Government

Bakken pipeline given approval to proceed, but path must be bored under tribal burial grounds

Construction of $3.8 billion pipeline in Iowa could be blocked by protesters

Hundreds of miles of pipe for the Bakken pipeline, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Hundreds of miles of pipe for the Bakken pipeline, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Work on the Bakken crude oil pipeline on a significant archaeological site can proceed — as long as work takes place underground.

A June 17 amendment to the Dakota Access pipeline’s Sovereign Lands Construction Permit, which had been issued March 3, allows work to proceed on that portion of the pipeline in Lyon County’s Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area.

That amended permit requires pipeline officials to bore through the ground, rather than dig a trench for the pipeline, said Alan Foster, information specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“That’s really the major change, instead of doing any sort of surface work it’s going to be underground,” Foster said Tuesday. “It’s obviously going to have to go deep enough so it’s not going to disturb the tribal grounds.”

Foster said Dakota Access officials might need to secure additional permits on private grounds where the boring process begins and ends.

Last month, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued Dakota Access a “stop work order” after it was reported that the Bakken pipeline’s proposed route crossed ancient tribal burial grounds.

The Iowa Utilities Board, which is the main regulator for the 346 miles of pipeline through 18 counties in Iowa, signed an order earlier this month allowing Dakota Access to begin construction on land where voluntary easements and permission have been secured, which is the vast majority of the Iowa route.

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The Army Corps of Engineers has yet to issue a permit on land under its jurisdiction, which was a requirement of the March state permit. And several lawsuits have been filed to block the pipeline. Protesters have vowed to commit acts of civil disobedience to stop construction in Iowa.

Construction has begun in the other states on the route — North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. The 1,168-mile, $3.8 billion, underground pipeline will have a capacity of up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day.

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