In a recent conference call with investors, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Access Partners, railed against demonstrators in North Dakota who are protesting the pipeline that his company plans to build near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
“This is ridiculous. It’s absurd what’s happened to us, it should be unlawful,” Warren said.
Warren seemed to imply that the Obama administration wasn’t doing enough to discourage protests and that the incoming Trump administration would be more amenable to pipeline construction. “Pay attention to who you vote for,” Warren said. “Just everybody needs to really pay attention to who the heck we’re putting in the White House.”
The investors call was held to discuss the details of an ongoing merger between Energy Access Partners and the fossil fuel giant Sunoco Logistics Partners, and the transcript was made available to the public. A representative from Energy Access Partners declined to comment on or clarify Warren’s remarks.
For the past eight months, protesters from around the country have joined with Native American activists to try to block the $3.8 billion Energy Access Partners pipeline (known as the Dakota Access Pipeline). The pipeline routes is less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where the last segment is awaiting construction.
Anti-pipeline activists, who refer to themselves as water protection activists, have a range of concerns about the project: The pipeline could leak and contaminate drinking water; the project will facilitate the transfer of fossil fuels — half a million barrels of crude a day—which scientists warn must stay in the ground to stave off climate change; and Native Americans worry construction could disturb sacred burial grounds nearby.
Standing Rock has become a flashpoint in a national debate over Native American land rights and the environmental hazard associated with fossil-fuel pipelines. The protest — which started as a small local movement of Standing Rock Sioux — has since attracted the support of celebrities and national politicians.
The investor call took place after a particularly brutal nighttime confrontation between police and anti-pipeline protestors.
On the evening of November 20, as a group of activists tried to advance towards a proposed construction site, police turned a freezing water hose on demonstrators. Activists say a young woman’s arm was severely injured when police threw concussion grenades into the crowd. The police deny using grenades. That evening, over two dozen anti-pipeline activists were hospitalilized.
Just two days after the brutal encounter, the company held a conference call for investors, where CEO Warren defended the company's track record: “We’ve done everything, and I want to be clear on this — we’ve done everything right," he said. “We’ve not done one thing incorrectly on this project.”
Since the protests began, the Obama administration has angered both the energy company and protesters. Earlier this month, Energy Access Partners sued the federal government, alleging it is delaying the project for political reasons. Meanwhile, just last week, the administration issued an eviction notice for protesters — sparking outrage among activists.
Donald Trump may prove a more reliable ally: According to the president-elect’s financial disclosure form, he owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in Energy Transfer Partner’s stock. Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in stock for the company Phillips 66, which itself owns a one-quarter slice of the pipeline.National