Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he has stepped down from the boards of two energy companies that are developing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Perry, who is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for energy secretary, said in a letter to ethics officials that he resigned Dec. 31 from Energy Transfer Partners LP and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. The two companies are developing the proposed 1,200-mile crude oil pipeline that has stoked mass protests in North Dakota.
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Perry said he still owns stock in the two companies but will divest the stock within three months of his confirmation as energy secretary. He will not take part in any decisions involving the two companies for at least two years, Perry said.
Perry also said he has resigned positions with Celltex Therapeutics and MCNA Insurance, as well as Grey Rock Energy Partners, which his son co-founded. He said he will not take part in decisions involving Grey Rock for at least a year and for as long as his son works there.
Perry's involvement with the pipeline companies has drawn criticism from project opponents, who also have criticized Trump's stock ownership in companies developing the pipeline.
Trump's transition team said in December that Trump sold all of his stocks last summer as he plunged into the costly general election campaign. Advisers provided no proof of the transactions and would not explain the apparent sell-off.
A financial disclosure form filed last year showed Trump held a small amount of stock in Energy Transfer Partners and at least $100,000 in the energy company Phillips 66, which also is involved in the Dakota Access project. Last month, the Army declined to issue a permit for the pipeline to cross a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. Trump supports construction of the pipeline, and aides say he will review the project after taking office.
Perry would not have authority to intervene directly with the pipeline, which is opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and many environmental groups.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Perry's nomination next week.