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Dakota Access construction reaches Miner County

Oil is coming to Miner County. The Dakota Access Pipeline Project, funded by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, has begun construction in a stretch of Miner County about 12 miles north of Howard. Workers from Michels Corporation, a constructio...

Land is pictured Thursday about 12 miles north of Howard in Miner County after workers from Michels Corporation have cleared a path to prepare for the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. (Jake Shama/Republic)
Land is pictured Thursday about 12 miles north of Howard in Miner County after workers from Michels Corporation have cleared a path to prepare for the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. (Jake Shama/Republic)

Oil is coming to Miner County.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project, funded by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, has begun construction in a stretch of Miner County about 12 miles north of Howard.

Workers from Michels Corporation, a construction contractor in Brownsville, Wisconsin, are on site with equipment, clearing the future pipeline's path of dirt and growth, including crops.

Already planted for the season, corn and soybeans had to be removed from the area so digging could take place, according to one landowner, Johnny Hofer, whose property is affected by the pipeline

Hofer said crews began work for the project on his land about a week ago, but he's not losing any sleep over it.

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"We'd just as soon not have an oil pipeline going through our land, but it is what it is," Hofer said. "Life's too short to worry."

As for the lost crops, Hofer won't be affected, as he rents out the land to another farmer, who will be reimbursed for the damage. Hofer reached a deal with Dakota Access that provided him with compensation as well, but he declined to give any dollar figures.

The plot of land, located at the intersection of Highway 25 and 221st Street, has been in Hofer's family for 50 years. He hopes the company won't have to return for more digging due to an oil leak, but he's not worried about the possibility.

"That doesn't happen too often, does it?" Hofer said. "They tell me you won't even notice it's there once they have it done and going."

The last major oil spill in South Dakota was reported on April 2 near Freeman, when a section of TransCanada's Keystone oil pipeline leaked about 16,800 gallons into the surrounding soil. Approximately 10,000 tons of soil were removed during the cleanup efforts.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is an approximately 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that is expected to transport up to 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, with a capacity for 570,000 barrels a day.

The pipeline will be buried under at least 3 feet of soil where it crosses under roads or bodies of water and will be buried at least 4 feet deep in agricultural fields.

Dakota Access received permit approval from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Nov. 30 and has begun construction in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. It expects the pipeline to be in service later this year.

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"We are pleased with the progress of construction in each of the four states," said Lisa Dillinger, a media relations representative for Dakota Access. "The Dakota Access pipeline is a vital energy infrastructure project that will provide the safest means of transporting light sweet crude oil to multiple markets across the U.S."

The company expects to install 14 miles of pipeline in Miner County, with a total of 274 miles stretching from Campbell County in the north to Lincoln County in the south before entering Iowa.

The South Dakota portion of the project is expected to cost $820 million, plus an estimated sales tax revenue of $38.5 million for the state during construction. After the project's completion, Dakota Access will pay annual property tax payments to each traversed county. The company will pay an estimated $13.5 million in property tax payments to South Dakota counties in its first year in service.

The company has also completed easement agreements with individual landowners but would not disclose how much the landowners received.

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