Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is now well underway in Iowa following a greenlight by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) in June. As a result, more than 3,000 new jobs have now been created in communities across the Hawkeye State, including upwards of 450 Operators from Des Moines-based Local 234. Speaking with ABC affiliate WOI-TV earlier this summer, Local 234 Vice President Chad Carter praised the IUB for their decision, saying it would out many hard-working Iowans to work.
The pipeline, which represents a $1.04 billion capital investment in Iowa alone, is expected to generate almost $50 million in additional sales and income taxes during construction. In addition, local economies and small businesses along the four-state route are already benefiting from a surge in new customers that have come to work on the pipeline. Family-owned Scoopz Ice Cream & Eatery in Linton, ND is witnessing these benefits firsthand with record sales on over 46 gallons of ice cream a week. “We’ve just met a lot of really nice, wonderful people from all over the U.S. and it’s just made our first year a huge success and very fulfilling to be a new business owner,” says Cindy Zotti, Scoopz owner.
All that said, the project is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross a mere 3.5 percent of the entire route. Despite having almost 500 days to evaluate Dakota Access’s application, the Army Corps continues to drag their feet in a textbook display of Washington bureaucracy. It is time for the them to follow the lead of four state utility boards and approve this critical investment in our local economies and national energy future.
A roundup of editorial commentary shows widespread support for the Dakota Access Pipeline following last week’s decision by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to allow work to finally begin.
Writing in the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein thanked the board members who voted in favor of allowing construction to begin on this important infrastructure project. “The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) recently made their decision to approve construction on this important infrastructure project, so that Iowa can receive the economic benefits that our neighbors have experienced for the past two months,” he wrote.
Similarly, a letter to the editor published in the Newton Daily News by IUOE Local 234 member Will Chedester commended board members Libby Jacobs and Nick Wagner for their supportive votes. Their “leadership reflects the kind of energy policy I hope to see more of in Iowa,” Chedester said.
Echoing both Chedester and Wiederstein was Donald Martinache of Monroe, who reiterated the importance of the project in a Des Moines Register opinion piece. “Regardless of politics, the Dakota Access project represents a major energy infrastructure initiative, one that is overdue and necessary to relieve the stress on our railroads and highways,” he said. Adding that, “Construction of this pipeline will send a signal that energy producers are ready to invest in our nation’s energy security and the energy resources essential to keeping our economy dynamic and growing.”
Despite the fact that construction is now underway in all four states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to be the source of a never-ending bureaucratic logjam. “It is critical that the Corps of Engineers approves these permits as soon as possible. Right now, we are all witness to the grinding gears bureaucracy,” said Wiederstein. According to the most recent IUB meeting the Corps was scheduled to release the final outstanding permits today, June 16th, but whether they hold true to their words remains to be seen.
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) took to the opinion pages this past weekend to emphasize the importance of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The narrative—published in the Illinois State Journal-Register—notes that the pipeline has been approved by all four states, but is still awaiting final signoff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
This critical energy infrastructure project has already been approved on its merits by four state regulatory boards. Each of the state agencies has indicated that the benefits of the project not only outweigh the costs, but will improve the quality of energy access to the residents of those states. These regulatory bodies reviewed hundreds of pages of testimony and comments from affected communities, including environmental and cultural experts.
The permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the last outstanding approvals. Yet rather than accept the outcome, some opponents have requested the intercession of the federal government into the review process by pressuring the Corps. They have requested this intervention despite the state reviews and the fact the Corps district office has already determined the project would not cause significant environmental harm.
Furthermore, O’Sullivan goes on to stress the exemplary qualifications of the LiUNA members working on the project, say that they are, “among the most skilled and highly trained construction crafts workers in the world.” O’Sullivan said that projects like Dakota Access represent more than just an investment in our infrastructure, but also a way of life for thousands of workers who rely on them as a source of income.
Projects like the Dakota Access are more than just pipelines — they are lifelines that will help workers practice their craft through the thousands of good, family-supporting jobs the project will create. The project is forecast to have a $5 billion positive economic impact, including nearly $200 million in payments to landowners and $1.9 billion in wages, including $303 million in wages in Illinois.
O’Sullivan concludes by reiterating his call for the Army Crops review process to remain independent and outside the sphere of influence of those second guessing the project. “It is destructive to pressure the Corps to cater to the whims of environmental elites,” he wrote. “That is not what Illinois or our country needs.”
Click here to read Terry O’Sullivan’s full opinion piece in the Illinois State Journal-Register.
On Monday, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) cleared the way for construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline to begin in Iowa. “The Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now fervently believes that it is in the best interest of the people of Iowa that this pipeline begin construction as soon as possible on all lands under jurisdiction of the Iowa Utilities Board,” said MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein following the decision. “We hope that a favorable decision by the Corps of Engineers will follow and that construction can soon take place on the entirety of the route.”
Speaking with local ABC affiliate WOI, Chad Carter, vice president of Operating Engineers Local 234 praised the decision by regulators to allow the project to move forward. “This has been a long time coming and we are very pleased,” he said, noting that the project will put over 900 people to work in Iowa, including upwards of 450 from Local 234.
To date, construction on the project has already begun in Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota where local communities and economies are already feeling the positive impact of critical investment. In fact, Jacksonville, IL-based 1180 WLDS-AM reported over the weekend that business was booming in the western part of the state as local hotel and lodging establishments work to accommodate the infulx of construction workers. “It [Dakota Access] offers employment, with our lodging facilities being more full, that offers more employment opportunities in the area. Whether that’s indirect or direct, that’s more business coming into the Jacksonville area,” said Brittany Henry, executive director of the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In granting permission to begin construction, the IUB has unlocked thousands of new jobs for hardworking Iowans and provided the agricultural community a timeline limited to one growing season. Soon, stories of thriving local economies will not just be a distant news article, but a reality for communities across Iowa. As a coalition, we applaud the IUB for making the right decision and look forward to seeing the many benefits of this project come to fruition in the Hawkeye State.
The Dakota Access pipeline was approved by state bodies in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois after more than 500 days of scrutiny, hundreds of hours of expert testimony, and 32 public meetings and hearings. This includes the North Dakota Public Service Commission, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, Iowa Utilities Board, and Illinois Commerce Commission who have all taken into account public and expert opinion in addition to multiple filings from Dakota Access, the states, and individual landowners.
But bureaucrats at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are delaying construction because of permits on only 3.5% of the total length of the pipeline route, even though the corps has spent more than 15 months on its review. Dakota Access has requested federal permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for water body crossings, as well as permission required by Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. This would allow construction to take place on 37 miles of land along the entire project corridor.
Utility boards in all four states have already issued permits for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in their states.
At today’s Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) meeting the Board Members received an update on the progress of permitting for the Dakota Access Pipeline. What remains for the Board to decide is whether or not construction can begin in areas that are under Board jurisdiction even if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not issued a permit for their areas of jurisdiction.
According to coverage in the Des Moines Register, “The state board didn’t set a date to make a decision, but it could meet as soon as Friday to issue an order to approve or deny the Dakota Access request.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still conducting reviews for federal permits on waterway crossings along the 346-miles of the pipeline route that runs through Iowa, but the federal permit areas only account for 2.5 percent of the entire Iowa portion of the route.
It’s imperative that the Board makes this decision to allow construction to begin where the corps does not have jurisdiction, as they already ruled that the project would move forward in Iowa. As we continue to move later into the calendar year, we risk construction delays that could push construction up against the winter season and the first frost. That would make separation of soil much more difficult, a key point of contention during the review process. We urge the IUB to allow Dakota Access to begin construction on private lands so that this pipeline project will not adversely affect our agricultural communities for an extended period of time.
Yesterday, Dakota Access Pipeline announced that it has secured voluntary easements with nearly 96 percent of properties along the pipeline’s four-state route. That number was even higher in North and South Dakota where the company revealed that it has successfully reached agreements with 100 percent of landowners. Dakota Access says it will continue to negotiate easements as it prepares to commence construction of the $3.7 billion, 1,168-mile pipeline project.
During construction, Dakota Access will employ upwards of 12,000 skilled tradesmen from union halls around the region with many communities along the pipeline’s route already preparing for the coming economic boon that will accompany the construction phase of the project. Area retailers, hotel and lodging providers, restaurants, and other small businesses will benefit from a spike in purchases while local governments gain additional sales tax revenue. Once completed, the pipeline will continue to generate state property taxes necessary to support schools, hospitals, and other essential services.
To date, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been approved but utility boards and other relevant regulatory agencies in all four states—Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota—along the route. The project is currently awaiting its final permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which has jurisdiction of a mere 3.5 percent of the route or approximately 37 miles out of 1,168.
MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein has recently joined other members in calling for an expedient approval of the outstanding permit, including writing to President Obama last month, as noted by the Des Moines Register:
“With a diverse array of backgrounds and interests in our organizations, we are motivated to ensure that this project is authorized and permitted as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity for working people throughout the Midwest to construct this important infrastructure project and to limit the impact on the farmers whose land this pipeline will cross.”
With the number of voluntary easements continuing to grow it is clear that the time has come to make this critical addition to our national energy infrastructure a reality.
MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein sat down with 1550 KIWA-AM radio last week to discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline and what he and fellow coalition members are doing to advocate for its timely construction.
Wiederstein, who signed a joint letter to President Obama on the project last month, said he was pleased with the decision by the Iowa Utilities Board to reject a request for a rehearing on the pipeline permit. “I’m sure it’s just a stalling tactic on the part of the opposition that doesn’t like the pipeline for whatever reason,” Wiederstein said. “Really, let’s get on with it. If it’s going to be built, let’s try to build it in one season. We’re almost to the point now where that might be kind of difficult.”
He went on to discuss the outstanding permit the project is still awaiting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which has jurisdiction of a mere 3.5 percent of the pipeline’s route. “I hope the Army Corps has some common sense because surely they’ve been looking at this well before this point,” Wiederstein said. “I think they know what they want to do but maybe they for-show have to do something but it really needs to get going.” Utility regulators in all four states – Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have already approved the project.
Talking about the benefits of the project, Wiederstein said, “It’s an infrastructure project and in essence, it’s a highway. If we were redoing Interstate 80, that would be a great interruption for a lot of people and this is the same way. It’s just as important as Interstate 80 and instead of transporting cars, we’re transporting fuel.”
We invite you to listen to Wiederstein full interview at kiwaradio.com.
This week, MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein and Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber—a member of the MAIN Coalition—had a series of thoughtful opinion pieces published in a collection of media outlets across the Midwest.
Wiederstein and Peterson, both respected leaders in our local business and agricultural communities, made convincing arguments that partisan politics and special interests have no place in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s criteria-based assessment of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Environmental groups opposed to all forms of energy and infrastructure projects have urged members of the federal government to call into question previous engineering and environmental decisions made by the Army Corps. … But now the Corps is being asked by individuals within the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior to re-review its previous decision, because of the prodding by these special interest groups and despite the fact the decisions already have been made in conjunction with an environmental study from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Furthermore, Wiederstein and Peterson, who were signatories to a recent letter submitted to President Obama on this matter, emphasized that further delays threaten to extend the construction timeline into two growing seasons and hold hostage tens of thousands of jobs. Clint Walker, a member of IUOE Local 234 echoed these concerns in a letter to the editor published in the Newton Daily News, saying:
Iowa’s farmers should have the least impact as possible on their agricultural cycles, regardless if the pipeline crosses their land or not. My brothers and I want to get the job done right the first time, and that means we should be starting work as soon as possible.
If it’s a job that can be done safely in less than a calendar year, then it should be. Delays on this project mean lost revenues for farmers, and that is something we should avoid at all costs.
The mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dates back to the founding of our nation and has provided the framework for landmark infrastructure projects like the Continental Railroad and Golden Gate Bridge. There is no denying the support for the Dakota Access Pipeline in communities across the region despite a vocal minority who would rather dismantle our national institutions than seen any benefit of this critical project.
MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein published a compelling opinion piece in the Des Moines Register over the weekend urging President Obama to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill their duties in reviewing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Days earlier, Wiederstein, along with other coalition members sent a letter to the White House stressing the importance of this critical investment.
Wiederstein echoed the letter to President Obama in his writing over the weekend, noting that “it now appears that a seemingly straightforward engineering and environmental impact decision has been delayed by special interests in politics,” adding that, “Environmental groups opposed to all forms of energy and infrastructure projects have urged members of the federal government to call into question previous engineering and environmental decisions made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
The piece goes on to point out the diverse group of businesses and organizations that make up the MAIN Coalition and recognize the importance of expanding much needed energy infrastructure.
“With a diverse array of backgrounds and interests in our organizations, we are motivated to ensure that this project is authorized and permitted as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity for working people throughout the Midwest to construct this important infrastructure project and to limit the impact on the farmers whose land this pipeline will cross,” said Wiederstein
In conclusion, Wiederstein reiterated the need for the expedient approval of this pipeline project so that thousands may begin work and the impact to farmers is restricted to a one growing season. “Finding no reason to oppose, this project was approved and determined to be in the public interest. We urge the federal government to allow the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to do the same, in order to advance this critically important project for our region,” he said.