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Property owners air concerns about Dakota Access Pipeline

Some landowners worried about the effect an oil pipeline slated to slice through eastern South Dakota could have on their property plan to make their concerns known.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is currently reviewing an application to authorize the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed line would run from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting through portions of eastern South Dakota, including Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, McPherson and Spink counties. A two-week evidentiary hearing is planned the last week of September and the first week of October.

Nancy Stofferhan and Peggy Hoogestraat are two landowners who are speaking out against the project. They’re part of Dakota Rural Action, a statewide organization, the membership of which is opposed to the pipeline. Dakota Rural Action has a history of involvement with environmental and agricultural issues.

Stofferhan lives west of Sioux Falls between Humboldt and Hartford. Hoogestraat owns property near Hartford.

Stofferhan said some of the opposition to the project is because of the way Dakota Access approached landowners about survey work.

She said some landowners received a call from a company looking tocomplete survey work before they even knew about Dakota Access. She refused access to her property, which resulted in a lawsuit between the landowners and the pipeline. In fact, Stofferhan said, landowners in both Minnehaha and Lincoln counties were sued, but the judges in the cases came to different conclusions. The Lincoln County judge ruled the pipeline company couldn’t come in and survey, but, Stofferhan said, the Minnehaha County judge ruled the survey work is allowed.

Stofferhan said that without a permit from the PUC, the company doesn’t have any right to come in and survey private property. But some property owners have already allowed that to happen, she said, and others have signed easements allowing the pipeline on their property.

Dakota Access officials could not be reached for comment.

Hoogestraat said those who have refused access feel allowing the survey work will set a precedent for future company requests.

“Our concern is that down the road, other private companies will come into our state and also ask for permission without the proper procedure,” Hoogestraat said.

Had the survey requests had been made after the PUC permit was issued, landowners may have been more receptive.

“They would have been more comfortable with the situation knowing the PUC is OK with the thing,” Hoogestraat said.

She said landowners haven’t been as informed as they should be about the pipeline, and the state should have issued more information about the pipeline.

Related: Dakota Access eyes properties for eminent domain

“The information we have found is only because we have spent days and weeks researching this,” Hoogestraat said.

One of the primary concerns with the pipeline for Stofferhan is the potential of leaks. Leaks, she said, are inevitable, and eastern South Dakota is filled with a network of underground drain tiles on agriculture land. Often, these tiles direct water to the nearest creek or waterway.

“If there’s a leak, it’s going to get in the waterways and impact water supplies for communities,” Stofferhan said.

Stofferhan said the proposed route of the pipeline would run behind her business and house, potentially hindering growth plans for the company.

Hoogestraat said that if the pipeline isn’t buried low enough, it could affect future infrastructure development and has the potential to damage existing tile networks.

As she has spoken out against Dakota Access, she said she’s received letters and calls from other property owners in eastern South Dakota who don’t want the pipeline, but are also afraid to voice her concerns.

“Many believe they have no choice but to sign an easement,” she said. “They’re afraid to speak out, and don’t believe they’ll get a good cash settlement if they’re forced to sign.”

Current plans call for the pipeline to move crude oil, but Hoogestraat said, the easements leave the future open for change.

“They say the product can change and they can install additional pipelines within that easement area,” she said. “They can ship other products as they choose and install more pipe along those easements.”

Hoogestrat said she isn’t even comfortable asking the pipeline to alter its proposed route to her neighbor’s property.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s an oil spill,” she said. “It can reach out for a mile or more. There will be a lot of neighbors impacted.”

About Dakota Access Pipeline

— The proposed pipeline would run a 1,133-mile line from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a terminus in Illinois. Approximately 267 miles of pipe would run through eastern South Dakota, including parts of McPherson, Edmunds, Campbell, Spink and Faulk counties.

— An application has been filed with the Public Utilities Commission to run the line through South Dakota. A decision on the application must be made by mid-December. A two-week evidentiary hearing will be the last week of September and the first week of October.

— Dakota Access LLC is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company LLC, which has four publicly traded partnerships: Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, Sunoco Logistics Partners and Sunoco.

Sources: Dakota Access, Public Utilities Commission

This article was written by Elisa Sand from American News, Aberdeen, S.D. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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