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As time goes by, we really get to see the truth behind the two sides of the Dakota Access debate, and those of the larger industries surrounding them.

On one side, you have Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the pipeline, and the North Dakota oil industry. Since the protests, the industry has continued to grow, coming out of a downturn and adding thousands of jobs in just the last year. These companies continue to bring investment and opportunity to our state, and, just as importantly, they have made big investments into our communities and schools.

Most recently, Energy Transfer Partners donated $5 million to help develop the department of engineering at the University of Mary. When you consider it is the only engineering school from Fargo to Billings, the donation is fundamental to developing education and economic opportunities for much more than the oil industry. That is Energy Transfer Partners answering the call, and it's not the only place they've done it.

A few weeks before this announcement, however, another company gifted an even larger donation. XTO (ExxonMobil) and Kirsten Baesler announced the $13 million contribution that will fund high school students' fees for Advanced Placement testing, which allows them to earn college credits in high school.

And of course, the industry still sponsors causes and holds events for our communities across the state. A quick look on Facebook can find several sponsorships like Bakken Rocks Cookfest, Bakken BBQ, and several conservation efforts.

Oppositely, the other side of the debate contributed nothing to growing our economic or educational opportunities, while our state still holds the debt due to their debacle.

To this Flasher, North Dakota, resident, the difference was stark during the protests and remains so today.

Penny Banning, Flasher

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