A weeklong march across Iowa is underway to raise awareness about a lawsuit headed to the Iowa Supreme Court next week over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Iowa Sierra Club and nine landowners initiated the lawsuit. It alleges the Iowa Utilities Board illegally granted the pipeline company eminent domain for the nearly $4 billion pipeline that carries 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day through Iowa.
Pam Mackey Taylor, acting director of the Iowa Sierra Club, says many people are not aware that like the landowners involved in the lawsuit, their property also is vulnerable. “If somebody comes in and wants your land for a purpose, they can sometimes get eminent domain for things like a pipeline,” she explains. “We think that that’s really an abuse of eminent domain.”
The 90-mile First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March began in Des Moines and will end in Fort Dodge on Saturday.
The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
The Dakota Access Pipeline has triggered protests since 2014 near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, as well as in Iowa’s Quad Cities area.
Mackey Taylor says if the Iowa Supreme Court rules against landowners, it could allow corporations and others to use eminent domain for all sorts of reasons. “The Supreme Court still has a role it can play,” she points out. “It can determine that the pipeline was illegally sited and can even go to the extreme where the pipeline has to be removed.”
Last year a judge allowed oil to begin flowing in the pipeline, but also ordered additional study because of concerns about the pipeline’s potential impact on tribal water rights.
An environmental study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is due for release any day.