In some communities along the Dakota Access Pipeline route, the economic benefits associated with construction activities have already begun to stimulate local economies.
A report from WLDS-AM in Jacksonville, Illinois describes a scenario of hotels and campsites filled to capacity as workers convene to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline, Ameren Rivers electric transmission line, and the Meredosia bridge project in West Central Illinois.
“The downside to it, is our hotels have been so full, some of them are actually turning away some of the business, where they might have a room here or there, but with all the other projects going on in the area, and with our weekend events, with baseball going on as well and wedding and reunions, we’ve been full on the weekends, too, says Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Brittany Henry. “It offers more 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.”
We’ve long talked about these benefits and now they are finally beginning to show up along the route as businesses open their doors to an entirely new customer base. We can only hope these benefits will be open to everyone along the pipeline route very soon!
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.
The Board previously approved a state construction permit for the project back in March, but had not yet issued a decision for construction to proceed. This was a result of the continued delay of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permits that govern some of the water crossings along the pipeline route. Those permits remain outstanding, and the areas under Corps jurisdiction will not be addressed by the IUB order to begin construction.
Board members Libby Jacobs and Nick Wagner said they believed that by allowing work to commence on the route would be in compliance with the March order which granted the state permit for the project. Authorizing construction “would seem to be the next logical step,” Jacobs said.
The order is expected later this week and will be signed by the board.
Construction has begun on the Dakota Access Pipeline bringing both employment opportunities and economic benefits to North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois. However, Iowa still does not have any construction activity underway despite approval of the project by the Iowa Utilities Board.
The Iowa Utilities Board declined to act earlier this week on a request from Dakota Access to begin construction on Iowa land not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Now with the other states beginning construction it’s time for Iowa to do the same. The approval of the Corps of Engineers is important but it should not delay construction on lands that are under the jurisdiction of the Board, which has already approved the project.
Iowa workers need these jobs, and Iowa farmers are on a timetable to ensure that construction takes place during one growing season. We urge the Iowa Utilities Board to grant permission for construction immediately.
These types of delays, simply put, are hurtful to our region’s agricultural community. If construction continues to be delayed then farmers will risk inclement late fall weather, which could make continuing construction impossible. That would mean this project, intended to only take one growing season, could be pushed into a second in order to avoid winter construction.
Though these opposition groups state they are attempting to protect the land in reality these last ditch efforts to stop the pipeline, which has already been approved by four states, are actually risking hurting the land. Our coalition believes that the best way to ensure that the land is protected, is to make sure that necessary infrastructure is constructed in a timely manner. Stymying the efforts of the Corps of Engineers by demanding another environmental review is to the detriment of those who live on and work the land where the pipeline will be constructed, and is far too great a price to pay.