Next Dakota Access War Looms for CEO Warren

Next Dakota Access War Looms for CEO Warren
Energy Transfer's CEO has adopted a relentlessly aggressive approach to building pipelines.

Warren last month hosted Trump’s first in-person fundraiser since the coronavirus outbreak locked down much of the country in March. Former U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry sits on the board of directors of the so-called general partner that controls Energy Transfer, an arrangement that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has said represents “the kind of unethical, revolving-door corruption that has made Americans cynical and distrustful of the federal government.”

Still, it’s unclear whether there’s much Trump can do to save Dakota Access from the coming legal battle. “The Trump administration’s tools are somewhat limited” outside of the courts, Height Securities LLC analyst Josh Price said.

Energy Transfer has embarked on bold legal strategies in the past. The company took the unusual step of suing the Obama administration when it slow-walked a final permit for Dakota Access, and has pushed states to criminalize protests near pipelines, chemical plants and other infrastructure.

In 2017, Energy Transfer filed an aggressive lawsuit against protesters, accusing Greenpeace and other groups of operating a criminal network aimed at destroying legitimate businesses. A federal court later tossed the claims. When asked on a conference call last year whether that marked the end of the company’s Dakota Access legal fights, Warren replied it wasn’t.

“At times, they’ve had an aggressive approach to pipeline opponents, as well as adverse decisions from court and government,” said James W. Coleman, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. “They would say they got results. They got Dakota Access built.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Rachel Adams-Heard in Houston at;
Ellen Gilmer in Arlington at;
Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Simon Casey at
Carlos Caminada

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.


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