The living room window of Brian and Becky Stover’s 100-year-old farmhouse affords an unfettered view of a maligned and daunting neighbor across U.S. 51 — the Patoka Tank Farm and its newest tenant, the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The “farm” is a phalanx of bright white cylindrical bins, each climbing nearly four stories tall. A maze of chain-link fencing cautions against trespassers with signs denoting familiar oil titans such as Marathon, ExxonMobil and BP, which pipe crude oil into the farm and send it out to Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
A former Marine who sells eggs laid by Rhode Island red chickens for $2 per dozen, Brian Stover refers to the farm as “just a bunch of tanks with oil.”
A company that tracks energy markets estimates that the Patoka Tank Farm, which is actually in an unincorporated area between Patoka and Vernon in Marion County, about 90 miles southeast of Springfield, has a capacity to store 18 million barrels of crude oil, the second-biggest concentration in the U.S.