Recently, I attended a hearing of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and listened to arguments both for and against the Dakota Access Pipeline. As a laborer and native South Dakotan, it is my opinion that the Dakota Access Pipeline does serve a public purpose, as it makes the transport of crude safer and less disruptive while also delivering an abundance of economic benefits to our region.
Insufficient pipeline infrastructure has placed strain on the regional freight network, forcing Bakken crude to move to refineries via rail. This is costly to all parties involved, especially farmers who rely on rail service to move their crops. As calculated by S.D. market analyst Elaine Kub for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the strain placed on the region’s rail network cost farmers a half a billion dollars in lost profits during the 2014 harvest season.
From an economic and labor standpoint, the Dakota Access project will bring thousands of well-paying, local construction jobs to communities along the pipeline route. Additionally, this multibillion dollar project will deliver countless indirect benefits to our local businesses and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for our communities.
The S.D. PUC is currently reviewing the Dakota Access Pipeline’s application, and I sincerely hope that they see the mutual benefits that this investment can bring to all South Dakotans.