Crain’s Chicago Business recently published an op-ed from GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens highlighting an upcoming hearing in February where the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) will consider a request to increase the capacity of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Optimization of Dakota Access requires no new pipeline construction, only the addition of three new pumps stations in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois. If approved, the new pump station will allow for the increase in volume of DAPL from 570,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.1 million. This will be an essential decision for transporting record amounts of crude oil from the Bakken area in North Dakota to consumer markets across the Midwest. Stevens writes:
The added volume is a common-sense solution to meet growing infrastructure demands throughout the Midwest. Last month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced oil production in the Bakken exceeded 1.5 million bpd in October, and output is expected to climb another 3,000 bpd in January alone. That growth has helped push domestic production to record highs, which is helping to alleviate reliance on foreign suppliers and creating energy security here at home.
It’s also created a growing demand for reliable midstream infrastructure to get products safely to consumers. In recent years private developers have stepped up to deploy new pipelines, which provide the safest and most effective mode of transportation. But projects typically take years from introduction to completion. The result is a glut of supply hemmed off from end users, which pushes prices below sustainable levels and discourages investment.
With DAPL Optimization, the ICC has an opportunity to help answer the region’s infrastructure needs. The Dakota Access Pipeline was previously approved by both state and federal regulators after a vigorous 13-month review. For the past two and a half years, the pipeline has been safely transporting oil from North Dakota to the tank farm in Patoka, IL. Stevens concludes by encouraging the Commission to focus on the facts, and emphasizes the economic importance of this project:
It is critical that Illinois’ policymakers stick to the facts. If they do, they will see that the Dakota Access Pipeline optimization is a commonsense means to bring much-needed transportation capacity to meet the region’s growing demand. They will see it is an opportunity to secure the nearly $90 million of tax revenue generated by the state’s energy producers and more than $44 million in funding for schools.
The proposal before the Commission is not only important for Illinois at large, it’s critical to towns like Patoka and Vernon, whose growth relies on a robust, healthy energy industry. The Patoka Energy Hub is a lynchpin for the country’s energy security, but also for the security of families who call the area home.