116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Hearing dates have been set for November for a proposed cross-country crude oil pipeline, called the Bakken Pipeline, that would slice through 18 Iowa counties.
The Iowa Utilities Board released an order Wednesday scheduling the hearing to begin Nov. 12 for public comment and Nov. 16 for the evidentiary hearing, both at the Boone County Fairgrounds Community Building.
'The board will consider the question of whether the eminent domain requests will be granted as part of the hearing, but it is unlikely the board will make a ruling at the conclusion of the hearing,” IUB spokesman Donald Tormey said.
Typically, parties file post-hearing briefs with legal and factual arguments for the board to consider before making a decision, he said.
That timeline has not been established, but a final ruling on the pipeline permit request is slated for December or January, he said.
Dakota Access, a division of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, requested the permit from the utilities board to pump up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day across 346 miles of Iowa in January.
The full scope is a 1,134-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to a terminal in Patoka, Ill.
Opponents criticize the utilities board is rushing the timeline to the detriment of Iowans to comply with Dakota Access' construction schedule. The energy company wants to have the pipeline operational by the end of 2016. In some places, it has begun scheduling work for January.
'It's frustrating in that we are seeing a really rushed schedule that is perfectly in line with the company proposing it, Dakota Access,” said Nathan Malachowski, a community organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
'We get questions about who exactly is the Iowa Utilities Board working for. Are they doing it for Iowans, our people, our soil, our future generations? The answer to that from this schedule is no,” he said.
Iowans want more environmental assessments and due to the number of people challenging the pipeline the process should be slowed, he said. More than 2,600 written statements have been filed against the pipeline, according to an Associated Press report.
Tormey responded: 'The schedule was set to bring the matter to hearing in a timely manner.”
Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for the pipeline, said developers have 'full faith in the data” experts have collected in environmental tests accounting for cultural, archaeological and civil surveys, and called the hearings 'critical.”
Granado said Dakota Access has voluntary easements with 67 percent of the 3,667 'tracts” of land along the route. Malachowski said his organization's research found only 40 percent of landowners have struck deals. Dakota Access has been seeking voluntary easements from affected landowners but is asking the utilities board to grant eminent domain to take the land of those unwilling to settle at a price seen as fair market value.
Landowners have filed a lawsuit in Cherokee County District Court challenging the utilities board's authority to grant eminent domain.
As part of the order filed on Wednesday, the utilities board directed Dakota Access to address questions from a Monday staff report on the eminent domain requests by Wednesday.
Landowners with affected property wanting to be part of the proceeding should file a petition to intervene, according to the order. Late-filed petitions will be accepted until Oct. 2, but they would need to file testimony and exhibits by Oct. 12, according to the order.