Iowa board votes to allow pipeline work to begin in state

June 7, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Texas company may begin construction on an oil pipeline in areas for which the company has approval but are not under federal jurisdiction, the Iowa Utilities Board said Monday despite opposition from environmental and citizen action organizations and landowners who are suing to stop the project.

The three-member board voted 2-1 to approve an order allowing Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, to begin laying pipe in areas that aren't among 60 parcels of land for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue. Those parcels include river crossings and a recently discovered Native American burial site in northwest Iowa.

Board members Elizabeth Jacobs and Nick Wagner voted in favor of allowing the project to begin. Board chairwoman Geri Huser, who expressed concern last week that the board no longer has legal jurisdiction over the project since several lawsuits have been filed, said she would file a document later Monday explaining her opposition.

Iowa law says once a utilities board decision is appealed to district court, the board can take no further action. To that end, environmental group Sierra Club Iowa Chapter filed a document with the board Monday agreeing with that assessment that alleges the board's action is illegal. The group's attorney, Wallace Taylor, said he may file a legal challenge.

Construction on the 1,150-mile, $3.8-billion pipeline has already begun in Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. It will carry oil from northwest North Dakota to a tank storage facility in south-central Illinois.

Read more at Penn Energy.

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