Bakken pipeline protest brings 30 arrests

Demonstrators block access to construction staging area in Boone

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BOONE — Thirty people were arrested Wednesday at a construction staging area as they protested the Bakken pipeline being built across Iowa.

It may be the first of many such protests, the event’s organizer said.

Roughly 100 people came to protest at the staging site near the Central Iowa Expo Center. A few dozen protesters blocked four entrances to the work area that houses heavy machinery and construction workers’ vehicles.

Because they were on private property and were asked to move, those who refused to make way for vehicles coming in and out of the staging area were arrested by law enforcement officials with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and Iowa State Patrol.

The 30 arrested were transported to the Boone County Jail on charges of trespassing, the sheriff’s department said.

The protest was organized by the advocacy group Bold Iowa and its leader, former state legislator Ed Fallon. Protesters want to halt the interstate oil pipeline being built by Texas-based Dakota Access.

When completed, the $3.8 billion, 1,168-mile underground pipeline will carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to a distribution hub in Illinois. The pipeline will cross Iowa from northwest to southeast, spanning 347 miles and 18 counties.

Those opposed to the pipeline mainly cite concerns for environmental damage caused by leaks or spills, and the use of eminent domain to force landowners to cede land to a private company.

Fallon called Wednesday’s protest, which lasted about two hours, a success and a prelude of more to come.

“We actually shut down traffic for a little while, and we certainly made our point,” Fallon said. Protesters “are going to continue to fight this thing. With state government failing us, and our courts failing us, this is our only option.”

Fallon said he plans to protest again and subject himself to possible arrest on a property through which the pipeline project is passing.

One of the people arrested was Adam Mason, state policy director for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. At an organizing meeting earlier, Mason said those protesting believe the state regulatory process failed them.

The pipeline project in Iowa was approved by the state utilities board, which is made up of three governor’s appointees. Opponents unsuccessfully petitioned the board to overturn its ruling and some landowners have a lawsuit pending in district court.

“Committed activists willing to take an arrest for the movement has been a way to advance our cause,” Mason said. “And that’s what we’re here for today, is to send a message to more Iowans, to politicians and to Dakota Access that we’re not giving up. We don’t want this pipeline. It’s not good for our communities, and it’s not good for our planet.”

Also arrested was Miriam Kashia, of North Liberty, of the 100 Grannies activist group.

“We’ve actually used up all of our other options. We have had dozens and hundreds of letters and petitions and demonstrations and letters to the editor … and they have not made a dent,” Kashia said earlier Wednesday. “So we are resorting to direct action, because history tells us that’s what works. … We are totally committed to non-violent, peaceful, respectful action.”

There were no violent events during the protest, and law enforcement officials at the site expressed satisfaction with how it unfolded.

Among the protesters was Dick Lamb, who owns land a few miles from the protest site through which the pipeline is passing.

“They are tearing through (our property), separating the precious topsoil,” Lamb said. “We feel betrayed by our state government, all three branches of it. They didn’t stop (the pipeline). They enabled it.”

The protesters stated their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been protesting the pipeline in North Dakota.

Wednesday, eight people were arrested there after protesters descended on a work site and two men bound themselves to construction equipment, authorities said.

So far, 37 people including Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault have been arrested in those protests.

The Fargo Forum and Bismark Tribune contributed to this report.

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