The Iowa Utilities Board is providing one last chance for the public to weigh-in on the proposed Bakken oil pipeline. The IUB will hold a public hearing on the controversial project next week at the county fairgrounds at Boone in central Iowa. The IUB will gather public comments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You have to register with IUB to testify and you must call IUB at 515-725-7300 in Des Moines on November 6 to register.
The pipeline across Iowa is proposed by Dakota Access LLC, a unit of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. If built, the pipeline would carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution center in southern Illinois. The pipeline would slice diagonally across Iowa. The IUB has scheduled the November 12 hearing at Boone to gather public comment on the company's plans. The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition says it will hold a rally and press conference at 8 a.m. outside the hearing location, prior to when the IUB hearing begins at 9 a.m. that day.
IUB will decide whether to allow use of eminent domain for pipeline
The IUB is expected to make a decision sometime in December or January on whether to grant Dakota Access LLC a permit to build the pipeline. Dakota Access says it has already obtained voluntary agreements on more than 68% of the tracts of land needed in Iowa. Some farmers and other landowners steadfastly refuse to sign easement agreements.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said earlier this week he supports the use of eminent domain in some circumstances for pipeline projects. He says he will let IUB decide whether the use of eminent domain is justified in this case, to obtain needed easements for land to build the proposed Bakken oil pipeline through Iowa. "I think eminent domain should be used very sparingly, but there are times when it is appropriate," he said.
When asked whether a for-profit company should be allowed to take property owners' land for a project that would simply pass through the state and the oil would not be used here, the governor downplayed those concerns. "They're not taking the land. They are only using the land to put a pipeline through, and we already have thousands of miles of pipeline in Iowa," he said. He noted that pipelines are currently used in Iowa to transport gasoline, natural gas, anhydrous ammonia and other products.
If you want to testify at Bakken pipeline hearing, call IUB today
The Iowa Utilities Board announced earlier this week it is allowing early registration for people who want to offer public comment next week on plans for the pipeline. The board's rules for conducting the Nov. 12 hearing at Boone drew immediate criticism from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an activist group that strongly opposes the pipeline.
IUB announced that speakers at the hearing will be called in alternating order with each pipeline opponent followed by a pipeline supporter. ICCI spokesman Nathan Malachowski says this format will result in a misleading perception of public sentiment for the pipeline project, which he believes faces overwhelming opposition from landowners and others along the proposed 343 mile route. The pipeline is to enter the northwest corner of Iowa and exit the state's southeast corner.
How IUB decided on rules for testimony at the public hearing
Malachowski has looked at the number of objections submitted so far to IUB by Iowans, and "they greatly outnumber the letters of support from Iowans. Limiting public comment on this controversial issue is undemocratic and is frankly shameful," he says.
IUB spokesman Don Tormey says the board disagrees with the idea that the rules for the public hearing to gather comment will give a misleading impression. He says there are two sides to the proposed project, those who oppose IUB issuing a permit to build the pipeline across Iowa and those in favor of issuing a permit for the pipeline project. "Opportunities to speak at the public hearing will be split evenly between people on both sides of the issue," says Tormey.
Hearing is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 12 at Boone County Fairgrounds
The public hearing will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 at the Community Building at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Boone. Tormey says a large number of people are expected to speak, so IUB is establishing an advance sign-up process. The public hearing will be followed this month by a trial-like evidence hearing before the board decides whether to issue a permit to allow the pipeline project to proceed and be built.
Anyone who wants to make public comments should call the IUB office in Des Moines on Friday, November 6 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The number is 515-725-7300. You will need to give your name, address and say whether you want to speak for or against the issuance of a state permit for the project. The completed list will be posted on the board's website on Monday November 9. If the list of preregistered speakers is completed before the end of the hearing on November 12, the board will hear from unscheduled speakers until 5 p.m., the IUB official says.