Espey: What benefit does Iowa get from Bakken pipeline? – The Des Moines Register

Espey: What benefit does Iowa get from Bakken pipeline?

Hugh Espey, A Better Iowa contributor

Energy Transfer Partners and their hired analysts at Strategic Economics Group in West Des Moines are ramping up their efforts to sell Iowans on the idea of building a 343-mile crude oil pipeline across 18 counties, effectively putting lipstick on a pig.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is not a project for Iowans, although it certainly is intended to make a lot of money for Texas-based ETP. But nobody’s saying how much.

Those who favor the pipeline say it will increase our energy independence and alleviate the need to ship oil by rail.

But ETP has made no commitments on either of these claims. There’s no guarantee that the Bakken crude transported along the pipeline will remain in the United States, and there’s no guarantee that shipping oil by rail will end if the pipeline is built.

Even long-term employment benefits are minimal — only 25 permanent jobs.

While SEG has predictably given us optimistic job-creation numbers for the construction phase, similar reports commissioned by Big Oil for projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline were later debunked because they grossly over-estimated the economic benefits of the projects in question.

To think that ETP is concerned about the well-being of Iowans neglects the long history of pipeline spills and leaks across the United States.

In September, the Register reported there were 100 spills in Iowa in the past ten years.

In Michigan, a massive 1,000,000-gallon oil spill in July 2010 polluted a 25-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River, and has cost over 1 billion dollars to clean up. Four years later, restoration efforts have still not been completed.

The Bakken Pipeline will carry up to 570,000 barrels of highly flammable crude oil across Iowa daily. That’s well over 20 million gallons every day.

Who will pay for the clean-up if Bakken crude contaminates the land of a Mahaska County farmer, or leaks into the Raccoon River? Energy Transfer Partners or Iowa taxpayers?

Either way, Big Oil is heavily subsidized by federal tax dollars, so the bill will be ours. Let’s recognize this “lipstick on a pig” for what it is.


Hugh Espey, is executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Click here to read more of his work.

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