Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is building a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota. On Friday night, dozens of demonstrators gathered across the street from Klyde Warren Park - named after CEO Kelcey Warren's son.
While hundreds of people were at Klyde Warren park attending a fundraiser – protesters stood across the street to voice their concern over the installment of the 1,700 mi. Dakota Access pipeline.
Debra Beltran led one of the speeches.
“Why do you think victims of the polluters are almost always people of color and poor communities?” She asked. “Because the rich and the powerful do not think we have a voice. The Sioux not only found a voice, they’ve created a choir.”
The pipeline would transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, running under the Missouri River where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe lives. They’re worried leaks will contaminate their water supply, and they've also said the pipeline route crosses sacred places.
Energy Transfer Partners, or ETP, has said the pipeline will generate millions of dollars for local economies and create construction jobs, and that the company has followed federal and state rules. ETP did not respond to KERA's request for comment.
In 2014, CEO Kelcy Warren talked with KERA’s Lee Cullum about the appeal of building a pipeline in North Dakota, home of the Baaken oilfield. Oil from the field is currently transported by train – and Warren said building a pipeline will save money in the long run.
“And almost all of the crude from the Baaken is being railed,” Warren said. “And the reason for that is it’s a little early, it’s so far away from any consumption in the country if you think about where it is, there’s not a lot of refineries in that area. So therefore pipelines have not caught up. They will.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice requested that ETP voluntarily pause construction, until the Army Corps of Engineers finishes its review of the pipeline's entire route. Which they say is coming soon.
Protest organizers say the oil company is putting profit before people and the planet.
Garrett Maupin is part of the Cherokee Nation. Maupin is at the protest with her young son, she has a message for Kelcey Warren.
“If I could tell him one thing it would to re-learn his whole vision on what respect really is,” she said. “Because as far as I’m concerned, he has none for anybody but himself and his world, his walk of life, the big oil companies. He’s worried about filling his pockets.”