Iowa DNR issues stop work order on Bakken pipeline route "ground-disturbing activity"

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has told attorneys for Dakota Access the company is "no longer authorized to engage in any activities" related to a permit previously issued for a pipeline across the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area in northwest Iowa, Gavin Aronsen reported at Iowa Informer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informed Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp on May 25 that a "significant archeological site" identified within that Wildlife Management Area "may fall along the proposed path of the Dakota Access Pipeline," more commonly known as the Bakken pipeline. Consequently, the federal agency revoked approval of that permit and asked the DNR to "stop all tree clearing or any ground-disturbing activities within the pipeline corridor pending further investigation."

Citing the letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as e-mail communication from Iowa’s State Archeologist John Doershuk, yesterday the DNR sent Dakota Access a stop work order for the eastern half of the Wildlife Management Area in Lyon County, overlapping the proposed pipeline route. Aronsen posted both letters in full. Iowa Informer is a must-follow for Bakken pipeline news.

The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition is holding a day of action in Oskaloosa (Mahaska County) on Saturday, May 28. In the morning, kayaks and canoes will float along the South Skunk River near where the pipeline would cross it. Along that section of river, paddlers will pass "7-generation landowner Sylvia Rodgers Spalding’s property adjacent to the proposed pipeline route." Authors Carolyn Raffensperger, Fred Kirschenmann, Angie Carter, and Rachel Morgan will read from the recently-published book Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America at 3 pm at the Book Vault in Oskaloosa (105 South Market Street).

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More lawsuits challenge eminent domain for Bakken pipeline

Owners of two farms in Cherokee County filed lawsuits on May 20 seeking to block the Texas-based oil company Energy Transfer Partners from seizing their land for the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register. I enclose excerpts from his story below.

Like a separate lawsuit filed in Polk County last month, these legal claims are based on a 2006 Iowa law, which was designed to protect farmland from being condemned for private development. The plaintiffs argue the Iowa Utilities Board erred when it authorized a private company that is not a utility to use eminent domain.

Regardless of how district courts decide these claims, the Iowa Supreme Court will likely be the final voice on whether state law allows the use of eminent domain for this project.

Dakota Access started Bakken pipeline construction in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois this week, but the Iowa Utilities Board denied the company’s request to start building here. O.Kay Henderson reported for Radio Iowa that the board’s legal counsel noted the oil company "has not filed all the necessary permits and associated verifications to begin construction." Although the board approved the permit to build the Bakken pipeline in March, as did the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers has not yet approved permits for portions of the pipeline that would cross federal land.

Brian Morelli and Rod Boshart reported for the Cedar Rapids Gazette on the Private Property Rights Coalition’s work to educate landowners along the pipeline route about the eminent domain process and "legal options if they refuse to voluntarily sign easement agreements with the oil company." One of that group’s leaders is Keith Puntenney, who has not signed an easement for his farmland in Boone and Webster counties. Puntenney is also the Democratic challenger to State Senator Jerry Behn in Iowa Senate district 24.

More resources for landowners and citizens who oppose the pipeline project are available on the website of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, uniting more than two dozen Iowa non-profit organizations. I expect Bakken opponents to make their presence known when U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota comes to Des Moines as the featured guest for the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event next month.

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3rd Congressional District Forum sponsored by Ankeny Dems

Thanks to Stephen Nein for this first-person account. Many central Iowa Democrats I talk to are still undecided on this primary race. -promoted by desmoinesdem

(I just want to say that I apparently do journalism like every thing else – I’m an unrepentant slowpoke. -SN)

Unlike the Presidential campaign, I’ve been undecided on my candidate for the House and Senate election. In the House race: I’ve admired Jim Mowrer for his run against Steve King (& and I grew up in a house across the street from his current home in Waveland); Desmund Adams has a remarkable narrative and palatable thirst for the job; and Mike Sherzan is no slouch in his progressive business-based values.

Thankfully, the Ankeny Area Democrats helped by holding a candidate forum this week. If you missed it, it’s cool – there’s an even BIGGER forum next Tuesday for the Democratic candidates for both seats.

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Heidi Heitkamp will keynote the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner

Heads up, possible future presidential candidate spotters: U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will speak at a major Democratic gathering in Des Moines on June 17. Alternating each summer between the capital city and Cedar Rapids, the Hall of Fame is typically the Iowa Democratic Party’s second-largest event of the year, after the to-be-renamed Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

I enclose below today’s announcement from the Iowa Democratic Party and some background on Heitkamp, who was North Dakota’s attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. Ticket sales (starting at $50) won’t be as brisk as for last summer’s event, which drew all five declared Democratic presidential candidates, but no doubt many activists will be interested to see Heitkamp in person. Her appearance may also draw some protesters, as she has been a "loud and proud" supporter of North Dakota’s oil extraction industry, and the proposed Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline is a hot topic in this state’s environmental community.

This year’s Hall of Fame honorees include Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal in the elected official category, Iowa Federation of Labor President Ken Sagar as "outstanding supporter," and State Representative Sharon Steckman for "oustanding leadership." Scroll down to read the full list.

UPDATE: Should have mentioned that Heitkamp has the most conservative voting record in the Senate Democratic caucus, according to the Progressive Punch database. You can view ratings of votes on various types of issues here. Heitkamp has a "perfect" progressive record in only one category: fair taxation. As is common among Democrats representing tough states or districts, Heitkamp’s votes have become more conservative since Republicans gained a Senate majority (and therefore control over what comes to the floor).

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Iowa's Democracy Spring

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the 2016 Iowa Democratic Senate primary, if we are not careful, we are going to get corporate ag anti-environment, anti-labor Patty Judge jammed down our throats. The two progressives in the race are Tom Fiegen and Rob Hogg. The purpose of this letter is to compare the two on the issues that are important to us as progressives:clean water, CAFOs, blocking the Prestage slaughter plant in Mason City, the Bakken pipeline, $15 minimum wage, family farming, economic fairness and immigrant rights.

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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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