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Iowa Enviro Groups Move to Block Bakken Oil Pipeline

With shades of the Keystone XL standoff coloring the upper Midwest landscape, Iowa environmental organizations, led by the state's Sierra Club chapter, have asked state regulators to deny a permit request from the backers of the proposed 1,100-mile Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would transport Bakken crude oil to the Gulf Coast.

Undaunted, a spokesperson for the project told NGI's Shale Daily that the company will file with state regulators by Friday (Jan. 16).

Thirteen groups have asked the Iowa Utilities Board to stop a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) from getting the green light to put an oil pipeline through up to 18 counties in the state. Last fall, ETP said it had executed precedent agreements that support an expansion of DAPL from its previously announced 320,000 b/d capacity to more than 450,000 b/d (see Shale Daily, Sept. 23, 2014).

"Iowans are fired up about the prospect of a crude oil pipeline crossing our state from one corner to another," the Sierra Club chapter's website said in urging its members to take action.

The environmental groups are contending that Iowa law requires public information meetings to be conducted in each of the 18 counties before DAPL can request the state's permission to proceed with the project. They are challenging the appropriateness of certified mail announcements to landowners by DAPL.

In the filing to the Utilities Board, a Sierra Club attorney argued that the company's notification defects were more than "mere technicalities," affecting the legal rights of landowners and members of the public to attend informational meetings and learn more about the project, according to a report in the Des Moines Register.

"Our plans are to file with the Utilities Board on or before the 16th," said Vicki Granado, a DAPL spokesperson, who added that similar filings are being made in North and South Dakota, as well as Illinois, where the pipeline would connect with existing ETP interstate pipelines at Patoka, IL.

DAPL plans to tie into ETP's existing Trunkline Pipeline, which is being converted from carrying natural gas to the Gulf Coast region (see Shale Daily, June 26, 2014).

Granado told the Register that the project is committed to protecting environmental and agricultural resources in Iowa, and that the environmental groups' filing with the Utilities Board appears to be a delaying tactic with little merit.

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