Iowa Utilities Board Delays Pipeline Decision Until March

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa is the last of four states to make a decision on the Bakken oil pipeline and it will remain that way until March.

The Iowa Utilities Board's decision Friday to delay action on the controversial pipeline has already impacted Iowans.

“We probably have 55% unemployment right now, and that's where they plan to go,” said Chad Carter, who is part of engineer union Local 234 Iowa.

Approval by the three-member board could help supporters get back to work, but opponents see danger in a pipeline that would carry nearly half a million gallons of crude oil per day across 18 Iowa counties.

“In terms of climate change, threats to water, it's going to be disastrous,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.

Dakota Access and those who would construct the pipeline say it will be monitored and maintained to prevent disastrous leaks.

“For the spills, this is new technology. It is not what they did in the 1940's. The steel is way better now,” Carter said.

With that being the case, the Science and Environmental Health Network hopes the board holds Dakota Access accountable if construction is approved.

“You have already declared it is not going to leak and you put your money where your mouth is and so if it leaks, your permit is gone,” Raffensperger said of Dakota Access.

While board members eye March for a final decision, they say their intent to have an order that is presented.

Both sides are anxiously awaiting a decision for similar reasons: the livelihood of Iowans’ future and present.

“This is what we do for a living. This is our career that we have chosen. We go from job site to job site. It's not just temporary, it's our livelihood,” Carter said.

Dakota Access has said the project will cost around $3.7 billion with nearly $200 million going to landowners for easement compensation. The IUB plans to make their final decision on March 9 or March 10.

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