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Pipeline opponents say Iowa utilities board flouting its own rules
Jun. 20, 2015 6:00 am
A group opposing a proposed Bakken crude oil pipeline through Iowa accused the state utility board Friday of flouting its own rules to rush through a permit sought by a Texas-based energy company.
The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition called for the Iowa Utilities Board, which has jurisdiction, to halt the permit process until Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, responds to more than 90 questions and deficiencies in the application identified by a state regulatory engineer.
'We are concerned that the Iowa Utilities Board is not following the intent of its own rule that prohibits scheduling a hearing before the pipeline company's application is complete,” Wally Taylor of the resistance group said in a statement. 'It appears that the Iowa Utilities Board is rushing the process in order to accommodate Dakota Access' self-imposed timeline for construction of the pipeline.”
Don Tormey, a spokesman for the Utilities Board, said the board's actions are consistent with its rules. He noted the procedural schedule is only tentative.
'If the board had not announced the tentative block of time, then the landowners and other interested persons would not know what block of time to tentatively keep open,” Tormey said.
Dakota Access has proposed a 30-inch diameter, 450,000 barrel per day pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois, including 346 miles through Iowa. The plan has been backed by some who see economic benefits, but opposed by others such as environmentalists and landowners in its path.
The Bakken Resistance is taking issue with the procedural schedule set by the Utilities Board earlier this month, given the holes found in Dakota Access' permit application and an explosion of another Energy Transfer pipeline prompting evacuations Sunday in Cuero, Texas.
The schedule includes a tentative timeline of Nov. 12 to Dec. 2 for public hearings, with a decision likely around the turn of the year.
The Utilities Board engineer, Jeffrey O'Neal, wrote in a June 12 letter to Dakota Access the issues needed to be addressed before the permit process could continue.
The permit request, in places, misidentified private land as public land, appeared to use wrong cardinal directions for the pipeline route, and needed more detail of public parks, wildlife areas and other land near the route, he wrote.
Vicki Anderson Granado, a spokeswoman for Dakota Access, said the issues identified in the letter were more administrative clarifications than substantive issues with the project.
Energy Partners has stated it wants the pipeline running by the end of 2016.