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ISU Resists Condemnation for Bakken Pipeline

Roberts Residence Hall and Union Drive, Iowa State University

Energy company Dakota Access wants to build a pipeline across Iowa to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   The company has initiated eminent domain proceedings against Iowa State University.  

But university officials say they’re willing to negotiate voluntary easements for the ISU property the pipeline would cross. 

Vice-President Warren Madden says the university will resist condemnation, but if the Iowa Utilities Board approves the project, then ISU is ready to negotiate terms.    

“That's the position we've taken,” Madden says.  “The next steps from our perspective is what action the Iowa Utilities Board will be taking.”

However, in a petition filed with the Iowa Utilities Board, ISU seeks more input if Dakota Access proceeds with condemnation.     ISU questions whether public land can be condemned.  

ISU has not taken a position on the project itself.  He says currently crude oil crosses university property on an elevated railroad, which some say is more dangerous than a pipeline.

“An accident with a tank care has a higher potential safety risk than the location of the pipeline and being buried underground,” Madden says.

If the project proceeds, a voluntary easement would require approval of the Board of Regents.  

Madden says condemning public land is a public policy issue that has not been resolved.

The proposed route across an ISU dairy farm does not present operational problems for Iowa State. 

Hundreds of opponents have filed objection with the Iowa Utilities Board.  The board has scheduled a public hearing for next week in Boone.