Why we must build the Dakota Access pipeline now

The key to America's national and energy security rests with our ability to provide for our own energy needs with our own natural resources, personnel and infrastructure.

A proposed $3.7-billion pipeline is planned for a 1,200-mile span from the Bakken oil fields of western North Dakota to Illinois. This will allow North Dakota to export half of its daily crude output to the rest of America.

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The Dakota pipeline will create over 8,000 immediate jobs in the construction sector. It will be a huge boost to regional employment, especially for welders, mechanics, electricians, pipefitters, heavy equipment operators, truckers and other complimentary trades in the manufacture of the materials needed to build the pipeline.

The economic benefit to the construction of the pipeline with the state and local economies is an estimated $129 million annually to property and income taxes. The service industries will also see a benefit through additional income to hotels, restaurants, etc. Once the pipeline is operational, it is estimated that state and local governments can see an estimated $50 million annually in property taxes and $74 million in sales taxes for the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest mode of transporting crude oil. The Dakota crude oil pipeline is designed to exceed stringent federal standards and will be built and operated using the most advanced technology and monitoring systems.

An exhaustive review process begun in 2014 for the building of the pipeline and to date there have been close to 400 meetings, surveys, hearings and lawsuits. This pipeline has been fully reviewed and approved by all four states affected as well the Army Corp of engineers. The North Dakota Public Service Commission is also in support of the pipeline and has been involved in the review process from its start. This project has been green-lighted and the necessary permits have been issued for construction to begin.

So why then is the pipeline not being constructed?

It is being reported that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, represented by the radical group EarthJustice, filed a lawsuit to halt construction. It is documented that the Sioux, despite their claims they were not given the opportunity to make their own review of the effects on "cultural sites" as well as environmental impact on their lands, did not participate in the approval process in spite of outreach to them.

A handful environmental rabble-rousers with a radical agenda seek to stop a multibillion dollar project based solely upon unsupported facts, threats and innuendo.

Presently before the federal court is the application by the opponents for an injunction enjoining the construction of the pipeline and thereby denying that which the nation and states affected wants and needs. I say the court should either deny the motion for an injunction outright or require the parties seeking an injunction to post with the court a $1 billion dollar bond in good faith of their allegation and claims.

We as a nation cannot cower or bow to environmental extortion. The administrative process played out as intended and just because a minority of activists does not like the decision cannot deny parties what they are entitled as a matter of law.

The court must put an end to frivolous lawsuits whose sole purpose is to bully, threaten, provoke and obstruct. The court should also consider sanctions and the awarding of attorneys' fees as a further message of deterrence. In addition, local authorities need to exercise police powers in making sure criminal laws are not being violated by protesters and those in opposition who are engaged in trespassing, threats, destruction of property or worse.

In America, we must work within a system that respects the rule of law and the outcome of lawful processes that have run its course.

The Dakota pipeline is needed. It will create a new and safer mode of transporting needed domestic crude to our nation. It will provide much-needed jobs and is in our national security and energy needs.

Blakeman is professor of public policy, politics and international affairs at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies and was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.