By Mark Sumner
Wednesday Oct 26, 2016 · 9:00 AM EDT
Donald Trump may brag that being “really rich” makes him free of outside influences, but his web of business connections ensures that he has a fiscal involvement in many issues. Even though Trump may have written the check to his campaign coffers, with his taxes still hidden, there’s no way of knowing how the money got to Trump.
When it comes to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the proposed pipeline to carry oil between fracking sites in North Dakota and Illinois which would run alongside the Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands in North Dakota, Trump’s connections are many. Not only has he taken over $100,000 in campaign contributions directly from executives at Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, Trump has his own money invested in the project.
Trump’s financial disclosure forms show the Republican nominee has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed. The information was disclosed in Trump’s May filing to the Federal Election Commission, which requires candidates to disclose their campaign finance information on a regular basis.
It appears that Trump made his investments even though peaceful protests had already begun. The 1,171 mile long pipeline crosses land that was once officially part of the Standing Rock Sioux lands, but which was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers under the auspices of flood control. The path of the pipeline crosses a number of sacred sites, as well as crossing the river upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands. So the pipeline represents a direct threat to the quality of their water. The pipeline was originally slated to run near the state capitol at Bismark, but was relocated near the Sioux tribal lands after complaints.
Just last weekend, 141 protesters were arrested and held. Police at the site have been heavily militarized and even journalists have been arrested simply for attempting to interview people at the site.
Donald Trump has spoken out frequently on the idea that relaxing regulations over energy would generate more jobs, though multiple analyses have shown that our energy market is facing a glut of both oil and gas and market prices, not regulations, are what is causing the current declines in energy jobs. But now it seems that Trump’s call for easing restrictions on energy are more directly related to lining his own pocket.