The company behind the Dakota Access pipeline plans to increase the amount of crude oil passing through a pumping station in central Iowa.
Energy Transfer Partners, which owns Dakota Access, recently announced plans to expand the pipeline’s capacity from more than 500,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels.
Earlier this month, Dakota Access filed a letter of intent to move more oil through the pipeline at a pumping station in Cambridge, about 15 miles southeast of Ames.
The letter of intent follows a May 31 Iowa Supreme Court ruling in which the court said the pipeline that runs diagonally across the state is legally permissible.
The letter, filed June 12 to the Iowa Utilities Board, states that the company wants to replace three pumps at the Cambridge Pumping Station with “three higher flow rate capacity pumps.”
According to the filing, Dakota Access does not require permission from the Iowa Utilities Board to make improvements at the Cambridge site. The company also said it is seeking incremental additions to the pump stations, including a fourth and fifth pump, as well as a motor to the existing pump.
“While none of the improvements that Dakota Access intends to make to the Cambridge Pump Station constitute a reportable change under Rule 13.18, Dakota Access nonetheless provides this notice as a courtesy to the Board to provide it information regarding the work that will be performed at the Cambridge Pump Station,” the letter states.
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Under the state’s “reportable change” provision cited in the letter, Dakota Access would need approval from the board to make improvements only under the conditions of relocation of the pipeline more than 300 feet or within 300 feet of an occupied residence, a change in the product being transported, the replacement of a pipeline or an extension of a pipeline.
The 1,172-mile pipeline transports oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, passing through South Dakota and Iowa, before ending at a distribution hub in Patoka, Ill.
In Iowa, the pipeline passes through 18 counties — from the northwest corner in Lyon County to the southeast corner in Keokuk County.
The pipeline sparked massive protests near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota before it was completed and began moving oil in 2017.
Even before the pipeline was complete, tribal and environmental groups were concerned about the potential effects on water quality. Those concerns will only increase if the pipeline is carrying more oil, activists say.
“This pipeline has posed great environmental risks, and if Dakota Access makes the proposed additions at the station in Cambridge, it will affect the Story County residents in terms of their water quality, their health and their way of life,” Ed Fallon, the director of Des Moines-based environmental group Bold Iowa, told the Ames Tribune on Friday.
Bold Iowa contends that Story County is entitled to a public hearing with Dakota Access and Iowa Utilities Board officials before any additions are made to the station in Cambridge.
Fallon said the officials must answer questions about the proposed expansion’s effect on climate change, the amount of oil that will flow at the station and how landowners near the station will be affected.
Attempts to reach Dakota Access for comment Friday were unsuccessful.
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In the filing, Dakota Access said the improvements do not require changes or additional acquisition of rights at the Cambridge Pumping Station.
“The improvements will allow for current capacity to be increased without any increase in the maximum operating pressure of the Dakota Access Pipeline,” an excerpt from the document reads.