It is with great interest I’ve been reading the coverage of a recent press conference on the benefits of the Dakota Access Pipeline in this newspaper. The people who oppose the pipeline would have you believe that Iowans would never benefit from using the pipeline as a utility. In fact, one guy from Cherokee County even said, “We’re not building a library or roads that I’ll use, we’re not building anything I’m going to use.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, this pipeline would ship a product and serve a purpose that every Iowan relies on. Our state is reliant on crude oil, refined into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products to drive our agriculture industry. Everything from combines to pickup trucks relies on a steady stream of oil, and we have the choice to either produce that oil right here at home or continue to import it from unstable foreign nations.
We have to have petroleum or carbon-based energy to grow food in the area we live in, which is the largest breadbasket in the world between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains.
Our agricultural products represent a homegrown safety net providing for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Today, those agricultural products rely on our rail system, which has been commandeered by our oil and gas needs.
The dollars and cents that go into shipping those agricultural products by truck decreases the value to every farmer and rancher and agricultural enterprise in this area. So, when we look at rail in relationship to a pipeline, in my estimation, pipelines are the best way to move crude oil and the best way to keep the freight system efficiently moving agricultural products.
We have another alternative. DAPL will help alleviate transportation strains in the U.S. and facilitate safer, more efficient shipment of crude oil. The 1,100-mile pipeline will traverse four states and run adjacent to existing pipelines, power lines and roads. It will have the capacity to transport half of Bakken’s current daily crude production — ensuring that the resources we’re producing here at home are able to efficiently make it to market and into our economy.
Additionally, the pipeline, as proposed, will alleviate four to seven unit trains per day, helping ease railcar transportation shortages for agriculture and other products, especially in the upper Midwest. The American Farm Bureau Federation released a paper showing that congestion on our railways cost Midwest farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in 2014 alone; anything we can do to tackle this challenge will make a big impact on our farmers’ bottom lines.
I’m 110 percent in favor of this pipeline. It is the safest, most efficient way to get crude oil to market. The more crude we get to market, the cheaper our products will be on the purchasing end of those petroleum dollars.
So, to say that there is no benefit from this pipeline directly relating to our own uses in Iowa is just plain wrong. We should support this project because all of us rely on the product that it will ship to consumers in Iowa and across the nation.
Business Manager, Operating Engineers Local No. 234