More than 18 months ago, the Dakota Access Pipeline went into service. Many will remember the project, regrettably, for the protests and for the waste and destruction left in their wake. Yet, in the nearly two years since the circus packed up and moved on, the Dakota Access Pipeline has operated without incident.
Moving up to 500,000 barrels per day of domestically produced crude oil, the line has helped to solidify North Dakota’s energy production, which hit another record high in December.
Unfortunately, special interest groups are seeking to reopen old wounds. Recently, lawyers for several local tribes accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of preemptively closing its assessments of the Dakota Access Pipeline prior to consulting stakeholders. The allegations claim the corps effectively rubber-stamped the pipeline without due diligence. That’s a tall accusation against one of the country’s most respected institutions.
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The regulatory professionals in the corps take their duties seriously. They consider each project with careful consideration, balancing the project requirements, the needs of the environment, and concerns of all stakeholders. Here, they conducted a meticulous evaluation of the project, which included at least 389 consultations with local tribes. Standing Rock Sioux leadership was repeatedly consulted by the corps. It’s hard to reconcile tribal claims that the corps violated its due diligence.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is helping to meet U.S. energy needs by providing critical energy infrastructure. And, most importantly, it is working. That alone should be justification of the corps' work.
There will always be room for healthy debate regarding our nation’s energy industry. But make no mistake — it is unfair to baselessly drag one of our nation’s most respected institutions through the mud to score political points.
Col. Tom Magness, U.S. Army, retired
Magness is a former commander in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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