The Iowa Utilities Board expressed its commitment to an orderly approval process in the case of the application for the Dakota Access Pipeline, rejecting a motion from the Sierra Club for an environmental review. The MAIN Coalition was active in the case, arguing that the IUB has no express authority to order such a review and that other state agencies more qualified to conduct such as an assessment may raise the issue via testimony submitted to the agency.
In its decision to reject the motion for a study, the Iowa Utilities Board stated:
The Board will not address in this order the sufficiency of the testimony Dakota Access has filed, as that is something for the Board to decide after the hearing. (…) The fact remains that the existing agency process has been sufficient to address environmental issues in the past and so far, no one has shown that it will not be sufficient here.
It must be noted that the Sierra Club and No Bakken Here, who filed the motion, did so not out of concern for the safety of the project, an aspect that has been addressed at length in the already ongoing process, but as a tactic to delay, stall, and ultimately reject the project. If such an action were to happen, it would deny access jobs to be created by its construction for thousands of Iowans, and forfeit the millions of dollars of tax revenue that the Dakota Access Pipeline would generate for the state. A similar last-minute motion was rejected last week by the South Dakota’s Public Utility Commission, who expressed concerns at the last minute motion to stay the proceedings with no real precedent to support such a decision. The Sierra Club also had another such action rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for a pipeline in Missouri.
While it is important to make sure that energy infrastructure investments are safe, this should not be done in bad faith as a mere delay tactic. The Dakota Access Pipeline offers the Midwest a safer and more secure option of transporting American-produced energy out of the region. To not invest in energy infrastructure means accepting the status quo, with oil trains picking up the slack.
While future generations may utilize power from non-traditional energy sources on an economically feasible scale, to suggest it as a viable alternative to improving the delivery of the fuels we use today is irresponsible and belongs in the realm of fantasy. Unfortunately, that is the only alternative that groups such as the Sierra Club and No Bakken Here can come claim.
We are confident that the state agencies involved in approving energy infrastructure projects will hold up public safety as a priority and will proceed accordingly. Based on the current operation of more than 40,000 miles of pipelines in Iowa, we are confident that the Dakota Access Pipeline will be operated in a likewise safe manner.
Read the full decision here.