The problematics and complications of the coming Donald Trump presidency is no more obvious than in Trump’s stock ownership in companies with interests in the Dakota Access pipeline, the controversial project now drawing major protests.
— Standing Rock Sioux (@StandingRockST) November 25, 2016
The Associated Press outlined Trump’s stake in the pipeline building project on Friday. Although comparatively speaking Trump doesn’t own that much stock in the project—$15,000 to $50,000 through one company and $100,000 to $500,000 through another company—he has indicated he supports the project and wants to see it completed, according to the AP story.
Since this all has to do with oil barons and profits from fossil fuels, there has to be an Oklahoma connection, right? The AP reports:
Besides Trump, at least two possible candidates for energy secretary also could benefit from the pipeline. Oil billionaire Harold Hamm could ship oil from his company, Continental Resources, through the pipeline, while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry serves on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners.
Continental Resources is based in Oklahoma City, and Hamm has been an active member of the conservative movement both locally and nationally.
The project has been delayed because members of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota and other indigenous groups have stood up against it with help from other environmentalists, arguing it could contaminate drinking water and endanger Indian cultural sites. The Army Corps of Engineers, according to the AP, is consulting with the tribe in order to resolve the issue. Protestors want the 1,200-mile pipeline project, which would go through four states, shut down.
The broad overview is that the pipeline—given peak oil demand and the fracking bust—is simply not needed now or in the future. Oil prices continue to slump and could remain low in the foreseeable future no matter what Trump does as president. Why build something obsolete?
U.S. oil producers continue to believe that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will slash production to boost prices, but what is the incentive for it to do so? The fracking boom, which has led to the earthquake crisis in Oklahoma, has changed the fossil fuel dynamic in the world, but it hasn’t changed the fundamentals of basic math and business: Product prices drop when there’s an over supply of the product.
The real tragedy here is not necessarily that Trump owns stock in companies with an interest in the pipeline but that progress in developing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, will be supplanted by the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy embraced by the Republican Party in general.
Widespread environmental destruction looms as does global conflict over oil. The person who will be in charge is unpredictable and enjoys demeaning those he hates in order to get his way. We don’t know how the harsh rhetoric of Donald Trump will play out exactly in the geo-political world, but it would be foolish not to be worried it could lead to a major disaster. Trump’s next reality television show is just beginning.