Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 02:32pm

Gov. Doug Burgum this week sent a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue operating as the Corps conducts a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review on the pipeline.

The letter was sent Tuesday to R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Col. Mark R. Himes, commander of the Corps’ Omaha District. A federal judge on Tuesday granted the Corps’ request to postpone until April 9 a court hearing on whether the pipeline should be allowed to continue to operate during the EIS review.

“Shutting down the pipeline during the EIS review would have devastating consequences for the State of North Dakota and a chilling effect on infrastructure investment across our nation,” Burgum stated in the letter.

Shuttering the safely operating pipeline would weaken U.S. energy security, create more competition for rail access for farmers, add unnecessary risk for motorists by putting more truck traffic on roads, and increase the price discount on Bakken crude, Burgum noted. A higher discount on North Dakota oil would reduce revenue for operators and private mineral owners, stymie job creation to support families and economic growth, and reduce tax revenues that fund essential services provided by the state, counties, school districts and communities.

“The Corps approved the installation of the pipeline. To pull the plug now, after the pipeline has been operating safely for more than three years, would severely impair future capital investment in much-needed projects at a time when America is in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades, jobs and economic activity to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Burgum stated in the letter.

North Dakota ranks No. 2 in oil production and No. 6 in overall energy production because of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that embraces oil and gas, coal, wind, hydroelectric, biofuels and solar, Burgum noted.

“We have some of the nation’s cleanest air and water because no one cares more about North Dakota’s environment than the people who live here,” Burgum stated. “With the continued responsible development of state-of-the-art infrastructure such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, we can maintain U.S. energy dominance with environmental stewardship.”

Read the full text of the letter here.