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North Dakota Delegation Calls for Uninterrupted Operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline

WASHINGTON – Despite operating safely and securely for over six years, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was required to complete a supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 0.21-mile easement which crosses under the Oahe Reservoir. This marks the third time DAPL has been examined under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including a 1,261-page Environmental Assessment from 2016 which found no significant impact and a 2017 court-ordered remand analysis.

U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Hoeven (R-ND) and U.S. Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, requesting the uninterrupted operation of DAPL. The North Dakota delegation explained it is in the state and nation’s best interests to conclude this “seemingly endless” EIS process.

If the pipeline is closed, North Dakota could lose approximately $1.2 billion in the first year and $116 million each year following. The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation has indicated a more-than $160 million loss over a one-year period due to about 60% of its oil production relying on DAPL for transportation. Further, the Bakken could lose up to 750 full-time jobs in the near-term and 3,000 jobs in the long-term. The lawmakers note both the state of North Dakota and the MHA Nation are cooperating agencies in the USACE’s environmental review, meaning their input must be accounted for in any final decision from the USACE.

“We are concerned the additional scrutiny being imposed on the project has little to do with actual environmental effects and more to do with opposing the type of fuel the infrastructure carries,” the delegation wrote. “Unlike other pipeline debates, DAPL has been in operation for over 6 years, demonstrating an extensive record of moving well over half a million barrels of oil per day safely and cleanly.”

One alternative the USACE is considering includes unearthing the existing pipeline and rerouting it. The delegation reiterated this alternative is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government as the North Dakota Public Service Commission is responsible for determining pipeline routes.

“One of the potential alternatives the Corps is analyzing would be to unearth the existing pipeline and reroute it north. While the DEIS rightly acknowledges the myriad of hurdles and negative impacts associated with a reroute, it should not be an alternative even considered. As mentioned earlier, the Corps’ analysis is for a 0.21-mile easement. The applicant requested this after a route was determined by the NDPSC, which has jurisdiction. By proposing a potential reroute scenario, the USACE is stepping into the state’s jurisdiction and assessing options the applicant did not apply for,” the delegation continued.

“The best course of action would be for the USACE to maintain the uninterrupted operation of the existing DAPL route. Therefore, we urge the Corps to grant the requested easement under Alternative 3 in a final Environmental Impact Statement and issue a timely Record of Decision,” the delegation concluded. “We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to engaging with the Corps as we continue to work together in promoting the public interest."

Click here for the letter.