On my radio show today I had an interview with Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Trans Partners which is the company currently trying to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I asked Warren about the impact the often violent, often unlawful protests against the pipeline have had on North Dakota.
“We feel horrible for the residents of North Dakota, those who have been impacted, and there are a lot of them who have,” he told me.
“This is sad what has occurred and what is occurring. These are not peaceful protests,” he continued. “I’m sure there are peaceful protesters who are there, but these are not peaceful protests. We feel bad for the people of North Dakota and look forward to the peaceful completion of our project so we can begin flowing oil from the Bakken oil fields to the refineries down in Texas.
He said his company was interested in reimbursing North Dakota for the expense of the law enforcement response to the protests, but wasn’t sure it was possible. “I don’t even know if the state can do that,” he said. “I don’t know if their laws allow them to do that.”
Warren’s company has now filed suit against the federal government, asking the courts to step in and order the Obama administration to issue them an easement for crossing Lake Oahe which is under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We’ve done everything and this court has agreed we’ve done everything…and yet they refuse to give us an easement when we’ve complied with every law, rule, and [regulation],” Warren told me.
“We’ve asked the court to step in and do the right thing and allow us to begin drilling,” he continued.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault described this legal move by ETP as “desperate.”
“I would like to get our job complete and move on to the next project,” Warren told me in response to those comments. “If that makes me desperate, I guess I’m guilty.”
He said delays from protests and the Obama administration’s interference has cost his company “tens of millions of dollars” in labor and other costs. But he said he expects the delays will be over once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“I believe January 20th or shortly thereafter we will have an easement,” he said.
One persistent rumor about Standing Rock’s fight against the pipeline is that the tribe was, at one point, offered some sort of deal from the pipeline company which they rejected.
Warren said this didn’t happen.
“Not that I’m aware of no,” he told me when I asked him if Standing Rock had been offered a deal.
I asked him if there was a facet of the debate over the pipeline which is getting overlooked. He said we need to remember that the oil which would flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline is already being produced and transported.
“All of this crude is moving today. Every single barrel,” he told me. “It’s being moved by rail. It’s crossing the Missouri River.”
Here’s the full audio: