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Little Known about Proposed Pipeline Through Illinois and Iowa


It appears state agencies in Iowa and Illinois know very little about a proposed pipeline through the tri-state region.

Energy Transfer Partners recently announced its plans to build a roughly 1,100 mile crude oil pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.

The Texas-based company included a relatively vague map with its announcement.  It shows the pipeline exiting Lee County between Keokuk and Fort Madison, crossing the Mississippi River and passing through Hancock County on its way to Jacksonville and beyond.

The pipeline will need approval from multiple agencies in Illinois and Iowa, but at this point, the agencies are still looking for answers.

The Iowa Utilities Board will determine whether the pipeline can be built and has only had preliminary talks with the company.

Spokesperson Rob Hillisland said the Iowa Utilities Board must wait until the public is fully informed of the project.

“There would be an informational meeting held in each county that is proposed to be affected along the proposed route before a petition and a review process would even begin," Hillisland said.

There are 17 counties in Iowa that could be affected so it’s unclear how long the public meeting phase could take.

The Iowa Utilities Board will eventually weigh in on the route of the pipeline and whether eminent domain can be used as well.

Kevin Baskins said the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is also dealing with a lack of information about the project as the company and the agency have spoken just one time about the pipeline.

Baskins said the DNR will be involved in the issuing of construction-related permits, such as for air quality or water run-off.

"(Until) we kind of get the specifics of what they are proposing, it is hard to really speculate on what type of requirements we might put on them," Baskins said, "but certainly that is something we will be looking at very carefully.”

Baskins says the process of issuing permits for the pipeline will be no different than what it would be for any other business in Iowa, with public meetings and comment periods.

Meanwhile east of the Mississippi River, the Illinois Commerce Commission declined comment on the pipeline because it had not seen a formal proposal from the company.

A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the Division of Oil & Gas does not have a role in regulating pipelines - only the production phase.

Energy Transfer Partners says its goal is to complete the pipeline by the end of 2016.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.