The chief executive of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline said he’s not open to rerouting it, despite acrimonious protests that have mired the project in controversy for months.
“There’s not another way. We’re building at that location,” Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren told The Associated Press, affirming the company’s commitment to building beneath the Missouri River in North Dakota near a Native American tribe’s reservation.
Warren’s inflexibility contradicts a statement this month from President Barack Obama, who expressed hope that altering the 1,172-mile pipeline’s route could ease tensions with Native Americans and other protesters.
Energy Transfer Partners has encountered stiff opposition on the ground and in courts from Standing Rock Sioux tribe members and their supporters. Months of protests have led to hundreds of arrests. The Obama administration intervened in September, withholding a permit to build beneath the federal waterway while the pipeline’s approval process was reviewed by officials in the Army and the Justice and Interior departments.
Warren’s comments suggest he has gained confidence about building the pipeline as planned since Donald Trump’s election. Trump owns between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners stock, and Warren donated $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s campaign. Warren told NBC News that he’s “100 percent sure that the pipeline will be approved by a Trump administration.”
In his interview with AP, Warren said he hoped Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault would agree to meet with him.
Archambault, who has been joined in his protests by celebrities Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley, dismissed the idea of a meeting.
“We already know what he’s going to say — that this is the cleanest, safest pipeline ever,” Archambault told AP. “What he doesn’t know is that this is still an issue for Standing Rock and all indigenous people.”