Iowa Utilities Board Orders Dakota Access to File New Insurance Documents [Updated]

A construction site along the Bakken pipeline's route in Campbell, South Dakota. Photo: Lars Plougmann/Flickr

Update, 6/13: Dakota Access has filed updated insurance documents in time for today’s deadline ordered last week by the board. You can view them here.

Update, 6/10: In a follow-up email, Dakota Access spokesperson Vicki Granado said the company has “confirmed that all required insurance is in place.” The Informer has reached out to the Iowa Utilities Board for confirmation.

Original post: On Friday afternoon, the Iowa Utilities Board filed an order (embedded below) requiring Dakota Access LLC to submit updated information about its insurance policies for the crude oil pipeline that crosses the state and began service June 1. The order notes that on May 15, Dakota Access filed endorsements extending its policies to June 1 but nothing since.

“As of June 7, 2017, no such filing has been made,” the IUB ruled. “It is important that the Board have accurate, up-to-date information regarding the insurance for this pipeline.” The order gives Dakota Access until June 13 to either file new insurance policies or provide “a detailed report describing the status of the policies and stating when they will be filed.”

Richard Lozier, Terry Branstad’s most recent appointee to the IUB, did not sign the order because of a conflict of interest. Before joining the board in May, Lozier worked as an attorney representing the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, a trade industry coalition that supported the pipeline project.

The IUB gave initial approval for the pipeline’s construction in March 2016, granting the company a permit the following month with the condition that it obtain at least $25 million worth of insurance. Dakota Access filed general liability, excess liability, and umbrella insurance policies with the IUB on March 16, 2016, that provided coverage through March 15 of this year. On March 22, the company filed documents showing the terms of the policies had been extended to May 1, and on May 15 further extended the terms to June 1.

“Dakota Access is clearly out of compliance with its permit and should be shut down,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, in a statement to the Informer. “They are either too sloppy to comply with their permit or they can’t get insurance to cover their inherently risky pipeline. Either way, they should not be allowed to operate until they are fully in compliance with the law.”

Reached for comment, Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for Dakota Access, said that’s what the company intends to do. “We will follow all rules and regulations that govern our pipeline,” she said.

Opponents of the pipeline also have two cases pending before the Iowa Supreme Court, one of them filed against the IUB by the Iowa Sierra Club over the project’s permitting, that they hope will eventually force Dakota Access to shut service down.

While the company was preparing the pipeline for service, three spills were reported, although none of them were in Iowa.

Gavin Aronsen
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.