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Bakken Iowa Pipeline

“Dakota Access Pipeline Project” would transport North Dakota crude oil from the Bakken oil reserves to Patoka, Illinois. This in turn gives access to East coast markets by rail, or to pipelines which would carry Bakken crude to the Gulf Coast for refinement and export. The pipeline would be 1,134 miles long, 30 inch in diameter, 24 to 48 inches underground, and will transport 570,000 barrels daily.

The proposed pipeline would cut diagonally across the entire state of Iowa, including the following Iowa counties: Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Story, Polk, Jasper, Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren, and Lee.

As an Iowa citizen there are major concerns about the Bakken pipeline in terms of safety, use of eminent domain, and what it provides to the state.


Bakken crude is more flammable because of a lower flash point to ignition. It poses a significant fire risk. A 150 foot construction right of way and a permanent 50 foot easement is needed for the pipeline. No buildings are permitted on the 50 foot easement.

The pipeline will cross all major Iowa rivers and any leaks may cause significant damage to the waterways. The realistic expectation is that there will be leaks and as we just saw at Yellowstone in January 2015, the impact is drastic.

The pipeline will cross farmland with underground tiling. Any leaks will cause significant damage to the farmers land and local water supplies. Spills and leaks from the pipeline would impact all Iowans, threatening wildlife, water quality, and land integrity. Clean-up efforts at spills in North Dakota and Michigan have lasted for years and cost millions to taxpayers.

Eminent Domain:

Land-owners could have their property rights seized via eminent domain. This pipeline is a commercial project. It's absurd that eminent domain could be used to take property for this commercial project that provides nothing to Iowans while in return creates great risk for the properties the pipeline crosses.

Nothing for Iowans:

The pipeline has no outlets in Iowa. Oil will likely be transported to the Gulf Coast and exported, this is not about energy independence. Job creation benefits are minimal: full-time permanent positions for Iowans created as a result of the pipeline are estimated at less than ten; Iowans will bear the cost of producing profits for out-of-state corporations. There are major risks from leaks that will cost Iowans millions.
Energy Transfer Inc - Kelcy L. Warren CEO

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    • [-][+]My resolution
    • 12 Points
    • 10 years ago
    Shaneisha W. (Neutral)
    The concern is certainly there. According to The De Moines Register, there is an already existing pipeline, now owned by the Koch Brothers, that "travels north-south, roughly following Interstate Highway 35"; this pipeline was built in the 1950 however. There are many concerns about safety as well. Several lawmakers in Iowa want an independent environmental study to assure the safety of this pipeline. This begs the questions as to whether this proposed pipeline is to replace the existing pipeline; whether the pipeline already in existence is safe enough to be used; and why the Texas based company funding this new pipeline construction has not sought to buy the pipeline owned by the Koch Brothers. The issues of eminent domain is also a large problem. Not only will property owners be effected, but the Meskwaki tribe also opposes the pipeline through Iowa, as it may disturb many graves, in addition to the environmental problems that Iowa is facing. There are many opponents to this pipeline, and the most that can be done at the moment would be to continually growing the knowledge and concern at the grassroots level, as this will allow for the corporation looking to place this pipeline in Iowa to see the momentum of resistance it is getting, therefore, hopefully causing them to be more open about their plan, and open to suggestions.
      • [-][+]My resolution
      • 10 years ago
      Brian W. (Neutral)
      There seem to be many suggestions offered that each would have the effect of stopping the construction of the pipeline. Assuming that citizens in neighboring states do not have the same objections, blocking the pipeline in Iowa and requiring a re-route would likely add hundreds of miles of pipe. It would appear from Dakota Access, LLC public presentation that the oil companies have an alternative - moving the oil via train and/or truck. While not preferable, it might be cheaper than adding hundreds of miles of pipe required by a reroute. Additionally, while it would affect different Iowa counties, I-80, I-35 and I-29 all run through Iowa communities and the whole of the state is crisscrossed with rail - at least two major lines (based on tonnage) running border to border - east to west. While stopping the pipeline then might take care of the Eminent Domain issue, it would appear that there would still exist for safety risks, as stopping the pipeline would not necessarily stop the transport of oil through Iowa's farmlands. Additionally, the alternative (trucks/trains) also would have limited long-term economic benefit to Iowans. The public presentation claims that the pipeline is safer than trains or trucks (I am no expert, so cannot evaluate this statement, but I do recognize that it is proffered by a company with a desired outcome - some reports seem to support this claim, but also acknowledge that pipelines have a higher leak-rate).

      I would agree that there are very limited long-term economic benefits to Iowa with the pipeline - even in the public presentation; most of the economic benefits are realized during construction phase and as a result of construction. There are certainly safety risks, some of which would exist whether the crude is transported by train, truck or pipe. However, there are increased risks of leakage. Regardless of how the oil is transported, Iowans will have to shoulder the risks of leaks or spills, potentially costing significant amounts of money for clean-ups.

      I do not think the Eminent Domain issue can be addressed between the citizens of Iowa and Energy Transfer, Inc. That is an issue that needs to be taken up with lawmakers. As crazy as it is, and as much as I dislike the SCOTUS Kelo decision, I think Eminent Domain for commercial ventures is here to stay until the laws change and Energy Transfer cannot be held accountable for what is currently legal taking, as distasteful as it is.

      Assuming that oil will be transferred through Iowa with or without the pipeline, assuming that rerouting the pipeline is not as economically viable as surface vehicle transport, and assuming that the pipeline is no less safe than surface vehicle transport, I would suggest the following solution: 1- Landowners will be compensated with the fair market value of any land taken through Eminent Domain, 2- Energy Transfer will work with local governments and property owners to create a route that minimizes the requirement for new easements, and maximizes the use of existing ones (along existing pipelines, power lines, road, rails, etc.) as can be safely done, 3 - Energy Transfer will split costs with local governments for regular environmental testing along and downstream from the pipeline, and 4 - Energy Transfer will pay for 50% of all cleanup costs caused by leaks or pipe breaks.
        • [-][+]My resolution
        • 10 years ago
        Jay M. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
        Personal Responsibility for the CEO and Board of Directors – I suggest there should be some way to ensure that the CEO and the owners and the individuals on the board of directors of the “Dakota Access Pipeline Project” are held personally responsible for any possible rupture or spill in the future. Individual owners in American pipeline companies have, thus far, been lacking true motivation to really make sure their company’s activities don’t ruin the water and soil near their pipelines.

        This might sound outlandish and unworkable, but the people living by the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline shouldn’t be the only ones to suffer the consequences of a spill, so I suggest that the Iowa Utilities Board or the Iowa legislature try something creative and mandate that the CEO and each of the board members of the Dakota Access Pipeline put about $10-million of their own money in an escrow account.

        Then, anytime there is a spill, each board member should have about $1-million dollars subtracted from their personal escrow account and the money would be transferred to Iowa’s clean-up fund to make the affected fields, waterways and drinking water safe again. Iowa should receive clean-up funds within 30 days of a spill, instead of having to wait years for the legal wrangling to drag out.

        Instead of hiding behind a corporate legal team that battles against lawsuits for years after a pipeline spill, I think the individuals on the boards of polluting corporations should have some “scratch” in the game and carry some personal responsibility for once.

        If the CEO and the board of directors aren’t willing to take a chance like that, then the citizens of Iowa shouldn’t be forced to take that chance either.

        And, of course, the Dakota Access Pipeline company itself would still be subject to the usual state and federal fines, also.
          • [-][+]My resolution
          • 10 years ago
          Michael M. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
          Bakken Pipeline Objection Letters to the IUB: Sample contact and instructions – We need concerned people to flood the Iowa Utility Board with letters of objection. They take these into account when considering the right of Eminent Domain. These issues need to be addressed and defended by the Bakken Pipeline. The more objections received the more power the public has in making the IUB question the right of Eminent Domain for this proposed pipeline as it must be in the public's interest. I will post several samples of objection you can use if you want to send letters to the IUB. On the top of the letter, you must post the Docket number which is: Docket No. HLP-2014-0001. Send letters to: IUB Customer Service, 1375 E. Court Avenue, RM 69, Des Moines, IA 50319-0069. You must list your name and address on the letter and your email is OK as well. Here are some sample objections you can use:

          1. Dakota Access claims that the pipeline would be of significant economic benefit to Iowans. Iowa State University economist, David Swenson, believes that company estimates of both permanent and temporary jobs are seriously exaggerated and that tax benefits are likely to be a fraction of those estimated by the company (which is only 25 permanent jobs). This hardly qualifies this project as one that promotes the public convenience and necessity.

          2. The primary risk is that even with stringent, government-enforced manufacturing and safety standards, energy pipelines have a proven history of leaking and rupturing. According to the federal government’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, between 1992 and 2011, there have been over 10,000 energy pipeline incidents costing 384 lives, over $5 billion in property damage, and over 100 million gallons of spilled hazardous liquid. The Keystone I pipeline was designed and constructed with state-of-the-art safety features and was expected to spill no more than once every 7 years. In the first year and one-half of operations, there were 14 spills, including a 20,000 gallon spill in North Dakota in May 2011. This level of risk indicates that this project does not promote the public convenience and necessity.

          3. This pipeline is proposed to go under eight Iowa Rivers (including the Des Moines River, N. Raccoon River, S. Skunk River, Little Sioux River, Maple River, Boyer River, and our bordering rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers) and the Jordan Aquifer, a drinking water source for 300,000 Iowans. At least 667,000 Iowans rely on these rivers for drinking water. A prime example of the danger of crossing rivers with oil pipelines can be seen by the 2010 Enbridge Kalamazoo spill, which has now exceeded $1 billion in cleanup costs (with the cleanup still not finished). Just 3 days ago, on January 20, 2015, a 50,000 gallon spill occurred in the Yellowstone River via the Exxon Mobil pipeline which also spilled 42,000 gallons in 2011. As I write this, I’m reading an article that the local residents close to the spill in Montana are finding oil in their drinking water. The IUB should not issue a permit for this pipeline. It does not qualify as a project that promotes the public convenience and necessity.

          4. The Bakken pipeline would transport a light crude oil that is highly explosive compared to typical crude oil. The Wall Street Journal reported: Crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken Shale formation contains several times the combustible gases as oil from elsewhere… U.S. Federal investigators are trying to determine whether such vapors are responsible for recent extraordinary explosions of oil-filled railcars, including one that killed several dozen people in Canada last summer. Having up to 500,000 barrels per day of such a volatile substance under high pressure flowing through Iowa does not qualify this project as a project that promotes the public convenience and necessity.

          5. Dakota Access claims that they are designing the pipeline to never have a leak. But history says otherwise. Dakota Access’s parent, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE:ETP) is a master limited partnership which owns and operates one of the largest and most diversified portfolios of energy assets in the United States. ETP currently owns and operates approximately 43,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products, and crude oil pipelines. They own:
          • Southern Union Company
          • Sunoco, Inc.
          • A large share of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL)
          • Panhandle Eastern, which owns Anadarko
          These companies have a history of many, many spills including a $5 billion settlement with Anadarko in the largest environmental contamination case in American history. This track record does not support claims that this project promotes the public convenience and necessity.
            • [-][+]My resolution
            • 10 years ago
            • Submitted for settlement
            J K. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
            The Iowa board of Utilities has the authority to allow or disallow the pipeline construction. If your opposed this is the group to write to. The big issue is eminent domain. The benefits to Iowa are minuscule at best. And the dangers to the environment are huge as we see weekly reports on spills. The solution is basis everyone needs to begin to act and get educated on the project and write the utilities board and the legislature. File enough peopleclaim claims as well. Crowd source actions to prevent it are needed. If you own property a foreign company should not be allowed to force you to give up your land for the profit of the koch brothers or Canada.
              • [-][+]My resolution
              • 10 years ago
              Mark D. (Neutral)
              Tax Rebate to Landowners and citizens – Landowners should received an annual participation for the amount of their land encroached by the pipeline. This would be somewhat similar to the successful windmill payments system that volunteering famers participate in already. Landowners could get a fuel tax break or rebate. Faming is energy intensive and a discount on fuel taxes would be meaningful. I'm not educated about how much fuel tax farmer's pay or whether they get any tax breaks, but seems to me the states that the pipeline runs through could extract a tariff on the operator, ETP and pass that on to landowner in terms of a rebate on any taxes they pay on gas or other energy sources that they use- regardless of where that fuel is purchased. The pipeline operator-Energy Transfer Partners- could also have the option to pay the states for the tax offset directly or with refined or crude fuel. Alternatively the states could just offer the tax rebates with recapture form ETP on a annual bases to landowners who could directly use the credits or possibly sell them to other end-users. Tax credits could be tied to variables such as the price of oil and/or the daily flow of oil through the pipeline, which is currently estimated at over 300,000 barrels per day. Credits could also scaled down over a time period if the economics don't support a perpetual payment system. The public could also participate in some form or credit where public lands are impacted. Obviously this plan would cost ETP more than simply taking the land via ED, but they'd have a better chance of getting it though and maintaining public support if there is a fair and equitable offset to those impacted.
                • [-][+]My resolution
                • 10 years ago
                Michele M. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
                public awareness campaign to make people aware of affects on their water, air and land. Emhasize stewardship of the environment.
                  • [-][+]My resolution
                  • 10 years ago
                  Steve W. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
                  Pipelines; progress with protections? – 1) Farmers and land owners must receive fair compensation for their land easements and more importantly, their should be a predetermined formula and forum for compensation in the event of spillage or other environmental damages. Guidelines should be fair, responsible and there needs to be some appeal process.

                  2) The public should also be protected from environmental hazards. Same concept: A predetermined formula with appeal process for both land and associated costs as well as environmental damage.

                  3) Well established process to insure the pipeline is maintained and tested for safety and integrity. There should also be clear responsibility with appropriate fines or penalties for failures both at the regulatory and corporate levels.

                  I’m not an engineer but starting with strict responsibility for any damages and a process of appeal for damage cause and land appropriation costs would be a good start. I'm also not aware of the risk/reward of building this thing but I assume there are arguments on both sides. For progress to happen we need safeguards against both unfair encroachment on private or municipal land and failsafe maintains and damage control and compensation in the event that something goes wrong. No one should have to sue for recovery or remediation and the liability needs to be quantifiable-- not capped

                    • [-][+]My resolution
                    • 10 years ago
                    Sara T. (Neutral)
                    I don't see anything about improving pipeline construction so that the risk of breaks and spillage is eliminated. I reviewed a number of articles, including articles about previous spills. The risks are huge, particularly when the pipeline will cross so many rivers and potentially affect so much groundwater and so many wells. This isn't going to affect just the property taken by eminent domain, either. If I were considering purchasing property with a well anywhere close to a known pipeline, I'd probably look elsewhere.

                    Eminent domain is supposed to be used only for 'the public good.' There was widespread opposition to the Supreme Court Decision regarding Kelo v. City of New London, and as a result many states strengthened their eminent domain laws. In my opinion, all Iowa lawmakers should be very strongly encouraged to define very precisely the ways in which they'd see this pipeline as contributing to the public good before any taking by eminent domain is permitted. If they decide that the pipeline would not serve the public good in Iowa and therefore only construction on private land would be permitted, they must also question the risks of the pipeline.
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