Contentious Bakken pipeline hearings begin

A map of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline (via Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition)
KC McGinnis | November 13, 2015

Hundreds of concerned citizens gathered outside the community building at the Boone County Fairgrounds yesterday for a public hearing on the proposed Bakken pipeline that would cut through 18 Iowa counties.

The three-member Iowa Utilities Board heard testimonies from people both for and against Texas company Dakota Access, LLC. using eminent domain to acquire the land needed for the pipeline, with those for the pipeline citing jobs it would generate and those against citing Americans’ need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. Per the proposal a 30-inch diameter underground pipeline would carry more than half a million barrels of oil per day under Iowa farmland and other public and private lands. 37 percent of landowners approached by Dakota Access have rejected buyouts from the company to build the pipeline on their land, sometimes under intense and repeated pressure.

The Iowa Utilities Board will hear evidence for and against the pipeline starting November 16 and running into early December, with a decision coming by January. Dakota Access already has piping in storage in Iowa, in what some believe is an attempt to convey that the issue has already been settled.

The hearing comes just days after President Obama’s historic decision to strike down the Keystone XL pipeline. Unlike Keystone XL, the Bakken pipeline doesn’t need executive approval from President Obama because it doesn’t cross an international border. Once finished it’s likely developers would look for ways to expand the Bakken’s reach to the Alberta tar sands, just as pipeline companies agreed to expand a North Dakota natural gas pipeline to Alberta earlier this year. The next President may face even tougher opposition from pipeline companies wishing to expand a completed Bakken pipeline into other territories.

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