Letter to the editor: Is the Dakota Access Pipeline donation worth the price?

To the editor,

A Thursday 11/14/2019 article in the S.E. Iowa Union described $20,000 donations from Dakota Access Pipeline to the emergency management agencies (EMAs) in counties that the pipeline runs through, including Jefferson County. Everyone cited in the article seemed very pleased with the pipeline company and its “commitment to being a good neighbor, a good business partner and a valued member of Iowa’s communities.” I’m sure that $20,000 might be a real boon to our EMAs right now, given how they — along with so many other government agencies and programs — have suffered under four or more decades of “No new taxes!” public policy.

However, the article did not mention that Dakota Access Pipeline is currently making arrangements to double the volume of Bakken crude oil running through the pipeline, from 570,000 barrels per day to 1.1 million barrels per day. At least one advocacy group has stated that this would take the flow speed of oil through the pipeline up to 15 feet per second, which would increase the risk of a “worst case” spill. If, or rather when, that spill happens, the resulting catastrophe will cost a lot more than $20,000 to clean up. Dakota Access will claim that they’ll make everything right with no cost to county EMAs if a spill happens. That claim doesn’t stand up when you think about the health and other impacts on emergency responders, neighbors and our land and water that money and company cleanup crews cannot mitigate.

I’d feel a lot better if instead, Dakota Access Pipeline and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners put their money into a business model that will give them modest but sustained profits far into the future while providing real and lasting benefits to the communities where they do business. For example: companies like Dakota Access can take the $3.9 billion used to build the Dakota Access Pipeline and invest it in installing 65,000 five Kw residential rooftop PV systems, each supplying about half of a home’s electricity needs; installing 325 2-megawatt, utility-scale wind turbines that would generate over 3.5 billion Kwh of electricity per year; and providing 160,000 homes with $8000 efficiency retrofit packages, saving $300 per year per home. This kind of an investment would produce far more jobs than the Dakota Access Pipeline project ever did or ever will. Most of these jobs will go to local people, and many of those jobs will be long-term, providing maintenance and other services for these renewable energy investments. THAT is the kind of investment that would qualify as a “commitment to being a good neighbor, a good business partner and a valued member of Iowa’s communities.”

Patrick Bosold, Fairfield