Pipeline deliberations: Iowa regulators, not just federal, can uphold environmental standards


A map of the pipeline route proposed by Texas-based Dakota Access, LLC
A map of the pipeline route proposed by Texas-based Dakota Access, LLC
KC McGinnis | February 9, 2016

During the first of four days of deliberations, an attorney for the Iowa Utilities Board contested the claim that Iowa utility regulators are not authorized to enforce environmental regulations on the proposed Bakken pipeline beyond what the federal government requires, according to the Globe Gazette.

The Iowa Utilities Board began discussions Monday over the possibility of granting a pipeline permit to Texas-based Dakota Access LLC for the construction of an oil pipeline starting in North Dakota and terminating in Illinois. Dakota Access has claimed that the state’s environmental standards for the pipeline cannot exceed federal guidelines. Board general counsel David Lynch disagreed, arguing that state regulators can refuse a permit based on environmental concerns.

There is still disagreement on whether or not the Bakken pipeline meets environmental standards because Dakota Access has used a different organization to determine the environmental risks than the Iowa state archaeologist. According to the Sierra Club, only about 20% of the proposed pipeline route is sufficiently protected in environmental terms.

Board members are also being asked to consider the impacts of increased fossil fuel usage on the environment in Iowa and beyond. Studies have shown that more fossil fuels need to remain in the ground to prevent climate change reaching the 2 degree celsius threshold.

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