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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.

Lee County Wants to be Reimbursed by Pipeline Company

Jason Parrott
Members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office prepared to face off with pipeline protesters last fall near Sandusky, Iowa.

The members of the Lee County Board want to know why the county is not being reimbursed for all of its expenses related to construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. They say local tax dollars should not be spent in any way on the project.

The multi-state pipeline cuts through Lee County from its northwest corner to its southeast corner, crossing the Mississippi River near Sandusky.

The county hired a pipeline inspection firm to oversee the construction and work with local property owners to make sure their needs were being met by Dakota Access. The county’s budget director said Tuesday afternoon that Dakota Access is paying for that service.

But the company is not reimbursing the county for other expenses.

Chief Deputy Will Conlee told the county board that the Sheriff’s Office spent at least $4,000 on overtime, uniform replacement, and other equipment as deputies dealt with frequent protests of the pipeline last fall. More than 50 people were arrested on a variety of charges including trespassing and interference with official acts.

Conlee said he assumed that the Sheriff’s Office would have to assume those expenses.

Supervisor Matt Pflug of Keokuk said that’s not right. He said the county was told there would be no expenses, so all expenses that have not been reimbursed should be presented to Dakota Access.

“If those folks would not have been here putting the pipeline in, we would not have had those expenses,” said Pflug.

The board wants county staff, elected leaders, and department heads to put together a comprehensive bill for county-related expenses that would be sent to Dakota Access. The affected departments are expected to include the Sheriff's Office and the Secondary Roads Department.

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