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Dakota Access pushes IUB for decision on Bakken pipeline

Dakota Access LLC, the Texas-based company proposing the Bakken pipeline, is urging the Iowa Utilities Board to make a decision quickly on whether or not the use of eminent domain will be allowed for the company to gain access to properties where landowners have not signed over rights.

The pipeline would initially carry 320,000 barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale through South Dakota and Iowa en route to a hub in Pakota, Ill., that connects to a Texas-bound pipeline. It would extend 343 miles through Iowa and transverse 18 counties in the state, including Story and Boone. The total cost of the project would be $3.8 billion, according to IUB.

Beginning on Nov. 12, and ending last Monday, the IUB held hearings to decide if permits would be issued and eminent domain would be granted to enable the pipeline’s construction. The IUB originally said that they expected to make a decision in December or early January but that timeline has since been changed to February, which may interfere with the Dakota Access’ planned construction schedule, if the permits are approved.

“It is our hope that the IUB adheres to the original schedule of issuing a decision by early January to ensure the timely construction of this important energy infrastructure project, so we can safely transport domestically produced crude oil to refining markets as quickly as possible. We will do all we can to support the IUB in its decision-making process to meet this time frame,” said Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for Dakota Access.

This move by Dakota Access has caused concern among opponents of the pipeline’s construction who have argued that the company is not considering the voice of Iowans.

“Dakota Access and their blatant disregard for the best interest of Iowans is made clear by the pressure they are applying to the Iowa Utilities Board to speed up the decision on the proposed Bakken Pipeline. It’s a disgrace that Dakota Access would ask this of IUB when Iowans have already demanded that the permitting process be pushed back to allow for stronger eminent domain protections to be enacted during the upcoming legislative session,” said Nathan Malachowski, a member of Citizens for Community Improvement.

Related: South Dakota approves Dakota Access Bakken pipeline

The Sierra Club, an organization that has publicly opposed the pipeline, also released a statement saying that it stands by the decision of Geri Huser, chair of the IUB, that allows the board to take as much time as they need to make a decision.

“The parties need to be given adequate time to prepare briefs covering the legal issues, review legal precedent and analyze the testimony that was provided with respect to the IUB rules and statutory authority,” Pam Mackey-Taylor, conservation chair for the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Furthermore, Iowans expect a thorough, well-considered decision.”

Neila Seaman, director of the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, said that the IUB should not feel the need to make a quick decision just because Dakota Access failed to plan for the decision making process.

“Dakota Access should have built time into its schedule to provide regulatory review of its request,” Seaman said. “Failing to do so should not pressure the IUB into a hasty decision. Iowans expect the IUB to do a thorough review, one that will protect all Iowans, not just an out-of-state corporation.”

Donald Tormey, an IUB spokesman, said that the IUB has not been contacted by Dakota Access directly and the board will not be influenced by any statements made by the company.

“To clarify, the Board has not been contacted by Dakota Access either formally or informally and Dakota Access has not filed a pleading with the Board requesting expedited treatment. I would note that Iowa law does not impose a deadline on the Board to make its decision. The Board has recently indicated that a decision may be (made) in February 2016, but that is not an exact date as this case continues to develop,” Tormey said. “If the Board needs more time to make its decision in this case, they will certainly do so.”

To date, Dakota Access claims to have acquired voluntary easements to 76 percent of the properties along the Iowa route.

This article was written by Austin Harrington from Ames Tribune, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.