116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON - Gov. Terry Branstad, who grew up on a farm in Winnebago County, said Friday he would not object to having a pipeline cross agricultural land he owned if he were fairly compensated for the easement and the company took steps to address tile lines and other concerns.
'If it were my land, I would obviously want to make sure that it was done in the right way,” Branstad told reporters after a taping of Iowa Public Television's 'Iowa Press” show. 'But I wouldn't be one that says no, you can't put a pipeline through the property.”
Branstad said he would be inclined to grant a voluntary easement if a reasonable offer of compensation were made but added, 'I'm not going to second-guess each individual landowner. I think that the landowners want to protect themselves and their rights, and I understand how these things work.”
A large majority of Iowa farmers have taken the same position as Branstad by entering into voluntary agreements to grant easements on land in the path of a Texas-based company's plan to build an underground crude oil pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a regional hub in Illinois. However, nearly 300 Iowa landowners have not signed off on the project.
The Iowa Utilities Board expects to make a decision next month on a request by Dakota Access, a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, to build a pipeline that would transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily in a 30-inch-diameter underground pipe through 18 Iowa counties diagonally from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the state. The board has been exploring possible terms and conditions for granting a permit for the project, as well as considering whether to grant eminent domain authority in counties where the company has not been able to negotiate voluntary easements. According to the company's website, the pipeline would be buried at least 48 inches deep. The permanent easement would be 50 feet wide, but the temporary construction corridor will be an added 50 to 100 feet wide.
Branstad said Friday the state regulatory board has done 'a very thorough and thoughtful review,” and he has confidence the IUB members will work to protect everybody's interests.
'With eminent domain, I think it should be used only sparingly and as much as possible to try to work these things out in negotiations between the company that wants to put the pipeline through and the landowner,” he said. 'As I understand it, they've been working on that, and I guess time will tell.”
The six-term Republican governor said Iowa already has thousands of miles of pipelines buried underground that are farmed over after some issues with soil compaction in the early years.
'The main thing is you want to see that it's done appropriately, that tile lines are repaired and that you're fairly compensated for it if that happens,” he said.