Landowners challenge use of eminent domain for Bakken pipeline

Pipes intended for use in the Dakota Access pipeline being stored in Jasper County, Iowa during 2015. Photo provided by Wallace Taylor, used with permission.

The Iowa Utilities Board issued a permit for the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline on April 8, after declaring that Dakota Access LLC "has substantially complied with the requirements" of the board’s March 10 order. The same day, a group of agricultural landowners filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s use of eminent domain for the pipeline, intended to carry oil roughly 400 miles across eighteen counties from northwest to southeast Iowa. Litigation grounded in environmental concerns about the pipeline is expected later this year.

Follow me after the jump for more details on the land use lawsuit and ongoing efforts to block the pipeline at the federal level.

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Market forces may kill Bakken pipeline despite likely Iowa Utilities Board approval

Pipes intended for use in the Dakota Access pipeline being stored in Jasper County, Iowa during 2015. Photo provided by Wallace Taylor, used with permission.

UPDATE: As expected, the board voted unanimously to approve the permit. Scroll to the end of this post for more details and reaction.

The Iowa Utilities Board will meet this afternoon to issue a decision on the proposed Dakota Access pipeline. Everyone I know in the environmental community expects the three board members to approve the permit for this project, better known as the Bakken pipeline. Litigation is sure to follow, as opponents charge the Iowa Utilities Board’s eminent domain powers may be used only in the service of a "public good," not "to privilege a private corporation."

Other legal hurdles include the need for a permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, because the pipeline route would cross "four areas in Iowa that have been identified as sovereign lands." The Sierra Club Iowa chapter has been pushing for a thorough Environmental Impact Study and archaeological review. (Too many Iowa politicians from both parties signed a letter to the utilities board opposing an independent environmental impact assessment.)

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson has long cast doubt on the "bloated" economic impact numbers Dakota Access has used to market the project. Click here for Swenson’s detailed analysis on the pipeline’s "purported economic and fiscal benefits to the state of Iowa."

A growing number of observers believe the project no longer makes economic sense even for Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access.

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Unfolding Energy Release Iowa Energy Assessment and Planning For A Cleaner Future Report

Paritosh Kasotia is the founder and CEO of Unfolding Energy and was named to the Midwest Energy News list of "40 under 40" last year. She led the Iowa Energy Office until late 2014. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Unfolding Energy, a not-for-profit organization released its Iowa Energy Assessment and Planning for a Cleaner Future Report. The report is intended for the State of Iowa, elected officials, Iowans, and potential political candidates as a resource to guide the Iowa Energy Office’s planning process as they work towards creating a statewide energy plan.

The report provides an overview of Iowa’s energy production and consumption patterns and dives into Iowa’s current regulatory and policy framework in the context of climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and building codes. Other sections of the report examines the potential for various clean energy sources and concludes the report with recommendations that the State of Iowa should implement.

Excerpt from the report below

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Ag Summit anniversary edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

A year ago this weekend, nine presidential candidates, both of Iowa’s U.S. senators, three of our U.S. House representatives, Governor Terry Branstad, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds were among the speakers at Bruce Rastetter’s inaugural Iowa Ag Summit. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the early front-runner in the presidential field and had just rolled out his first big batch of endorsements here. Although Donald Trump had recently hired heavyweight conservative organizer Chuck Laudner, few people expected him to be a strong contender for the Iowa caucuses. The billionaire didn’t make it to Rastetter’s event; like Marco Rubio, he initially accepted the Ag Summit invitation but developed schedule conflicts later.

Jeb Bush looked like a strong presidential contender in March 2015. He was raising money like no one else in the GOP field and had hired veteran Iowa political operative David Kochel earlier in the year. The day before the Ag Summit, the Des Moines Register ran a front-page feature on Bush that was so flattering to the former Florida governor, I felt compelled to write this post and begin work on a lengthier critique of the Register’s political coverage, which took nearly two months to complete.

Chris Christie was among the Ag Summit speakers. More than six months later, he picked up endorsements from Rastetter and several other prominent Iowa business Republicans. Christie’s poor performance on caucus night showed the limits of the would-be kingmaker’s influence, and that of others in Branstad’s orbit who had actively supported Christie’s presidential campaign.

Rastetter invited more than a half-dozen prominent Democrats to his Ag Summit. Wisely, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and all of the potential presidential candidates blew off the event. Only one Democrat spoke to the gathering: former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, in her capacity as co-chair of America’s Renewable Future. That group was formed and funded by biofuels companies and related interest groups to advocate for the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Later in 2015, America’s Renewable Future spent more than $100,000 on radio ads and direct mail attacking Ted Cruz over his stand on the ethanol mandate.)

I enclose below a video of Judge’s remarks a year ago this weekend. Near the beginning of her speech, she commented, "Let me say from the outset, I truly believe that I disagree with just almost everyone that you will see on this stage today, on almost every issue. However, I certainly hope that we do agree on the importance of maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard and keeping Iowa leading our nation forward in the development of renewable fuel."

I doubt anyone would have predicted a year ago that Walker wouldn’t even make it to the Iowa caucuses, that Trump and Cruz would be leading in the GOP delegate count, or that Judge would enter the race against U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

P.S.- The Greeley (Colorado) Tribune published a good backgrounder on where all the remaining presidential candidates stand on agricultural issues.

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Thoughts on the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses

Expanded from a short take for CNN

The seventh Republican presidential debate and the first without Donald Trump produced more substantive talk about issues and some strong performances by candidates near the bottom of the pack. For political junkies who missed the debate for whatever reason, the New York Times posted the full transcript here. My thoughts are after the jump.

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A Record of Leadership: Why I Support O’Malley

An Iowan too young to caucus explains why he is urging others to stand in Martin O’Malley’s corner. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I was just ten years old when the unthinkable occurred. A man brought four semiautomatic weapons to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and started firing. Shooting over 150 rounds in a few minutes, he killed sixteen six-year-olds, four seven-year-olds, and six adults. As horrifying as this massacre of first-graders and their teachers is, similar assaults have occurred throughout our country on an almost daily basis. The unthinkable has now become a regular event—a church in Charleston, a movie theater in Louisiana, a community college in Oregon, a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, and in so many other places all around the country. We need common sense gun reform to stop this extreme violence, and that’s one of many reasons why I’m supporting Governor Martin O’Malley for President.

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