Donald Trump and Rick Perry at Trump Tower in New York City, New York, in June 2013. Photo: Office of Governor Rick Perry
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Senate confirms Dakota Access ally to lead Energy Department





A paid ally of the Dakota Access Pipeline is officially joining the administration of Republican President Donald Trump.

The Senate voted 62 to 37 on Thursday to confirm former Texas governor Rick Perry as the new leader of the Energy Department. He is among the last Trump's picks to join the Cabinet.

“This is a critical time for the department, and it needs steady leadership as we pursue the broad benefits of energy innovation and greater security for our nation’s energy infrastructure," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which considered Perry's nomination in January, said in a press release after the vote.

Now that Perry has cleared his final hurdle. it's up to him to divest his financial interests in Dakota Access. He holds stock in Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, the two firms that are financing and constructing the controversial project.

Perry also has vowed to stay away from matters affecting both firms. But that's mainly a moot point now that the Trump administration already approved the final portion of the pipeline over the objections of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

And since the Energy Department doesn't have authority over the project, Perry's pledge doesn't carry much weight. The decision on the pipeline was made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is under the control of the Department of the Army.

Trump's nominee for that post, incidentally, withdrew amid scrutiny of his business dealings. A new pick hasn't been announced.

Perry owns between $1,001 and $15,000 in "common stock" in Energy Transfer and between $1,001 and $15,000 in "common stock" in Sunoco, according to his public financial disclosure report. He also holds large stakes of "unrestricted stock" in both companies -- the total value ranges between $200,002 and $500,000.

Additionally, Perry was paid by both firms to serve on their boards. According to his disclosure, he was paid $101,010 by Energy Transfer from February 2015 through December 2016 while Sunoco paid him $70,009 from March 2015 through December 2016.

That time period saw Dakota Access go through the state and federal permitting processes to build the pipeline. It also saw the rise of the #NoDAPL movement, which has become an international and celebrity cause.

The movement was dealt a significant blow when Trump came into office. Four days after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, he ordered his administration to consider the pipeline in an "expedited" manner. Two weeks later, it was approved without consultation of the affected tribes or an environmental review of the final portion in North Dakota.

Standing Rock and Cheyenne River leaders continue to fight the pipeline in court. A decision is expected next week on a preliminary injunction that could halt ongoing construction activities. Additionally, the tribes are seeking to set aside Trump's approval of the pipeline.

Indian Country #NoDAPL Briefs:
Oglala Sioux Tribe (February 21, 2017)
Pueblo of Pojoaque / Association on American Indian Affairs / University of New Mexico School of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic (February 21, 2017)
National Indigenous Women's Resource Center / 13 Tribes / 105 Non-Profit Organizations (February 21, 2017)
National Congress of American Indians / 34 Tribes / 11 Tribal Organizations / 2 Civil Rights Organizations (February 22, 2017)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Termination of the Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (February 17, 2017)

Prior Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (January 18, 2017)

Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Documents:
Department of Justice Notice | Department of the Army Approval Memorandum | Notice of Termination of EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline | Easement Letter to Congressional Leadership

White House Documents:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Press Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Energy and Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)

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