Of course Trump has a stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline causing contentious protests
President-elect Donald Trump has so many conflicts of interest that American voters will probably never even know about all of them. But, Trump’s stock in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is something his administration is going to have to deal with, and soon. We all know Trump likes to hop on Twitter to talk shit about protesters, threaten flag burners, and disparage dissenters, so you might have noticed that he’s been almost eerily mum about the droves of protesters camping out in North Dakota trying to block the construction of the DAPL.
According to the most recent financial filings, Trump owns anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 in Phillips 66 stock, a company with a quarter share of Dakota Access. He also owns anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 in Energy Transfer Partners, another company building DAPL.
Last week, Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners finalized a $20 billion merger and they called it the first of many “Trump deals.” Basically, the people who make pipeline deals are very excited for a Trump presidency. Not only does he own stock in those companies, but he also spoke on the campaign trail all the time about “tapping” resources. Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer Partner’s CEO, told Mother Jones he’s “very, very enthusiastic about what’s going to happen with our country” when it comes to pipelines and Trump.
Trump is planning on “leaving his businesses” once he’s in office, but so far his plans to untangle himself from the Trump Organization are pretty weak. Technically, once he has “legal documents” that say he isn’t profiting from his various business interests and that everything is going to his kids while he’s in the White House, the potential conflict of interest should go away. But Trump’s been in business for ages, so even if it’s not in his name, a man who’s been investing in the energy industry is probably going to take his buddies’ interests (if not his own) into consideration while making decisions. All politicians (and rich people, which is basically the same thing), have some conflicts of interest. Trump just has a whole lot more than usual.
For DAPL protesters and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, a Trump presidency basically means that the fight against the Army for their land is probably all for nothing. On Friday, United States Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the disputed land, told protesters that they have until Dec. 5 to get out. To make sure everyone knows they’re serious, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple also ordered the protesters out, citing winter weather. Dalrymple said the state wouldn’t call in the National Guard, but since the approximately 3,000 protestors have been officially ordered out, if they stay and need emergency care during a snowstorm, the state won’t provide it.
This will all go down before Trump is in office, but the fight will be far from over by January. So, it will probably come down to Trump having the final say about what happens in North Dakota. There’s no way Trump’s business interests won’t influence any decisions about the pipeline’s construction. Trump is human, after all (I still haven’t seen definitive proof, but let’s assume he is). He’s going to have to learn to think like a president who should put the rights of American people way ahead of the rights of corporations, instead of a businessman with ownership stakes in an energy company.
That doesn’t really seem like a thing that can happen in four years, let alone just a few weeks, when DAPL protesters will be freezing in North Dakota and Trump will have the authority to either help or do nothing for them.