The living room window of Brian and Becky Stover’s 100-year-old farmhouse affords an unfettered view of a maligned and daunting neighbor across U.S. 51 — the Patoka Tank Farm and its newest tenant, the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The “farm” is a phalanx of bright white cylindrical bins, each climbing nearly four stories tall. A maze of chain-link fencing cautions against trespassers with signs denoting familiar oil titans such as Marathon, ExxonMobil and BP, which pipe crude oil into the farm and send it out to Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
A former Marine who sells eggs laid by Rhode Island red chickens for $2 per dozen, Brian Stover refers to the farm as “just a bunch of tanks with oil.”
A company that tracks energy markets estimates that the Patoka Tank Farm, which is actually in an unincorporated area between Patoka and Vernon in Marion County, about 90 miles southeast of Springfield, has a capacity to store 18 million barrels of crude oil, the second-biggest concentration in the U.S.
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Fifteen percent of the entire Dakota Access Pipeline runs through Illinois, and a company spokeswoman said this week that the construction portion of the project will soon be 100 percent complete in this state.
“Construction in Illinois began in May and is expected to be complete by Dec. 1,” said Dakota Access Pipeline’s Lisa Dillinger. “The four-state project is now 85 percent complete and anticipated to be in service in early 2017.”
Dakota Access traverses approximately 177 miles of Illinois, Dillinger said, including portions of Hancock, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Fayette and Marion counties, where it ends. The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline also crosses North and South Dakota and Iowa.
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Communities along the Dakota Access Pipeline route are experiencing a flurry of economic activity as construction of the multibillion dollar project kicks into full gear. Local businesses across the region are benefiting from a surge in new customers that have come to work on the pipeline. In total, the project is expected to create upwards of 12,000 new jobs and inject more than $156 million in additional sales and income taxes.
In Emmons County, North Dakota, Grocer Todd Mulske is feeling the full effect off the additional customers as he struggles to keep food on the shelves. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep up,” said Mulske who owns the Linton Food Center. “The store has been crazy.” Mulske’s story was just part of the uplifting story published in the Bismarck Tribune this past weekend.
Across town, local campground owner Tiffany Heer says she’s working 18-hour days just to keep up. “I like the energy that’s coming with the pipeline. It’s such a nice thing to see happen to our local community,” she said.
The story much the same in Illinois where the State Journal-Register reported fully booked RV and lodging and a noticeable uptick in local commerce in the Jacksonville area. Local businesses, including hotels and restaurants have posted signs welcoming the workers and assembled information highlighting their offerings. “There’s signs around town welcoming them to come in,” said Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard. “There’s definitely going to be an economic impact on the city and the county, at least for awhile.”
While construction activities have only just begun, it’s already clear that the Dakota Access project is delivering on its promise to simulate local economies.