A Texas-based company that wants to build a new oil pipeline which would stretch diagonally across Iowa from northwest to southeast, through 18 counties, has scheduled information meetings to begin December 1 and lasting through December 16. The meetings will be held in the affected counties.
The Texas firm, Energy Transfer Partners or ETP, has filed a request with the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to contact landowners and hold the information meetings. This initial filing established the general corridor for the proposed pipeline and set the dates for the meetings. ETP mailed out notices of the information meetings to all landowners in the proposed corridor of the pipeline.
The 30-inch diameter pipeline would pass through 343 miles of land in Iowa, affecting thousands of farmers and other property owners. The pipeline company has already contacted many landowners, asking for permission to conduct surveys.
Pipeline company starts process to try to get state's OK
A subsidiary of ETP, a company called Dakota Access LLC, has actually filed the request to the Iowa Utilities Board asking for permission to build the pipeline. The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota to a southern Illinois distribution point, where the oil would then be sent for further distribution across the country. It would carry 320,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
If you are a landowner who has received a notice from the company, that might not mean the pipeline will definitely go through your property, but rather that it may go close to your property, says Erin Herbold-Swalwell, an attorney who writes the "Legal Issues" column each month in Wallaces Farmer magazine. Be sure to read her column titled "Uneasy about easements?" which will appear in the December 2014 issue of Wallaces Farmer.
After meetings are held, the company can survey land
A more precise map of the planned route will be available at the informational meetings, according to Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners in Dallas, Texas. She says these meetings are open to the public and are meant to inform landowners of the petition process. The company has to petition the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to build the pipeline.
After these information meetings are held, the company can survey and examine the land without it being considered a trespass, says Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Rob Hillesland. The company must give 10 days' written notice by certified mail to the landowner and to any person residing on or in possession of the land. The pipeline company shall pay the actual damages that may be caused by the entry, survey and examination of the land.
At the conclusion of the information meetings held in December, the company can also then begin negotiations for pipeline easements. Herbold-Swalwell encourages all landowners to work with their personal attorney to make sure concerns are addressed and their rights are protected before signing any easement or other document.
Websites where you can get more information
The Iowa Farm Bureau has created a website to provide information on the permit process the pipeline company must follow before construction of the pipeline, and a summary of the pipeline company's duty to restore agricultural lands during and after construction. This website will be updated as new information becomes available.
The Iowa Utilities Board has begun receiving comments from the public, both for and against the project, at its website. This website also has information about dates, times and locations of the December information meetings.