A new route for the last link of the $10 billion, 1,100-mile Keystone Pipeline was approved by Nebraska regulators in November. The decision clears the way for final disposition of the project, although new legal and permitting challenges will have to be met. Environmental activists have fought for a decade to prevent the construction of the pipeline in Nebraska.
Farther to the north, the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline project celebrated its first six months of operation. For more than a year, the $3.8 billion, 1,872-mile project was the high-profile flash point, pitting energy development against anti-development interests. In the end, all environmental sufficiency tests and permitting requirements were certified, but not until millions of dollars were spent on security and cleaning up the environmental mess left by protesters.
From the day the pipeline’s valves were opened, a variety of positive impacts began to accrue to the state of North Dakota. In the first five months of operation, state tax revenues increased by nearly $44 million. Over 12 months, the state will benefit from between $210 million to $250 million in additional tax revenue.
The pipeline has provided a dramatic boost to oil production in North Dakota, with additional oil rigs contributing 135,000 barrels of oil a day. Total oil production reached a peak in one month this fall at 1.185 million barrels a day.
Though no method of oil transportation is 100 percent spill and leak proof, pipelines are proven to be vastly more environmentally safe than surface transportation by truck or train. Prior to Dakota Access, as many as 12 100-car oil trains traversed the state each day. That volume has been cut by nearly 84 percent. The end result means increased public safety and lower costs for the oil companies, making oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation more competitive.
The extra oil production and pipeline labor have added thousands of jobs to the state’s economy.
The nation’s lifeblood flows through the world’s largest network of energy pipelines, spanning more than 2.4 million miles. Keystone would be an economic boon to Nebraska while also serving as an important link to ensure U.S. economic and strategic security.