A statement from MHA nation’s Chairman Mark Fox is Exhibit No. 1 in the Dakota Access pipeline's updated analysis of economic harm caused if the line ceases operation while a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement is completed.
Dakota Access also filed documents from various experts showing that the economic impacts are as bad as stated before, if not, at least in some cases, much worse.
In his sworn statement, Fox said the MHA Nation opposes any shutdown of the pipeline, which transports more than 60 percent of oil produced on the Fort Berthold Reservation to market. The resulting estimated loss in revenue to MHA Nation exceeds $160 million for a one-year period, and $250 million for a two-year period.
MHA Nation has 16,808 enrolled members, and the revenue from that oil production is critical to them, Fox said.
“More than 80 percent of our tribal budget in the current fiscal year comes from oil and gas royalties and tax revenue,” he wrote. “These funds are used by the MHA Nation to pay for things like health insurance for our members, contractual commitments for ongoing infrastructure projects, tribal courts, law enforcement and drug enforcement, a child safety center and foster home, elder care and assistance, housing and many other programs and needs on our Reservation.”
The funds have also been used to construct community buildings like new schools, athletic fields, cultural centers, health clinics, emergency management centers, law enforcement centers and courthouses, Fox goes on to say.
“Oil and gas revenue also goes to construct and maintain highways and maintain our regulatory infrastructure,” he wrote. “The MHA Nation spends significant revenue to fund tribal regulatory agencies charged with mitigating the environmental and social impacts of oil and gas development, to ensure that our oil and gas resources are developed in a responsible manner, and as well to protect our land, water, air and species against not just the impacts of energy development but also the very real threats of climate change, so that we may preserve our culture and ways of life for generations to come.”
The sharp drop in oil prices brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a concurrent price war started by Saudi Arabia and Russia have already had a sharp negative effect on revenue for the tribe, and relief dollars have not made up the difference.
“That gaping lost revenue gap has greatly affected our ability to meet our contractual and commitments and fund our planned programs and projects,” Fox wrote. “The MHA Nation can thus not afford further challenges to its ability to get its oil production to market.”
Shutting in the pipeline would also cause an estimated five additional traffic fatalities per year, according to state highway statistics.
That increased traffic also means more dust and vehicle emissions, which pose both short and long-term risks to the health and safety of MHA Nation, as well as to its livestock and other species of animals and fish inhabiting their land and waters, Fox wrote.
Dakota Access, meanwhile, submitted sworn statements from its experts that show losses are at least as high, and in some cases higher, than it had estimated in November 2020.
Job losses would range between 14,540 to 24,090 jobs, 2.5 to 4.1 percent of all jobs in North Dakota. The previous estimate was between 4,500 to 7,200 jobs.
They also argued that as the EIS nears completion — perhaps even by the end of the year — the shorter duration weighs more heavily against a shutdown.
“An immediate economic shock would still occur, followed by even less marked incentive to invest the time and capital needed to move DAPL volumes to rail,” Dakota Access said in its filing.
It would take an estimated eight to 12 months to make the changes required to shift large portions of Dakota Access pipeline's 400,000-some barrels of oil per day to rail, DAPL’s transportation consultant William J. Rennicke wrote in his sworn statement.