IUB Says Bakken Pipeline Construction Can Begin

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Ron Scott/Noun Project

By a 2-1 vote, the Iowa Utilities Board voted today to allow Texas-based Dakota Access LLC to begin construction on its crude oil pipeline in Iowa.

Dakota Access is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and, even with today’s ruling, cannot begin construction over about 2.5 percent of the pipeline’s proposed route across waterways in the state until it gets the federal permit. The company also needs to be re-approved for a sovereign lands construction permit that was revoked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service late last month because of the possible presence of Sioux burial sites along part of the pipeline’s path. In an email to the Des Moines Register over the weekend, state archaeologist John Doershuk said he believed that the pipeline would miss the burial grounds after touring the site in northwest Iowa’s Lyon County.

Today, the IUB’s Geri Huser was the only board member to vote against allowing construction to begin elsewhere along the pipeline’s 346-mile proposed route, at least where landowners’ lawsuits against eminent domain seizures are holding things up. Huser previously expressed concerns that allowing construction to begin before the federal approvals would contradict the pre-construction terms of the permit the IUB initially granted Dakota Access in March.

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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.