“21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure,” President Obama said in his 2015 State of the Union address. That’s just as true for energy as it is other industries. The United States now leads the world in oil and natural gas production – a 21st century development that requires infrastructure expansion to keep pace and to deliver the benefits of affordable energy to every state.
The Dakota Access Pipeline promises to be a critical segment of the U.S. energy infrastructure network, linking oil from major production areas in North Dakota with major refining markets in Illinois in a direct, cost-effective, safe and environmentally responsible manner. The 30-inch pipeline will deliver about 470,000 barrels per day, with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day.
That energy will make its way to American consumers, who saved $550 in fuel costs last year due to increased energy production, and manufacturers, who are also saving in energy and materials costs.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion investment, also means jobs -- 8,000-12,000 supported during the construction phase.
Permits for the project were approved through an established, open and transparent regulatory process during which stakeholders were consulted on more than 250 occasions over a two-year period, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Days ago, a federal judge, appointed by President Obama, affirmed the decision, stating that the Corps fulfilled its obligation to seek input from and address concerns raised by individual parties.
Now, with the thoroughly reviewed project almost 60 percent complete, the Obama administration has stepped in to call for a halt in construction. This unilateral action to change the rules in the middle of the game, effectively contradicting the results of its own process and the affirmation from an independent judge, sets a dangerous precedent that could threaten all other critical infrastructure projects like bridges, roads and electricity transmission.
The decision is unfair to the country that depends on this infrastructure, American workers that build it, and American consumers who benefit from it. As North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey explains, “Union members have been relying on these excellent, family supporting, middle class jobs with family health care, pensions, and good wages for over six months.”
Just like North Dakota grain is brought to markets throughout the nation to make bread for the benefit of consumers, North Dakota oil must be brought to market to make gasoline and fuels to benefit consumers in many other states.
Eighty-two percent of American voters support increased infrastructure development, which could generate an estimated $1.14 trillion in capital investments and support as many as 1.15 million jobs. Moving forward, it’s critical that the rule of law is followed as the need for new energy infrastructure grows.
Jack N. Gerard
President & CEO