My voice: S.D. Chamber of Commerce supports pipeline

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission should approve the Dakota Access Pipeline because it will provide additional energy supplies that originate in this region, and pipelines are a safe way to transport many products. A truth that is nearly self-evident.

Do you ever think about the water you use for your meals, showers and toilets; or the gas that provides heat or the gasoline for your vehicles? Honestly, if you said yes, that’s a bit odd. Thankfully, those things can be taken for granted, but if we do give them some thought; they have one thing in common … pipelines.

All of these things are delivered via pipelines, safely and virtually without incident. The only time the public thinks of pipelines is when there is a new one being proposed or on the rare occasion when one gets damaged or malfunctions, in which case it is in the news for a short time while it gets cleaned up and repaired.

The PUC is currently reviewing the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline that will deliver crude oil from North Dakota to the Chicago area, where it will join existing pipelines and go to various refineries.

There is much support for this pipeline from unions whose members will do the construction and the business community; including the S.D. Chamber of Commerce and Industry that understands there will be short-term economic gains from the construction and long-term energy supply and security gains from using oil that is not imported.

To prove there is significant economic gain from the construction of a pipeline, we need only look at the construction of TransCanada’s pipeline through eastern South Dakota during the most dire days of the recent recession. There are many communities willing to testify that the pipeline saved their businesses that year.

And there are opponents. There have been a few opponents of the pipeline that have expressed concerns about the safety of pipelines and have written editorials that site some horrendous accident. A review of the facts clearly shows that pipelines have not been perfect, but the times when they have leaked have been very short in duration and have been cleaned up in an efficient manner. S.D. has more than 10,000 miles of pipelines running underground throughout the state carrying energy products alone. Sioux Falls has more than 1,500 miles of water and sewer pipes. All of these pipelines operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they rarely have leaks. When they do run into problems, those problems are fixed immediately.

The vast majority of the opposition has nothing to do with the construction or operation of a pipeline, but rather are expressing objections to the use of fossil fuels, the drilling in N.D., and holding out a premature notion that if the country declines to use the energy that is at hand, renewable energy can become sufficient to meet the need of the economy and our citizens.

Renewable energy is a maturing industry and is playing a more significant role in meeting the country’s needs. Renewable energy will play a larger role in the long-term future, but at this point it can’t be counted on to meet the highest demand levels when they actually occur. America needs to invest in renewable energy, but in the foreseeable future, it would be unwise to depend on it to meet peak demands. Opponents to the pipeline, suggesting that wind and solar energy is a better choice, actually create a false dichotomy and do a disservice to the public’s best interest.

The S.D. Chamber of Commerce and Industry appreciates the time being taken by the PUC to make sure that Dakota Access pipeline is as safe as possible and that the route taken will work for the citizens of our state. This fits the mission of the PUC. After completing this review, the Chamber urges the PUC to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is wise use of an energy resource located in the U.S. and will bring economic gains to many S.D. communities and small businesses.