Delays loom ahead for Iowa Bakken pipeline

The Iowa segment of the Dakota Access pipeline could be delayed after the recent discovery of a possible archaeological site in northwest Iowa. If confirmed, further delays to the controversial project would come from relocation and rerouting of that part of the pipeline.

Construction has already begun on the 1,150-mile pipeline through Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota, but in Iowa, Dakota Access must wait to build.

Williston, North Dakota pipes -- photo by Lindsey G
Williston, North Dakota pipes — photo by Lindsey G

In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet issued permits for the construction of the pipeline over the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Last week, the Corps said its permitting process could take at least another two months.

Lawsuits filed in recent weeks challenge the eminent domain access granted to the company. Eminent domain is granted to allow private appropriation for public use, but Dakota Access is not a public utility. The company is a private subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners in Texas.

In Cherokee County, two families have asked the court to suspend condemnation proceedings on their land, which are currently set for June 13 in Cherokee County. Their lawyer, Bill Hanigan, said he expects more lawsuits to be filed in coming weeks across the state.

Another lawsuit was filed in Polk County challenging the pipeline last month. In other counties, condemnation of land from property owners has already begun. Almost 1,300 landowners in Iowa were approached to sell access to their land for the pipeline.

The final clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees “just compensation” for landowners who are subject to eminent domain and must forfeit their land to make way for highways or other large building projects.

If completed, the underground pipeline will cary over a half million barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota to an Illinois refinery.

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