After two years of hearings, open houses, rallies, protests, and public comment periods, the debate on the Dakota Access Pipeline, for reasons beyond understanding, continues to live to see another day.
This decision was made months ago when the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) approved construction. The pipeline is already being placed in the ground all across Iowa so construction can be completed in a timely manner that least affects landowners. Done deal, right?
Unfortunately, a small group of opponents would rather drag the state through the process yet again, despite the fact the pipeline has already been approved by the Iowa Utilities Board. But this time, instead of allowing the public to weigh in on jobs and economic benefits, they would rather fight the pipeline in the courtroom and in the media.
In fact, lawsuits seem to be a favorite tactic of those opposed to progress. This small group of opponents have decided to sue the Iowa Utilities Board for approving a project that was supported by agricultural interests, business interests, and labor interests.
Clearly, no thought was given to the fact the Iowa Utilities Board has to consider the greatest benefit for all Iowans. Instead this group of landowners and their legal teams seek payment at a cost to all Iowans that includes the loss of thousands of jobs if the project were to be stopped. It’s simply unacceptable for the government of Iowa to roll over to a small group of dissenting opponents, who had years of opportunity to make their claims and voice their opinions. Why now, after everything the state has been through should their motion be entertained? Especially when the livelihoods of thousands of Iowans are at stake.
This discussion regarding the validity of the Iowa Utilities Board ruling is in and of itself just plain wrong. We shouldn’t even be having it to begin with. This project was approved by our state and their ruling should remain final.
Even at the hearing last Thursday in Des Moines, hundreds of the workers building the project showed up to encourage the Iowa Utilities Board to stand firm by their decision and allow the project to continue. It’s a reminder that even though many opponents would like you to believe this project only represents out of state interests, there are thousands of Iowa jobs at stake.
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I would encourage the Iowa Utilities Board to stand with the thousands of Iowans that showed up over the past two years, who wrote in, who negotiated leases, and who made their voices heard, and ensure that your final decision does indeed remain final.
• Ed Wiederstein, of Audubon, is chairman of the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, a coalition dedicated to investing in infrastructure projects throughout the Midwest. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org