The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that transports crude oil from North Dakota to a hub in Illinois will be allowed to double its flow through Iowa to 1.1 million barrels a day, according to an order issued Friday by the Iowa Utilities Board (embedded below).
The IUB’s ruling comes in response to a petition filed last November by Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, requesting the approval of a proposal to upgrade a pumping station located outside the town of Cambridge in rural Story County. The company submitted another document in January after the IUB requested more information about the proposal’s safety. The order issued by the state regulatory board Friday said that upgrading the pumping station would not “significantly increase the risk of a spill, or the amount of oil that would be spilled if an incident occurred.”
Completed in 2017, nearly three years after it was initially proposed to the public, the Dakota Access Pipeline was fiercely opposed in Iowa by an unorthodox coalition of environmental activists and landowners trying to protect their property from seizure by eminent domain. Opposition to the pipeline eventually received international attention because of sustained protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. The Informer extensively covered the fight over the project’s approval.
Arguments against doubling the pipeline’s crude oil flow through Iowa echoed past complaints, including the harm it could cause to agricultural land and its negative impact on climate change. In its order Friday, the IUB said it had “addressed issues regarding climate change and safety of the pipeline in the March 10, 2016 order granting the permit, as well as other issues raised by parties regarding the petition for a permit.” (As we reported about a month before the permit was granted, the IUB was not sympathetic to climate change arguments then, either.)
Despite the setback, foes of the pipeline also had reason to celebrate this week. On Wednesday, a federal court ordered the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a thorough environmental review of the pipeline after its permits were found to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Wednesday’s ruling was the latest development in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against President Trump, who signed an executive order shortly after he was inaugurated to fast-track completion of the pipeline after the Obama administration temporarily halted construction of the pipeline near the tribe’s reservation in September 2016. The tribe sued the Trump administration, and in June 2017, a federal judge ruled that the Army Corps’ environmental review of the project had been inadequate.