President Trump Signs Executive Order Pushing Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Pipeline

Lewisville resident Gina Pyon protests the involvement of the Dallas firm in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Lewisville resident Gina Pyon protests the involvement of the Dallas firm in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Brian Maschino

Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump made things a lot easier for Dallas' Energy Transfer Partners on Tuesday, signing an executive order streamlining the process by which the Kelcy Warren-owned company's Dakota Access Pipeline will be built. Trump's order is intended to help Energy Transfer Partners, based in Dallas, with a regulatory process Trump called "unfair" and a "tangled-up mess."

Trump's order directs the Army's Corps of Engineers to expedite the pipeline's permitting process and reevaluate a key decision made in December by the corps to deny Energy Transfer Partners an easement which would've allowed the pipeline to go under Lake Oahe. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota have staged a months-long protest against the pipeline because Lake Oahe is their main source of drinking water and they are uncertain of the impact the pipeline would have on the lake's water.

"I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist," Trump said as he signed the order. "But it's out of control, and we're going to make a very short process and we're going to either give you your permits or we're not going to give you your permits."

Energy Transfer Partners did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The pipeline builder has direct ties to the Trump administration. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Warren donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund. Rick Perry, Trump's pick for Secretary of Energy, sat on the Energy Transfer Partners board until a couple of weeks ago, and Trump was a former investor in the company, having sold off between $15,001 and $50,000 in company stock — down from the between $500,001 and $1 million he held in 2015 — when he divested his stock portfolio in June 2016.

David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, said Trump's order threatened the health of his community. "Creating another Flint will not make America great again," he said, referring to lead problems with the water in the Michigan town.

If and when the pipeline is completed — the only major piece missing is the stretch set to go under Lake Oahe — it is expected to bring 160 maintenance jobs to the surrounding region, according to an Energy Transfer Partners economic report.   As designed, the pipeline would connect crude oil in the Bakken oil fields to an existing pipeline in central Illinois.


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