Two green energy companies made six-figure donations to a North Dakota Native American tribe days after the tribe began protesting a controversial oil pipeline that passes near its reservation, a review of tribe documents shows.
On April 5, the Standing Rock Sioux's tribal council unanimously voted to accept two $125,000 donations from ConEdison Development and Fagen Inc., a green energy design and construction company, according to council meeting minutes.
ConEdison Development, an unregulated subsidiary of utility company Consolidated Edison, acquired and began construction on a wind power facility near the Standing Rock reservation last year. Fagen was a contractor on the project.
ConEdison's chief executive told a North Dakota news station in April that its donation to the tribe was meant as a show of appreciation for the Standing Rock's cooperation in building the Campbell County Wind Farm.
However, the timing coincides with intense tribal opposition to the planned Dakota Access Pipeline. The donations from ConEdison and Fagen came a year after the construction of the Campbell County Wind project, but just four days after the tribe's pipeline protests began.
The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, on a route that passes near the Standing Rock reservation, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois, where it would link up with existing pipelines to carry the oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
The project has drawn intense opposition from Native American and environmental activists, whose protests against the pipeline's construction have occasionally turned violent.
Both Standing Rock Sioux donors are involved in a number of renewable energy projects around the country. ConEdison's website lists 34 wind and solar projects, including the Campbell County project and one other wind farm in South Dakota.
Though wind and solar do not compete directly with oil, which is generally not used to generate electricity, Fagen has worked on numerous biofuel and biomass projects, including dozens in states through which the Dakota Access Pipeline passes.
The company was a design-build contractor for three ethanol plants in North Dakota, according to its website, and has performed contracting work on 40 other ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel projects in South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.
Spokespeople for the Standing Rock Sioux and its two green energy donors did not respond to questions about the donations.