By Talia Floyd
On January 24 President Trump signed two executive orders advancing the construction of not only the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) but the keystone XL pipeline. This decision has quickly made Trump’s business interests in DAPL, one of the most contentious of several conflicts of interest.
According to Forbes and Fortune, the President’s most recent federal disclosure funds showed he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock with Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation in charge of the pipeline. Trump also has between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of investments with Phillips 66, which holds a 25% share in Energy Transfer Partners. Granted these are not shockingly large numbers given the cost of the pipeline or Trump’s personal net-worth (about 3.7billion), Forbes reported. For any other non-environmentally friendly billionaire, this wouldn’t hold much significance.
Standing Rock Indian Reservation is located in North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States, and is occupied by ethnic Hunkpapa Lakota, Sihasapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota.
But as the President of the United States, Trump’s business interests is conflicting.
Democracy Now reports that Water Protectors are still under fire from rubber bullets to pepper spray, along with frequent arrest. Until recently Governor Jack Dalrymple sanctioned the use of water cannons in freezing weather despite saying “ Winter conditions have the potential to endanger human life.”The Standing Rock Sioux responded with, “The Governor of North Dakota and Sheriff of Morton County are relative newcomers. It is understandable they would be concerned about severe winter weather.”
Not all news is negative for the Protectors. Seattle’s city council has made plans to end their contract with Wells Fargo, a major funder of the pipeline in 2018, as a direct consequence of activists in Standing Rock. Ending the contract will cost Wells Fargo about $3billion according to Yes! Magazine and Inside Sources.
On Jan 18 a federal judge rejected ETP’s attempts to block the Army Corps of Engineers from conducting a lengthy environmental study, which would halt progress on the pipeline for its duration. Whether the study will be conducted has become unclear given Trumps position.
Water Protectors have proven they won’t be easily moved. In any case, Trump could prove to be both an obstacle and an opportunity. NO DAPL could serve to weaken the president’s already poor public image especially in light of Trump’s unethical business dealings.
According to “Fivethirtyeight” poll analysis, 45% of Americans disapprove of the president and that number is after the standard 15 point boost of most incoming presidents. For comparison in 2009 Obama faced 12% disapproval and in 2001 George W. Bush faced 25% disapproval. While Trump has never shied away from controversy it is hard to see how he can contain this conflict.