<< All News Thursday, December 14, 2023 - 05:00am

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday led a contingent of North Dakota state officials and agencies in submitting over 200 pages of official comment and supporting materials explaining why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should allow the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to maintain its current route and continue to safely transport North Dakota crude oil as it has been doing for more than six years.

North Dakota commented on the Corps’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the easement for the existing DAPL crossing 93 feet below the bottom of Lake Oahe. Three of the five alternatives considered in the Draft EIS would effectively force DAPL to shut down, which Burgum has said would cause unacceptable economic and environmental damage to the state. North Dakota’s comments request the Corps to recommend Alternative 3, which will allow DAPL to continue to safely operate as it has for over six years.

“We urge the Corps to follow the law, facts, science and common sense and put an end to this prolonged, unnecessary and highly politicized process,” Burgum stated in his cover letter. “DAPL is an essential part of North Dakota's and the nation's energy infrastructure. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring energy security and affordability for the entire nation while providing enormous positive economic impact that touches every North Dakota citizen.

The comments represent a three-month, extensive collaborative effort involving more than 10 executive branch agencies and five independently elected statewide officials, Burgum noted. 

“These submitted comments reaffirm that the safest, most efficient and most environmentally friendly means of transporting all liquids is by pipeline – especially when that pipeline is already in place and has been operating safely for over six years,” Burgum stated. “Of the more than 18,000 pipeline water crossings in the United States, it is absurd that the Corps continues to fixate on one of the most modern crossings in the country. Therefore, the State of North Dakota urges the Corps to stick to the facts, do the right thing for national security, and select the continued operation of DAPL at its current location as the only proper and reasonable alternative.”

The comments warn that shutting down DAPL “would cause North Dakota unnecessary and irreparable harm,” including the following impacts: 

  • Shutting down DAPL would cost the state $1.2 billion in the first year and $116 million annually thereafter. It would cost North Dakota taxpayers an estimated $375 million annually in direct oil tax revenue, $23 million in interest costs to the Bank of North Dakota (BND), $30 million annually in Trust Lands revenue, $102 million in losses annually to the state’s Legacy Fund, and $3 million losses in profits by the state-owned North Dakota Mill. 

  • The estimated regional economic impact of shutting down DAPL would be over $1.6 billion annually in increased costs of production and loss of production. It would result in an estimated immediate loss of 600 to 750 full-time jobs. Due to consequent disruption in long-term oil drilling, production and transportation, closing down DAPL would mean the permanent loss of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 North Dakota jobs.  

  • Closing DAPL would force more oil to be transported on railroads and roads, depreciating North Dakota’s highway system by approximately $46 million per year. Due to the resulting decrease in rail transportation available for agricultural commodities, North Dakota grain producers could lose up to $285 million, with an average annual loss per farming operation of approximately $7,600. Throughout the Midwest, a transportation shift of oil from DAPL to rail would result in over $3 billion in estimated annual losses to the Midwest agricultural sector.  

Statewide elected officials providing declarations included state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler. Other agencies involved in the statewide effort included Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s office, the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Water Resources, Department of Mineral Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Transportation, Department of Trust Lands, Retirement and Investment Office, North Dakota Mill, BND, State Historic Preservation Office, North Dakota Pipeline Authority, North Dakota Industrial Commission, Department of Emergency Services, Game and Fish Department, and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.

The Draft EIS is the second step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process and will be followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement that must take into account the public comments received during the comment period that ended Wednesday. 

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