Earlier today, The Ring of Fire brought you a story about how Trump’s global business interests potentially represent a massive conflict of interest, now that he is poised to take over the White House. But here at home, that conflict of interest is a lot more than potential.
It turns out that both he and his energy adviser have intimate financial ties to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It’s something that flew under the radar for weeks, though the environmental activist organization Greenpeace posted an article on the disaster in the making. The issue also explains a great deal about why Trump was so reluctant to release his tax returns.
This information was available from the moment Trump declared his candidacy as by law, all candidates for office must file a financial disclosure form when they declare their candidacy. Trump’s form revealed that he holds between $500,000 and $1,000,000 worth of stock in Energy Transfer Partners (ETE) and $50,000 to $100,000 in Conoco-Phillips – both of which are financing the DAPL. To make matters worse, his campaign energy adviser and potential Energy Secretary Harold Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources who will be using the DAPL to ship its fracked oil.
The bottom line: if the DAPL is allowed to go through, Trump and his fossil fuel industry buddies stand to make a whole lot of money.
What do you think is going to happen?
In fact, the profits are already rolling in. The minute Trump was declared the president-elect, the stock price of Energy Transfer Partners shot up by 15%. The news was welcomed by the entire fossil fuel industry, as Trump has already declared that he will push for policies that would allow for expansion of drilling, fracking and mining across the country. For Trump and his oil industry cronies, its a windfall. For the rest of us however, it is an environmental disaster in the making – and the leaks and spills that will surely occur aren’t the worst of it.
At the heart of the resistance against this most recent example of oil company imperialism (beyond its very existence) is concerns over its route through sacred lands belonging to the Standing Rock Tribe of the Sioux Indian Nation. Not only will the construction destroy burial sites and artifacts important to the tribe, it will lead to increased dependence on fossil fuels across the board – exacerbating the growing problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, Trump and his cronies refuse to acknowledge the existence of global climate change.
President Obama requested that ETE stop work while the administration takes a second look at the permits and recommended that the pipeline be re-routed. Not surprisingly, the company didn’t respond to either request and has continued on the project. The only glimmer of hope at this point would be for President Obama to revoke the company’s building permits altogether. But that would be at best, a temporary reprieve; Trump, seeing his profits at stake, would reinstate them in a second.
It appears to be game over, not only for the Standing Rock protests but for the planet. Once in office, after the DAPL is completed, Trump plans to revive the Keystone XL project whihch would bring the dirtiest form of oil in existence from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Not coincidentally, prospective Secretary of Energy Harold Hamm was a founder the lobbying group Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, which did a great deal of work on behalf of TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL. Hamm gave up on that in 2014 when it appeared the project was dead. Now that the project will most certainly be revived, TransCanada has declared that it will work closely with the Trump Administration.
While protesters in North Dakota have vowed to keep up the fight, the odds are against them. They face a rigged system, a powerful oil lobby with a Congress in control of fossil fuel industry sycophants, and a President-elect whose lies and corruption have become patently obvious more than two months before he’s even sworn in. The fact that our president is heavily invested in the very thing the NoDAPL protesters are fighting against is dangerous. From their failure, Trump stands to gain a great deal.
Yep, he’s draining that old swamp all right!