The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a public meeting for December 16th to discuss the request of Dakota Access for a permit to cross public land so the company can build its Baaken oil pipeline.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says this issue is separate from the larger picture discussion by the Iowa Utilities Board about whether the company can build the pipeline. Baskins says if the IUB rules the overall pipeline can proceed, then the state would become just like other landowners, and have to decide if the pipelines can cross four areas.
“This is a little more complicated than some of the others. Since it is public land, public land cannot come under eminent domain,” Baskins explains. “So they need to have a construction permit when it comes to public land in order to do the kind of things they need to do in they are going to build this pipeline, or be allowed to build this pipeline to make those crossings of public areas.”
Eminent domain is used when a property owner does not want to voluntarily allow access to their land. Baskins says that state lands are also different from private lands as there are no provisions to grant easements — voluntary access to the land. “So the permit would essentially decide what kind of parameters the company would have to use if they are allowed to have these accesses to publicly owned land,” Baskins says.
He says the pipeline would need to cross public land in four places. “It would be to cross Big Sioux River at the Nelson Tract of the Big Sioux River Complex Wildlife Management Area in Lyon County, the Des Moines River in Boone County and the Mississippi River in Lee County,” Baskins says. Baskins says the company would bore under the rivers and then use a trench in the wildlife area.
He says the permit would outline what the company can do at the crossings. “What kind of mitigation process would be used to compensate for any damages or any future work that would be done on that pipeline,” Baskins says. He says the public meeting is part of the gathering of information as the DNR looks at the permit.
“We will be studying the issues and working on that permit, probably until sometime in February,” Baskins says. “But as we start that process we felt that it was important to give the public a chance to comment and be able to consider those comments as we are drafting that permit.” The public meeting is set for December 16th from 5 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines.
Other comments can be made on the permit to the DNR until 5 p-m Tuesday, January 5thby email at SLER@dnr.iowa.gov or by sending written comments to:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Sovereign Lands Construction Permit Program
502 E. Ninth St.
Des Moines, IA 50319