DALLAS - Police detained several protestors who disrupted an Energy Transfer Partners shareholder meeting in Dallas Thursday morning.
The group wants to stop the company from building a 162-mile oil pipeline called the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana. It’s the same company that built the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline across four states.
They chanted things like, “You can’t drink oil. Keep it in the soil” and “Water is our lifeline. People over pipelines.” One banner accused ETP CEO Kelcy Warren of being a corporate criminal and another said, “Caution: All pipelines leak.”
Dallas police were called after some protestors went inside the Hilton Hotel where the meeting was being held near the Preston Center. Someone set off a sprinkler system that soaked the hotel hallway. Officers arrested at least two people for going into the shareholders meeting and disrupting it.
Protesters from around the country said they purposely kept their plans under wraps. They wanted to be within earshot of Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.
“We caught them by surprise,” said Yolanda Bluehorse with the Society of Native Nations. “We want to be in his face. And whether there is a door between us or not, he heard us."
Police say the two people who were arrested became disruptive inside the meeting.
“As the officers were effecting the arrest of these two individuals, a group entered the lobby,” explained Dallas Police Deputy Chief Tomas Castro. “Unknown suspects entered a restroom and used what appears to be a lighter to set off sprinkler systems.”
In response to the protest, ETP said “we understand that there varying opinions on our country’s need for infrastructure to help meet our energy needs. We also understand their tactic, which is to say things with no factual basis..."
SMU Economist Bernard Weinstein said he is not surprised by the protest.
“Every time there is a pipeline proposed anywhere in the country, there is a protest,” he said. “Reason is the environmental community, who is opposed to fossil fuels, has adopted a strategy of fighting pipelines. The theory being if we can stop pipelines we can kill the industry.”
One of the big concerns from protesters is the possibility of large-scale oil leaks in environmentally sensitive areas.
Weinstein believes those risks are minimal.
The two protesters arrested were charged with disorderly conduct.
The protestors said if they can disrupt business and cost the company, they consider it a success.