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Despite Latest Push, Bakken Pipeline Not a 'Done Deal'


Tuesday, May 17, 2016   

DES MOINES, Iowa - Groups opposing the Bakken Pipeline say despite the latest push to start construction this week, the fight in Iowa is far from finished.

Conservation and community groups claim the pipeline would pose environmental risks and hamper progress for renewable energy in the Midwest.

While the Iowa Utilities Board approved the project in March, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not.

Last week, Texas oil company Dakota Access requested the Iowa Utilities Board allow construction to begin today anyway.
But Wally Taylor, legal chair for the Sierra Club's Iowa Chapter, says his group filed a response to that request yesterday.

"Dakota Access made a firm commitment that they would not begin any construction until they had all the authorizations, because they thought it was going to be a slam dunk to get the Corps authorizations," says Taylor. "And it hasn't been. They thought they'd have those by the first of the year, and they haven't."

Dakota Access has said getting started promptly on the 1,100-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois is critical to avoid the construction stretching into the winter, and that delays are increasing the project's cost.

Dakota Access has argued it should be able to start the work because the Corps of Engineers controls only a small percentage of land for the pipeline's route through Iowa.

However, Taylor says that would be nearly impossible.

"Acre-wise, the Corps areas are not all that great," he says. "There's so many of them along the route, that there's no way Dakota Access could build the pipeline without the Corps' authorizations."

There are about 60 Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional areas along the pipeline's 347-mile route through Iowa.

Taylor adds even if construction is approved, there are other actions pipeline opponents could take.

"We're going to appeal the Board's decision to grant the permit, and we will ask the court to issue a stay or temporary injunction," Taylor says. "We could also file a lawsuit against the Corps and ask for a stay or an injunction in federal court."

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