Landowners want Bakken pipeline case reopened

Iowa Utilities Board resumes deliberations today

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The Iowa Utilities Board today could decide to reopen the record on the Bakken crude oil pipeline through Iowa.

Several landowners and the Sierra Club are asking the board to allow new evidence in the permitting case, given that the federal government recently lifted a 40-year ban on most domestic oil exports.

Pipeline developer Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, is resisting the motion.

Dakota Access wants to build a hazardous liquid pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa before ending at a terminal in Patoka, Ill.

The Iowa Utilities Board also could decide the fate of the pipeline, and an underlying request to use eminent domain, at its meeting today, although additional public meetings already are scheduled for March.

Iowa is the last state to rule on the proposed $3.8 billion, 30-inch diameter underground pipeline that could ship up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The pipeline would run for 346 miles in Iowa.

President Barack Obama signed a law lifting the oil export ban in December, which came after the Iowa Utilities Board’s 12-day pipeline hearing ended.

Dakota Access has said the pipe would be a safe and more efficient way to move oil that ultimately would help meet domestic demand.

Opponents say the new rules could change where the oil ends up and could influence prices. Because energy security is an issue in the case, they argue, new information should be considered.

“Exporting massive quantities of American oil, at capacities already roughly twice the entire production of the Bakken, drains off our ‘energy security’ while sustaining or expanding the burning of fossil fuels worldwide, exacerbating global warming and the security threats arising from climate disruption,” John Zakrasek stated.

Bret Dublinske, an attorney for Dakota Access, said parties could have addressed concerns through briefs filed in January, after the December hearing. He added the lifting of the export ban doesn’t change the facts of the case; “ample evidence” already has been presented on a hypothetical basis if the ban were to be lifted; and, ultimately, it isn’t a factor anyway.

The three-member utilities board downplayed the lifting of the ban during deliberations last week.

“Whether or not it goes somewhere else or stays here, I don’t think the pipeline is going to change what happens to that oil,” regulator Nick Wagner said. “Production happens because there is demand. ... The pipeline might make it easier to go where demand is, but demand will dictate where it goes.”

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