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Jundt: Time to move forward with Dakota Access Pipeline

BISMARCK -- With both South Dakota and Illinois regulatory commissions giving the green light to the Dakota Access Pipeline, it's time for the North Dakota Public Service Commission to move expeditiously toward approval. The 1,100-mile pipeline, ...

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BISMARCK -- With both South Dakota and Illinois regulatory commissions giving the green light to the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s time for the North Dakota Public Service Commission to move expeditiously toward approval. The 1,100-mile pipeline, which amounts to a $1.4 billion investment in North Dakota alone, is wrapping up its construction planning phase and has completed nearly all of their civil, cultural and environmental land surveys.I have been in the pipeline business for more than 33 years. I have attended a couple of the PSC hearings pertaining to this project. I have been impressed with overall approach taken by the company as they appear to be making an exhaustive effort to be good stewards of our state.
Dakota Access continues to work on voluntary easements for pipeline construction so that work can begin this year. Depending upon final regulatory approvals, construction can begin in the first quarter of 2016 and the pipeline can be in service by the fourth quarter of 2016.The company says its goal is to reach an agreement with property owners through negotiations to sign easements voluntarily at a fair price. In a small number of cases, however, these agreements are not immediately forthcoming and various legal options are available both to property owners and pipeline builders. Ensuring that landowner concerns are respected has been embedded in the operating principles of Dakota Access from the outset, and continue to drive easement negotiations today.For example, the company has been working with landowners to achieve full restoration of impacted land. They have enlisted agricultural consultants to serve as independent auditors to develop plans to mitigate and restore any impacts to agriculture and sensitive lands that may be crossed by the pipeline.The company’s pipeline constructors will work extensively to ensure minimal impacts to the land by isolating fueling equipment or storing the fuels outside sensitive environmental areas to avoid spills, working with low weight-bearing equipment and separating the top soil from the subsoil to protect the land - our most precious resource. When it comes to water crossings across sensitive areas, they plan to drill under them to ensure there is minimal impact to the surrounding environment.But let’s not lose sight of the big picture. We need this pipeline to move natural resources out of the Bakken and Three Forks productions areas in North Dakota to terminal facilities in Illinois. The pipeline will transport up to 450,000 barrels per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more. In the United States, about 70 percent of crude oil and petroleum products are shipped by pipeline - by far the safest mode of transporting energy. More than 2 million miles of pipeline carry these and other energy products across America every day. More impressive than the safety and important mitigation strategies the company will use are the added economic benefits to our state. Dakota Access will pay an estimated $32.9 million in sales tax revenue to North Dakota during construction. Once operational, the pipeline will make an annual property tax payment to the traversed North Dakota counties each year in service. The estimated property tax to be paid in North Dakota in its first year in operation is $13.1 million.The Dakota Access Pipeline, built with state of the art safety technology while reducing environmental impacts to an absolute minimum, will be a key element in building long term energy security for our country and bolstering North Dakota’s economy. I urge the PSC to get through the approval process like Illinois and South Dakota have so the hundreds of workers who will build this pipeline can roll up their sleeves and get to work.Jundt is the president of Envision Natural Resources Group, Inc., a natural gas entity.BISMARCK -- With both South Dakota and Illinois regulatory commissions giving the green light to the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s time for the North Dakota Public Service Commission to move expeditiously toward approval. The 1,100-mile pipeline, which amounts to a $1.4 billion investment in North Dakota alone, is wrapping up its construction planning phase and has completed nearly all of their civil, cultural and environmental land surveys.I have been in the pipeline business for more than 33 years. I have attended a couple of the PSC hearings pertaining to this project. I have been impressed with overall approach taken by the company as they appear to be making an exhaustive effort to be good stewards of our state.
Dakota Access continues to work on voluntary easements for pipeline construction so that work can begin this year. Depending upon final regulatory approvals, construction can begin in the first quarter of 2016 and the pipeline can be in service by the fourth quarter of 2016.The company says its goal is to reach an agreement with property owners through negotiations to sign easements voluntarily at a fair price. In a small number of cases, however, these agreements are not immediately forthcoming and various legal options are available both to property owners and pipeline builders. Ensuring that landowner concerns are respected has been embedded in the operating principles of Dakota Access from the outset, and continue to drive easement negotiations today.For example, the company has been working with landowners to achieve full restoration of impacted land. They have enlisted agricultural consultants to serve as independent auditors to develop plans to mitigate and restore any impacts to agriculture and sensitive lands that may be crossed by the pipeline.The company’s pipeline constructors will work extensively to ensure minimal impacts to the land by isolating fueling equipment or storing the fuels outside sensitive environmental areas to avoid spills, working with low weight-bearing equipment and separating the top soil from the subsoil to protect the land - our most precious resource. When it comes to water crossings across sensitive areas, they plan to drill under them to ensure there is minimal impact to the surrounding environment.But let’s not lose sight of the big picture. We need this pipeline to move natural resources out of the Bakken and Three Forks productions areas in North Dakota to terminal facilities in Illinois. The pipeline will transport up to 450,000 barrels per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more. In the United States, about 70 percent of crude oil and petroleum products are shipped by pipeline - by far the safest mode of transporting energy. More than 2 million miles of pipeline carry these and other energy products across America every day. More impressive than the safety and important mitigation strategies the company will use are the added economic benefits to our state. Dakota Access will pay an estimated $32.9 million in sales tax revenue to North Dakota during construction. Once operational, the pipeline will make an annual property tax payment to the traversed North Dakota counties each year in service. The estimated property tax to be paid in North Dakota in its first year in operation is $13.1 million.The Dakota Access Pipeline, built with state of the art safety technology while reducing environmental impacts to an absolute minimum, will be a key element in building long term energy security for our country and bolstering North Dakota’s economy. I urge the PSC to get through the approval process like Illinois and South Dakota have so the hundreds of workers who will build this pipeline can roll up their sleeves and get to work.Jundt is the president of Envision Natural Resources Group, Inc., a natural gas entity.

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“From the Hawks’ Nest” is a monthly column by Dickinson State University President Steve Easton