EXCLUSIVE: Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren speaks about the Dakota Access Pipeline

In part 1 of our exclusive interview, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren speaks with us about the Dakota Access Pipeline. We discuss how the pipeline is constructed, environmental impact concerns, and accusations of "environmental racism."

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg:
Mr. Warren, great to see you and thank you for your time. On Monday, the Army Corps of engineer made a decision to not make a decision that they want to have more consultation with the tribe. You have since come back and said we want to have the courts settle this and give us the right to complete their pipeline. My question for you, I don't know if you've spoken to Colonel Henderson with the Corp., but if you have, what else does the tribe need to be consulted with at this point?

Kelcy Warren:
I personally have not. I've heard really good things about Colonel Henderson and I have no earthly idea. This is beyond absurd at this point. So I have no idea.

CB:
I'm wondering, what are your attorneys telling you? It almost feels like banana republic. What are your attorneys saying to you about all this?

KW:
We really are not a very litigious group of people. I never dreamed that I would be suing the government for anything. This does not feel like the United States that I've grown up with and have loved my whole life. But it does feel very third world. It does.

CB:
Do you feel like your company has done everything in your power to respect the national historic preservation act that would be initial injunction that the tribe had filed and also to respect Native American burial sites, artifacts, things of that nature?

KW:
I do. I do. And that's been proven to be true also. The state of North Dakota has confirmed that, which we're required to work with and really enjoyed, what a professional organization. And then also the Army Corps of engineers. They've confirmed that no historical sites have been disturbed. So we feel very, very good about that. That's just not true that that has occurred.

CB:
There is some rumors that there was some financial negotiations taking place with the tribe about this pipeline. According to the A.P. records show in 2014 the tribe was heading into a fiscal year of 2015 with about a $6 million budget deficit. Any veracity that there were financial negotiations going on between your company and the tribe?

KW:
No, sir.

CB:
Let's move on to this. You've had a lot of certainty in the last two interviews. One with CBS and one with PBS. I'm going to quote your CBS. You're referring to the protesters saying they will not stop our project. That's naive. They're not stopping our project. You and I both know these are the same protesters that stopped the Keystone XL. The sand piper. Is it the election of Donald Trump that gives you this newfound certainty or what is it specifically?

KW:
Well, no. I would say -- we lay out rules, regs and laws you and say okay, here is what you must do. If you comply with this, you can do these things. That's what all Americans do. That's what we all must abide by. Keystone was different. It required a presidential permit. They could not get that. And we all know why they could not get that permit. We don't require that. Everything that we require, we have complied with and we have done. So ours is a completely different animal than Keystone.

CB:
Let's move on to this. You studied engineering at University of Texas-Arlington. I'm not an engineer and I'm assuming most of our audience aren't. As a lay person, talk to us about what you're doing with the Dakota Access Pipeline to make sure there are no oil leaks or environmental impact.

KW:
Absolutely. Let's start off with this, the majority of the pipeline through the state of North Dakota is buried. It's thick walled steel pipe, it's buried at four feet underground. Absent human error, and what I mean is absent someone digging into the pipeline, which does occur, even though there are signs that will be everywhere, before digging, call this number, people still do those kind of things from time to time. So most leaks are caused by human error. That's number one. Our pipeline is very, very safe. And then let's talk about the river crossing. The river crossing is approximately 1,000 feet, let's call it. It is a directional drill. It's really fascinating. You dig two pilot holes on each side of the river. You begin a horizontal drilling rig and you go down about 90 feet to 115 feet below the surface of the river and then come back out precisely at a pilot hole on the other side. It takes about 90 to 120 days. Now, that string that guided this pole under the river, is tinseled. Most people don't think of pipe being tinseledness to it at all. But it is. So you pull the string underneath the lake, the body of water, and you kick it on each end and you're done. That segment of pipe is extra thick wall. It's a little over five eighths of an inch thick and op each side of the lake of the body of water there is automated shutdown valves. What I mean by that is if there was ever a leak that sensed we have control rooms, and they monitor that, and you can immediately hit a button and those two valves close. So you encapsulate the crude that would be on each side of the body of water and limit what might be spilled if there was a spill. However, I will tell you I don't think it's going to happen. This is state of the art. This complies above and beyond every law required by our federal government and the state of North Dakota. I just don't think it's gonna happen.

CB:
I want to give you a chance to respond to this. I saw your PBS interview with William Brangham. He said this, your subsidy, Sunoco, has a pretty poor track record when comes to leaks. According to analysis down by raters, Sonoco -- 200 oil leaks in the last six years. What do you say to that?

KW:
Well, first of all, I don't know what I said to him. But that was a little bit of a hatchet attack, I think. Pardon the pun there. But I don't know where he got his facts. I have not seen his Reuters report. Sonoco is a 150-year-old company. And there is pipe in the ground that Sonoco operates that was built in the 1950s. As pipe ages, it gets more vulnerable to leaks. It gets more vulnerable to pitting, rusting, in other words. But now we're in the new era. The new pipe, the metallurgy for new pipe is much more sophisticated to the 1950 when is pipe was built and came out of steel mills. , much superior. So my comment to him is prove up your data. I don't know where he got that, number one. Number two, this is a different animal.

CB:
And with that being said, I want to get to this. This is the big question and a lot of people -- the natives have and in our community have is why not then, if you're taking all these precautions, just leave it north of Bismarck where it originally was slated to be?

KW:
Well, that was our original route and the Army Corps of Engineers weighed in on this, the state of North Dakota weighs in on this and the intent, when you're route ago pipeline to have the minimal impact to humans and to the environment, which is synonymous in many ways, and so the route was actually chosen by committee. It was not chosen by energy transfer. We just didn't say we're going to go here. Part of the decision for the route, a big part was that there is already two pipelines in existence that cross the lake at this location. This is already been constructed upon.

CB:
Can I interrupt you, sir?

KW:
I'm sorry.

CB:
Can I interrupt you, if you don't mind? What's shocking to me is you're saying, hey, Chris, this wasn't justified. This was the Army Corps of Engineers helping determine this path. Yet you have the Army Corps of Engineers, you're supporting a judge he's decision telling to you halt this. Help me understand this, please.

KW:
I can't. [ Laughter ] I can't help you. It's surreal. You said banana republic. I don't know.

CB:
All right. We'll leave it at that. I want to give you a chance to 15 respond to this and this is also other comments coming from some of the protesters. Give me some context. This was reported by NBC news. The national campaign director was also a Native American advisor to Bernie Sanders. She said it was rerouted due to concerns over drinking water and put one half mile from the reservation. That is environmental racism on its face. How do you respond to her?

KW:
Well, that's stupid. That's how I respond to her. That's just stupid. Race doesn't come into play for pipeliners and infrastructure providers. That never crosses our mind. We try to pick the path of least resistance that will comply with all the laws and where the government, by the way, directs us to go. It's a path of least resistance move. If I had known then that this was going to stir up such a mess, we would have never built here. We would have gone the Army Corps of engineers said please, give us another route. But this is the route they endorsed. This is the route they chose. They helped choose for us.

CB:
And now they're stopping it. One of our interview with Mr. Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, we're going to play part two tomorrow. We'll talk about who is going to end up paying for these protests. Stay with us. We'll tell you what's coming up later on this week. Let us know your thoughts on what Mr. Warren had to say. We'll be right back.



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