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Criminal Attacks on Pipeline Underscores Threat To Infrastructure

Recent reports that anti-energy development activists have used blowtorches to damage the Dakota Access Pipeline are absolutely unacceptable for a project that underwent a nearly two year review process that resulted in a lawful approval by four states as well as the federal government.

The incidences, which were characterized as “felony vandalism” by the South Dakota attorney general’s office, broadens the scope of actions taken against the pipeline company since protests in North Dakota were shut down by state authorities following increasing violence and lawlessness. Similarly, in Iowa, Mahaska County Sheriff Russ Van Renterghem told the Des Moines Register that a similar attack took place south of Des Moines earlier this month.

What is especially frightening is that the damage to the pipe could have resulted in an even larger incident if the oil inside was ignited – likely killing the individuals who were attempting to do harm to the project.

Police departments from the state, county, and local levels are investigating the incidents – underscoring the importance of increased security around this and other projects from criminals who wish to do harm to America’s infrastructure network.


Appeals Court Denies Tribes’ Latest Appeal

Earlier this afternoon a U.S. appeals court denied tribes’ request for an emergency order that would have temporarily prohibited oil from flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline 90 feet under Lake Oahe.  The MAIN Coalition expects construction of the pipeline to be completed within the next few days and oil to move through the double-walled pipeline under the lake early next week.

In response to the Court’s denial, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens released the following statement:

“The Courts’ consistent support of the pipeline in these proceedings is the result of the company’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ dogged compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.  Although it is frustrating that those opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline are using the courts in a seemingly endless attempt to thwart this lawful project, we are heartened that the judges have continued to rule on the merits.

We hope that the Courts’ action, as well as President Trump’s promise to make infrastructure development in the U.S. easier and more predictable, will lead to more investment; ultimately creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”


New Ranking Finds North Dakota Has No. 2 State Economy in the U.S.

North Dakota has the No. 2 best economy of any U.S. state and is No. 1 for job growth according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best States rankings. The annual survey, which ranked North Dakota No. 4 overall, said growing energy production and robust infrastructure were key to the state’s strong performance.

The Peace Garden State has benefited greatly from being at the epicenter of the U.S. shale oil boom. In 2004, oil and gas production accounted for just 2 percent of state’s economy, but by 2014 it was almost 16 percent. Several years ago, while much of the nation was suffering from hard economic times, North Dakota was attracting billions of dollars in investments and workers from around the country.

While falling oil prices have weakened production, North Dakota is still producing over a million barrels a day and has one of the lowest employment rates in the nation. The Bakken boon may have hit slow patch in the road, but the promising opportunities and benefits derived from this remote region are far from over.

Most recently, an analysis by the Associated Press found that cost savings provided by the Dakota Access Pipeline will not only benefit producers, but also amount to a more than $110 million gain in annual tax revenue.

This staggering increase has already lead the state’s budget director to begin crafting spending plans that take the added revenue into account and perhaps leading the state to become the No. 1 economy in the years to come.


Cleanup Effort Concludes in North Dakota

The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers has finished cleaning up three Dakota Access pipeline protest camps that were on federal land in North Dakota.

The Corps hired a Florida-based contractor after the main camp and two others were cleared out and shut down late last month in advance of the spring flooding season.

Corps Capt. Ryan Hignight says a total of 835 industrial-size trash bins were filled and removed in the operation that wrapped up late last week. That doesn’t include materials such as lumber and propane tanks that were set aside for reuse or recycling.

The total cost of the operation hasn’t been tallied yet, but the Corps has estimated that it could cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million.

Throughout the cleanup process, nearly a dozen dogs have been rescued from the site and taken to shelters in the Bismarck area.

Law enforcement has also begun scaling back, fewer than 70 officers from Morton County and the ND Highway Patrol are typically stationed in the area. Parts of the sizable law enforcement “forward operating base” are also being dismantled which costs about $210,000 weekly to run.

With efforts to cleanup and dismantle the camps concluding, we can only hope that peace and stability will return permanently to southern North Dakota.


Dakota Access Sponsors ISU Study On Pipeline Installation Effects

Mehari Tekeste, left, and Mark Hanna at the experimental site. | Photo: Iowa State University

A team of researchers at Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will conduct a five-year study that will examine the impact of pipeline construction on crop production and soil compaction. The project, which is funded by Dakota Access Pipeline LLC, will collect data through 2021 on section of university-owned farmland traversed by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The overall goal of the project is to quantify the impact of construction utilities equipment, field traffic and deep tillage on crop yield and soil compaction,” according to a university news release.

Mehari Tekeste, an assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Mark Hanna, an extension agricultural engineer, will lead the multiyear project.

“We hope our research will develop data to support future recommendations on the restoration of agricultural soil and crop productivity to pre-construction conditions,” Tekeste said. “This will be of benefit to industry and governmental institutions, as well as other researchers and extension specialists.

Dakota Access has long been committed to minimizing potential impacts from pipeline installation and continues to work with landowners across Iowa to ensure land is restored to preconstruction conditions. Specifically, these efforts included the development of a comprehensive Agricultural Mitigation Plan and the enlistment of two independent contractors to advise and monitor the acquisition, construction and reclamation processes.


Court Rejects Bid to Halt Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline

A federal court denied Tuesday the latest attempt by opponents to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is now over 99 percent built and expected to be operational very soon.

In a 38-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg offered a thorough rebuke of the tribe’s claim that the presence mere presence of the pipeline would desecrate the waters of Lake Oahe. Boasberg said the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unlikely to succeed because the tribe had not demonstrated a “significant burden” resulting from the easement granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Boasberg also noted that the Lake Oahe crossing was disclosed by the Army Corps of Engineers in October 2014, but it wasn’t until after the project was fully permitted almost fully built that the tribes raised religious concerns. In fact, the failure to raise this claim sooner in it of itself barred the issuance of a preliminary injunction according to the ruling.

“For more than two years after becoming aware of DAPL’s proposed route, construction, and operation, then, Cheyenne River remained silent as to the Black Snake prophecy and its concerns about the presence of oil in the pipeline under Lake Oahe absent any issue of rupture, as well as about the possible applicability of RFRA. … The Court, accordingly, concludes that Defendants have shown that the Tribe inexcusably delayed in voicing its RFRA objection.”

Furthermore, Boasberg said further delay of the project based on the eleventh hour argument would “impose significant costs on a private third party” and underscored that the company did make route adjustments to accommodate tribal concerns during the permitting process.

“Indeed, Defendants previously modified the pipeline workspace and route more than a hundred times in response to cultural surveys and Tribes’ concerns regarding historic and cultural resources. The Corps also imposed additional construction conditions on DAPL in response to tribal positions regarding environmental safety.”

MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens applauded the ruling and the company’s commitment to the protection of cultural and historical resources.

“Judge Boasberg’s thoughtful decision further demonstrates that both the Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access have fully complied with all established laws and regulations governing the permitting, installation, and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Stevens in a statement. “Both Dakota Access and its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, have continued to show a strong desire to accommodate landowner concerns and respect for culturally sensitive areas.”

All parties will be back in court next month to address two motions for summary judgement filed by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. However, by then, it is more than likely that construction will have been completed and the pipeline put into operation.


MAIN Coalition Statement on Court’s Rejection of Latest Attempt to Block DAPL

MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement in response to U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s decision to deny a request for a preliminary injunction, which was sought by the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe and would have stopped construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline:

“Judge Boasberg’s thoughtful decision further demonstrates that both the Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access have fully complied with all established laws and regulations governing the permitting, installation, and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Both Dakota Access and its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, have continued to show a strong desire to accommodate landowner concerns and respect for culturally sensitive areas.  This was demonstrated in the more than 140 modifications the company made to the pipeline’s path – in North Dakota alone – to avoid potential cultural resources, including at the James River crossing.

“Going forward, we continue to appreciate Judge Boasberg’s careful consideration of this case and remain hopeful that the construction and operation of this pipeline will be completed in a safe and timely manner.”  

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Agweek: Pipeline Protesters Hurt Ordinary North Dakotans

In a new editorial, Agweek Magazine, a leading agricultural publication in the upper Midwest, captured many of the frustrations shared by farmers and ranchers affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The thoughtful commentary is careful not to dismiss those who have peacefully opposed the project, but notes that many actions have been anything but peaceful.

We understand many Americans disapprove of the project. We support their legal and moral right to oppose it through peaceful, legal protest. We live, thank goodness, in a free country. But many of the protests were neither peaceful nor legal.

The editorial goes on to highlight that farmers and ranchers in Morton County have been on the frontlines of the unlawful activity and have suffered financially as a result.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture say 544 Morton County households were affected by the protests. They say farmers and ranchers lost as much as $20,000 each due to delays in or inability to harvest crops, inability to haul to market, inability to get custom harvesters to the area, lost or missing livestock, cattle brought off pasture earlier than usual, vandalized equipment and farmsteads and other issues. There also are continuing problems with possible pest-infested firewood, as well as hundreds of loads of garbage left behind when the camp was cleared out.

Out-of-state protesters who descended on this rural community often did so with a complete lack of respect for area residents who wanted nothing but to continue about their normal lives.

This much is clear: Protestors, even sincere ones, often went too far, hurting “ordinary” North Dakotans who had done absolutely nothing wrong. That alienated and angered many people who had been neutral or lukewarm on the project.

In closing, the editorial board said environmental protesters would be wise to respect agriculturalists in the future before offering an optimistic outlook for the coming change of season.


AP: Dakota Access Will Support $110M Increase In Annual Tax Revenue

A new analysis by The Associated Press finds that North Dakota will gain over $110 million annually in tax revenue after oil begins flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline. The $3.8 billion pipeline, which is set to come online later this month, will provide a safer, cost efficient avenue for Bakken drillers to ship product to key refining markets in Illinois and the Gulf Coast.

North Dakota in the past decade has become the second-biggest oil producer in the United States, behind Texas. But its location in the northern Plains, far from major oil markets, means less profit on each barrel of oil. North Dakota lowers its tax on each barrel to keep its crude competitive with other states.

Much of North Dakota’s oil is shipped by truck or train. The 1,200 Dakota Access pipeline would carry the oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. It could shave shipping costs by more than $3 a barrel, according to Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. State tax officials estimate every dollar saved means about $33.6 million in added tax revenue each year.

In addition to oil tax revenue, the Dakota Access Pipeline also stands to generate upwards of $55 million annually in property taxes, including $10 million in North Dakota. “It’s going to benefit schools and counties and more valuation means lower property tax bills for everybody,” said North Dakota tax commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.


President Trump’s Mention of Dakota Access Highlights Thousands of Jobs Created

During President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress last night, the President mentioned the job creating ability of investing in pipeline infrastructure, including the Dakota Access Pipeline.

It’s worth noting that while there remains much to invest in across America to deliver our energy resources to American consumers – the Dakota Access Pipeline has created nearly 12,000 jobs throughout its construction.

Good paying construction jobs represent the backbone of life-long careers for thousands of Americans; all of whom rely on functional energy and transportation infrastructure every day to fuel their cars, drive to work, heat their homes, and buy products for their family.

Some critics of energy infrastructure deride these positions as merely temporary, but the reality is that construction – by nature – is a temporary endeavor. But sustained investment in our nation’s future through infrastructure projects like Dakota Access or countless other pipeline projects, means that people employed in the construction industry can build a sustainable career, as well as the infrastructure our country needs to move our economy in a positive direction. Combined with jobs supported throughout the supply chain which provides the materials and equipment to construct pipelines, investment in energy represent an investment that spans far beyond the wellhead, pipeline, or refinery.


© 2016