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A new pipeline could cut through the upper Midwest by late 2016. It would pump crude oil beneath thousands of acres of farmland and the Mississippi River. The proposed route runs through the Tri-State region, including Van Buren, Lee and Hancock Counties. State regulators are preparing to consider whether to grant the required permits for the project.Before that happens, Tri States Public Radio is taking a closer look at the pipeline and how it will impact local communities, economies, and the environment.

Iowa Utilities Board Approves Oil Pipeline

The proposed route for the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Iowa Utilities Board voted 3-0 to grant Dakota Access a permit to construct a crude oil pipeline across the state. The proposed route starts in the northwest corner of the state, traveling nearly 350 miles through 18 counties, before crossing the Mississippi River just north of Keokuk.

The IUB said in a statement 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 479.B.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."

The IUB said the public benefits of the roughly $4 billion project outweighed the public/private costs, specifically citing:

  1. "Significant safety advantages of pipeline transportation of crude oil compared to the alternatives."
  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."

Dakota Access will be able to use eminent domain to secure access to properties where the landowners have not already signed a voluntary easement.
The IUB said it is limiting that power to "The minimum rights necessary for the safe construction and operation of the pipeline." It also said "Landowners will be compensated for any and all damages they incur."

Other requirements are available here.

The pipeline is expected to carry about a half-million barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois. Iowa was the final state to sign off on the project.

The IUB said the process involved

  • 18 public informational meetings
  • Hundreds of pages of pre-filed testimony and briefs
  • Thousands of filed public comments
  • 12-days of a public hearing
  • More than 3,500 pages of transcript
  • 43 intervenors
  • 70 witnesses and weeks of public deliberations.

It also received thousands of letters protesting the pipeline. Opponents can call for a new hearing or take the issue to district court.
Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds issued the following statement after the IUB decision.

"Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds appreciate the thorough, thoughtful and transparent process conducted by the Iowa Utilities Board in reaching a decision. The Iowa Utilities Board allowed many different stakeholders to voice their opinions on the Bakken pipeline and the Governor and Lt. Governor respect the decision made."

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