President Trump’s First 100 Days Highlight Infrastructure Development

President Trump will have much to celebrate this Saturday as he marks his 100th day in office. During his short time in the White House, President Trump has already delivered on his promise to prioritize infrastructure development and support American energy independence.

Some of the President’s more notable accomplishments include:

    • Approving the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines;
    • Expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects; and,
    • Streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturers.

More broadly, President Trump has ignited a long overdue conversation on the importance of revitalizing America’s aging infrastructure and this summer, is expected to join with Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to roll out a $200 billion infrastructure package.

“We applaud President Trump’s actions to support investment in America’s infrastructure,” said MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens. “Domestic infrastructure development will lead to the creation of thousands of American jobs, a stronger economy, and a more modern nation. We look forward to working with the administration as well as state and local officials to promote the benefits of private and public infrastructure investments.

As Dakota Access Nears Completion, America Still Needs Pipeline Infrastructure

In recent weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handed down the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe in my home state of North Dakota. The pipeline is just days away from becoming operational. While legal battles will likely continue to be waged, court rulings to date have consistently validated the process that led to approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  As protest camps in the region clear out, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the toll that those activities took on the residents and the environment of North Dakota.

According to the latest reports, clean-up crews have removed as much as 48 million pounds of garbage from the Oceti Sakowin camp, costing taxpayers as much as $1 million. This unprecedented level of negligence stood as a threat to the region’s environment, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state officials intervened and evacuated the camps. With rising temperatures and spring thaws on the way, the refuse could have been washed directly into the Missouri River system. With all the rhetoric about protecting the water, the trash left behind by protestors posed a far more imminent threat to water than the pipelines buried far underneath it. Thankfully, the authorities intervened before more serious damage was done.

Looking beyond Dakota Access to the future of other pipeline infrastructure projects, some key facts merit consideration.

First, for the foreseeable future, residents of the United States will continue to rely on petroleum products such as crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids like butane, ethane and propane to sustain their everyday lives. Second, pipelines remain, by far, the safest means by which to transport those energy goods. Third, the United States continues to work steadily toward the diversification of its energy sources, utilizing energy goods produced here at home and lessening our reliance on energy from volatile regions elsewhere in the world.  Fourth, a pressing need for infrastructure remains in growing production regions within the United States – such as the Marcellus, Bakken, and Permian shale regions – to markets within and for export to allies abroad.

Continue Reading >>

Union Leaders Discuss Dakota Access on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Hardball with Chris Matthews

Mark McManus, president of the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to discuss President Trump’s infrastructure plans and recent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.

Trump’s support for the pipeline projects came a day after McManus and O’Sullivan joined other union leaders at the White House for a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top aids for a conversation on the nation’s infrastructure needs.

Speaking about Dakota Access, O’Sullivan told co-host Joe Scarborough that the project created thousands of “good middle class jobs,” including 4,500 building trades men and women.

In a separate appearance, McManus and O’Sullivan told Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” that they were “more than encouraged” by their meeting with Trump and his subsequent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.

“This was a big day,” said O’Sullivan. “Less than 24 hours ago we were in the Roosevelt Room and the Oval Office — Mark, myself, and some other labor leaders — talking about these very issues and in less than 24 hours there’s five executive orders that are going to make a difference in our economy, our country, and in the lives of men and women we represent.”

No More Keystone Capers

President Trump is making short work of campaign promises, and on Tuesday he signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The resurrection is good news for the economy, but one question is whether he’ll sink the projects with his protectionist impulses.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order inviting TransCanada to apply again for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama Administration rejected to indulge the anti-carbon obsessions of Democratic campaign donors. Another Trump directive aims to expedite the Dakota Access pipeline, which is 90% finished but was halted by President Obama amid protests. A federal judge ruled that the government had met its legal obligations, but the Obama Administration suspended work anyway.

Such carve outs for progressive constituencies are one reason voters rejected Democrats in November, and the pipelines promise broader prosperity. Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.

Continue Reading >>

U.S. Energy Takes a Major Step Forward

For years, the Obama administration used its executive authority to obstruct two crucial energy infrastructure projects: the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Today, the obstruction finally came to an end when President Donald Trump signed two executive orders. This action affirms our new president’s respect for the rule of law and his support for responsible infrastructure development, energy production, and job creation.

One of the executive orders directs all federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to expedite approval of the easement to complete construction of the Dakota Access pipeline project.

Another order invites the TransCanada Corp. to resubmit its application for the Keystone XL pipeline and directs the State Department to expedite its review.

Continue Reading >>

Energy Secretary: Confident U.S. Will Achieve Energy Independence

Outgoing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says the U.S. is in an “extraordinarily well-placed position” to achieve energy independence. In a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin, Moniz highlighted that America is now the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas and continues to make significant gains in renewable energy development.

“I do want to caution – we are not at the point where we produce as much energy as we use, so we still do have some oil imports,” Moniz said. “But we may reach that point in the next decade some time.”

The U.S. has made tremendous advances in domestic energy production that allow for the safe, efficient recovery of oil and gas resources. This modern day energy renaissance has also resulted in the need for critical upgrades to the infrastructure that transports these resources around the country. That is why projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline are so critical to establishing and maintaining energy independence.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Highlights Inaccuracies In Dakota Access Reporting

A recently published Wall Street Journal op-ed from Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota dispels many of inaccuracies being reported about the project and highlights the extensive process and review of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

In the op-ed Congressman Cramer states the following facts:

  • This isn’t about tribal rights or protecting cultural resources. The pipeline does not cross any land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux. The land under discussion belongs to private owners and the federal government. To suggest that the Standing Rock tribe has the legal ability to block the pipeline is to turn America’s property rights upside down.
  • Two federal courts have rejected claims that the tribe wasn’t consulted. The project’s developer and the Army Corps made dozens of overtures to the Standing Rock Sioux over more than two years. Often these attempts were ignored or rejected, with the message that the tribe would only accept termination of the project.
  • Other tribes and parties did participate in the process. More than 50 tribes were consulted, and their concerns resulted in 140 adjustments to the pipeline’s route. The project’s developer and the Army Corps were clearly concerned about protecting tribal artifacts and cultural sites. Any claim otherwise is unsupported by the record. The pipeline’s route was also studied—and ultimately supported—by the North Dakota Public Service Commission (on which I formerly served), the State Historic Preservation Office, and multiple independent archaeologists.
  • This isn’t about water protection. Years before the pipeline was announced, the tribe was working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps to relocate its drinking-water intake. The new site sits roughly 70 miles downstream of where the pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River. Notably, the new intake, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, will be 1.6 miles downstream of an elevated railroad bridge that carries tanker cars carrying crude oil.
  • This isn’t about the climate. The oil that will be shipped through the pipeline is already being produced. But right now it is transported in more carbon-intensive ways, such as by railroad or long-haul tanker truck. So trying to thwart the pipeline to reduce greenhouse gas could have the opposite effect.

What’s left that this issue could be about? Politics.

Unfortunately all the processes and laws in the world could not stop the politics of an outgoing administration attempting to cement a legacy. But the beauty of politics is that they are hardly permanent.

In 44 days a new presidential administration will have the opportunity to do the right thing; enforce the law, end a dangerous standoff, and release the final easement for Dakota Access to continue construction.

Dakota Access Ensures Costs Remain Low For North Dakota Producers

In an article published in Bloomberg Businessweek, recently reviewed energy and economic analyses point to a significantly reduced cost to ship petroleum by pipeline rather than by railroad or truck. This is important because those few dollars difference in cost to energy companies directly relates to the opportunities for companies to expand operations and hire individuals from engineers to craft trades to develop the infrastructure necessary to develop North Dakota resources.

According to the article, “[u]nlike Texas, which has pumped oil for more than a century and is home to thousands of miles of pipelines, North Dakota never had a reason to build much energy infrastructure. As oil gushed out of remote areas miles from any town or pipeline, wildcatters, middlemen, and traders raced to get it out by truck, train, and barge. By 2015, 800,000 barrels of crude a day was being railed out of North Dakota. Moving oil by train costs a lot more than pumping it through a pipeline, but when world crude prices hovered around $100 a barrel—as they did for several years—there was enough profit to go around. Now that prices have fallen, those transportation costs have become critical. Refineries on the East Coast, once among the biggest buyers of Bakken crude, have reverted to importing foreign oil rather than paying to ship it halfway across the country.”

Despite the massive production available in North Dakota, the high cost of transportation has actually led some American refiners to import foreign oil, rather than use domestic supplies, because of the economic realities.

The key to closing that cost gap and reducing dependence is to construct the infrastructure necessary to make North Dakota oil economically viable for the long-term future. An important part of that infrastructure investment is the Dakota Access Pipeline.

According to data compiled from Valero and Bloomberg Intelligence, current costs to ship Bakken oil to refineries across the United States by rail can range as high as $10 per barrel – at roughly $50 per barrel, that’s 10% of the total price. The estimated cost of delivery of a barrel moved by the Dakota Access pipeline would fall to about $5 per barrel, creating long-term stability for producers, refiners, and ultimately, consumers.

With the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline, transportation costs would essentially be reduced by half. Imagine if you could shave 5% off the cost of a gallon of gas, and ensure that the gallon of gas wasn’t supporting a foreign government. Not only that, but by reducing the cost of transportation, opportunities for production increase allowing more North Dakotans the opportunity to work. Right now North Dakota’s major oil producing counties support on average approximately 10% of the state workforce, and that’s with only 38 oil and gas rigs operating in November of this year. Compare that to more than 200 rigs back in 2014.

Lean operation has made production more efficient, but reducing costs for producers allows for greater development and greater economic opportunity.

Dakota Access Delays Threaten the Future of Infrastructure

The 2016 election will go down in history as one of the more toxic and divisive in modern American history. Yet it is worth considering at least one issue that received near universal support from both candidates: the need to invest in infrastructure.

Political leadership has long viewed infrastructure investments by the private sector as the backbone of the U.S. economy. Politicians praise transportation, telecom, water, and energy infrastructure as the very lifeblood of our economy, seamlessly moving the supplies, energy, and information to where it is needed. As Donald Trump himself stated moments after winning the presidential election, “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

Continue Reading >>

The Dakota Access Debate Has Grown Out of Proportion

The Washington Post recently published a supportive opinion editorial from former Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) and Daryl Owen of Owen Associates which examined how the protest and activity over the Dakota Access pipeline has grown of proportion.

From violent protest activity to millions of dollars of damage to equipment and even disturbing death threats to employees – the tactics being deployed against the project are unseemly and unnecessary.

In the column, Johnston and Owen highlight efforts of sabotage against operational pipelines across the country and the danger that such actions can create. They write that the protests are no longer about opposition to the project, but rather a new tool in the effort to stop the development and use of fossil fuels.

In addition to examining the true nature of the protest and the violence ensuing, Johnston and Owen highlight that, “[t]his is, after all, a pipeline project,” and not simply the first of which would cross the Missouri River – it would be one of dozens that do so carrying American energy products. The final piece of the puzzle, is as they say, “part and parcel of a river-crossing permit the pipeline has already received. It is a simple ministerial action authorizing the pipeline to cross beneath federal lands and, for want of a simple signature by an Army Corps bureaucrat, would finalize the process. By arbitrarily refusing to follow the law, the Justice Department has placed a lawfully permitted, vital $4 billion infrastructure project into suspended animation.”

The authors also note that the tribe who has sought to stall the project “largely refused to engage in [the] consultations” after much inquiry – a fact echoed by a federal court judge who reviewed the Army Corps findings and determinations. Johnston and Owen write that “there is much to be discussed and much to be regretted about the past 150 years of U.S.-tribal relations. But a real estate document for a pipeline river crossing seems hardly the pretext to do so.”

The Administration and Federal Government’s decision to withhold the final piece of multi-billion dollar project, in Owen and Johnston’s own words, it sends “a chilling message to the private sector about the rule of law as it relates to infrastructure development.”

It is simply unacceptable that the Federal Government has continued to delay the completion of this project – after all, their approval was already granted in July of this year. The fact remains, a single 1,000 foot section of an 1100 mile project, is currently held up by opponents who have already stated their mission is far greater than the Dakota Access Pipeline – but simply to withhold the development of America’s energy future.