By Tom Milligan
On its face, this Memorandum is well-written, straight-forward, and entirely predictable. So predictable in fact, that I’m not even going to take the time to review the actual Memorandum. Rather, I’m going to quote two sections that are entirely self-explanatory and leave it at that before discussing what’s really at play here.
First, Trump’s opening paragraph gives a short explanation of the situation:
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under development by Dakota Access, LLC, represents a substantial, multi-billion-dollar private investment in our Nation’s energy infrastructure. This approximately 1,100-mile pipeline is designed to carry approximately 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to oil markets in the United States. At this time, the DAPL is more than 90 percent complete across its entire route. Only a limited portion remains to be constructed.
Next, Trump advertises the fact that he feels that whatever he believes to be true is obviously what’s best:
I believe that construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest.
He then goes on to direct the Secretary of the Army, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), including the Commanding General and Chief of Engineers to do what it takes – legally – to get any studies, permits, and approvals required to allow it to be built.
Things are never simple with Donald Trump.
For the record, I’m not against the pipeline.
In fact, as a rule, I’m generally all for private companies that want to build infrastructure, move their product, and make money. As a true conservative, I consider it a win any time we can reduce the government’s involvement in private enterprise.
But as I said, things are never that simple with Donald Trump.
In this case, the lack of simplicity stems from his dogged refusal to separate himself from his complex web of companies.
While I’ve never owned or run a multinational organization, nor am I an attorney, or an accountant, I’ve always found it beyond suspicious that the Trump organization is such a complex web of companies, trusts, and foundations.
Business isn’t THAT complex – unless you want business to be that complex for a reason.
Because of this tangled web that, if nothing else, creates plausible deniability for anyone involved, it’s easy to miss a few facts:
- Donald Trump owns shares of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline in question.
- Donald Trump also owns shares of Phillips 66, which owns a quarter of the oil line and will profit greatly from the pipeline’s completion.
- Rick Perry, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Energy, sits on the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer Partners.
- In addition to his Board seat, Rick Perry has many other conflicts of interest that must be considered and monitored.
This is not fake news.
These are real facts.
But what does it mean?
First, our President, who broke his his promise to put his companies in blind trust to avoid these kind of issues, is invested in at least two of the companies set to profit from this Executive Memorandum.
I don’t care who you supported during the election, but you are a complete fool if you don’t see a problem with the fact that Donald Trump just wrote a Memorandum that guarantees himself a financial windfall.
Second, Rick Perry, our next Secretary of Energy, who 5 years ago couldn’t remember that the Department of Energy existed, and who, after being nominated to the role, made it clear that until he was nominated he didn’t really know what the Department of Energy does.
Rick Perry will take over from Secretary Moniz, former head of the Physics Department at MIT and Director of the linear accelerator in MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science.
Before Moniz, the post was held by Nobel Prize winning Steven Chu.
By contrast, while at Texas A&M, Rick Perry studied animal husbandry and was a cheerleader.
Perry also appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
Put simply, Rick Perry is no more qualified to be the guardian of our nuclear stockpile than Trump is to have his finger on the button. Period.
Assuming all goes according to plan, I’m glad the pipeline will be completed. Period.
But, like almost all of the good things I’ve seen Trump do so far, I take issue with how he’s done it.
In this case, there are two things that really bother me – and that should bother anyone whose brain is still functioning:
- Trump should have separated himself from his companies to at least try to avoid looking like he’s issuing Memorandums designed to make himself money.
- Rick Perry is either the worst possible pick for Secretary of Energy, or just the most ironic. I think it’s both. Regardless, the fact that he’s on the Board of the company building the pipeline that will be regulated by his department is a blatant conflict of interest.
Donald Trump may love America. (doubtful)
Rick Perry may turn out to be an okay Secretary of Energy. (laughable)
But BOTH of them will be a lot richer resulting from this Memorandum.