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Sen. Tom Campbell, Published December 24 2013

Letter: Sandpiper pipeline means ND jobs and development

In a recent commentary, Rep. Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks, was right on the importance of pipelines and in particular Enbridge’s new proposed line for safely transporting North Dakota’s crude to markets across the country. While he is right in that safety is always the highest concern, pipelines give tremendous economic value to our state, as well.

As a representative of a northeastern legislative district and a lifetime resident, I take great pride in watching our region prosper and grow. I appreciate the fact, as previously released in a Forum Communications article, that the state of North Dakota has the largest proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds among the 50 states – nearly 9.3 percent. These young adults and graduates are choosing to stay or return to their roots in rural North Dakota – taking jobs where they may not have been previously available. This upswing in local opportunity would not be possible without the influx of business resulting from energy infrastructure development. Companies like Enbridge that construct and operate pipelines are very literally fueling our economy, and that of the region.

The Sandpiper pipeline proposed by Enbridge will create a vital connection between our state and distant markets. This infrastructure expansion project will increase the amount of North American crude oil available to refineries throughout the Midwest and beyond. Ultimately, this, and other pipelines that are being constructed throughout the country, will help reduce our country’s reliance on oil imports from parts of the world that are less stable or are unfriendly to U.S. interests.

Importantly, it helps strengthen North Dakota’s economy and energy industry over the long term, thereby benefiting the many manufacturers, engineering firms and construction companies from our region that do business in the Bakken. These companies include firms like DES in Grafton and Steffes in Grand Forks that have moved to the region and created many new jobs with great pay and benefits.

But local benefits of the Sandpiper project will be apparent even sooner. When work begins, the project will create jobs, generate tax revenue and boost our local economy. Individuals involved with the project will spur business growth in the area by eating at our restaurants, staying in our hotels and purchasing other local goods and services. Enbridge has paid close to $225,000 in property tax in Grand Forks County alone over the past two years and has paid more than $4 million in total North Dakota property taxes in 2012. This project will help generate additional revenue for our area.

Understanding that there will be short- and long-term, local, regional and national benefits, I fully support Enbridge’s effort. The Sandpiper project will enhance our local economy with new jobs and additional tax revenue while playing a part in building America’s energy supply.

Campbell, R-Grafton, serves District 19 in the North Dakota Senate.