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Iowa Pipeline Draws Eminent Domain Protests


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Author: DAVID PITT, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Work has begun in Iowa on an oil pipeline despite repeated attempts by landowners and environmental groups to stop it, a spokeswoman for the Texas company building the pipeline said Thursday. At issue is the exercise of the principle of Eminent Domain, wherein private property, under certain specific circumstances, may be appropriated by the Federal government for public use. 

The Iowa Utilities Board signed a final order Wednesday allowing construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,150-mile pipeline that spans four states, and work began shortly after that, according to Lisa Dillinger with Texas-based Dakota Access.

"We have provided the proper notifications in Iowa, allowing us to begin immediately," she said. 

"Construction activities have begun along the route in all four states."

Iowa was the last state to approve construction on the pipeline, which will carry oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa before ending at a storage facility in Illinois. Work began last month in the other three states.

Pipeline opposition group, Bold Iowa, said Thursday that 60 members have signed a pledge to risk arrest if necessary in nonviolent protests.

Use of the Eminent Domain process includes what are called Condemnation Hearings, in which land is formally appropriated through title transfer, or through a lesser mechanism, such as an easement. The process also involves assessing the affected lands for purposes of financially compensating the affected landowners. The Supreme Court has repeatedly deferred decisions on the appropriateness of Eminent Domain in specific circumstances back to the States. 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a citizen activist group in Des Moines, will join Bold Iowa's protest, political director Adam Mason said, adding that action could begin as early as July.

"In the tradition of other great American struggles for freedom, from the Boston Tea Party to the March to Montgomery to the Farm Crisis, when farmers stood with their neighbors to block foreclosure auctions, we ask Americans passionate about defending our land and liberty to step forward to stop the Bakken Pipeline," said Ed Fallon, the group's director. 

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