Local Voices Matter in the Dakota Access Discussion Too

In an opinion piece published in The Hill by Bill Gerhard president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council and Dawna Leitzke, executive director for the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association, the authors point out that for more than two years many people within the states where Dakota Access is being constructed have actually supported the project.

In the piece Mr. Gerhard and Ms. Leitzke write: “In recent weeks, a growing amount of media attention has been focused on the ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Reports of trespassing, arson, and attempted murder are deeply troubling. Equally worrisome is the protest’s rapid spreading from North Dakota into South Dakota, Iowa and other states – a trend that promises only to grow unless law and order are restored to the region.  Unfortunately, the voices of those who live in the states where the pipeline is being constructed are not being heard, which is why we’d like to share our perspective.”

We’ve noted the presence of anti-development activists before among the protesters at Standing Rock, and often it’s their activities that the media covers.

Local voices matter too, public support and a need for this project led to the Dakota Access Pipeline’s approval by four separate state utility regulators.

Local Economies Flourish As Pipeline Construction Nears End

A new column co-authored by Ed Wiederstein, chairman of the MAIN Coalition, and Bill Gerhard, president of the Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council, makes it abundantly clear that the Dakota Access Pipeline is benefiting the Iowa economy.

“Throughout Iowa work continues on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and already the long-touted benefits are being felt from Lyon County to Lee County. From the beginning we’ve touted the benefits and supported its construction because of the good it will do for our state — and now, with the project more than three quarters of the way complete in Iowa — we continue to see the many benefits we have extolled over the past two years.”

Wiederstein and Gerhard have been strong advocates for the landmark energy infrastructure project, often citing the thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity it will generate. But now, as evident in communities across Iowa, the case no longer has to be made, the benefits are here and they’re making a difference.

““The 4,000 construction jobs being generated along the 348 miles of pipeline represent a direct cash infusion into local economies in each county along the pipeline route. Recently, the Sioux City Journal wrote, ‘It’s not easy to put an exact dollar amount on the economic impact of the pipeline construction, local leaders say, but it’s not hard to find evidence that those workers are spending money in the area.’”

The influx of pipeline workers has meant restaurants, hotels, convenience stores and laundry facilities remain busy and close to capacity. That’s good news for business owners and the local economy, results that were consistently alluded to throughout 18 open houses across Iowa as well as during the Iowa Utilities Board hearings in November and December of 2015. Iowa stands to benefit from this pipeline from the construction phase through its operation.”

Wiederstein and Gerhard also note that unlike many large infrastructure projects, Dakota Access, despite being a public benefit, comes at no cost to taxpayers. “Large public infrastructure investments often come at a significant cost to state taxpayers, who are left holding the bag when road crews have finished rebuilding bridges or repaving highways,” they wrote. “But private infrastructure investments like the Dakota Access Pipeline do no such thing.”

Click here to read the full column in the Des Moines Register.

Dakota Access Supporters Rally In Front of IUB

Members of the MAIN Coalition along with members of craft trade unions rallied in front of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today to express their support for the project ahead of an emergency hearing.

The supporters have come together to protest the unnecessary additional review of the project which has already been fully approved and permitted by four state regulatory bodies, including the IUB, and the federal government.

The MAIN Coalition’s Chairman, Ed Wiederstein, stated the following:

The MAIN Coalition is dismayed the opponents of this project are once again trying to stop a lawfully approved project that is already employing thousands of Iowans, and will bring benefits to our state for years to come. It is completely ludicrous the Dakota Access Pipeline will once again be brought to the Iowa Utilities Board for review.
This project was reviewed under the laws of the State of Iowa for the better part of a year and a half. The IUB should stand by their decision earlier this year and allow for the full authority and construction of the project. 
Opponents of Dakota Access want to keep changing the rules after a decision has been made. This sends a terrible signal to any business or industry wanting to build or relocate to Iowa; what business would invest tens of millions of dollars in jobs and infrastructure only to have regulators have a change of mind a year later?
Iowans of our state deserve well-paying jobs, safe energy infrastructure, and the opportunity for a significant investment in our future. The Dakota Access Pipeline should remain approved and construction should continue.

Bill Gerhard, President of the Iowa State Building and Constructions Trade Council, issued the following statement: 

The last ditch efforts by opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens to kill the jobs of thousands of Iowans. It is completely selfish of these individuals to threaten an entire workforce with termination solely because they want to throw a wrench in the regulatory system. Construction should be allowed to take place, as it was before, because the letter of the law was followed and this project was approved by the State of Iowa. The rest of Iowa gets it and wants to move forward.

Mike Ralston, President of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, stated the following:  

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry is disappointed this matter is once again being brought before the Iowa Utilities Board. This project has already been approved – the Dakota Access Pipeline should proceed with construction as it was lawfully permitted to do months ago. These final efforts of opponents to this project are a sad attempt to once again to take people out of work and deny the people of this state affordable energy.