Army Corps’ Latest Filing Reaffirms Position on Dakota Access Operations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday reiterated its position with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia regarding the continued operations of the Dakota Access pipeline – advocating for its ability to continue transporting crude oil while the Corps completes additional environmental review.

In a hearing last month, the Corps told U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg that they had no immediate plans to force a DAPL closure. Yesterday, the Corps reaffirmed that position and stated opponents have “not met the applicable standard” required for injunction to be granted to shutter DAPL, and that “the Corps is not aware of information that would cause it to evaluate the injunction factors differently than in its previous filing.”

The Corps estimates the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be completed in March of 2022.

DAPL has safely operated for nearly four years, transporting Bakken crude from North Dakota to an energy hub in Patoka, Illinois. It plays a critical role in our nation’s economy, ensuring access to reliable, domestic energy. Further, DAPL and other infrastructure investments bolster the United States’ energy and national security goals, reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources.

If DAPL is shuttered – even temporarily – more oil trucks and trains will be put on our roads and rails, which introduces new environmental concerns, additional safety hazards, and further wear and tear on our roadways.

Simply put, the Dakota Access Pipeline is the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally-conscious method of transporting the energy resources Americans rely on each and every day.

New Poll Finds Americans Recognize Importance of Natural Gas and Oil

The American Petroleum Institute (API) highlighted recent polling by Morning Consult that underscores Americans are putting common sense over ideology when it comes to American energy, and broadly recognize its important role in our nation’s future.

API points out key findings from the poll:

  • 59% believe the world will use more energy in 2050 than it does now. Majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans believe more energy will be needed to heat and cool buildings, run electrical appliances, travel, grow crops and more.
  • 73% agree that natural gas and oil will be part of the energy mix for decades to come and should be included in the country’s energy policies. Majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans agree.
  • 73% believe the natural gas and oil industry should be allowed to participate when governments are considering energy and environmental policies. Again, Democrats, Independents and Republicans agree.
  • 55% believe private-sector scientists and experts will do better than the government in solving the issue of climate change. Just 22% believe the government will do a better job than the private sector.

It is paramount that these views help guide and inform our elected decision-makers when it comes to American energy policy. While developing alternative energy resources is important progress, the cornerstones of American energy – oil and natural gas – will continue to play a critical role for decades to come.

Experts Warn of Negative Impact of Continued Federal Drilling Ban

The Interior Department this week announced they won’t sell new drilling rights on federal lands and waters until at least midsummer – a move that has raised concern among experts and elected officials. GAIN strategic advisors Col. Tom Magness (US Army, retired), former EIA Administrator Guy Caruso, and former Representative Charlie Melancon recently sent letters to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland regarding the negative economic, environmental, and national security implications of the ongoing moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands.

Energy-producing states with large amounts of federally-owned land have much to lose, as a report from the American Petroleum Institute found nearly one million jobs would be lost by 2022, and over $9 billion in government revenue at risk.

Below are key excerpts from Col. Magness and Rep. Melancon’s letter to DOI:

Environmental Impact

Rep. Melancon argues:

Combating climate change must be a high priority and the Biden administration should be commended for proposing bold action, but halting federal leasing could actually be counterproductive. An analysis by the American Petroleum Institute found that a leasing ban on new and existing permits would cause U.S. coal use to increase by 15% by 2030, a departure from the path the U.S. is currently on, which involves aggressive switching from coal to gas. Because of the transition to natural gas, there was a 10% decrease in net nationwide greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2018. The same time period also saw the U.S. reduce harmful emissions by 57%, but a federal leasing ban could reverse decades of progress our country has made in reducing its carbon footprint.

A federal leasing ban would walk back progress on conservation, too, as DOI recently announced $249 million for Gulf states for coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection programs, including nearly $88 million for Louisiana. This funding, which is central to state-run conservation efforts, could be jeopardized because of the federal leasing ban, endangering conservation efforts in my state, as well as Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. For example, Louisiana uses such funding for outdoor recreation, public parks, supporting the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and protecting places such as the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge.

Economic Impact

Col. Magness notes:

Another detrimental impact of the ban is the effect on jobs in our country, as the same analysis predicts the potential of nearly 1 million jobs lost by 2022, in top producing states including your home state of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Now is not the time to put good paying oil and gas jobs at risk, while our country continues to rebound from the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Melancon also points out the impact to his home state of Louisiana, as well as other top energy producers:

A Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association analysis last fall, in fact, found that such a moratorium would cost 48,000 jobs in Louisiana alone by 2022. As Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, explains, “The continued leasing and development of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico is critical not only to the coastal Gulf states that host the infrastructure and support industries for the Gulf OCS exploration, but to the economy and energy security of the nation as a whole.”

Beyond the Gulf, states like New Mexico would also suffer, with New Mexico’s Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan voicing concerns that they have asked for “financial assistance to offset the impact of the moratorium and give certainty as they plan for the future, and explained that New Mexico might also need more time to transition away from drilling.” If the administration sustains its leasing ban, eight Western states could face tax losses of more than $110 billion and state governments would see lease-generated royalties and tax revenues that fund public services such as education and police disappear.

National Security Impact

Col. Magness writes:

My primary concern is the impact the federal leasing ban will have on our country’s national security, as a result of increased reliance on countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia for our energy needs. If recent incidents in the Suez Canal have taught us anything, it is the fragility of energy security and the importance of energy independence.

Should the Biden administration decide to move forward on the federal leasing ban, our imports from foreign sources have the potential to increase by 2 million barrels a day and spend $500 billion more on energy from foreign suppliers by 2030, according to an analysis last year. This would put our country at a severe disadvantage and leave the United States vulnerable to supply shortages from adversarial nations.

Updated DAPL Filing Depicts Significant Economic Detriment of Potential Shutdown

Attorneys for Dakota Access LLC this week filed new and updated declarations from experts and community stakeholders regarding the serious impact of a DAPL shutdown. The filing included critical perspective from Mark Fox, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara (MHA) Nation, which explained that as an oil-producing tribe in western North Dakota, the Affiliated Tribes could lose more than $160 million if the pipeline is offline until the Corps completes its additional review. This comes after Fox requested formal consultation with the Corps before any action is taken against the pipeline.

Key points from Dakota Access’ latest filing include:

  • The MHA Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes) opposes a shutdown of DAPL, which the Tribes rely on to transport more than 60% of their oil production and would add five new traffic fatalities a year for those Tribes.
  • Oil producers would lose between $3.0 billion and $5.4 billion in 2021 alone
  • In 2021, for North Dakota alone, a shutdown would cost employees between 14,540 and 24,090 jobs.
  • North Dakota would lose between $770 million and $1.4 billion in tax revenue from oil production in 2021.
  • Higher gasoline, diesel, and oil demand far exceed the erroneous projections that Plaintiffs’ sole economic-effects witness made.
  • Higher oil production levels in North Dakota again contradict Plaintiffs’ projections.
  • Current data confirms severe rail congestion from a DAPL shutdown.
  • DAPL continues a spill-free record for its nearly 1,200 mile mainline.

GAIN recently applauded the Corps’ decision to allow DAPL to continue operations while the agency conducts additional review on the project. The pipeline’s safe operation is key to our nation’s economic, national security, and energy security goals. Shuttering DAPL will only lead to an increased reliance on foreign energy sources, as well as further dependence on transport by truck and train – both of which present additional environmental and safety risk.

GAIN Spokesman Craig Stevens Highlights Need for U.S. Energy Independence amid Suez Canal blockage

Inside Sources published an opinion editorial from former senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens in which he urges U.S. leadership to consider strengthening U.S. energy production and infrastructure investment. The piece notes a large container ship was recently stranded in Egypt’s Suez Canal for six days – blocking off critical global LNG trade for a number of nations. Incidents like this can cause oil prices to spike and severe delays in critical shipments.

Stevens explains how increasing energy dependence on foreign sources can be detrimental to the U.S.:

“Unsurprisingly, countries that largely rely on importing their energy resources are vulnerable to delays or increased oil and gas costs when incidents like the Suez blockage occur. Ultimately, consumers are the ones who have to pay the price. With gas prices already increasing here in the U.S., imagine if we had even less domestic oil and gas being produced to help meet the fuel needs of both our country and our allies. Or less infrastructure to help safely transport these resources. No matter what kind of resources you think should power our homes and businesses or fuel our vehicles and planes, it is clear the U.S. should prioritize growing domestic energy production and focus on a path towards energy independence.”

The Biden administration’s federal ban on oil and gas leases would undermine the successful progress America has made so far in energy independence. A study from the American Petroleum Institute found that a federal leasing ban would increase U.S. oil imports from foreign sources by approximately 2 million barrels a day and cause our nation to spend more than $500 billion on energy from foreign suppliers.

Stevens goes on to highlight the valuable role of the U.S. energy sector:

“The U.S. oil and gas industry has been a reliable component of American economic success for decades. A study from API reveals in 2015, the industry supported over 10.3 million jobs and contributed more than $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. The same study found that between 2011 and 2015, industry jobs increased by 500,000 each year and benefitted all 50 states. Why should we rely upon unstable energy sourcing from the Middle East or South America when right here at home we can create jobs and steady the global energy market? Reducing domestic energy production risks higher gas prices and potential energy shortages at home – while strengthening foreign states by growing their economies.”

It would be a dire mistake for the Biden administration to minimize domestic oil and gas production and increase reliance on unstable, foreign sources like Venezuela or Iran. The Suez Canal blunder should serve as a prime example of why we should continue to support U.S. energy independence.

Permian Oil Output Nears Levels Not Seen Since Pandemic Start

Bloomberg reported the Permian Basin will soon produce crude oil at levels not seen since the start of the pandemic, a promising signal that the U.S. and global economy is ramping back up. Texas, in large part due to the Permian, is the largest oil-producing state in the nation, playing a key role in keeping U.S. energy affordable and accessible.

Bloomberg reports:

Higher prices are buoying drillers’ confidence. Benchmark Nymex oil gained nearly 35% in the past four months after OPEC and its alliance cut production to strike a balance between demand and supply. The fossil fuel is also getting a bump as Covid-19 vaccinations progress and Americans travel again, boosting gasoline consumption.

Output in the basin will reach 4.466 million barrels a day in May, the most in a year, and rig counts have touched a one-year high, according to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration. Total American crude production peaked at over 13 million barrels a day last year before the global pandemic crushed oil prices, forcing scores of drillers to file for bankruptcy and shutter wells.

As the economy bounces back and the world returns to “normal,” it is critical that U.S. energy resources are there to pave the way. The oil and gas industry will play an important role in the return to widespread travel, and will continue to provide economic, national security, and energy security benefits.

Discovery+ Docuseries Six Degrees Highlights Critical Role of Oil and Gas

Former Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe is backing a new documentary airing on Discovery+, Six Degrees. In Six Degrees, Rowe delves into how many seemingly unrelated topics and inventions are actually intertwined and connected. The docuseries specifically highlights the interconnected role oil and gas plays in everyday life– something Gizmodo reporter Dharna Noor took issue with in a recent article and interview with host Mike Rowe. Noor takes aim at the show, calling it “big oil-funded propaganda.” While Rowe acknowledges industry sponsorships, he notes they had no control over script or editorial changes to the series.

Addressing Noor, Rowe explains the critical role the oil and gas industry has played for centuries:

“With respect, Dharna, your view of the energy industry seems awfully one-sided. Obviously, no one who lives on this planet wants to see it “fried,” including me. But no objective person can look at the history of fossil fuels, and not conclude that the petroleum-based products and natural gas have lifted more people out of poverty than any other product in the history of the world. I realize that’s a hard thing to admit, but the fundamental challenge of feeding a hungry planet could not be met without fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be moving toward cleaner alternatives with all due speed – we absolutely should, and from what I’ve seen, we absolutely are. But we shouldn’t deny the role that fossil fuels play in our daily life or try to divorce ourselves from oil and gas today. Doing so would destroy life as we know it. Agriculture, transportation, healthcare, clothing, textiles, space exploration…everything would be impacted.”

Rowe raises a valuable point that is often disregarded by the mainstream media: life as we know it would not exist without oil and gas. To watch Six Degrees, click here

Retired Major General James “Spider” Marks highlights need for U.S. energy independence

Stars and Stripes recently published an op-ed from Major General James A. “Spider” Marks (US Army, retired) in which he calls for the need to strengthen our domestic energy capabilities to strengthen American national security and energy security interests, pointing to the recent six-day blockage of the Suez Canal. The blockage caused severe delays for critical oil and gas shipments, as the Canal is a critical waterway for international trade.

Marks notes how this type of blockage could be dangerous for the U.S. if leadership chose to increase reliance on foreign energy sources:

“Around 8% of global liquefied natural gas trade and 10% of seaborne oil trade pass through the Suez Canal every day. With energy prices already elevated before the blockage, any delay lasting more than a week could have resulted in soaring costs and acute shortages. A similar disruption in the future, whether accidental or intentional, could precipitate international economic crises and leave millions out of power. Although the United States’ energy reserves and domestic production capabilities would have enabled it to endure a lengthier blockage, current efforts to forcibly shift the United States away from traditional fuel sources will leave it more exposed to future disruptions. The Ever Given fiasco demonstrates why such an approach is fundamentally irresponsible.”

Natural gas, an abundant resource in the U.S., is critical to powering American homes and businesses with affordable and reliable energy. Marks notes that the U.S. natural gas and oil industry generates nearly 8% of the nation’s GDP – and pipeline projects like Dakota Access, Line 3, and Line 5 are crucial to safely transporting our nation’s prosperous energy production transnationally.  

Marks also highlights the geopolitical role U.S. energy independence plays, writing:

“By helping allies and strategic partners to meet their energy needs, the U.S. can extend its economic and political influence while limiting that of China, Russia and Iran. Unless the United States develops its export capacity to the point of becoming a viable alternative, many European countries in particular will be forced to import Russian gas to the detriment of their security and ours — which is Russia’s plan exactly … to wedge itself in the NATO alliance and European Union partnership.”

As the Biden administration considers new policies to limit American energy potential, it is important to look at this incident and ponder the outcome had the U.S. not been in the energy-hegemon position it currently is. U.S. leadership should continue to prioritize domestic energy production to protect national security interests and strengthen the national economy.

North Dakota Officials Oppose a DAPL Shutdown

Bloomberg Law reported North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is seeking a consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the continued operations of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On April 9th, the Biden administration is expected to make a decision on whether or not the pipeline can continue transporting crude oil while the Corps conducts additional review on the project. Stenehjem penned a letter directly to Lt. General Scott A. Spellmon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to express concern, writing:

“The State of North Dakota is vitally concerned about the future of the Dakota Access Pipelines, the construction and operation of which has been authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over four years. The Corps has also repeatedly defended DAPL for years as the safest and most environmentally friendly way to promote public interest by transporting oil from North Dakota to distant refineries, safely generating many thousands of good paying jobs and contributing to billions of dollars in tax revenues essential to the state of North Dakota.”

Since 2017, the Dakota Access Pipeline has helped transport 570,000 barrels of oil per day – approximately 40% of the Bakken’s oil output on a daily basis. Dakota Access plays a key role in the local economies that employ highly- skilled oilfield workers, union mechanics, pipefitters, electricians, and heavy equipment operators. DAPL yields a number of undeniable benefits for the state.

Stenehjem is not the only advocate for Dakota Access. Mark Fox, Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara (MHA) Nation also wrote to the U.S. Army Corps requesting immediate consultation regarding the future of the pipeline. Fox notes that over half of the oil produced on the tribe’s reservation relies on transit via DAPL. Although recent protests in Washington highlight opposition to the pipeline, it is important to lend an ear to voices like Stenehjem and Fox and the facts they present.

New Poll Reveals General Public In Favor of Pipelines

Pipelines play a critical role in safely and efficiently transporting oil and gas for consumer use, and most Americans agree. A recent poll conducted by the Wakefield Research on behalf of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines found the general public consensus around oil pipelines were largely favorable, revealing the popularity of pipelines has increased over the past two years despite negative media coverage of projects.

Nearly 70% of respondents said their “current impression” of oil pipelines was positive. The poll also found that 68% of people were only willing to spend $50 or less per month on “higher energy fees” to reduce climate change – with only 3% of individuals willing to pay $250 or more to support climate change efforts. Notably, interviewees were in favor of measures that avoid increased energy costs.

Pipelines are a safe, reliable form of oil and gas transit. Not only are pipelines safer for transporting oil and gas than rail or truck, but they are far cleaner as pipelines are able to transport a large capacity of product in a short time span, emitting minimal emissions. In addition, pipelines take up a small surface footprint and are typically placed away from highly-populated areas. It is not difficult to see why most energy consumers have a favorable perception of pipelines.

Pipeline infrastructure projects are a cornerstone to the U.S. energy sector and economy, as noted by Pipelines for America:

“Experts predict that oil and natural gas infrastructure will lead to an investment of nearly $46 billion dollars for energy consumers in the United States over the next 25 years as the industry builds out nearly 1,300 miles of new pipeline.”

Not to mention, new pipeline projects provide thousands of new construction and engineering jobs to support the U.S. workforce. While the Biden Administration has pushed out policies in opposition to pipeline projects, it is clear the American people continue to see the value in them.