Burgum urges U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow DAPL to continue operating during EIS review

Mike Nowatzki and Mike Kennedy

BISMARCK– Gov. Doug Burgum has sent a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue operating as the Corps conducts a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review on the pipeline.

The letter was sent Tuesday to R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Col. Mark R. Himes, commander of the Corps’ Omaha District. A federal judge on Tuesday granted the Corps’ request to postpone until April 9 a court hearing on whether the pipeline should be allowed to continue to operate during the EIS review.

Workers unload pipe in South Dakota in 2015 as construction continued on the Dakota Access pipeline. On Thursday, the acting Secretary of Interior issued a suspension of any ongoing work the agency was doing to permit future energy recovery activities from federal reserves, both on- and off-shore.

“Shutting down the pipeline during the EIS review would have devastating consequences for the State of North Dakota and a chilling effect on infrastructure investment across our nation,” Burgum stated in the letter.

A group of activists express solidarity with the Standing Rock activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Shuttering the safely operating pipeline would weaken U.S. energy security, create more competition for rail access for farmers, add unnecessary risk for motorists by putting more truck traffic on roads, and increase the price discount on Bakken crude, Burgum noted. A higher discount on North Dakota oil would reduce revenue for operators and private mineral owners, stymie job creation to support families and economic growth, and reduce tax revenues that fund essential services provided by the state, counties, school districts and communities.

Heavy equipment is seen at a site where sections of the Dakota Access pipeline were being buried near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, N.D., in 2016.

“The Corps approved the installation of the pipeline. To pull the plug now, after the pipeline has been operating safely for more than three years, would severely impair future capital investment in much-needed projects at a time when America is in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades, jobs and economic activity to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Burgum stated in the letter.

North Dakota ranks No. 2 in oil production and No. 6 in overall energy production because of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that embraces oil and gas, coal, wind, hydroelectric, biofuels and solar, Burgum noted.

Dakota Access oil pipeline pumping station at 585th Avenue and Hwy. 210 near Cambridge. Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune

“We have some of the nation’s cleanest air and water because no one cares more about North Dakota’s environment than the people who live here,” Burgum stated. “With the continued responsible development of state-of-the-art infrastructure such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, we can maintain U.S. energy dominance with environmental stewardship.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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