KC McGinnis | February 19, 2016
After wrapping up four days of deliberations last week, the Iowa Utilities Board announced it will be adding additional public hearings that could stretch into March.
The IUB is debating the possibility of granting a pipeline permit to Texas-based Dakota Access LLC for the construction of a crude oil pipeline starting in North Dakota and terminating in Illinois. The permit would give the company eminent domain, the right to seize private land for use that is deemed to contribute to a public good. At issue are the environmental concerns of continued fossil fuel usage and their effects on Iowa climate and the risks associated with transporting the crude oil under farm fields.
The credibility of the IUB came under fire Wednesday as Davenport resident Kriss Wells filed a motion to recuse one of its three board members, former Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives Nick Wagner, over comments he made about not wanting to recognize whether climate change is caused by fossil fuels because holding such a position may damage his political career. Noting the fact that climate change was listed as one of the factors the board is to take into consideration in its decision, Wells saw Wagner’s statement as indicative of a conflict of interest. Wagner responded by saying climate change is not a heavy factor in the deliberations and that the pipeline would not increase the already existing market demand for oil.
Discussions could end today even though the IUB has already scheduled additional meetings for March.