Despite the allegations from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protesters that the Dakota Access Pipeline would pose a threat to their water supply, many forms of energy infrastructure already criss-cross North Dakota today, including multiple crossings of the Missouri River by pipelines and oil-carrying railroads.
Because of the need for pipeline infrastructure, many companies have been forced to make do with railroad shipments of oil as a stop-gap measure until sufficient capacity can be constructed to move Bakken crude out of North Dakota for consumption throughout the United States. This has led to an increased reliance on rail infrastructure, which has a poorer safety record of transportation of crude oil than pipelines, the safest method of transporting crude oil across the country.
Even in North Dakota, there have been significant incidents in Casselton and Heimdal where crude-carrying DOT-111 tank cars exploded following train derailments.
The reality is that without pipelines, railroads would represent the only feasible means of carrying crude significant distances from North Dakota, posing a greater threat to communities within the state and throughout the nation.
In a Reuters report, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said he hopes that Obama Administration officials will soon describe the process for how the Dakota Access Pipeline can obtain regulatory approval.
Though he does not believe recent delays by the Obama administration are not an attempt to block the controversial project, the Governor said, “I am hoping this is not a stonewall tactic. I can’t believe that that’s really what they want. They seem to be talking about the process going forward, and if that’s what the discussion is about, everyone is happy to participate.”
The Governor has engaged throughout the week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for approving the project across federally controlled waterways, as well as the Department of Justice, who last Friday released a statement encouraging a voluntary halt to construction despite Judge Boasberg’s opinion that construction should continue.
According to the report, “Governor Dalrymple and other state regulators noted the Dakota Access line has already gone through more than two years of state and federal regulatory review, that most of it sits on private land and that it would run 92 feet underneath the Missouri River’s bed. ‘There was a stringent regulatory review process here,’ said Julie Fedorchak, chair of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines in the state. “There gets to be a point where you wonder if there’s enough review that can be done to satisfy environmental groups.’”