The Peoria Star Journal recently published an opinion column by Ike Brannon, an economist and senior fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation, regarding the significant benefits of optimizing the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Brannon emphasizes that pipelines are the safest, cheapest, and most environmentally conscious method to transport oil and gas compared to the alternatives of truck and rail. Further, he notes:
Constructing a pipeline requires enormous planning and investment in order to obtain the necessary permits, environmental reviews, and right-of-ways. It can take years to accomplish and cost billions of dollars. A faster, less expensive, safer alternative is to expand an existing pipeline, if possible.
The owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline are trying to do that. It currently carries 500,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to the Pakota Oil Terminal in central Illinois, 150 miles south of Peoria.
Due to booming oil production in the Bakken, the pipeline’s capacity is no longer sufficient. Increasing capacity of DAPL would increase reliable access to domestic oil, create new economic opportunities for communities in North Dakota, along the route, and near Patoka. While COVID-19 has temporarily decreased global need for oil, demand will surely bounce back once the pandemic passes.
In closing, Brannon points out the benefits of a strong American energy industry – from bolstering national security to economic benefits for consumers:
Increased U.S. oil production has done several things for our economy. For starters, gas prices are lower than they were a decade ago. The average American household spends more than $2,000 a year on gasoline, a value that is largely invariant with income. In fact, reducing gas prices disproportionately benefits low-income families.
The massive increase in domestic oil production also has left the U.S. less vulnerable to price fluctuations caused by foreign conflicts or other political crises across the world. A decade ago, the decline in Venezuela’s production caused gas prices in the U.S to shoot up. Today, Venezuela’s dysfunction scarcely matters, thanks to growing U.S. production.