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Landowners Have Day in Court, Seek Damages Against Oil Pipeline's Use of Eminent Domain

Sarah Boden/IPR
Pipeline opponents protest Dakota Access pipeline after Thursday morning court hearing in Des Moines.

A group of landowners whose property was seized through eminent domain for the purpose of the Dakota Access pipeline had their day in court on this morning. The landowners contend the Iowa Utilities Board focused too much on the economic benefits of a pipeline when it granted Dakota Access a construction permit and use of eminent domain.

Instead, they say, the focus should have been on the potential service a crude oil pipeline provides to Iowans, which they say is negligible. So the landowners posit the IUB lacked valid reasons grant the pipeline permit.

The utilities board argues that since the pipeline is already finished in Iowa, the case is moot. But furthermore the IUB says it was appropriate to consider the economics of the oil market.

If successful, the landowners say they'll be seeking damages separately. Attorney Bill Hannigan suggested that the Dakota Access's parent companies, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, should be charged for every barrel of crude oil that will travel through his clients' proprieties via the pipeline. 

Polk County District Court Judge Jeffery Farrell says he hopes to issue his decision as soon as possible. Any ruling will almost certainly be appealed.