Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 16, 2017


American energy advocates should take a victory lap. The Dakota Access Pipeline is operational.

The pipeline project endured months of protests and violent attacks. Despite the anti-energy, “Keep it in the ground” opposition, it’s transporting oil from the North Dakota to Illinois, after President Donald Trump signed off on the project.

Along with buoyant oil prices, the completion of this important piece of energy infrastructure has led to what The Associate Press calls, a “boomlet” in North Dakota’s Bakken region:

There are hundreds more jobs than takers in the heart of North Dakota's oil patch. Finding a hotel room, parking space or table at a restaurant is no longer easy.

More than two years after the state's unprecedented oil bonanza fizzled to a lull, North Dakota - the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas - is experiencing a sort of boomlet that has pushed daily production back above 1 million barrels daily.

"There is a long-term optimism that was not here just a year ago," said Williston Republican Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, whose western North Dakota district is in the epicenter of the state's oil-producing region.

Industry officials and others say the uptick comes from a bump in crude prices, regulatory certainty with the more drill-friendly Trump administration, better technology, and the prospect of nearly half of the state's crude coursing through the disputed Dakota Access Pipeline, which could open markets abroad where top prices are typically fetched.

Fifty oil rigs were drilling wells, an 80% increase from a year ago, the AP reports, and all areas of the local economy are feeling the effects:

The increase in drilling activity has created a big workforce shortage. Phil Davis, a spokesman for Job Service North Dakota, said 500 more jobs are listed in the Williston-area than one year ago. And they're not just oil-related jobs.

"Every business on Main Street needs staff," Davis said.

The Dakota Access Pipeline story shows how important energy infrastructure, like pipelines, matters to jobs and local economies. The Institute for 21st Century Energy pointed out in a recent report, the Northeast would be out cost over 78,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in GDP by 2020 if pipelines aren’t built.

It’s a reminder of how policies that support energy—such as approving the construction of energy infrastructure like the Dakota Access Pipeline—drives job creation and economic growth.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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