Official says proposed pipeline would boost economy, be safe

Farm Forum

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A company proposing a pipeline to carry oil from western North Dakota to refineries in eastern states said it would create thousands of jobs in South Dakota while generating tens of millions of dollars in taxes and landowner easements.

Some elected officials and landowners worry that the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline might harm land values and the environment.

The proposed 1,134-mile pipeline would stretch from the Bakken oil formation in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., with about one-fourth of the pipeline in eastern South Dakota. North Dakota’s Pipeline Authority has said it would be the largest-capacity pipeline for the state’s crude to date. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners wants it operating by the end of 2016.

The pipeline would have numerous safety features, Joey Mahmoud, the company’s senior vice president of engineering, said during a public meeting in Sioux Falls on Jan. 13.

“There’s not a minute that goes by that this pipeline will not be evaluated, controlled and reviewed to make sure it is operating in a safe condition,” he said.

The pipeline also would generate more than $51 million annually in taxes in South Dakota, while paying private landowners about $47 million in easements, Mahmoud said.

“We pay top dollar, and we try to work with landowners,” he said.

Peggy Hoogestraat of rural Chancellor said she is frustrated with the 50-foot easements the company is seeking, which would include a prohibition against building permanent structures in the easement area.

“We had plans for future generations, and those are being destroyed,” she said.

Orrin Geide of rural Hartford said he worries about oil spills.

“We have two wells on that section and I’m not hooked up to rural water,” he said. “So I’m a little concerned about if they have a leak contaminating our water source.”

South Dakota regulators aren’t expected to make a decision on a construction permit for the pipeline until later this year.