Business and Labor Groups Sign Letter to Obama Administration Urging DAPL Completion

A coalition of 22 groups representing business associations and workers including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among others, authored a letter to the Obama Administration that expresses deep concerns over the actions taking place to slow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The letter received coverage in the Washington DC-based political publications The Hill, Politico, Washington Examiner and E&E.

The letter states details the extensive process and permits received by Dakota Access, and criticizes the Administration for upending the regulatory process and ignoring a federal judge’s opinion. According to the letter, these actions by the Obama Administration will do harm far beyond delaying the construction of the project;

“When your agencies upend or modify the results of a full and fair regulatory process for an infrastructure project, these actions do not merely impact a single company. The industries that manufacture and develop the infrastructure, the labor that builds it, and the American consumers that depend on it all suffer.”

The groups urge the Administration to follow the letter of the law, which was met by the company throughout the review and permitting process, and allow construction to continue so that the infrastructure needs of a 21st century economy can move forward.

Labor Groups Pressure Obama on Dakota Access

A coalition of labor groups is again asking President Obama to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed without further delay.

In an Oct. 18 letter, the National Infrastructure Alliance urged the White House, along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Army Secretary Eric Fanning, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to grant an easement for the project to cross beneath Lake Oahe.

“We strongly encourage you to stand up for American workers and American infrastructure by reversing course on your Administration’s extralegal action regarding the Dakota Access Pipe Line, which is sending shock waves through the development community and the membership of our unions,” the letter said.

Furthermore, the alliance characterized the Obama administration’s last-minute intervention in the project as “deeply unsettling” and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent for future proposals.

“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to halt a project for an indefinite period of time, using the leverage that the federal government possesses with regard to its easement on Corps property, is unprecedented and without comparison,” wrote Executive Director Raymond Poupore.

The alliance represents four of the nation’s top construction: the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers’ International Union of North America; and International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.

Earlier this month, two separate coalitions of labor groups and energy supply chain organizations also wrote to Obama in support of Dakota Access and the thousands of men and women currently employed by the project.

Dakota Access Delays Could Limit Future Infrastructure Investment

In a new opinion piece, Jack Rafuse, a former White House energy advisor, made clear that the Obama administration’s decision to continue delaying the Dakota Access Pipeline could greatly limit future private investment in nation’s already crumbling infrastructure. According to Rafuse, a decision to deny the project after it has been largely completed would set a dangerous precedent and signal an end to the rule of law.

Private companies do not spend large amounts of time and money frivolously.  They identify a need, conceive a solution, and then establish a goal for attaining it.  They study.  They plan.  They commit to years of regulatory hearings, testimony, proceedings, and detailed reports by the company and by federal, state and local officials.  Only after all those steps have been taken do the private companies commit, and with years to go before ultimate clearances are granted, do they commit.

Furthermore, Rafuse outlined the exhaustive 800-plus day review that the project underwent and the hundreds of consultations that took place between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 55 different Native American tribes.

Although Dakota Access was ultimately green-lighted by the applicable agencies of four separate states as well as the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it received those approvals only after a painstaking review process that included continuous consultation with Native American tribes, as well as the verification by three independent sources – USACE (which held 389 meetings with 55 tribes), a federal judge, and the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (and its Chief Archaeologist, Paul Picha) – that the pipeline’s route near the protest site in North Dakota does not infringe upon any areas of cultural significance.

In addition, Rafuse notes that Dakota Access has already invested more than $1.6 billion in the pipeline and currently supports upwards of 8,000 jobs.

Click here to read Dr. Rafuse’s full piece in Real Clear Energy.

Dakota Access Likely to be Safest Pipeline in State

In the worst-case scenario, a leak from the Dakota Access pipeline would release 19,000 barrels — about 800,000 gallons — of oil at a location near Williston. That is the maximum release on the North Dakota part of the 1,172-mile line, according to an analysis Dakota Access was required to complete as part of its permit application with the Public Service Commission.

MAIN Responds to Sen. Sanders’ Call to Halt Dakota Access Construction

Earlier today U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and four other Democratic senators asked President Obama to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and order that a full environmental review be completed. In a statement, MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens challenged the request, noting that the project has already been fully vetted and approved by both the federal government and four state regulatory agencies.

There is no legitimate reason, whatsoever, for the federal government to request another environmental study for the Dakota Access Pipeline – to do so is nothing more than a ploy to kill the project by unnecessary and undetermined delay.

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been fully vetted and approved by four states and the federal government pursuant to dozens of state and federal regulations including environmental regulations. Two federal courts have ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers met its obligations under the law – and in many cases went beyond the letter of the law to meet the spirit and intent of the legislation. Additionally, the Corps and Dakota Access, LLC, met with thousands of concerned citizens and groups over the past two years to ensure the pipeline traversed the safest, most sensible route.

The nation is watching this administrative decision: Will the administration respect the rule of law, the regulatory process, and the engineers who did their jobs or will the administration make a decision based on a political preference?  If the decision ignores the regulatory process it will have a chilling effect on future private infrastructure development and threaten American jobs.

The MAIN Coalition remains hopeful that administrative actions and judicial decisions will be based on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law that leads to the completion and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline without further delay.

Dakota Access Parent Company Tops List of ‘Investment Heroes’

A new report released by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) shows that Energy Transfer Equity—the Dallas-based parent company of Dakota Access—invested more than $9.3 billion in the United States last year.

Started in 2012, PPI’s “Investment Heroes” report provides an annual ranking of American companies that are making substantial capital investments and improving the national economy in the process. In its latest ranking, PPI outlined 25 firms that collectively spent nearly $177 billion on long-term domestic investments in buildings, equipment, and software.

“To understand which companies are betting on America’s future today, we rank the top 25 companies by their estimated domestic investment in their most recent fiscal year.”

Ranked fourth on the list, ETE stands out as leader in private energy infrastructure development by providing the means to safely move oil and gas resources utilizing private capital for investments rather than placing the burden on American taxpayers.

“This year, as in the previous four years, AT&T is the leading company on our list, having invested an estimated $18.7 billion in the United States in 2015. Next on the list is Verizon, with an estimated $16.5 billion in domestic capital spending, followed by Exxon Mobil, Energy Transfer Partners, Chevron, Walmart, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.”

For too long America has failed to make essential investments in national infrastructure which will hinder economic progress in the 21st century. The companies outlined as 2016 Investment Heroes are betting on America’s future and making the necessary investments right now—like the Dakota Access Pipeline—that will provide the foundation for new growth in our national economy for decades to come.

PSC Commissioner: Permitting Process Validated By Court Ruling

North Dakota Public Service Commission chairwomen Julie Fedorchak weighed in on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s legal challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline during an interview with Bismarck NBC affiliate KFYR-TV.

Fedorchak, who oversaw the state’s 13 month review of the project, said she feels the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to deny an injunction further validates the permitting process.

On the protests, Fedorchak said that many of the concerns expressed by Standing Rock have been addressed and urged activists to pack up their camp on the banks of Lake Oahe.

“These protests have run their course, they made their point. A lot of the issues that they’re concerned about have been addressed and dealt with. And that, that these protesters should pull up their camp and move on and let law enforcement and the school children in that area and the businesses in that area and everyone in that area go back to life as normal,” said Fedorchak.

Fedorchak’s comments echo those of many others in recent weeks, including U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg who noted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extensive efforts to accommodate tribal concerns.

MAIN Coalition Statement Regarding Court Ruling, Tribal Consultations

Today, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens released the following statement discussing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to deny the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s injunction request as well as this evening’s tribal listening session in Phoenix, AZ:

There is no reasonable reason for the federal government to continue its delay of the necessary easement to allow for the ultimate completion and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access, LLC, have labored for more than two years, meeting with hundreds – if not thousands – of individuals and groups to plot out the safest, most sensible route for the pipeline.

The 1,172 mile pipeline has been approved by four states and the federal government and has received all necessary permits and easements, except for the mere formality of an easement for approximately 1,100 feet abutting and under Lake Oahe which would parallel an existing natural gas pipeline and which has already been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

It is nearly 60 percent built and supports more than 8,000 jobs, at a cost of more than $1.6 billion so far.  And, once operational, it will be among the most technologically advanced pipelines in the world.

Now, two courts have agreed that the Army Corps followed the letter of the law: first Judge Boasberg in his initial decision and then the Appellate Court in its order.  Additionally, considering the painstaking review and accommodations that were made on the final pipeline route, we would argue that the Corps and company followed the spirit of the law and the intent of the lawmakers.

We recognize the importance of consulting with all interested parties and applaud the government for holding its meetings with tribal leaders to discuss appropriate processes for future projects.  However, the government cannot reasonably say that any disagreement equates to a veto.  If that becomes the standard then no infrastructure project of consequence will ever again be completed in this country.

Our nation is a nation of laws which includes regulations that were written to facilitate life in a civilized society.  Regulations are intentionally apolitical to allow businesses and individuals to live with certain rules and expectations outside the bounds of political discourse.  If we can no longer rely on the certitude of duly passed and implemented laws and regulations, it could ultimately lead to chaos; or, at the very least, an understandable confusion among American business leaders and citizens as to which laws and regulations are meaningful and which can be ignored.

The last administrative action on the final 1,100 feet of the Dakota Access Pipeline now rests with the Obama Administration.  We hope and expect that they do the right thing: issue the easement for construction under Lake Oahe without further delay.  To do otherwise would undermine our nation’s regulatory regime and chill American infrastructure development, costing Americans their jobs and, ultimately, our nation its progress.