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Sandpiper project will boost economy with new jobs; by Sen. Tom Campbell, Grafton, N.D.

In a recent editorial, Rep. Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks, was right on the importance of pipelines and in particular a proposed line by Enbridge Inc. for safely transporting North Dakota’s crude to markets across the country. While he is right in that safety is always the highest concern, pipelines give tremendous economic value to our state as well.

As a representative of a northeastern legislative district and a lifetime resident, I take great pride in watching our region prosper and grow. I appreciate the fact that North Dakota has the largest proportion of 20 to 24 year olds among the 50 states —about 9.3 percent. These young adults and graduates are choosing to stay or return to their roots in rural North Dakota — taking jobs where they may not have been previously available. This upswing in local opportunity would not be possible without the influx of business resulting from energy infrastructure development. Companies, like Enbridge, that construct and operate pipelines are literally fueling our economy in our region.

The Sandpiper Pipeline proposed by Enbridge will create a vital connection between our state and distant markets. This infrastructure expansion project will increase the amount of North American crude oil available to refineries throughout the Midwest and beyond. Ultimately, this and other pipelines that are being constructed throughout the country will help reduce our nation’s reliance upon oil imports from parts of the world that are less stable or are unfriendly to U.S. interests.

Importantly, it helps strengthen North Dakota’s economy and energy industry over the long-term, benefiting many manufacturers, engineering firms and construction companies from our region that do business in the Bakken. These companies include firms like Diverse Energy Systems in Grafton, N.D., and Steffes Corp. in Grand Forks that have moved to the region and created many new jobs with great pay and benefits.

But local benefits of the Sandpiper project will be apparent even sooner. When work begins, the project will create jobs, generate tax revenue and boost our local economy. Individuals involved with the project will spur business growth in the area by eating at our restaurants, staying in our hotels and purchasing other local goods and services. Enbridge has paid close to $225,000 in property tax in Grand Forks County alone over the last two years and has paid over $4 million in total North Dakota property taxes in 2012. This project will help generate additional revenue for our area.

Understanding that there will be short- and long-term benefits in the local, regional and national sectors, I fully support Enbridge’s effort. The Sandpiper project will enhance our local economy with new jobs and additional tax revenue while playing a part in building America’s energy supply.

(Campbell, a Republican, represents District 19 in the North Dakota Legislature)