Op-ed: Hollywood’s attack on the Dakota Access Pipeline is high-flying hypocrisy

The Washington Times featured an op-ed from GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens in which he discusses the hypocrisy a group of Hollywood actors demonstrated in a letter to President Biden urging him to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. The stars called for DAPL’s shut down in the name of climate change, despite their own lavish travel habits made possible by oil and gas:

“The signers are some of the most frequent patrons of the private jet industry—a form of travel that emits about 40 times as much carbon per passenger as commercial flights. Yet, cutting back on their private jet travel doesn’t appear to be part of their agenda. These silver screen personalities want to have their jet fuel and kill it too.”

Stevens also highlights the many benefits infrastructure projects like DAPL and the broader energy industry provide to the economy and hardworking Americans:

“The U.S. oil and gas industry supports over 10 million American jobs and creates about eight percent of our nation’s GDP. While those jobs might not afford the private travel Hollywood’s elite enjoy, these are good paying jobs that are creating growth across every sector of our economy and every corner of our country. That reality should not be lost on the Biden administration as it seeks to foster recovery to help Americans who are out of work and facing lost wages and business closures in the wake of the global pandemic.”

Approximately 7,400 direct, indirect, and induced jobs would be lost if a DAPL shutdown were to occur, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Not only do pipeline projects help provide job opportunities for many, but they are also the safest form of transportation for oil and gas. Last week, an explosion occurred in Texas when a semi-truck collided with a train carrying gasoline and coal. The accident raised concern among many, including North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak:

“It is concerning to think that we’re going to have to go back to the less desirable, less safe, less environmentally sound way of transporting crude oil if Dakota Access is shut down. I hope that’s not the case.”

Fedorchak noted before the operation of the DAPL, 14 fully loaded trains would depart from North Dakota every day. This creates a heightened risk across Iowa, Illinois, and North Dakota. But not the sunny, luxury Beverly Hills neighborhood in California. Perhaps Hollywood celebrities should consider that before cheering for the shutdown of a pipeline in another state.

Interior Secretary Nominee on DAPL: “If something shuts down then jobs can be lost”

Fox Business reported President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary, New Mexico Rep. Debra Haaland, conceded during her confirmation hearing that shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline would cost jobs.

During the hearing, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven raised concern regarding the impact of a DAPL shutdown and economic consequences that would come to the state and the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation, who ships much of their production through DAPL and receives tax revenue from its operation.

Hoeven pointed out the tribes ship 300,000 bpd through the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the oil they produce represents about 90 percent of their revenue – revenue that helps fund education, healthcare, infrastructure, and other essential services.

Biden is facing calls from Democratic politicians and celebrities to shutter DAPL, despite its safe operation and critical role in strengthening the US economy and our energy security. DAPL transports up to 570,000 bpd from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota to an energy hub in southern Illinois.

On his first day in office, Biden revoked a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to Nebraska, and sustained more than 11,000 jobs in 2021.

Before blocking new pipeline construction and shuttering existing infrastructure, it is important President Biden and those calling for these policies consider the long-term impact of these shortsighted policies.

11 Retired Flag Officers Sign Letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Importance of American Energy

11 retired flag officers representing all four branches under the Department of Defense recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin outlining the critical need for the ongoing development and transportation of U.S. energy resources.

In the letter, the former senior military leaders encourage Secretary Austin to “leverage our nation’s abundant natural resources, including domestic oil and gas production and energy exports, to reassert the United States’ leadership on the global stage, strengthen our military capabilities, and further reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers and vulnerable global supply chains.”

The letter comes after the Biden Administration’s latest policies to limit American energy production and capabilities, such as blocking the construction of new energy infrastructure and banning oil and gas development on federal lands and waters. While the Administration has declared climate change an existential threat to national security, the officers argue these policies are “equally a threat to national security and military readiness” and that “Meeting our challenges tomorrow will be impossible if we forfeit America’s energy advantages today.”

Increased domestic oil and gas production has allowed the U.S. to reduce reliance on foreign energy sources, and “offset mounting threats from China, Russia, and other maligned nations while strengthening our international partnerships.”

The letter also points out the importance of traditional energy products in fueling the U.S. military, concluding:

The U.S. military is dependent on fossil fuels and the transition to alternative fuels – an essential, strategic initiative – cannot offset that reality in the near term. While our military steadily makes this transition, and, for example, leads the commercial market in lithium ion battery research and development, banning natural gas and oil leases on federal lands and dismantling our nation’s pipeline network will only risk our military capabilities and readiness, now and in the immediate future.

Michigan Governor Declares Energy Emergency after Attempting to Block Pipeline

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over the weekend declared a state of energy emergency to ensure adequate delivery of propane during the nationwide cold snap, according to the Detroit News. The executive order exempts motor carriers and drivers who transport propane and heating oil from compliance with maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits. The order took effect on Saturday and will remain in effect through Sunday, Feb. 28.

The energy emergency declaration ironically comes after Whitmer’s December announcement ordering the shutdown of Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac, which supplies propane to about 15,000 households in the Upper Peninsula.

According to Enbridge, Line 5 supplies 65% of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula, and 55% of Michigan’s statewide propane needs. Overall, Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels per day (bpd) of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids (NGLs), which are refined into propane.

The ongoing energy emergency makes Whitmer’s anti-pipeline policy even more concerning. Michigan State Rep. Greg Markkanen criticized the Governor, noting “The governor should know a thing or two about energy emergencies. She’s in the process of creating one for people and businesses in the Upper Peninsula by not having a sufficient plan in place of Line 5 being offline. Having to issue this order – on top of events we have seen around the country recently – should be a dose of reality for the governor. Top-notch energy infrastructure is critical to lives and livelihoods in our area of the state. We need to protect and strengthen this infrastructure by constructing the tunnel which will house this vital pipeline.”

Unfortunately, anti-energy sentiment has become all too common in Democratic politics. On his first day in office, President Biden revoked a key permit for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. Now activists are calling on him to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has safely operated for more than three and a half years. Biden also recently banned drilling leases on federal lands and waters, a hit to high oil-producing states with large swaths of public land, like New Mexico and Wyoming.

It is paramount that elected officials consider the unintended impacts of their misguided policies. Shutting down safe pipelines and limiting U.S. oil and gas production doesn’t reduce the importance of traditional energy fuels. Instead, it only increases American dependence on foreign energy sources, and on alternative transport methods that less safe and less efficient compared to pipelines.

New Study from GAIA Reveals Recycling Facilities can create jobs and boost economies

E&E News reported recycling and reuse facilities can create new job opportunities and boost economies around the world, according to a study from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The study found that recycling creates more than 50 times as many job opportunities as landfills or incinerator plants. Recycling plants utilize labor and technology to sort waste from soil, dust, or organics from materials that can be repurposed into new items. The study details how recycling plants can help create more jobs in model cities around the world:

“The results show that recycling, remanufacturing, and composting alone can create thousands of new jobs across the model cities. Job growth in the high recovery rate scenario is particularly dramatic in cities with low current recycling rates and where the semi-mechanized recycling figure is used. The results further vary based on the total amount of waste collected by each city. Cities with lower collection rates could see even greater job gains as municipal waste services are expanded. And while a transition to the high recovery rate scenario would lead to fewer jobs in landfill and incineration, the analysis shows that anywhere from 10-60 jobs in composting, recycling, and remanufacturing are created for every job lost in disposal.”

The study reveals that a transition from traditional waste centers to an increase in recycling facilities would create more job opportunities in the recycling, composting, and remanufacturing sectors. To note, repair jobs could create 200 times as many jobs as would be provided by landfills or incinerators while remanufacturing jobs could create almost 30 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators. “Zero waste systems” as the study calls it, have massive potential to improve economies around the world. The processes of remanufacturing and composting promote minimal waste and help repurpose materials for other important uses. Speaking of the benefits of these types of jobs, science and policy director at GAIA Dr. Neil Tangri said:

“With the world still reeling from the pandemic, job creation is a top priority. Zero waste offers a strategy to create good jobs and reduce pollution, without breaking the bank. It’s a triple win for the economy, the environment, and the city.”

DAPL Shut Down Could Increase Food Costs, Risk Food Security

Anti-energy activists in recent weeks have called on President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), despite more than three and a half years of safe operation transporting crude oil from the oilfields of North Dakota to a hub in Southern Illinois.

It is important to keep in mind that shuttering DAPL won’t reduce our nation’s need for crude oil. Rather, it will only increase reliance on the less safe, less efficient, and less environmentally-conscious methods of transport, like truck and train. The consequences of a shutdown would be significant, and the impact would extend far beyond the oil and gas industry.

As Fox Business recently highlighted, halting DAPL operations “will lead to an increase in transportation costs and will show up in lower prices for the commodities of farmers since ‘there’s nobody else to absorb that.’”

Scott Vanderwal, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation argued that “transporting oil on trucks or trains instead of through the pipeline, will create ‘tremendous competition’ for commodities, including corn, wheat and soybeans, and will lead to the spike in transportation costs.”

Fox Business reports agricultural economist Elaine Kub said in a legal filing last fall that shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline would cost Corn Belt farmers more than $1 billion in annual revenue and “drive up food costs for consumers” as oil would command key space on railroad cars needed to transport agricultural products long distances.

Vanderwal also emphasized the significant tax revenue that is generated from the pipeline’s operation and the oil production it supports: “Property taxes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois in this particular case, that go to the schools, the hospitals, the emergency services, all those things that have to be paid for through tax money that those things are picking up and if the Dakota Access Pipeline is shut down, they’re going to have to pay for those things some other way.”

Before the Biden Administration makes any decisions on DAPL, it is critical to consider the unintended and long-term impacts of a shutdown.

Coalition of State Attorneys General Call on Biden to Reinstate KXL Permit

E&E News reports a coalition of 14 attorneys general, led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen, are calling for President Biden to reinstate the permit that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the Canadian border.

The letter highlights the significant economic impact of Biden’s decision to block the crude oil pipeline, noting:

The real-world costs are devastating. Nationally, your decision will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs, many of them union jobs. Your order hearkened back to the 2015 determination from the Obama Administration “that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited.” Thousands of displaced workers and their families surely disagree with that heartless assessment. And it’s cold comfort to suggest to now-jobless Americans that by turning the page on projects like Keystone XL, workers can look forward to high-paying green energy jobs that don’t yet exist. It’s bad enough for the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, but much worse when the winners are aspirational. Aspirations don’t put food on the table, or pay the phone bill, or put kids through college. Jobs do, and you eliminated thousands of them with the stroke of a pen.

The pipeline states and their local communities will also suffer dramatically. In Montana for instance, killing Keystone XL will likely cost the state approximately $58 million in annual tax revenue. Montana will lose the benefits of future easements and leases, and several local counties will lose their single-biggest property taxpayer. The loss of Keystone XL’s economic activity and tax revenues are especially devastating as five of the six impacted counties are designated high-poverty areas. So your decision to shut down the project means less money for schools, less money for public services, and the elimination of business and job opportunities in those areas where they are most needed. Montana businesses, local governments, and utilities have also made substantial investments in preparation of servicing the pipeline. Those expenditures are now sunk with no hope of return, the prospects for increased economic activity have evaporated, and Montanans’ energy bills are likely to increase.

Beyond the economic ramifications, the letter goes on to describe KXL as the “safest means of transporting oil and natural gas,” and also points to the project’s investments in green and renewable energy sources. The letter also points out that the project would increase American consumer access to low-cost energy, as well reduce American dependence on oil from Russia and the Middle East. In conclusion, the letter emphasizes we cannot “Build Back better” by tearing down critical infrastructure investments like Keystone.

Private Jet-Setting Celebrities Call for DAPL Shutdown

As GAIN Fact Checker recently reported, a group of celebrities have called on President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely transporting crude oil to American consumer markets for more than three and a half years. Celebrities who lent their names to the letter include Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Jason Momoa, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, Jane Fonda, Cher, Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer.

In their letter, the high-profile personalities urge the President to shutter DAPL to “address the climate crisis.” However, cutting back on their private jet travel doesn’t seem to be part of the broader agenda.

As Fox News recently explained, private jets have been estimated to emit upward of 40 times as much carbon per passenger as commercial flights. The outlet exposed a lengthy history of lavish private jet travel for many of the wealthy signees. Some of the best hits include:

DiCaprio famously raised eyebrows back in 2016 when he expanded his carbon footprint by 8,000 miles flying back from France to New York and back to France all to pick up an environmental award.

Johansson was photographed exiting a private plane in new Zealand, where she traveled to film “Ghost in the Shell,” while Rolling Stone magazine documented Evans’ plan to catch a private flight to surprised moviegoers in Arizona.

On another occasion, Evans was mocked after being photographed wearing a shirt dedicated to fighting climate change while aboard a private jet. Fonda once bragged about having sex aboard a private jet and Cher once took one all the way to Australia

The jet-setting Hemsworth’s fondness for the private air travel is well documented and Handler once bragged that she flew her dog privately to meet her on vacation.

The hypocrisy from Hollywood comes only days after it was revealed that Biden’s recently appointed climate czar, John Kerry, took a private jet to Iceland in 2019 to receive the Arctic Circle award for climate leadership.

Oil and gas plays a critical role in enabling our modern way of life. Fueling air travel is just one of its many uses. Encouraging the development of renewable energy sources is important, but denying the facts and reality of our energy needs aren’t doing the American people any favors.

Calling for DAPL’s shutdown and its accompanying shortsighted rhetoric is irresponsible. DAPL, and more broadly, American energy production and capabilities, is key to fueling the American economy and achieving our national security and foreign policy goals.

Magness: Dakota Access Pipeline Ruling Should Reaffirm the Regulatory Process—Not Undermine It

InsideSources recently published an op-ed authored by GAIN strategic advisor and infrastructure permitting expert Col. Tom Magness regarding the latest ruling from the DC appeals court on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which found the original environmental review fell short of certain NEPA requirements pertaining to the Lake Oahe crossing. This comes after DAPL has been safely operating for more than three and a half years, moving up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day to consumer markets.  

Leaning on his extensive experience in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Col. Magness highlights that the court’s ruling “does not question the veracity of the Corps’ work on the entirety of the pipeline and its various federal land and water crossings—a rigorous two-year process that produced a “Finding of No Significant Impact.” Instead, it says that the Corps did not complete a necessary study for that specific section, representing a fraction of the overall project, and must now do so.”

However, the court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that the pipeline should be able to remain operational while the Corps completes the additional environmental review. Magness notes, “Effectively, that substantiates the Corps’ due diligence on the project. It’s not that the work was inadequate, nor the decision incorrect—only that a piece was missing. And it is now incumbent on the Corps to go back and complete that work, which has already begun.”

The regulatory process for infrastructure development is extensive and rigorous. The Corps carefully and thoroughly considered the impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The process resulted in the pipeline receiving full permitting from appropriate local, state and federal authorities.

Magness also points out that, “When challenged, multiple courts confirmed that the pipeline and its developer, Energy Transfer, complied with rules and protections put in place to ensure the safety of surrounding lands, waters and communities.”

Looking ahead, Magness suggests, “President Biden has an opportunity to reinforce confidence in the U.S. regulatory process by following the courts’ direction and allowing the hard-working men and women of the Army Corps of Engineers to do their job. That will send a clear and much-needed message that the process works, which is not only what the public and the professionals responsible for ensuring the safety of our communities need to hear—but what those investing in American infrastructure need to hear, as well.”

He concludes that the court’s ruling demonstrates that the system works, and reiterates the importance of trusting in the process.

New Mexico to take an economic blow from Biden’s executive order on oil and gas drilling

FOX Business reported an op-ed discussing how Biden’s executive order barring oil and gas drilling on federal lands could threaten job opportunities and economic growth in New Mexico. According to the EIA, New Mexico has more than 5% of the nation’s natural gas reserves and is the nation’s third-largest oil producer as of 2018. The piece pulls insight from a number of energy executives who explain how Biden’s plan could be detrimental for New Mexico:

“Last week, Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, argued that President Biden’sorder to halt new drilling on federal lands will kill 58,700 jobs in eight states in the West, “where over 97% of the federal production is found.”

“We are going to start properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve the full value that they provide for us for future generations,” President Biden said last week when he announced his executive order.”

In addition to killing jobs, tax revenues from state natural gas and oil production are at risk of plummeting. These tax revenues are critical to funding public education and infrastructure projects for the state. Speaking of the robbed opportunity for the state in a statement for the American Petroleum Institute (API), NMOGA Executive Director Ryan Flynn said:

“Restricting oil and gas development on federal lands will rob New Mexico of opportunities for economic growth and hollow our schools of critical resources that put teachers in classrooms and help our young children learn. New Mexico has enjoyed economic success in recent years because of investments and responsible development on federally managed lands but changing course now will only ensure that jobs and capital stops at our state border. With vast stretches of public land, it is simply impossible to divorce our economic success from land management policy in western states like New Mexico and funding for education, access to healthcare, and new infrastructure are all on the line as a result.”

The piece points out that while Biden has alleged his Build Back Better Recovery Plan “is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs” in recent remarks, it seems as though this is no longer the case with this newly-signed order. API estimates that by 2022, New Mexico could lose over 62,000 jobs as a result.