President Trump will have much to celebrate this Saturday as he marks his 100th day in office. During his short time in the White House, President Trump has already delivered on his promise to prioritize infrastructure development and support American energy independence.
Some of the President’s more notable accomplishments include:
Approving the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines;
Expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects; and,
Streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturers.
More broadly, President Trump has ignited a long overdue conversation on the importance of revitalizing America’s aging infrastructure and this summer, is expected to join with Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to roll out a $200 billion infrastructure package.
“We applaud President Trump’s actions to support investment in America’s infrastructure,” said MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens. “Domestic infrastructure development will lead to the creation of thousands of American jobs, a stronger economy, and a more modern nation. We look forward to working with the administration as well as state and local officials to promote the benefits of private and public infrastructure investments.
MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement following news that Dakota Access, LLC informed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the Dakota Access Pipeline will begin interstate crude oil delivery on May 14:
“We are pleased to hear that within a few weeks the Dakota Access Pipeline will be placed into service and begin safely transporting valuable domestic resources to key refining markets. This is proof-positive that if a company follows the rules and works within the regulatory process, major infrastructure projects can be successful. This project has already created countless economic benefits, from good paying jobs to tax revenues. The Dakota Access Pipeline will be the newest piece of America’s vast pipeline infrastructure, which spans more than 2.5 million miles across the country. Safe, reliable infrastructure investments like the Dakota Access Pipeline support a stronger, more resilient economy that benefits all Americans.”
In this May 1, 2014, file photo survey crews in boats look over tanker cars as workers remove damaged tanker cars along the tracks where several CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire along the James River near downtown Lynchburg, Va. | Photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber
New government data obtained by the Associated Press shows that nearly 24,000 safety defects were found when federal inspectors examined rail lines used to transport crude oil around the country. The defects, which included worn rails, broken bolts, and cracked steel bars, were discovered on 58,000 miles of track across 44 states.
What’s more concerning? Federal regulators also reported that railroad operators routinely failed to correct deficiencies after they were identified, according to the Associated Press.
“All of this is a call for continued vigilance,” said Steven Ditmeyer, a former senior official at the Federal Railroad Administration. “One defect or one violation of the right kind can cause a derailment.”
Over the past decade there have been at least 27 oil train accidents in the U.S. and Canada, including a 2013 derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people. In the U.S., defective fasteners were cited in a 2015 derailment in Montana that resulted in a 27,000 gallon crude oil spill. In 2014, unrepaired steel cracks in Virginia caused 15 cars to derail and burst into flames along the banks of the James River.
As former veteran energy regulator Tony Clark recently wrote, “pipelines remain, by far, the safest means by which to transport [our] energy goods.”
In 2014, North Dakota began permitting discussions for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Now, after over two years of discussion, permitting, and construction Dakota Access is nearing completion.
This 1,172-mile infrastructure project was designed to transport Bakken crude oil to a hub in Patoka, Illinois. There it will be distributed for consumption by Americans across the country. This first critical pipeline infrastructure link to Bakken supply terminals will alleviate much of the strain on North Dakota’s road and rail network. It will also reduce the backlog of crude supply in the Williston Basin by transporting over half a million barrels per day. Many pipelines exist in the Basin today, however, the Dakota Access Pipeline will serve as the first link to North Dakota supply terminals intended to distribute American crude oil to American consumers throughout the country.
Now that construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline is complete, it’s only a matter of time before the line begins transporting crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region to key refining markets.
First announced in 2014, this $3.78 billion infrastructure project has already resulted in countless economic and fiscal benefits for communities throughout the Midwest. Whether it was as big as a multi-million dollar purchase from an American heavy equipment manufacturer like John Deere or a record setting season for a family-owned ice cream store, it is clear that this project made a difference in the lives of many.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline has already meant jobs for thousands of Midwesterners and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens. “Siting, constructing, and operating this pipeline is a testament to the expertise and dedication of community leaders, government officials, engineers, and laborers – all working together to develop and safely transport our nation’s energy resources. Now that the pipeline is operational, it will help fuel our nation’s economy for decades to come.
“We are hopeful that President Trump continues to alleviate regulatory hurdles and uncertainty, allowing our nation’s infrastructure to grow and our manufacturing and agricultural sectors to flourish,” Stevens added.
Environmentally sensitive, economically beneficial, and vital to our nation’s energy future – projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline are critical to creating jobs and strengthening our economy.
Drilling rig operating in North Dakota’s Bakken region.
Oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken region is expected to rise more than 20 percent this year just as the Dakota Access Pipeline comes online. By offering more affordable and diversifying access to key refining markets, the pipeline can help level the playing field between the Bakken and other U.S. shale plays that have benefited from better access to refineries.
Industry analysts like RBN Energy’s Rusty Braziel say the pipeline will cut shipping costs by $3 to $5 per barrel and amount to at least $540 million in annual savings for producers who previously relied on truck and rail to bring oil to market. “Economics for drilling in the Bakken will look better because of DAPL,” said Braziel.
Market players, including Hess Corporation CEO Jon Hess believe the $3.8 billion pipeline will accelerate output in the region, which reached its lowest point in almost three years last December. “We’re back to growth in the Bakken,” Hess said in a recent interview with Reuters, adding that his company this year plans to triple the number of drilling rigs operating in North Dakota.
Hess isn’t the only company beefing up operations. In fact, the drilling rig count in North Dakota has risen 40 percent since the Trump administration gave the final green light for the project and is forecast to jump another 10 percent or more by years end.
This production bump is not only a win for American energy independence, but also for the State of North Dakota which is expected to gain $100 million or more in annual tax revenue, according to a recent Associated Press report.
In recent weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handed down the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe in my home state of North Dakota. The pipeline is just days away from becoming operational. While legal battles will likely continue to be waged, court rulings to date have consistently validated the process that led to approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. As protest camps in the region clear out, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the toll that those activities took on the residents and the environment of North Dakota.
According to the latest reports, clean-up crews have removed as much as 48 million pounds of garbage from the Oceti Sakowin camp, costing taxpayers as much as $1 million. This unprecedented level of negligence stood as a threat to the region’s environment, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state officials intervened and evacuated the camps. With rising temperatures and spring thaws on the way, the refuse could have been washed directly into the Missouri River system. With all the rhetoric about protecting the water, the trash left behind by protestors posed a far more imminent threat to water than the pipelines buried far underneath it. Thankfully, the authorities intervened before more serious damage was done.
Looking beyond Dakota Access to the future of other pipeline infrastructure projects, some key facts merit consideration.
First, for the foreseeable future, residents of the United States will continue to rely on petroleum products such as crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids like butane, ethane and propane to sustain their everyday lives. Second, pipelines remain, by far, the safest means by which to transport those energy goods. Third, the United States continues to work steadily toward the diversification of its energy sources, utilizing energy goods produced here at home and lessening our reliance on energy from volatile regions elsewhere in the world. Fourth, a pressing need for infrastructure remains in growing production regions within the United States – such as the Marcellus, Bakken, and Permian shale regions – to markets within and for export to allies abroad.
Dakota Access, which became a rallying point for tens of thousands of anti-fossil fuel and Native American-rights protesters, is preparing for service, a court filing on Monday showed. Now that the last segment built underneath Lake Oahe has been filled with oil, it’s only a matter of time before the line delivers crude from North Dakota’s once-booming Bakken shale region. That’ll be a boon to drillers there who’ve lost market share amid low oil prices to rivals in Texas and elsewhere with better access to Gulf Coast refineries and terminals.
“No doubt, this makes the Bakken more competitive,” said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise Capital Advisors.
The filing, by Dakota Access’s developer, came just three days after the State Department issued a presidential permit approving the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which when completed would run from Canada into America’s heartland. President Donald Trump’s support of both pipeline projects represents a dramatic reversal from former President Barack Obama’s opposition to them on environmental grounds.
A steady rise in oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken Region is sending local employers looking to fill hundreds of new positions needed to keep up with a growing workload. According to the Fargo Forum, the Job Service North Dakota estimates that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 job openings in northwest North Dakota.
“We need people,” said the manager of the Job Service’s Williston office, Cindy Sanford.
Among those looking to fill positions is oilfield services provider Nuverra Environmental Solutions, which is currently having to turn down work due to a lack of manpower. The company is seeking to hire up to 500 new truck drivers, which according to Bill Milner of Rockwater Energy Solutions, is a position in high demand across the region.
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, noted that the industry may need to get creative in their marketing of new job openings. Ness also stressed that it is important for job seekers to point out that the availability of affordable housing has increased for workers looking to come to the area.
Looking ahead, Daniel Stenberg, economic development coordinator for McKenzie County, said he’s looking to host a job fair in Watford City later this year. “They have plenty of work and not enough employees right now,” Stenberg said.
Completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to fundamentally change the direction of North Dakota oil.
The “interstate highway” for Bakken crude will take barrels off the rail cars headed east-west and take them south to refineries on the Gulf Coast, where experts expect oil producers will find higher prices and lower transportation costs.
“It is going to certainly shake up the existing transportation modes,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
The $3.8 billion, four-state oil pipeline will connect the state’s oil fields to a pipeline in Illinois that leads to refineries in Texas. It could ultimately carry up to 570,000 barrels a day. For months, construction stalled as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies filed legal challenges and protested in southern Morton County, expressing concerns that a leak may contaminate the tribe’s water supply.