Dakota Access Pipeline: Progress Happens When Government Steps Aside

A new Associated Press report projects that North Dakota will bring in more than $100 million in new annual tax revenue thanks to the newly-approved Dakota Access Pipeline. Stalled due to protests and the Obama administration, the pipeline was put back under construction last month with an executive order from President Trump. The company behind the $3.8 billion project, Energy Transfer Partners, expects that crude could begin flowing through the pipeline as early as next week, shipping North Dakota oil 1,000 miles across the country to Illinois.

North Dakota draws in tax revenue from every barrel of oil that flows through the pipeline. And in addition to the tax money from the oil itself, the state will benefit from $10 million a year in property taxes related to the pipeline.

“It’s going to benefit schools and counties and more valuation means lower property tax bills for everybody,” state tax commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger told the AP.

In an interview with Fox News, Heritage Foundation researcher Nick Loris said tax revenue was only the tip of the iceberg. “This is just one benefit a state gets if it is able to make these pipelines work,” said Loris. “It’s a cherry on top economically, for something that gets Americans and businesses reliable, safe sources of energy. These are good things.”

The revenue is especially needed in North Dakota, which has been forced to spend more than $30 million to secure and contain the sometimes-violent protests that have surrounded the pipeline’s controversial construction.

Quickly approved by state officials in 2014, the project ran into problems last year when leaders from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation objected to its construction. The current path of the pipeline takes it near the Sioux land, and tribal activists believe it could endanger their drinking water. The protests turned into the newest “cause” for young liberals everywhere, drawing thousands of people from across the United States. Late last year, the Army Corps of Engineers froze the project to investigate whether or not the pipeline could be routed in another direction.

That pause in construction was short-lived, however. President Trump, in one of his first acts, signed an executive order directing the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the project as quickly as possible; they did so almost immediately.

Now, North Dakota will finally be able to take full advantage of its status as the second-largest oil producer in the country, having shaved more than $3 a barrel off its shipping costs. But this is ultimately a bigger story than what the pipeline means for that specific state. This is a story about what happens when the federal government steps aside to allow real American progress to unfold. Hopefully, it’s the first of many such stories to come.

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