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Pipeline Opponents Deliver 33,000 Signatures To Feds

Michael Leland/IPR
Miriam Kashia of 100 Grannies for a Livable Future speaks at a pipeline opposition gathering in downtown Des Moines Wednesday.

People opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline have turned more than 33,000 petition signatures over to the U-S Department of Justice office in Des Moines. 

They want the department to review all permits that allow pipeline construction.

“We call upon President Obama to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers rejects the remaining permits in North Dakota and Iowa,” said Ross Grooters, member of the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.  “Furthermore, the construction should be halted not just the 20 miles either side of Lake Oahe, but along the pipeline’s entire path.”

Grooters was among a group of a few dozen pipeline opponents who gathered along the Des Moines River downtown Wednesday morning, before marching a couple of blocks to the Department of Justice office.

The petitions say the pipeline has been approved without conducting a rigorous environmental impact statement or consulting with Native Americans who live along the route.  Last week, the federal government ordered construction suspended near Lake Oahe, close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

Carolyn Raffensperger heads the group “Science and Environmental Health Network.”  She says the permitting process has been unfair to rural Iowans and Native Americans.

“They disregarded the environmental consequences to present and future generations,” she said. “They disregarded the consequences to the tribe and to rural areas.  They said we don’t matter in Iowa because we’re rural, they don’t matter in North Dakota because they’re just a tribe.”

Credit Michael Leland/IPR
Pipeline opponents carry petitions containing more than 33,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Justice office in Des Moines.

Most of the signatures were gathered through an online petition created by the group Food and Water Watch.  The group’s Iowa coordinator, Matt Ohloff, says about 29,000 of the signatures came from outside of Iowa.

“This is becoming a national issue, and President Obama has the ability to stop this pipeline,” he said.  “The Army Corps of Engineers still has two pending permits, and we need the Army Corps and President Obama to deny those permits and stop the Bakken Pipeline.”

Ohloff says the pipeline resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has helped raise awareness elsewhere in the country. 

On Tuesday,  the head of the pipeline’s parent company vowed to continue construction, and said that a federal judge had ruled the project complies with federal rules and regulations.  The pipeline route crosses 18 Iowa counties and will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Michael Leland is IPR's News Director