Route of the proposed Bakken pipeline.

Route of the proposed Bakken pipeline.

Officials with the Dakota Access Pipeline are working to secure the needed easements in preparation for construction of the 1,100-plus mile crude oil pipeline.

State leaders in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois have signed on, but Dakota Access is still waiting on Iowa to give its formal okay.

Dakota Access spokesperson Vicki Granado, says they are waiting to work through things in Iowa.

“Their process has been a little different than the other three states,” Granado says. “They’ve held many more public meetings and different things from the others. They are indicating they’re getting close to wrapping up the process. They’ve scheduled some working sessions for early February.”

The so-called Bakken pipeline would pass through 18 Iowa counties. Protestors against the pipeline rallied at the state capitol last week, saying it poses environmental and other concerns. Granado says the hearings in Iowa have helped clear up a lot of misconceptions about the pipeline. “Not only with the regulatory bodies but with landowners and with the population at large,” Granado says. “We’ve had to really start in many areas with some of the real basics, the construction methods and the restoration methods after construction, and the safety record of pipelines actually being safer than train and truck.”

Granado says after the pipeline is built, the land returns to its former purpose. “Once construction is completed and restoration is completed, they’re underground,” she says. “You don’t see them. If it’s through farmland, they return the land to farming. They can run cattle over the area. The land returns to the use. The only thing you can’t do is build a permanent structure over the pipeline.” That’s because the company will need access to the pipeline for routine operation and maintenance.

During construction, Granado says Dakota Access will pay substantial state sales taxes to all four states, in addition to property taxes once the pipeline is in service. She says the company will employ up to 4,000 construction workers per state to build the 1,168 miles of 30-inch pipeline.

The Iowa Utilities Board has scheduled meetings on the pipeline for February 8th, 9th, and 10th from 1 to 4 p.m. each day. The DNR is also considering the request for a permit for access to public lands for the pipeline.

(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)