg­ment of the nearly com­pleted pipe­line.

Kelcy War­ren, CEO of Dallas-based En­ergy Trans­fer, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that he ex­pects Trump to make it eas­ier for his com­pany and oth­ers to com­plete in­fra­struc­ture projects.

“Do I think it’s go­ing to get eas­ier? Of course,” said War­ren, who do­nated $3,000 to Trump’s cam­paign, plus $100,000 to a com­mit­tee sup­port­ing Trump’s can­di­dacy and $66,800 to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee. “If you’re in the in­fra­struc­ture business,” he said, “you need con­sis­tency. That’s where this process has got­ten off track.”

The Army Corps of En­gi­neers granted War­ren’s com­pany the per­mits needed for the cross­ing in July, but the agency de­cided in Septem­ber that fur­ther anal­y­sis was war­ranted, given the tribe’s con­cerns. On Nov. 14, the corps called for even more study.

The com­pany has asked a fed­eral judge to de­clare it has the right to lay pipe un­der Lake Oahe, a Mis­souri River reser­voir in south­ern North Dakota. The judge isn’t likely to is­sue a de­ci­sion un­til Jan­uary at the ear­li­est. — AP

DALLAS: En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners CEO Kelcy War­ren re­views doc­u­ments at his of­fice in Dallas on the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line that is mired in con­tro­versy af­ter thou­sands of pro­tes­tors have sought to block its ex­pan­sion un­der­neath a water source close to the Stand­ing Rock Sioux In­dian Reser­va­tion in North Dakota. — AP

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