Corps approves final Bakken pipeline permits

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The Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on granting the final permits that were standing in the way of the Dakota Access interstate crude oil pipeline.

With permits already approved earlier this year by the Iowa Utilities Board and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the approval by the Corps now means the controversial Bakken oil pipeline is greenlighted.

“There are no issues in Iowa, all of Iowa is done,” said Ward Lenz, regulatory branch chief for the Corps’ Rock Island District.

The $3.8 billion, 1,168 mile underground pipeline will begin the Bakken region of North Dakota, cross a section of South Dakota, traverse 18 counties in Iowa and end in Illinois.

The project will place 346 miles of pipeline in Iowa, crossing the state on a diagonal from northwest to southeast.

Ward said the Corps will spot check certain portions of the pipeline during construction to ensure that wetland mitigation and permit conditions are met.

Lisa Dillinger, a spokeswoman for pipeline developer Dakota Access, a division of Energy Transfer Partners of Texas, said in a email Tuesday that approval of the remaining 63 Corps permits allows work on the pipeline to begin across the state. Approval also included crossings of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

Regulators in the other states crossed by the pipeline earlier gave their approvals.

“We can now move forward with construction in all areas as quickly as possible in order to limit construction activities to one growing season and be in service by the end of this year,” Dillinger wrote.

The Corps’ approval was met with a mix of criticism and praise.

“Today’s decision from the Army Corps isn’t a surprise,” said a statement from Cherie Mortice, president of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “It has been ‘business as usual’ for Iowa and federal regulators — putting corporate interests ahead of the common good and our land.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Bold Iowa said in statements they plan to pursue non-violent civil disobedience to delay and halt the pipeline.

“We’ll continue to fight tooth and nail — this is not a done deal,” Adam Mason, state policy director at Iowa CCI said in the statement. “We need to leave this oil in the ground and turn the corner to true renewable energies like wind and solar that will create good jobs, protect our environment and build our communities.”

On the other hand, the Midwest Alliance for the Infrastructure Now coalition applauded the permit approvals.

“As a local farmer, I have long supported construction of this project and am pleased that today it becomes a reality,” the group’s chairman, Ed Wiederstein, said in a statement. “It will provide untold benefits to the security of our nation and our economic future. The agriculture industry, in particular, relies on affordable, easy to access energy and the Dakota Access project will provide value for decades to come for the thousands of farmers across our region.”

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