I was arrested on Saturday 10/8/2016 and charged with trespassing after attempting to deliver a letter and lunch invitation to Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, AKA ETP. ETP is the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, the developer of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline.
My letter urged Mr. Warren to order an immediate halt to all construction activity on the Dakota Access Pipeline, including construction at the site on the Mississippi River where drilling is being done to run the pipeline underneath the river. I’d been visiting this site for several weeks in September, witnessing with increasing concern the protests taking place at the site and the substantial police and company security presence there.
I’m a resident of Jefferson County, IA, one of 18 Iowa counties being crossed by the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. I’ve been very concerned about this project’s potential environmental impacts from the time it was first announced. If this pipeline is completed and becomes operational, it will transport up to 575,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois. From there, it will be put into another pipeline that will take it to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to recent changes in federal law by a compliant Congress, it is now legal for companies like Energy Transfer Partners to ship U.S. crude oil to overseas buyers.
The risks associated with a leak or rupture in a pipeline of this capacity, carrying a product like Bakken crude oil, are tremendous. Not to mention the contributions that this crude oil will make to anthropogenic climate disruption (“Global Warming”) that is already spiraling out of control.
I called Mr. Warren’s office in Dallas, TX on Sept. 28, 2016 to confirm his correct mailing address and email address. I did not get a call back. The next day, I obtained his email address through my own investigations and emailed him a copy of the letter I’d written to him. My email explained that I wanted to deliver my letter to him immediately, because I wanted to meet with him as soon as possible to discuss shutting down construction of the pipeline and investing the money allocated for the pipeline’s construction in renewable energy.
My email invited Mr. Warren to join me for lunch at an Iowa town near the pipeline’s Mississippi River drilling site on Saturday, October 1. Once again, I did not receive a reply. So, I printed out my email and letter to Mr. Warren, and sent it to his office via USPS next-day delivery, with signature confirming receipt required. This letter was signed for as delivered at Mr. Warren’s office on Sept. 30.
My letter to Mr. Warren pointed out that opposition to the pipeline has been fierce from the beginning, especially in Iowa, and that this opposition is only growing stronger (e.g. Standing Rock in North Dakota, and numerous other sites where protests have been ongoing, including at the Mississippi River drilling site ). I noted that there is a serious possibility that pending lawsuits will stop this pipeline from ever being completed or from carrying any crude oil if it is completed. For those reasons, I invited Mr. Warren to stop construction of this pipeline and to meet me for lunch in Iowa near the Mississippi River drilling site, to discuss other alternatives for investment in renewable energies as outlined in my letter.
My letter suggested that Mr. Warren and Energy Transfer Partners could take a new path forward and build a long-lasting investment in renewable energy by investing the $3.9 billion that Mr. Warren has borrowed for the Dakota Access Pipeline into 1) 65,000 typical 5kw residential rooftop PV systems, each supplying about half of a home’s electricity needs; 2) 325 two-megawatt utility scale wind towers that would generate over 3.5 billion Kwh per year; and 3) $8000 efficiency retrofit packages in 160,000 homes, saving $300 per year per home. I pointed out that this investment would produce far more jobs that the pipeline project, with most of those jobs being local; it would end the opposition, litigation and financial risks that Mr. Warren is currently facing; and it would put an end to the bad publicity that is currently making him, his company and this project a pariah in the U.S. and around the world.
Mr. Warren failed to respond to my letter or lunch invitation, and did not meet me for lunch on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 as I’d requested. I gave Mr. Warren another week to respond. Then on October 8, I went to the Mississippi River drilling site to give a copy of my letter and lunch invitation to the site foreman. My intent was to ask the foreman for his assistance in contacting Mr. Warren.
Lee County, Iowa Sheriff’s deputies and Iowa State Patrol officers prevented me from approaching the drilling site. They put zip-tie handcuffs on my wrists and took me to the Lee County law enforcement center and jail, where I was charged with trespassing. I was then released, with an order to appear in Lee County court on October 31, 2016.
I bean no hard feelings toward Mr. Warren about the arrest. I’d still like to have lunch with him, and the site foreman if he wants to join us. I’m hoping that Mr. Warren will see the errors of his ways, move quickly to limit his losses and begin investing immediately in much more sensible alternatives. I’m still willing to invest a few bucks in a friendly sit-down lunch to go over the numbers with Mr. Warren and help make this happen.