Almost without notice, an important anniversary came and passed recently.

On June 1, the Dakota Access pipeline marked one year since it successfully began transporting Bakken crude from near Stanley, N.D., to Patoka, Ill.

How could we miss the anniversary for a pipeline that sparked the world’s attention for nearly an entire year before operation?

The answer is relatively simple. Pipelines, despite the propaganda against them, offer relatively uneventful daily operations. They quietly move materials like crude, natural gas, water, CO2 and refined products across the U.S. with only rare significant issues. In fact, 99.999 percent of petroleum products get to their destination without incident, and the pipeline industry has proved its commitment to making that number even better with a decline in incidents of more than 50 percent since 1999.

In North Dakota, we understand the importance of the Dakota Access pipeline. It is a critical piece of infrastructure for the 73,000 jobs that rely on the state’s petroleum industry. The pipeline has reduced transportation and discount costs for Bakken crude from $8 per barrel to $4-$5 per barrel. That reduction increases economic investment in the state’s industry, protects our 73,000 jobs and is taxed, directing $110 million to the state in the first year alone.

And yet, the significance of the Dakota Access pipeline extends far beyond our state’s borders. It is simultaneously an actual and symbolic piece of infrastructure that has and will continue to better America’s economic and international strength. The pipeline generated 40,000 jobs across the country during its construction, providing opportunities for workers in construction, engineering, manufacturing, mining, energy, advanced technology and so many more industries. It alone moves 5 percent of the nation’s daily oil production and has helped to increase American energy production, thereby marginalizing the former OPEC/Russian power regime and ending their grip on American consumers.

Strong infrastructure is as good for North Dakota as for any state in the union. Such investments in our country move petroleum in pipelines, electrons on power lines, tractors and cars along rail networks, and people and ideas on roads and in airplanes. When Americans are better connected, we are a better, stronger, safer and more successful nation.


Jessica Unruh is a North Dakota state senator (District 33) and is chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and interim chairwoman of the Taxation Committee. She is also an environmental manager with North American Coal Corp. at one of its Beulah, N.D., mine locations.