In the Midwest, we know firsthand that the path to market is almost as important as the crops that we grow and the goods that we make – we can’t have one without the other.
The dramatic increase in crude oil production in North Dakota has created unprecedented economic opportunity in our region, but it’s also caused serious transportation strains for our producers, who have long relied on the roads and rails to move their goods to consumers. As crude oil production has grown, the number of railcars available to transport agricultural products has decreased. This has led to drastically increased shipping costs, lengthy delays at elevators and points of delivery, and a damaged bottom line for farmers throughout the region.
Tariffs on grain railcars have increased from $50 to nearly $1,400 per car. These cost increases can carve up to $1.00 from every bushel of corn or grain shipped. A North Dakota State University study found in 2014 that increased rail costs and congestion stand to cost grain farmers in North Dakota alone more than $160 million.
Making the decision to move oil by pipe instead of rail will alleviate 4 to 7 unit trains per day and help ease transportation shortages for agriculture and other industries. Getting this crude oil into a state-of-the-art pipeline and off of our roads and rails will alleviate congestion, free up capacity, and enable farmers to regain unfettered access to the methods of transportation that best fit their business.
As demand increases, there is no denying that the crude oil from the Bakken will be moving through our communities by rail, road, or pipe, but we do have a choice to determine how it will be transported.
The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, for many of us our land is not only our livelihood, but also our heritage, history, and what we intend to leave behind for future generations.
Pipelines are the tried and tested method used to transport over 70 percent of crude oil and petroleum products across our country. They are the safest, most efficient option, and a solution that just makes sense for a region like ours. Pipelines could free up freight capacity to transport cattle, crops and manufactured goods to market, easing the financial costs of shipping agricultural products.