State Utilities Board To Hear Emergency Request Against Pipeline

Aug 23, 2016

The Iowa Utilities Board will hear arguments on Thursday morning regarding an emergency motion from a group of 15 landowners who want to keep the Bakken Oil pipeline off their properties. The group's attorney Bill Hannigan contends that condemnation hearings for turning over private land to pipeline company Dakota Access LLC have been faster than what was reasonable for the landowners to anticipate. 

"Customarily, condemnations in Iowa are a six-to-twelve month process, here you’ve got condemnations that began in the month of June that are complete in July and August," says Hannigan. "Due process, which is a constitutional right that all of us have, requires among other things an opportunity to make your case and defend your case." 

The state utilities board  ruled in favor of Dakota Access’s use of eminent domain back in March, so this motion asks the IUB to reconsider its decision.

Last Friday, the landowners asked Polk County District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell for a similar emergency motion to stop pipeline construction, but Farrell ruled on Monday that petitioners had not exhausted their administrative options with the IUB. 

"The exhaustion requirements serves several purposes including honoring agency expertise, handling matters within an agency and not in courts, and preserving judicial recourses," wrote Farrell in his ruling.  

If the landowners are unsuccessful at the IUB, Hannigan says they'll return to the district court. Any decision from the district court will likely be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Dakota Access could not immediately be reached for comment. The company's attorney told Farrell on Friday that delays to pipeline construction could cost more than $8 million. 

Dakota Access is a subsidiary of the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline route will transport crude oil approximately 1,172 miles from North Dakota's Bakken and Three Forks oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa, into Illinois.