Greater North Dakota Chamber advocates for pipelines

5-1By Andy Peterson, President & CEO, Greater North Dakota Chamber 

The Greater North Dakota Chamber has been long interested in transportation. We’re not experts in transportation per se, but we know enough to say that one cannot make a living without getting his or her goods or services to market without transporting it somehow. It’s within this transportation paradigm that we’ve been interested in the safe and efficient transport of crude oil to markets around the U.S. Like everyone else, we have seen the numerous trains loaded with oil pass through our communities to thirsty refineries around the country.   We’ve also been interested in what those seemingly non-stop trainloads of oil do to rail “bandwidth”?   This is especially concerning for manufactured goods and commodities produced in North Dakota. Of course, we want those commodities or manufactured goods shipped safely and efficiently to markets around the world.

It’s to this end that we’ve recently testified at numerous pipeline hearings In North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Specifically, we’ve made a push for the Sandpiper pipeline that will run across North Dakota and into Minnesota to hook up with a line that might carry crude to the Chicago markets. We’ve testified in favor of the Energy Transfer Pipeline that runs south through North Dakota and into South Dakota and Iowa, eventually carrying crude to refineries in the Gulf region, and we’ve testified in South Dakota and Montana in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. We know rail now provides a method of moving oil and most likely will for some time. However, the most efficient and cost-effective method of oil transport is via pipeline.

Contrary to what most people might think, pipeline hearings are interesting. Some people come with the knowledge that our country runs on oil. They know oil supports agriculture, transportation, packaging, healthcare, and any industry one might remotely think about, and they know this will power our economy until some other acceptable and cost-effective energy source emerges. These folks come prepared to testify in favor of energy transportation, knowing that challenges can be overcome. Others come with less expertise hoping to slow down the transport of oil or to stop it altogether. Mostly these folks testify to the evils of oil and how it is destroying the planet. It’s ironic, however, that those in opposition drive to the hearings like everybody else, some of them come from other states. A few landowners in each hearing plead their case before the regulators, whether they be in Minnesota, or in North or South Dakota. In these cases one begins to understand the effects of the rapidly expanding energy industry. Overall, the complexities of the hearings assures the best final outcome and provides the person participating a front row seat. Hearings can be long, but one always comes away with a new and interesting tidbit, story, or knowledge of the oil industry.

Whatever one’s viewpoint, we understand and appreciate the significant impact of the oil industry, the necessity of oil to our economy, and the jobs it provides our citizens, and its place in our society. We also understand the risks to environment and the importance of using energy wisely. At any rate, we understand that oil is here to stay and that we must transport it out of North Dakota to be used by those who need it.

Lastly, you can count on the Greater North Dakota Chamber to stand up and be counted when it comes to the safe transportation of crude oil.

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