Trump’s stock in com­pany raises con­cern

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Matthew Daly

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.

Con­cern about Trump’s pos­si­ble con­flicts comes amid protests that un­fold daily along the pro­posed pipeline route. The dis­pute over the route has in­ten­si­fied in re­cent weeks, with to­tal ar­rests since Au­gust ris­ing to 528. A re­cent clash near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a po­lice of­fi­cer and sev­eral pro­test­ers in­jured.

Trump’s most re­cent fed­eral dis­clo­sure forms, filed in May, show he owned be­tween $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Tex­as­based 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 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, DAriz., 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.”

A spokes­woman for Trump, Hope Hicks, pro­vided a state­ment about con­flicts of in­ter­est to The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day: “We are in the process of vet­ting var­i­ous struc­tures with the goal of the im­me­di­ate trans­fer of man­age­ment of The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion and its port­fo­lio of busi­nesses to Don­ald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump as well as a team of highly skilled ex­ec­u­tives. This is a top pri­or­ity at the or­ga­ni­za­tion and the struc­ture that is ul­ti­mately se­lected will

com­ply with all ap­pli­ca­ble rules and reg­u­la­tions.”

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.

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.

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