BOLD Iowa, an Iowa group supporting renewable energy options, is pushing to make sure Iowa is included in a federal review of how the Dakota Access Pipeline will affect the environment.
The group is asking people across the state to sign its petition in time for a Feb. 20 deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive public input on the 1,200-mile project.
So far, the federal government’s environmental impact study, announced Jan. 18, is focusing only on land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. But, the petition organizers argue that is not enough and are petitioning to demand the environmental review also examine the pipeline’s impact in Iowa.
Almost 2,200 signatures had been collected as of late Monday. BOLD Iowa Director Ed Fallon said the group will be collecting signatures right up until the Feb. 20 deadline.
“We’ve been fighting a long time, and very hard,” said Fallon, whose efforts have included walking the entire 400-mile pipeline route through Iowa. “We just have to keep doing what we can.”
All Iowans — even those outside of the 18 counties directly affected by the pipeline route — should be concerned about the pipeline, Fallon said. He cited not only broad concerns about carbon and greenhouse gases amplified by the pipeline itself, but also the destruction of topsoil during its construction.
Iowans should also be concerned about a private company being able to use eminent domain to obtain land from private citizens, he said.
“If government is allowed to use eminent domain for a privately-owned pipeline, where will that stop?” Fallon said.
Dakota Access construction is finished in 15 counties; it’s still being built in Calhoun, Buena Vista and Cherokee counties in northwest Iowa, according to information filed with the Iowa Utilities Board in December.
And while President Trump’s Jan. 24 executive order to expedite the pipeline’s construction was alarming to opponents, Fallon cited several signs that awareness of the pipeline’s impact on Iowa is growing.
Reporters from Rolling Stone and the New York Times have visited the state recently to delve deeper, Fallon said. Also, a ruling is expected in the Polk County Court case filed by nine Polk County landowners last spring. The suit contends that seizure of land for the pipeline violates both Iowa law and the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which states that private property cannot be taken for public use without “just compensation.”