Regulators to admit new evidence in Bakken case

Decision scheduled for next week

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Iowa regulators overruled the objection of pipeline developer Dakota Access and will allow new evidence in a case for a proposed interstate crude oil pipeline nearly three months after the evidentiary record was closed.

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) released an order on Wednesday stating evidence — three news articles — will be submitted to the case file and the board will officially take note that the federal ban on exporting oil had been lifted in December after the record closed.

The evidentiary window in the case closed after a 12-day hearing ended in early December. After that period, the IUB allowed several weeks for briefs in response to the evidence presented.

It is unclear whether allowing new evidence on Wednesday opens the door for responses or the submission of other new evidence. It is also unclear whether it will change the timeline for reaching a decision next week, but it appears unlikely.

“The repeal of the ban is, as Dakota Access says, a change in law that does not require admission into the record, but it may create a clearer record to have it included,” the order states. “The three articles may lack foundation, but the board will admit them for whatever they may be worth.”

The board previously scheduled meetings next Wednesday and Thursday in Des Moines to make a ruling, and those plans have not changed. A notice for the meeting states new evidence and witness statements will not be taken.

When asked for clarification, IUB spokesman Don Tormey said only the Wednesday’s order speaks for itself.

Several Iowa landowners on the proposed pipeline route requested the new information arguing the federal changes could directly impact the end use of the oil shipped on the 30-inch diameter underground pipeline stretching 1,168 miles from North Dakota to Illinois.

Dakota Access, a Texas based division of Energy Transfer Partners, resisted calling the federal changes “not relevant” to the case and noted “shippers will control where the oil is refined and where the product is delivered.”

In its order, the IUB state the lack of affidavit or testimony to support the new information in the articles by CNN Money, Houston Business Journal, and Bulk Transporter means the new evidence “lack foundation,” but will be allowed.

Iowa is the last of four states on the pipeline route to make a decision. North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois have all given approval.

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