The CEO of the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) believes the protests surrounding the project nearly destroyed the company’s public image.
Kelcey Warren, the chairman of Energy Transfer Partners, told reporters this week that the company is slowly revamping its image after the “very, very difficult, and unfair” attacks against the DAPL.
Activists have cultivated the narrative that the nearly-1,200-mile-long project violates tribal lands and poisons American Indians’ water supply. Warren pushed back against those assertions.
“We were never on any Indian property,” he told Forbes Magazine earlier this week. “We complied with every rule and regulation, and yet here we were painted [like] we had somehow come in and violated rights of Native Americans. That was never true.”
Cultural surveys conducted prior to the pipeline’s approval show 91 of the 149 eligible sites near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that contained stone features considered sacred American Indian tribes.
The pipeline, which is expected to shuttle more than 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to Illinois, was rerouted and modified to avoid all 91 of those areas, and all but nine of the other potentially eligible sites.
Warren also suggested that much of the opposition comes from anti-oil advocates and not from people who live in the affected areas.
“This was always funded by anti-fossil fuel groups. That’s very clear,” he said. Environmentalist groups such as 350.org, Environmental Justice, and the Sierra Club have worked day and night positioning themselves as the DAPL’s primary opponents.
Opposition to the line grew to a feverish pace after President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders in January approving the construction of the DAPL and Keystone XL. His order essentially wiped away the Army Corps’ decision. He overturned former President Barack Obama’s decision last December to reject the project.
Law enforcement agents in North Dakota have continuously requested help from federal officials to quell what they call periodic violence at the campsites. More than 600 people have been arrested at the campsites over the past several months.
The DAPL is expected to go online this week.
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