North Dakota PSC’s DAPL Optimization Approval an Important Step for Energy Infrastructure

Today the North Dakota Public Service Commission voted 3 – 0 to approve the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Optimization plan that would add a pump station to the pipeline’s route in Emmons County. North Dakota joins South Dakota in green lighting the second of three pump stations proposed to increase the pipeline’s capacity up to 1.1 million crude oil barrels per day to its offtake at the Patoka, Illinois Oil Terminal. Illinois and Iowa regulators will review the proposal in the coming months.

It is encouraging to see regulators acknowledge the value and importance of DAPL Optimization. North Dakota is ranked second among U.S. states in crude oil production and proved reserves, however, bottleneck difficulties have at times stifled energy delivery to key points across the country. Since coming into service in 2017, DAPL has been a key and safe transport component for the Bakken region, accounting for approximately 40% of the Bakken’s daily output. DAPL Optimization will offer much needed pipeline capacity to alleviate export constrictions.

Moreover, DAPL Optimization is a welcomed infrastructure project in North Dakota. A recent poll found that nearly 70% of North Dakotans support DAPL Optimization and 95% believe the oil industry to be important to the state’s economy.

Micah Roberts, Partner at Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the poll on behalf of the GAIN Coalition, noted “[f]ully 77% of residents say it is important to them that oil is transported by pipeline and 79% agree that the Dakota Access Pipeline is providing a safer means of transportation than truck or rail. From safety to economic benefits, the polling shows the vast majority of North Dakotans support the industry and are in favor of increasing DAPL’s capacity.” 

Further, since 2017 Dakota Access has paid nearly $25 million in taxes to the state. An added pump station through optimization will generate more tax revenues for communities to deploy towards public services like schools, hospitals, and emergency services. Energy Transfer, the pipeline’s operator, will again rely on North Dakota’s skilled unions to see the project to completion, making DAPL Optimization an important job opportunity for many.GAIN applauds the North Dakota Public Service Commission for its decision today and is keen to see the remaining states review and swiftly approve DAPL Optimization. The coalition’s statement on the approval can be read here.

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