The promise of jobs won out over the rights of property owners, as both the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Utilities Board today gave the go-ahead to use Iowa farmland to run an oil pipeline through the state, despite an outcry from the landowners and environmentalists.
Eminent domain will be allowed to be used for owners who have not come to an agreement with the out-of-state company, Dakota Access.
Here is more about the decisions from both state entities:
(Des Moines) – After 18 public informational meetings, hundreds of pages of pre-filed testimony and briefs, thousands of filed public comments, 12 days of a public hearing, over 3500 pages of transcript, 43 intervenors, close to 70 witnesses, and weeks of public deliberations, the Iowa Utilities Board made the decision to grant Dakota Access a permit for a Hazardous Liquid Pipeline.
The permit will be issued only after Dakota Access has complied with the additional terms and conditions set forth in the Board’s written order and construction may not commence until the permit is issued.
In consideration of all the evidence and arguments presented in this case the Board found that “subject to the terms and conditions the Board has adopted in this order, the proposed pipeline will promote the public convenience and necessity and, pursuant to Iowa Code 479B.9, a permit is granted and will be issued to Dakota Access after the company has complied with the filing requirements set forth in this order.”
In reaching its decision the Board applied a statutory balancing test, which found the public benefits of the project outweigh the private and public costs with
the terms and conditions imposed by the Board.
The public benefits were found to include (1) significant safety advantages of pipeline transportation of crude oil compared to the alternatives and (2) the jobs and other economic benefits associated with construction and operation of the pipeline, projected to be at least $787 million during the construction period alone.
The Board found the issues that weighed against the project included environmental risks associated with the pipeline and the intrusion on private landowners whose property will be affected. The Board therefore determined that the addition of several terms and conditions were required to protect landowners, attend to land restoration issues, and provide assurances addressing safety and remediation of any potential incidents. The additional terms and conditions the Board placed on the permit included changes to the involuntary easements, the land mitigation plan and parent company guarantees. Further, landowners will be compensated for any and all damages they incur.
Under Iowa law, receipt of a permit includes the right of eminent domain across those parcels where Dakota Access has been unable to negotiate
The Board has limited Dakota Access’s power to utilize eminent domain
to the minimum rights necessary for the safe construction and operation of the pipeline.
Before issuing a permit, the Board has imposed specific terms and conditions and filing requirements that Dakota Access must successfully complete regarding the financial responsibility of Dakota Access and parent companies, environmental impacts of the project and the burden to private interests, particularly landowners, along the proposed route.
•Dakota Access must obtain and maintain a general liability insurance policy in the
amount of at least $25 million
•Dakota Access must demonstrate and file the unconditional and irrevocable
guarantees from its parent companies for remediation of damages from a leak or spill
•Dakota Access must make modifications to easement forms on properties utilizing
eminent domain to include the removal of language that would have
allowed valves on any condemned parcel and the removal of language that would have allowed company access on any portion of a condemned parcel
•Dakota Access must continue to offer to purchase voluntary easements, with the
same terms and conditions already offered to landowners, for the best prices that
have already been offered by Dakota Access, at least until the county compensation
commission meets to assess the damages for each taking
•Dakota Access must file a revised Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan
to include landowner notifications and the separation of all topsoil from affected area
•Dakota Access must file a Winter Construction Plan
•Dakota Access must file quarterly status reports
•Dakota Access must file a statement accepting the terms and conditions the Board
has determined to be just and proper for the permit
With today’s Board decision any party may apply for a rehearing within 20 days
and the Board must then act on the application(s)
within 30 days. Upon such a request, the Board could:
•Grant a rehearing and schedule
•Grant a rehearing solely to allow for further consideration
Parties can also file for judicial review in district court pursuant to procedures laid out in Iowa Code 17A.
The Board intends to issue orders acknowledging receipt of documents filed as required by the terms and conditions laid out in the order. The Board will only
issue the final permit upon acceptance of all required pieces. Construction cannot begin until a permit has been issued by the Board.
Due to the potential for the Board’s involvement in rehearing and/or judicial review, the Board Members will not have any additional comments in relation to the order.
From the Iowa DNR:
DES MOINES – A permit for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline Project to cross publicly-owned land has been approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The permit, however, is still conditional on authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A permit from the DNR would allow Dakota Access to construct the pipe line across the Big Sioux River Complex Wildlife Management Area in Lyon County as well as borings for the pipeline under the Big Sioux River in Lyon County, the Des Moines River in Boone County and the Mississippi River in Lee County.
“We have thoroughly reviewed this application and do not find any long-term negative impact to the environment or natural resources,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.
The permit lays out conditions that address construction techniques required to be used, the timing of construction, environmental resource concerns and long-term maintenance to minimize potential environmental and natural resource impacts as specified in Iowa code (IAC 571 Ch. 13).
A mitigation plan has been negotiated to restore and enhance the type of habitat affected by the construction of the pipeline. The company will pay $400,000 to implement the mitigation plan.
“Iowa has thousands of miles of pipeline underground including many that are under public property. This request and the subsequent permit we would be issuing is not precedent setting,” said Gipp.
In fact, if constructed, the pipeline across the Sioux River Complex Wildlife Management Area would parallel an existing natural gas line.
In the last year, 700 permit applications for construction on public lands were received for review. The DNR issues approximately 200 permits of varying types annually for projects such as streambank stabilization, waterlines, natural gas pipelines, overhead powerlines and fiber optic cables.