Bakken Pipeline Decision May Not Come Until March [Updated]

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Update, 2/11: The Iowa Utilities Board has decided against making a decision today on Dakota Access LLC’s pipeline permit petition. Instead, the board scheduled a fifth public meeting on Feb. 19, also from 1-4 p.m. in Des Moines, and also “reserved” March 9-10 for additional meetings. “If the Board reaches a decision during any of these meetings, a decision is not final until a written order is issued,” an update on its website says.

Original post, 2/11: At 1 p.m., the Iowa Utilities Board will hold its final of four public meetings this week to review Dakota Access LLC’s petition for a hazardous pipeline permit. Iowa is the only of the four states the pipeline would cross, from the Bakken and Three Forks shales in North Dakota to a hub in Illinois, whose regulators have not yet approved the project, but that could soon change.

The Des Moines Register reported that the IUB went into closed session on Wednesday:

“Chairwoman Geri Huser said the board will return to a public session at 1 p.m. Thursday. The closed session was intended to allow discussion on possible litigation regarding the pipeline project, a possible decision on the permit and to consider confidential information.”

Register reporter William Petroski added: “Dakota Access has been so confident about the likelihood of approval that huge supplies of pipe for the project have already been stockpiled in Iowa.”

Dakota Access also joined local chambers of commerce near the pipeline’s proposed route, including the one in Ames. “[Ames Chamber] President Dan Culhane said it’s not uncommon for an out-of-state contractor to join a local chamber in the lead up to a large construction project,” the Newton Daily News reported last September.

To get caught up to speed on how the project has gotten to this point, check out the Informer‘s timeline of events since it was first announced in June 2014. For information about today’s IUB meeting, read here.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.