By Arik Spencer, president and CEO, Greater North Dakota Chamber
The Greater North Dakota Chamber stands with industry leaders and elected officials across our country speaking against the decision made by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg. His ruling to stop and drain the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in order for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete an environmental impact statement creates burdens for our businesses and disruptions during a time when investment, infrastructure development, and certainty in processes are needed the most.
The oil and gas sector contributes significantly to the state’s GDP with tax revenues and royalties as well as jobs and livelihoods for citizens. A loss in production would not only harm companies and individuals but ripple impacts into the service industries who support and benefit from the presence of oil in the state. Right now, given the current condition of our economy and the nation’s, we don’t want anyone put in positions to fail where they may have otherwise survived.
Our concern goes beyond the fact that approximately 40% of North Dakota’s crude oil is transported by DAPL safely to marketplace or the shift to other transportation modes could potentially strain existing infrastructure or cause competition for resources. GNDC is concerned about the message this decision sends to the business community. There will be economic impacts to our state but letting this decision stand sets a tone for energy infrastructure development and any federally regulated development. This trend could impede entities investing in major transportation projects including road, rail, and air. Currently, developers require regulatory certainty. There is an understanding that they can operate in the free market system if they follow the rules and permitting process, which DAPL has. The Army Corps met or exceeded all guidelines previously when conducting its review of the environmental assessment and pipeline permitting – including the inclusion and consultation with tribal groups. Before the construction was even allowed to progress, our state also conducted a review, lasting over a year.
Sadly, Judge Boasberg understood that this ruling would create severe hardship. He stated, “The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect. It readily acknowledges that, even with the currently low demand for oil, shutting down the pipeline will cause significant disruption to DAPL, the North Dakota oil industry, and potentially other states." GNDC is disappointed in the decision and looks for an overturn in the appeal process.
Spencer resides in Bismarck.