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Trump’s stock in Dakota pipeline company raises concern

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Donald Trump spoke in Hershey, Pa. on Nov. 4. President-elect Trump holds stock in the company building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and pipeline opponents warn that Trump’s investments could undercut any decision he makes on the $3.8 billion project as president.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Protesters against the Dakota Access oil pipeline stood on a burned-out truck near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Nov. 21, that they removed from a long-closed bridge a day earlier on a state highway near their camp in southern North Dakota.

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 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 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 well-being 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.

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.

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  • “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…then in November called for even more study.” -This is why things take so long to be built in America. Studies to study the studies, and decisions made based on politics and not environmental & construction best practices.

    • Where is the author when it comes to the Clinton’s 100, 200, or 300 million (who really knows), “income”, when they didn’t even own any stock? Any billionaire is going to have investments in every sector of the economy. That’s a good thing, by the way. The Clinton’s “pay for play” with foreign governments is as corrupt as you can get. Of course, we won’t know all the details because Hillary conveniently destroyed the evidence 3 weeks after the evidence was requested by Congress. Where was (is) the Press? But know the press and some Democratic legislatures are concerned about Trump’s investments? Give me a break. Let Dems keep it up, and they’ll continue to lose seats in all phases of government.

  • As Trump told the NYTimes, he doesn’t consider himself to be subject to conflict-of-interest laws, and he will run his business out of the White House. Oval Office becomes Oval Swamp.

  • Every decision by Trump will have a conflict of interest. Duh, he’s a billionaire with a billion conflict$. You will truly discover, he is not part of We the People,the 99.99 part of We.

  • This the same Corps of Engineers that certified the structures that collapsed resulting in flooding New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina. Earthjustice is the law firm involved and it has a local Honolulu branch operated by local AJAs who graduated from Richardson. Earthjustice has biases too.

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