March 2016, Vol. 243, No. 3

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Iowa Panel Says Construction Can Begin on Oil Pipeline

DES MOINES (AP) — State utility regulators have deemed that construction can begin on the Bakken oil pipeline in Iowa as soon as federal permits are obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and two other plans are filed.

The Iowa Utilities Board voted unanimously this past week to issue the order, which declares that Dakota Access LLC has substantially complied with conditions established last month when the state panel approved the pipeline project, the Des Moines Register reported.

Dakota Access, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, has received state regulatory approval in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois for a 1,168-mile pipeline that will transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch to a distribution hub at Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline will cross through 18 Iowa counties and 1,300 parcels of land.

The project has been opposed by environmental and community activists, some farmers and Native Americans. Opponents believe an oil spill will inevitably occur and fear that could damage farmland, pollute waterways and harm wildlife and fragile habitat.

Wallace Taylor, a lawyer for the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, said Friday his organization is considering a legal challenge to the Iowa Utilities Board’s approval of the pipeline project. Lawsuits also are possible from farmers opposed to the board’s decision, which grants Dakota Access the right of eminent domain to take private land in exchange for fair market compensation.

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