Peterson: Multistate coalition urges president to allow pipeline
BISMARCK -- For more than a year, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been in some stage of governmental review. Now with the final decisions to grant permits for construction in hand from Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois utility boards, ...
BISMARCK -- For more than a year, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been in some stage of governmental review. Now with the final decisions to grant permits for construction in hand from Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois utility boards, well over 95 percent of the route approved and a ruling that classifies the project as a public necessity, the project has entered the final stage of federal permitting before construction can begin.
What remains is a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will authorize construction in areas under Corps jurisdiction, including areas considered to be “Waters of the United States.” But it now appears a seemingly straightforward engineering and environmental impact decision has been delayed by special interests in politics.
Environmental groups opposed to all forms of energy and infrastructure projects have urged members of the federal government to call into question previous engineering and environmental decisions made by the Army Corps. One of the districts overseeing the review of the project in Omaha already has stated that Dakota Access is not expected to have any significant direct, indirect or cumulative impacts on the environment. But now the Corps is being asked by individuals within the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior to re-review its previous decision, because of the prodding by these special interest groups and despite the fact the decisions already have been made in conjunction with an environmental study from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sadly, this tactic is not new. In hopes the project will be derailed entirely by a cumbersome regulatory process, environmentalists continue to try to put up roadblocks in the form of protests and calling into question the validity of various environmental reviews.
Recently, the Greater North Dakota Chamber, along with other members of the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now - the MAIN Coalition - from Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois, sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging his administration to let the Army Corps complete its duties to fully review and issue a decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
With a diverse array of backgrounds and interests in our organizations, we are motivated to ensure Dakota Access Pipeline project is authorized and permitted as soon as possible to allow an opportunity for working people throughout the Midwest to build this important infrastructure project and to limit the impact on farmers whose land this pipeline will cross.
If a decision is unnecessarily delayed, it could push construction into subsequent growing seasons. This would impact the remainder of this year’s and possibly the next year’s planting. This alone is something all parties should want to avoid.
The solution is the expedient approval of the pipeline project by the proper authorities. The four states along the route already have committed time and resources to public input, as well as environmental and cultural studies on the land the pipeline will cross.
After the states found no reason to oppose, the project was approved and determined to be in the interest of the public.
We urge the federal government to let the Army Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do the same in order to advance this critically important project for our region.
Peterson is CEO and president of Greater North Dakota Chamber.