Noon: Pipeline approval angers environmentalists
Final federal approval for what is being called the “new Keystone” came on July 26. The 1,168-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, also called the Bakken Pipeline, is comparable in length to the Keystone XL. It will cross four states and carry 450,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota to a transfer terminal in Illinois.
The $3.8 billion dollar project has pitted environmentalists against economic interests.
During the Keystone fight, outspoken opponent Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, said that in America we should be focused on making sure that the oil in North Dakota is getting to market. Now, thanks to DAPL, America’s oil will have a safer way to get “to market ” — freeing up as many as 750 train cars a day to transport corn, soybeans, and grain. However, as soon as DAPL came on the scene, they moved the marker, and environmental opposition was mounted. Bold Iowa, a group that shares a website with Kleeb’s Bold Nebraska, says it has members willing to risk arrest in “nonviolent protests.”
On Aug. 1, nine pieces of heavy equipment — excavators and bulldozers — were set on fire at three different DAPL construction sites, causing $3 million in damage.
On its “Stop the Bakken Pipeline” page, the Iowa Sierra Club posted: “A new pipeline will delay the U.S. transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The United States needs to move away from fossil fuel extractions and to energy sources that have less impact on climate change.”
The Club’s position sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton’s. When she finally came out against Keystone, she said: “We need to be transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.” She called the pipeline “a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.”
Opposition, however, is not as broad-based as the environmental groups had hoped. At an April meeting of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition in Iowa, organizers were disappointed. Chairs were set up for 200, but only about 40 “trickled in.” In the four states the pipeline will cross, more than 90 percent, on average, of the landowners signed the voluntary easement agreements.
At its peak, the DAPL’s construction is expected to involve as many as 4,000 workers in each state and will require the purchase of $200 million in American-made equipment.
While DAPL is already creating lots of jobs, it is just one of many pipeline projects in the works that could be bringing much needed economic development to other communities and high-paying jobs for American workers. Unfortunately, under President Obama, permitting for oil-and-gas activity has been slow-walked. Jobs have been held up.
Donald Trump has made clear that he’ll support pipelines and said he’ll invite TransCanada to reapply for the Keystone permit. A Clinton administration would likely extend the Obama delay tactic.
Whichever candidate wins in November will appoint agency heads who support his or her views — thus driving the policy direction.
Union members are grateful for the jobs. Last week, Dave Barnett, pipeline representative for the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, told me: “We are pleased that the thousands of job opportunities associated with these projects are being decided on their need and merits, not on political pressures by extremists as the Keystone XL was.”
Whether the thousands of additional job opportunities materialize depends on American voters. Will we vote for pipelines that fuel the American economy and transport our natural resources safely and cheaply? Or, will we block job creation and economic development by voting with the environmentalists who want to “keep it in the ground?”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy. She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy — which expands on the content of her weekly column.