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.
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.
A recent opinion piece in The Hill, a DC-based publication, noted that traditionally when politicians call for updating our nation’s infrastructure it is usually comes at the expense of the taxpayer. Robin Rorick, Director of midstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute explains that doesn’t always have to be the case – at least it isn’t when it comes to our country’s pipeline infrastructure.
In the piece Rorick notes, “We all notice infrastructure needs when we drive over a pothole or get stuck in traffic back-ups caused by the latest bridge repair. But flipping a light switch, turning up the thermostat, gassing up the car – and, crucially, what we pay for these essentials – also rely on infrastructure. The difference is, updating energy transportation infrastructure promises major economic gains without costing a dime of consumers’ tax dollars.”
And, as we’ve often pointed out, it’s infrastructure that is still lacking. Even with nearly 200,000 miles of petroleum pipelines crossing the country, there is still a significant shortage in pipeline infrastructure connecting our new found regions of production to areas where it will be refined and consumed.
Dakota Access is an important part of making those connections because it will benefit consumers in our own region, as well as spur economic development in the production areas. And at no cost to the taxpayer, it’s certainly a responsible investment.
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.
Gasoline prices will be at an 11-year low for drivers on the road this Memorial Day weekend. Surging domestic oil and gas production in areas like North Dakota’s Bakken Region have drastically reduced the cost of energy for Americans across the nation. Just a few years ago American drivers were paying almost $4.00 a gallon at the pump, nearly double the current national average of $2.29 per gallon.
While increased production has undoubtedly been the leading driver behind the price tumble, the expansion of our nation’s pipeline infrastructure has also played a key role. Previously untapped resources now fueling America’s energy boom are located in regions that have historically not been known as production hubs. The buildout of critical pipeline infrastructure has and will continue to be key to transporting these resources to markets and thus ensuring the supply of low-cost energy.
The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which would ship oil from North Dakota to Illinois promises to solidify the Bakken Region as a reliable supplier of U.S. energy needs. Investing in pivotal projects like this today, will ensure that the benefits of affordable energy felt today will remain in the long-term.
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.
This week, a diverse coalition of over 100 organizations has come together to promote the importance of America’s infrastructure. Our national infrastructure has seen better days, but because of efforts like Infrastructure Week, we are now moving forward with many of the critical investments needed for the 21st Century.
Though roads and bridges often come to mind when you first think of infrastructure, they represent only a small piece of the puzzle. A reliable energy supply is a critically important to the American way of life.
To meet this need, America depends on an extensive network of pipelines capable of transporting the energy resources essential to our everyday lives. The ability to heat our homes, power our cars, and enjoy the convenience of a many consumer goods all stems from the availability of the petroleum resources delivered by pipeline infrastructure.
In recent years, the American energy boom has reasserted the importance of the critical pipeline infrastructure necessary to unlocking the full potential of energy independence. Previously untapped domestic oil and gas reserves like the Bakken and Three Forks formations in North Dakota are already redefining our economy, providing a reliable supply of affordable energy to homes and businesses across the country.
While we have made great strides in investing in domestic energy infrastructure, there is still work to be done. Proposed projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will transport oil from the Bakken region to markets around the country via Illinois, are key to ensuring the benefits of American energy are here to stay.
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.