Let Facts Guide the Decision of the PUC

As the date draws closer for South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission hearing regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, opposition activists have resorted to disseminating distorted facts to support their stance and agitate against this important investment project. Much of these opponents are driven by ideology, not facts or economics, and their ideas are as infeasible as they are ruinous to South Dakota’s economy. Stubborn as they are, facts paint a different picture.

Currently, South Dakota has a little over 6,500 miles of gas and petroleum pipelines buried underground, more than enough to stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back. These pipelines help power the state and regional economy, delivering energy to the consumers who need it. Land containing underground pipelines does not lose its value. Even more important, major pipelines such as the Dakota Access Pipeline choose routes that skirt large population centers and run under open land, which can be used afterwards for farming and grazing as it was done before.

Contrary to what some are saying, landowners are not abandoned after construction of the pipeline is done. It is the responsibility of companies such as Dakota Access LLC to make sure that suitable pipeline reclamation has been conducted while federal and state laws require that companies constructing pipelines be fully responsible for their operation and safety. Before the Dakota Access pipeline goes into service, it will be pressure tested and all welds will be applied by trained and certified craftsmen, as well as inspected by x-rays. In addition, all waterway crossings have automatic shutoff valves, as well as thicker pipe and extra pressure sensors to guard against any potential risks.

An additional distorted fact circulating is the idea that Bakken crude is somehow more volatile than other types of crude oil. This “fact” was discounted by Christopher Hart, the director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as recently as last week.

It should go without saying, that transporting American-produced crude oil by pipeline is the safest, most efficient form of transportation. Pipeline expansion in the Dakota region has demonstrated a positive effect on crude oil shipments, which frees up room for agricultural products. According to a recent American Farm Bureau study, the farmers of the Upper Midwest lost $570 million during the 2014 harvest due to a combination of various circumstances. Reducing and removing crude oil from our region’s railroads will have great benefits for those in South Dakota’s agricultural sector.

Investments such as Dakota Access Pipeline can help cement the 21st century as one where our country becomes self-sufficient and a net energy exporter. Such an America will make for a better economy and a better future. It is important that facts, not conjectures and distortions guide the decision of the Public Utilities Commission.