Des Moines, Iowa — Another group has entered the battle to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would transport Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, passing through portions of Lyon, Sioux and O’Brien counties here in northwest Iowa. Now, an attorney for the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club says the Iowa Utilities Board should not allow Dakota Access to start building the Bakken oil pipeline in Iowa. The Sierra Club is filing a petition for Judicial Review in Polk County District Court challenging the decision to grant a construction permit for the pipeline.
Attorney Wally Taylor is not sure what will happen next after the I-U-B indicated Wednesday it was moving toward allowing Dakota Access to begin construction in areas where it had obtained the proper permits.
I-U-B members asked their legal counsel to draw up an order that would allow construction to begin in areas not under the jurisdiction of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers while the Corps continues work on approving permits. Taylor says allowing construction goes against the guidelines the I-U-B issued for the permit.
Taylor says the chair of the I-U-B correctly raised concerns Wednesday that allowing construction to start would take away the board’s control over the project.
The Sierra Club’s request that the permit approval be reconsidered was turned down, and that is why the organization is now filing the petition for a review of the decision. He says they are raising several issues about the process for awarding the construction permit.
Taylor says they also have a concern with the regulators allowing Dakota Access to get access when property owners don’t want to voluntarily allow it.
Dakota Access plans call for the pipeline to cross 18 Iowa counties, including Lyon, Sioux, and Osceola, carrying crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it will link with another pipeline. The order allowing Dakota Access to begin construction could be voted on by the I-U-B next week.
Earlier this week the Iowa State Archaeologist’s Office became involved in the pipeline issue, when a Native American tribe suggested that the route of the pipeline in Lyon County would take it through a “culturally significant site” located within the Big Sioux Wildlife Management Area. State Archaeologist John Doershuk says the site is property managed by the Iowa DNR, but over which the US Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction. The area also corresponds to one of the pipeline sections for which the US Army Corps of Engineers has permitting authority.