Green Grannies Protest Bakken Pipeline in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Work on the Bakken Oil Pipeline has already begun in Iowa after the Iowa Utilities Board approved the controversial project in June - but plenty of its opponents say the fight isn't over until the oil is flowing.

The environmentally-conscious activist group, 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, staged a satirical street theater performance outside the Iowa Utilities Board Wednesday. The play, "In Bed with the Bakken," depicted one granny dressed as Governor Terry Branstad, bottle-feeding a piece of piping.

While crews have begun clearing the way for the 346-mile pipeline route through Iowa since the $3.78 billion project was approved in the state last month, these activists say there's still plenty of time to stop it.

"We need the people of this state to wake up! There are people in Iowa who don't even know this is happening," said Miriam Kashia, a member of 100 Grannies. "The ones along the pipeline do, along those 18 counties. But a lot of people don't know, so we're doing everything in our power to educate - here, look: educate, advocate, and agitate. Today, we were agitating."

The pipeline faces several lawsuits from property owners who object to the use of eminent domain to gain access to their farmland for the project; those cases ultimately could be decided by the Iowa Supreme Court. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to issue any permits for the project on the portions of land it has jurisdiction over - totaling about three percent of the entire project in Iowa.

Advocates push for the project, citing the 2,000 to 4,000 construction jobs it will create. The pipeline would cut diagonally across the state, carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken field through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.