Andy Peterson: Instead of #NoDAPL, How About #YesDAPL?

Crews work on installing the Dakota Access Pipeline near Williston, N.D., on Friday, July 29, 2016. photo by Eric Hylden/Forum News Service

The State of North Dakota has a dynamic economy that is both rooted in the past and building for the future. The traditional livelihoods of our state’s earliest citizens are echoed today in our people, our cultural heritage, today’s modern ranching economy, and our forward looking business community.

North Dakota has many opportunities to develop our state in tandem with our historical and traditional economic practices and the opportunities that lie within the Bakken/Three Forks production region. The shale oil boom in the Bakken has brought unprecedented wealth and development which has been re-invested in our state; constructing critical new infrastructure, maintaining our transportation network, improving the quality of education, and providing access to high-paying quality jobs for our citizens. When collaboration occurs between all sectors of North Dakota’s economy and those working in our expanding energy sector, our entire state benefits. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is no different.

…with the ongoing protests taking place near Cannon Ball, the opportunities that have greatly benefited North Dakota over the past decade are threatened, workers and businesses are vulnerable to the situations at the job sites, and neighboring ranchers and farmers face a near constant threat to their livelihoods from trespassers and to their livestock.

North Dakota held three separate public hearings that were publicized throughout the state and allowed for stakeholders to submit input to our Public Services Commission. Following the Commission’s approval, Dakota Access was permitted to proceed and construction began – nearly 80% of the project is now complete in our state.

The Dakota Access Pipeline has already brought 4,000 construction jobs to our state, and has generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue on a $3.78 billion private investment; an investment that is needed to safely transport our resources to markets throughout the United States. However with the ongoing protests taking place near Cannon Ball, the opportunities that have greatly benefited North Dakota over the past decade are threatened, workers and businesses are vulnerable to the situations at the job sites, and neighboring ranchers and farmers face a near constant threat to their livelihoods from trespassers and to their livestock.

The scale of these protests have reached a point which North Dakota can no longer solve alone. Our state and three others have already approved this pipeline, it is now time for the United States Government to do its job and finalize this project – and our Congressional and State leaders should urge them to do so for the well-being of North Dakota.

The United States government must approve the final necessary easement to cross the roughly 1,000 feet of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land below the riverbed at Lake Oahe. Additionally, North Dakota needs federal support and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our communities, citizens, businesses, and workers who are helping to construct this pipeline. To approve this crossing would allow construction to be completed in this area and allow North Dakotans to move forward.

Our Congressional and State leaders must encourage the federal government to respect the decision of our government to permit this project, and support the enforcement of our laws. Our state has seen incredible growth and opportunity thanks to our resources and the industriousness of our citizens, businesses, and community members. Through continued hard work, and with the support of our elected representatives, we can continue to move North Dakota forward.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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