Iowa pipeline opponents hope to stop oil flow across state

Federal ruling is considered a victory by some as lawsuit still pending with Iowa Supreme Court

In light of a federal court’s ruling, the Sierra Club and the Science and Environmental Health Network on Thursday filed a motion seeking to revoke the Dakota Access Pipeline’s permit in Iowa.

The SEH Network is the convener for the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, said network Executive Director Carolyn Raffensperger.

The motion, filed with the Iowa Utilities Board, contends that the permit granted by the board is void while the status of the federal permit is in question.

The pipeline stretches about 350 miles across Iowa.

The IUB granted its statewide permit on March 10, 2016, with the precondition that the company obtain all other needed authorizations.

“The Iowa permit was conditional on receiving that permit, the Army Corps of Engineers permit,” Raffensperger said. “In fact it is void without the Army Corps of Engineers permit.”

“Since the permit issued by the Board is now void, it must be revoked,” wrote Wallace Taylor, attorney for the Sierra Club, and Raffensperger in their motion. “Furthermore, since the permit is void and must be revoked, Dakota Access must be ordered to immediately cease transporting oil through the pipeline.”

Even though the flow of oil may not be shut down by a federal order, the IUB could still issue such an order in the state, Raffensperger said.

She also questions what will happen if the two members of the IUB reach a deadlock in their vote on the matter.

The third member of the board, the recently-appointed Richard Lozier, filed a statement on Wednesday formally recusing himself from participating in any way in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Raffensperger said this is because he used to serve as an attorney for the MAIN coalition, an industry group supporting the pipeline in Iowa.

Sierra Club and multiple Iowa landowners still have an ongoing suit before the Iowa Supreme Court challenging Dakota Access’s use of eminent domain. That suit is now being heard, said Raffensperger, who doesn’t expect a decision until late this year or early next year.

“Dakota Access filed motions to have it dismissed, and those were rejected. The case is viable, alive and hopefully will meet the same end as the most recent one in federal court,” she said.

A judge ruled against the landowners in Polk County District Court on Feb. 15.