It’s time to put final piece into pipeline project

(Click here to access original from The Des Moines Register)

The Iowa Utilities Board has a big decision to make. It’s a decision that has been in process now for well over a year and a half. It’s time for the fate of Dakota Access to leave the hands of Iowa regulators and pass to the Iowans who will work to construct this pipeline.

Iowa has the opportunity to help deliver American crude oil for refinement into the myriad of products that are so important to our lives. The oil transported via the Dakota Access Pipeline will provide energy not only for transportation, but also create products from plastics to medicine.

An estimated 4,000 Iowans could soon be going to work on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a nearly $3.8 billion project that will deliver crude oil from the Bakken production fields in North Dakota to terminals in Illinois. With the recent approval of the project by regulators in three out of four states it is now up to Iowa to complete the final piece of the puzzle.

While some seem to wish for a world without fossil fuels, the majority of us realize that crude oil is a key component of our energy mix now. Without American oil, we would be forced to rely entirely on imports, which frequently come with strings attached from parts of the world that challenge our core values.

The reality is with the need for domestic crude oil established, we need to get it from point A to points B, C and beyond. Oil is primarily transported from production fields in one of three manners — by pipeline, by rail or by truck. Pipelines are by far the safest and most efficient way to move oil. The Dakota Access Pipeline will move nearly 450,000 barrels a day. At that rate it will replace four to seven unit trains a day.

Iowa’s agriculture sector will also benefit greatly from this transfer of crude oil from rails to pipeline. The current demand on rails to move oil has led to a shortage, leaving fewer railcars for moving agricultural and other products and sending prices higher. With the pipeline, farmers will face less competition. Our highways will benefit from fewer tanker trucks as well.

To date, nearly 80 percent of the Iowa landowners whose property the pipeline will cross have signed voluntary easement agreements. They realize the personal economic benefit of providing these easements, as well as the careful consideration the pipeline’s owners have put into minimizing the effects of construction and their attention to safety.

The owners of the project have committed to using union labor both to build the pipeline components and to construct the project. The new jobs in Iowa will benefit not just workers and their families, but also entire communities. Construction will bring an additional $25.5 million in sales tax revenues and $30.6 million in Iowa property taxes.

Years of planning and months of debate have gone into the review process that resulted in green lights from North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. We can be proud of the careful consideration that the Iowa Utilities Board has given the matter, but further prolonging a decision does no service to any party involved. It’s time for Iowa to lead by providing access to our valuable domestic energy resources.