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Dakota Access Says Landowners' Motion To Stop Construction Should Be Tossed

Dakota Access LLC
The Dakota Access pipeline will pass through 18 Iowa counties.

A pipeline company says a group of landowners challenging its use of eminent domain was too late in filing a motion asking the Polk County District County to temporarily stop pipeline construction. Therefore, Dakota Access LLC says the landowners’ motion should be tossed.

The landowners say since construction of the Bakken Oil Pipeline is imminent, the district court must intercede to protect their constitutional right to due process by stopping construction on their properties until they have their day in court.  Once the pipeline trench is dug, they argue, damage will be permanent and any legal objections will be moot.

The landowners aim to eventually go to trial and argue that crude oil isn’t a utility in Iowa since it is neither produced nor refined in the state. They also contend that Dakota Access is a private entity that will be under federal, not state jurisdiction once the pipeline is completed, so they conclude the Iowa Utilities Board had no authority to grant Dakota Access’s use of eminent domain.

Dakota Access says crude oil is a public utility in Iowa since the vast majority of people in the state use cars. The company accuses landowners of crawling around in subsections of statutes and stretching the intention of Iowa code to construct the argument that the IUB lacks jurisdiction over crude oil, instead of taking the law’s clear meaning.

Dakota Access says it plans to start construction on the properties in question as early as late next week. The company claims that if it were to stop construction and then double back once the matter is resolved, it would cost an additional $8 million.

District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell says he hopes to have a ruling soon.