Environmentalists believe former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s position with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) could create a conflict of interest if he takes a spot in President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.
Activists contend that Perry’s role with Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the multi-billion dollar DAPL, will present a problem if the decision to approve the pipeline is left to the Trump administration.
“The incoming Trump administration ran on draining the swamp, however the deep financial ties they have with Big Oil and Wall Street makes all the campaign rhetoric just words,” Jane Kleeb, the president of activist group Bold Alliance, told reporters Tuesday.
She added: “If Trump is serious, he will require all appointments to cut all financial ties with these big corporations which are clear conflicts of interest.”
President Barack Obama momentarily stopped pipeline construction in September, arguing the government needed more time to determine the project’s environmental impact.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, as well as a host of celebrities and environmentalists, believe the project’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, where the tribe gets its water supply.
Many of the same groups that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline have joined the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would bring 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois. Kleeb’s Bold Alliance spearheaded the fight against Keystone.
Perry, who ran for president in 2012 and 2016, has served as a director of ETP since early 2015 and owns $100,000 worth of stock in the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission form filed in January.
The Texas Republican also serves on the board of Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, which announced Monday it was purchasing ETP for a hefty $21 billion.
ETP has confirmed that Perry remains on the board, but has yet to address any possible conflicts of interest. Representatives of Perry and the Trump transition have not responded to reporters’ request for comment.
Trump, for his part, sunk between $500,000 and $1 million in the besieged company, according to financial disclosure forms Trump filed in 2015.
The financial disclosure form filed in 2015 indicates the former reality TV star turned president-elect dumped another $500,000 in Phillips 66 as well, which will have a 25 percent ownership in DAPL once completed.
ETP CEO Kelcy Warren, in return, shoveled more than $100,000 to elect Trump. Warren, who owns both Sunoco and ETP, also dumped another $66,000 into the Republican National Committee.
Trump and Perry are not the only politicos facing backlash for committing bulk loads of cash.
West Virginia Governor-elect Jim Justice – a free-wielding Democrat like Trump who privately owns more than 100 coal, tourism and agricultural operations – is also being pressured to divest or place his private holdings in a blind trust.
Lawrence Noble, the general counsel for the national Campaign Legal Center, told reporters on Nov. 19 that the only way for Justice to avoid possible conflicts with some of his privately-held businesses would be to sell them outright.
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