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GUEST BLOG: Dakota Access An Investment in the People of Iowa

As a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), I am proud to support the Dakota Access Pipeline project and the benefits that it will bring to the many hardworking organized craft workers across the State of Iowa. Key infrastructure projects like this support the life-long careers of tens of thousands of construction workers like myself. Together we make up a highly trained and professional workforce that has extensive experience building safe and reliable pipelines. Furthermore, we frequently participate in ongoing training programs that allow us to employ construction standards that often exceed federal guidelines and regulations.

In Iowa, the Dakota Access project will support thousands of local well-paying jobs that will support families across our state. Construction jobs like these offer families a beacon of hope that their shot at realizing the American Dream is not just a dream but reality that can and should happen. There is no doubt that this project is key to America’s energy future, but the Dakota Access pipeline is more than just an infrastructure project, it’s an investment in the people of Iowa.

Chad Carter is a Business Representative with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 234.

Statements on South Dakota PUC Approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Application

Today, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to approve Dakota Access’s permit application following an extensive review.

The MAIN Coalition’s Chairman, Ed Wiederstein, issued the following statement upon approval:

The MAIN Coalition is pleased to hear the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission’s decision to approve construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We appreciate the PUC Commissioners and their staff for their time, efforts, and consideration of this important energy infrastructure project. Projects like Dakota Access help to build on America’s energy security, deliver energy products in a safe and efficient manner, and create new economic opportunities for South Dakota and the Midwest. 

David Owen, President of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce supported the PUC decision today:

The approval of the Dakota Access pipeline project by the South Dakota PUC today marks tremendous progress in South Dakota’s economic and energy future. From agriculture to small business and manufacturing, the state’s economy will benefit from new pipeline infrastructure to safely and reliably transport domestic energy. We applaud the decision of the PUC and look forward to the benefits this pipeline project will bring our state for years to come.

Dawna Leitzke, Executive Director of the South Dakota Petroleum & Propane Marketers Association stated the following:

Today’s decision is a big win for the state of South Dakota. Representing multiple sectors of South Dakota’s economy, the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association welcomes the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Private investments like the Dakota Access Pipeline will ensure that the 21st century is America’s energy century and will provide our state with new jobs, American energy resources, and needed revenue to ensure a stronger economy and a brighter future. 

South Dakota Approves Dakota Access Pipeline

Today’s decision to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction through South Dakota is another step in the right direction to completing this important infrastructure project.

The Dakota Access Pipeline will provide an essential service to the people of South Dakota and the Midwest by making available domestically-produced crude oil to fuel American agriculture and manufacturing. In addition, projects like Dakota Access are essential to keeping our economy moving and energy security strong. The oil boom of the Bakken region has created unprecedented access to new sources of energy resources for the American economy, but without the infrastructure necessary to safely transport these resources to market we face a backlog of transportation that negatively impacts many aspects of our economy.

With South Dakota’s approval of this pipeline project we can now safely and efficiently transport American oil to market, create jobs, and reduce the impact of oil shipments across our infrastructure network.

Majority of Iowa Easements Secured According To Dakota Access

Chuck Frey, in his testimony at the IUB evidentiary hearing, provided an update on the status of land easements needed to route the Dakota Access Pipeline through Iowa. According to the latest tally, the company has acquired 74.9% of all easements needed in the state. The Des Moines Register noted, “additional easements are still being secured through negotiations on almost a daily basis.”

As Mr. Frey has emphasized, the company is committed to working with landowners to sign as many voluntary easements as possible, and has negotiated several accommodations for affected landowners. Earlier testimony from ETP representative Monica Howard and Duraroot representative Aaron Dejoia outlined specific ways that the company has committed to working with landowners. Ms. Howard spoke at length on the company’s commitment to protecting environmentally sensitive areas, while Mr. Dejoia described the efforts to ensure that landowners have their soil restored as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The MAIN Coalition is encouraged by the overwhelming support from landowners that Dakota Access has secured and is looking forward to seeing the results of further voluntary easements, which will continue to be negotiated throughout the process.

Dakota Access Speaks On Safety Standards Enforcement

As the IUB evidentiary hearing entered its second week of witness testimony, Chuck Frey, the VP of Engineering at Energy Transfer Partners, took the stand to inform the IUB of the safety and engineering criteria that Dakota Access Pipeline will use to build the line.

Mr. Frey shared that Dakota Access would be built to meet or exceed existing regulations and statutes to ensure that the pipeline serves as a benefit to the Midwest, in the way it was envisioned.

Dakota Access has voluntarily committed itself to building the pipeline in a way that maintains a degree of separation between pipe and drain tiles at 12 times the amount required by law. William Petroski from The Des Moines Register explains:

Dakota Access has promised that in Iowa farm fields, the pipeline will be buried by a minimum of 48 inches of dirt and crops can be planted on top. In addition, farm drainage tiles will be crossed with a minimum of 24 inches of separation between the pipe and the drain tile, which exceeds federal requirements, Frey said.

Mr. Frey also described the rigorous testing that all pipeline segments would have to go through before being operational. All segments are to be inspected at the mill in which they were made, and all welds will be x-ray tested. Pipeline segments will be pressure tested using water, at an operating pressure that significantly exceeds operating pressures – one and a quarter times the anticipated operating pressure. Stacey Gerard, formerly of PHSMA, testified last week that Dakota Access has opted to choose an operating pressure lower than the one usually prescribed to pipelines of that size.

Energy infrastructure projects should be constructed responsibly in order to bring maximum benefits to our region. The MAIN Coalition is encouraged by the commitment that Dakota Access has shown to the safety of Midwestern land and the people.

Dakota Access Pipeline Maintains Commitment To Land Restoration

One of the most important aspects of pipeline construction is mitigating the impacts of removing soil from agricultural land.  In a state like Iowa, where agriculture and agriculture-related industry dominates the economy, it becomes even more crucial. That’s why the Dakota Access Pipeline has contracted leading land impact, mitigation consultants, Key Ag Services and Duraroot, to craft plans for construction and operation that will minimize the impact on farm operations all along the pipeline route.

All plans for the pipeline are expected to, at minimum, meet federal and state requirements for mitigating land impacts, but in many cases Dakota Access Pipeline has implemented construction plans to exceed these regulations. From soil conservation, to stream crossings, and extensive environmental analysis, the critical protection of our environment is a must for all infrastructure development, and we believe that Dakota Access has sufficiently met these challenges.

Dakota Access Talks Safety at IUB

For most of the morning, Todd Stamm of Sunoco Logistics, testified to the Iowa Utilities Board the importance of safety in a project like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Among the many components built into the pipeline’s safety apparatus including remote shut offs, in-line inspections through the newest generation of pigs, and pressure and temperature sensors. Additionally, the pipeline will be inspected on a weekly basis from the air, accompanied by on the ground inspectors. This is to ensure the integrity of the line, as well as the safety of residences and farmland the pipeline traverses.

Dakota Access has made safety the number one priority for operating the line. As a responsible owner, Dakota Access deserves the IUB’s full support for the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

Pipelines shown to help reduce need for alternate oil transportation in North Dakota

As the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) evidentiary hearing entered its second day, several expert witnesses, including grain analyst Elaine Kub and former Energy Information Administration (EIA) Administrator Guy Caruso, stressed the vital role that Dakota Access would play in increasing the efficiency of the transportation networks in Iowa and the Midwest in general. Shifting the responsibility of transporting a significant amount of oil away from railroads and trucks would create opportunities for other items to utilize these vital transportation options, such as grain and other agricultural products.

Evidence that pipelines create these kinds of efficiencies was reported in this morning’s press in North Dakota. Amy Dalrymple, a prominent reporter in the state, wrote an article describing the shift of crude oil away from truck-based transportation and towards a steadily expanding web of gathering pipelines. The article states:

 More oil is now gathered by pipeline than truck in western North Dakota, taking pressure off Oil Patch communities faced with congestion, traffic fatalities and dust.

“New figures from the North Dakota Pipeline Authority show that for the first time in several years, more oil is leaving well sites by pipeline, and that trend is expected to continue, Director Justin Kringstad said.

“We’ve seen some significant progress in the major counties in western North Dakota getting crude off the roadways and into gathering pipeline systems,” Kringstad said.

The article noted that all but one county has seen a reduction of oil traffic on their roadways, and North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad reiterated that, “there’s a lot of advantages that we see in getting these fluids off the roadways and into a pipeline.”

Amy Dalrymple also stated that the oil in these gathering lines was carried to transmission lines or rail hubs in anticipation for transport. Projects like Dakota Access however, can and will ensure that the process is streamlined further, allowing more trucks and trains to be used for other vital purposes throughout the region.

Read the full article here.

South Dakota News Article Highlights Safety, Agricultural Impact Mitigation for Dakota Access Pipeline

South Dakota landowners recently gave their opinions on the Dakota Access Pipeline to the Aberdeen News which gained some traction in national oil press.

One landowner, Perry Schmidt from Spink County said that the project would “free up transportation for grain” and that pipelines are “the safest way to transport oil.” Schmidt also expressed confidence in the safety of the pipeline. “I’m not too worried about crude oil leaking into my land,” Schmidt said. “The valve is just north of me on my mother’s land. It’ll be a permanent easement above ground.”

Additionally, Energy Transfer has been working with local residents and jurisdictions to address concerns regarding drinking water supplies in the southeastern part of South Dakota. Dakota Access Vice President for Engineering Joey Mahmoud said “we are working with the water districts to lower and move their pipes and to actually case those pipes to add added mitigation and protection just to ensure that if there was a situation, that we would not contaminate the water supply.” He stated the company would go above and beyond current requirements to prevent drinking water from being affected by a spill or crude oil within the pipes.

Dakota Access Pipeline representatives have repeatedly committed to meeting or exceeding safety standards as well as mitigating environmental impacts throughout the course of public hearings in South Dakota, as well as other states along the proposed route.

Commitment to the safe transportation of energy resources is paramount to building a good relationship with the communities where pipelines operate. Dakota Access has indeed shown that commitment throughout the course of multiple public hearings, addressing rural and urban concerns alike. Because of the commitment to safety, many in South Dakota agree that constructing the pipeline will provide many benefits to South Dakota, including alleviating the rail congestion that has plagued the state since the start of the Bakken oil boom.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission decision to issue a permit for the pipeline is due by Dec. 15, but the commission has announced it will make a decision at a special meeting on Nov. 30.

GUEST BLOG: Pipeline Jobs are Sustainable Careers

“Temporary jobs” is a term that some people use to demean the work that many of our members perform for most of their lives. Though constructing a pipeline is a job that doesn’t require an office or a fixed location for our workers, it’s projects like these that are the bedrock of a career for operators. Our careers support our families. Projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline don’t just involve laying pipe in the ground; in fact they support thousands of workers throughout the supply chain.  From rolling the steel, to manufacturing the heavy equipment, this project provides opportunity both at the job site and in communities across Iowa.

Characterizing pipeline jobs as temporary is no different than saying that home builders or consultants have unsustainable long-term careers. Like many professions, job sites and clients change on regular basis, but this does not in any way undercut the value or necessity of the work being performed. There’s nothing temporary about the long term opportunities that the Dakota Access Pipeline will provide Iowa’s workers.

Chad Carter is the Vice President, Business Representative, of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 234.