116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
State regulators have issued a hazardous liquid pipeline permit to Dakota Access, LLC, a Texas oil company, but construction cannot begin until permits are finalized from other regulating bodies, including the Army Corps of Engineers.
The developer behind the interstate crude oil pipeline from North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to a hub in Illinois has 'substantially complied' with conditions of a permit Iowa Utilities Board approved by a 3-0 on March 10, after more than a year of review.
'However, Dakota Access has made certain commitments that must be completed before construction can commence,' according to the IUB.
The three-member board published an order on Friday accepting Dakota Access' compliance filings and issuing the permit.
Among the approvals needed before construction are from the Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and final versions of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and Unanticipated Discovery Plan.
The Iowa DNR has granted a permit, but the Corps has not and it could still be months out.
Native Tribes have pressured the Corps for a historical review of native lands, and said they weren't consulted as required by law.
Ward Lenz, regulatory branch chief for the Corps Rock Island District, had said in early March he anticipated issuing a permit within a month, but on Friday said it could be at least another two months.
The Corps submitted biological assessment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday, and it could be up to 120 days to render an opinion, Lenz said. The agency completed a historic review under the National Historic Preservation Act in conjunction with the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, Lenz said.
The historic review of native lands is hard to gauge, he said. The tribes will conduct the reviews, and will report back if on whether impacts are identified. The Corps would then conduct its own assessment, he said.
'It's hard to get a good feel for (how long it will take),' Lenz said. 'We may be a couple months out.'
Dakota Access has pressured the Iowa Utilities Board and has been in contact with the Corps about getting its permit. The subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners estimated it is losing $1.3 million for each day construction is delayed.
Construction unions have also been eager to get started. The $3.8 million, 1,168 mile pipeline project promises 4,000 jobs during the build out.
Opponents have vowed to fight on through lawsuits and administrative appeals, and are supporting the tribal request for historic review.
Opponents contend the pipeline will further contribute to the consumption of fossil fuels and global warming, could lead to spills disastrous for future generations, and the project tramples the rights of private property owners, particularly farmers.
'Overall. the IUB action to clarify the permit is not unexpected,' said Adam Mason, a staff member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and part of a resistance coalition. 'But, we are doubling down. We are going to fight this tooth and nail because Dakota Access can't start building until they have the Army Corps permit.'
Among the conditions met by Dakota Access was proof of general liability insurance in the amount of at least $25 million, unconditional and irrevocable parent company guarantees for remediation of damages from a leak or spill, and a timeline for construction notices with descriptions of modified eminent domain easements.
Under the IUB order on Friday, Dakota Access has seven days to revise its agricultural plan, provide a final description of notice timeline, final easements for eminent domain parcels, and a list and contact information for the county inspectors for each county.
The Utilities Board did not formally address whether Dakota Access had violated rules with certain pre-construction activities. However, the IUB indicated the terms of the agricultural agreements were being modified and Dakota Access could continue to 'engage in environmental staking and clearing trees and shrubbery with hand-held tools' on parcels with voluntary easements, where Dakota Access has permission, and inspectors are notified
"We are preparing to begin construction of the pipeline in all four states and have started construction on tank farms in North Dakota," said Vicki Granado, spokeswoman of Dakota Access.
Granado noted the firm has 93 percent of the land secured by voluntary easement, including 85 percent in Iowa, and they are eager to begin construction.