President Obama’s announcement that his Administration was looking into possible “re-routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a deeply troubling, unprecedented step not just for this pipeline project but for all future American infrastructure projects. No private company would spend the resources necessary to build a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project if there was a real risk that the federal government would halt or re-route their project once it was already more than 70% completed and approved by five governmental agencies – both state and federal.
As the nation watches protests over the Dakota Access pipeline escalate and turn violent, Americans are beginning to ask questions.
As cases of theft, trespassing, vandalism and dead and mutilated livestock in the area continue to mount, why is the federal government standing by and allowing this chaos to unfold; and why are they so unconcerned with the impact the protesters are having on local ranchers and their livestock?
The latter question is easy to answer. After successfully navigating the exhaustive federal environmental review process known as NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act, the Dakota Access pipeline was approved and moving forward, only to run into the buzzsaw of offensive environmental litigation.
Earlier this week, the governors of Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adhere to the regulatory process and issue the final easement necessary to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In the Oct. 25 letter, the three governors highlighted that more than 96 percent of the 1,172 mile infrastructure project has already been thoroughly vetted and approved by state utility regulators. Furthermore, the governors noted that Dakota Access has satisfied all of the established federal requirements needed to move forward.
“As governors of three states which the Dakota Access Pipeline route crosses – Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota we write to you today to ask the United States Army Corps of Engineers to adhere to the process which was in place when this project began as you make the decision to issue the final federal easement required for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota,” the governors wrote
They went on to caution that further delays will likely result in negative impacts to their states and the region. “Construction delays will negatively impact landowners and farmers who will risk having multiple growing seasons impacted by construction activities,” they wrote. It is in the best interest of all parties to mitigate any further negative impacts.”
The letter—signed by Govs. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota—is the latest of in a series of recent high-profile calls for the Army Corps and the Obama administration to allow this critical infrastructure project to be completed.
A few years ago an independent study found that construction of the pipeline in Iowa would amount to $628 million in direct economic benefits while also generating millions in added sales and property taxes. These numbers seemed impressive on paper, but today, the tangible impact they are having is nothing short of extraordinary.
In fact, a recent article published by the Sioux City Journal highlighted just how the $3.8 billion project is making a difference in communities across Northwest Iowa. For many, the impact of the project was felt not long after construction began with workers and their families delivering local businesses an entirely new customer base.
“It’s always hard to gauge the direct economic impact, but you can see those people around,” said Curt Strouth of the Sheldon, Iowa, Chamber and Development Corp. “We definitely noticed the workforce that came through. It’s been a definite influx.”
Similarly, Lyon County Development director Steve Simmons says the influx of pipeline workers has benefited small businesses in the county. “They did see a nice bump in business during the construction process,” Simons said.
In Buena Vista County, Gary Lalone, executive director of Storm Lake United, echoed both Simmons and Strouth. “I know our campground is full. I know a lot of those people, when they come off of work, are in our restaurants and bars,” he said.
This is not the first story we’ve read about the positive contribution the Dakota Access Pipeline is making in communities across the Midwest, but it is a good reminder that, despite the constant flow of political rhetoric, this project is quietly helping others succeed.
MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens discussed the benefits of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the ongoing protests in North Dakota with Dennis Lindahl on 1090 KTGO-AM’s “The Morning Lowdown.”
MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens participated in a panel discussion on the Dakota Access Pipeline held Monday night at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
The forum, co-sponsored SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Maguire Energy Institute, featured a six-person panel representing a range of backgrounds, including Stevens and Dr. Tayeb Benchaita, a Houston-based engineering consultant.
While some participants sought to drive an emotion filled dialogue, Stevens and Benchaita focused on the underlying facts of the case.
— Jeffrey Weiss (@Jeffreyweissdmn) October 24, 2016
“Pipelines are the safest form of transportation,” said Dr. Benchaita. “It’s cheap. It’s affordable.”
Furthermore, the duo highlighted that pipelines are much safer than trains and trucks and that Dakota Access strengthens national energy interests, while providing thousands of jobs and millions in local economic stimulus.
To hear environmental activists tell it, the Dakota Access Pipeline Project has run roughshod over Native American rights, heritage — and objections. But to hear the federal judge presiding over the case tell it, the company building the pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been both diligent and respectful in their efforts to address Native American concerns. I’m with the judge on this one.
In North Dakota, winter is coming. This has been a reason to push for more funding for the 700-some protesters remaining at the Standing Rock Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The group, which first gathered in April to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, is increasing its calls for aid as the weather gets colder. The calls for supplies come even after the group has received millions of dollars of donations online, as well as donated supplies from a variety of groups.
According to your article, the anti pipeline protesters camping out in North Dakota seem to be having a great time [What’s next for anti-pipeline camp? Oct. 16] Free food and shelter in a Woodstock-like environment, with their parents probably paying their way. We need to get some bands up there like the Grateful Dead, along with a large cargo container of free condoms. There must be a taxpayer-funded program for that. Continue reading…
The walk to get to dinner or a movie in downtown Cherokee has gotten a little longer since late spring, when parking became harder to come by. With a number of construction workers involved with the Dakota Access oil pipeline and other major projects taking up temporary residence here, businesses in Cherokee and other Northwest Iowa cities and towns are seeing a healthy revenue boost. “In the evenings, there are very few parking spots available,” Cherokee city manager Sam Kooiker said. “There are a lot of people downtown in the evenings. It’s been exciting.”