Ed Fallon

Despite a federal judge’s order last week to shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the leader of an Iowa environmental group says the battle is far from over.

BOLD Iowa executive director Ed Fallon says he’s pleased the ruling mandates the pipeline be closed while a lengthy environmental review is conducted. “We formed specifically to fight the Dakota Access pipeline in 2015 after I walked 400 miles across Iowa to meet with landowners and farmers and others,” Fallon says. “We’ve put together a really strong coalition that’s been fighting an uphill battle the whole way, so this is exciting.”

The Dakota Access pipeline runs from North Dakota through South Dakota and across 350 miles of Iowa, ending up at a refinery in Illinois. Fallon says the pipeline has already caused damage to farmland, crops and soil. “Farmers have been really affected by this, crop yields have been hit,” Fallon says. “There have been issues with soil compaction that still haven’t been addressed. We’re always concerned about a spill or a leak which, it’s just a matter of time before that happens. And the big elephant in the room, climate change. That has not been addressed to the extent that it needs to be.”

Fallon says BOLD Iowa will remain engaged and will weigh in with the courts and those conducting the environmental review, as well as with Iowa officials. “We’ll continue to stand with landowners and farmers here,” Fallon says. “There are still outstanding lawsuits against the pipeline company. Most people don’t even know that. We’re also going to continue to talk with our Iowa Utilities Board and say, ‘Look, we know you approved the expansion but maybe now it’s not such a good idea.'”

The court has instructed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement on the project. Energy Transfer Partners, which runs the pipeline, is appealing the judge’s order that the pipeline be shut down within 30 days. The company says the pipeline can’t be shut down and drained by August 5th and that the process will take 90 days.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)