Corps of Engineers unlikely to block Bakken pipeline through Iowa

Negotiations for land to continue as construction begins

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An official with the Army Corps of Engineers said the agency is unlikely to block an interstate crude oil pipeline based on a required permit dealing with impacts on endangered species and federal water crossings.

Ward Lenz, regulatory branch chief for the Corps Rock Island District, said it would be unusual for the agency to reject pipeline developer Dakota Access’ permit request, and people should expect the permit request filed by pipeline developer Dakota Access to be approved.

“These nationwide permits, they were developed for commonplace impacts, and utility lines and pipelines and water lines are types of projects that happen all over the country all the time,” Lenz said on Friday.

The Iowa Utilities Board and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved the permits for the pipeline Thursday, clearing the way for construction as long as the Corps permit goes through.

It’s unclear what delays may come from lawsuits from landowners and other opponents.

Dakota Access, which did not comment on Thursday, said Friday they were pleased with the decision and are ready to move forward. Iowa was the last of four states to approve the pipeline, which already had a green light from North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois.

“We now have the necessary decisions from all four states regarding this important energy infrastructure project,” Dakota Access Spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

Some opponents of the $3.8 billion, 1,168 mile four state pipeline turned their attention to the Corps, as one of the last hopes to stop the pipeline.

Lenz said his agency still is coordinating with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Historic Preservation Act and native tribes on the permit, so it could still be several weeks or a month before an order is made.

Among the requirements of the Nationwide Permit 12, which addresses utility line activity including pipelines, the upper threshold limit is .5 acres of wetlands impacts and .5 acres of stream impacts, he said.

“As long as there project meets the requirements under Nationwide Permit 12, we’d approve it,” he said.

The company said it will wait for all necessary permits to begin construction but could start before securing all of the needed land.

“Dakota Access will continue to work with landowners to negotiate voluntary easement agreements as construction begins,” Granado stated in the email.

In addition to approving the hazardous liquid pipeline permit through Iowa, the utilities board granted Dakota Access, a division of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, permission to use eminent domain to take land in the path of the pipeline from resistant landowners at a market rate.

According to Dakota Access, the company has 90 percent of the properties across the four states. Iowa, which with 346 miles has the biggest stretch of the pipeline, has the most holdouts.

Dakota Access still needs land easements for nearly one-in-five parcels, or 18 percent, of the land needed across Iowa’s 18 counties.

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