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Let the IUB do its Job

Last week, a bipartisan group of Iowa lawmakers submitted a letter urging the Iowa Utilities Board to continue their review of the Dakota Access Pipeline project without imposing additional regulatory requirements. The lawmakers encouraged the board to proceed in the professional and unbiased manner for which the agency is known.

The Dakota Access Pipeline proposal is currently in the review process by the Iowa Utilities Board. The submittal of this proposal was preceded by meetings with landowners and the public, where the company, Dakota Access LLC, received input from various stakeholders including local community members. The approval process is fully independent of the Iowa legislature, removing any undue political influence. Governor Branstad has urged the legislature to allow the IUB process to run its course as well.

The MAIN Coalition applauds the determination of the lawmakers to maintain the agency’s independence in reviewing this and all applications. As the letter states, it’s vital that Iowa not become a state viewed by would-be investors as a landscape resistant to new development.

We believe that our region needs to continue to develop its energy infrastructure in a responsible manner. Our land is out most valuable resource, but it can be preserved and protected while still pursuing the important goal of energy independence. Ensuring that energy can flow safely and reliably to consumers will provide easier access to the investments that are so critical to growing our economy, and sustaining long term job growth.

It is our view that the Iowa Utilities Board has a responsibility to go through the all of the relevant data with care to evaluate the safety merits of this project. Construction of any pipeline is governed by numerous laws on the local, state, and federal level. Exhaustive surveys are conducted to ensure minimal impact to sensitive areas, cultural landmarks, and wells. The Dakota Access Pipeline is no exception.

We encourage the board to base its decision on the facts, and allow the regulatory system already in place to guide their decision making process. Let the merits of this investment be the deciding factor, and let’s keep rhetoric and talking points – and most of all, politics – as far away from the process as we can.

The full text of the letter has been published on IUB’s website here.

Expanding Infrastructure Brings Diverse Benefits, Broad Support

Ideal economic development projects do more than create jobs and spark local and regional investment. While those factors are crucial – and indeed, economic development projects and infrastructure expansion have helped our region to create tens of thousands of jobs and have led to billions in private investment – they are not the end of the story.

It is important, when weighing the merits of one project or another, to look closely at the factors that reach beyond economic impact and job creation – to gain a careful understanding of the big picture as it relates to the project’s impact.

It is this careful examination that’s led us to start the MAIN coalition.

Led by the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, we are a collection of entities from all sectors of the Midwest economy that has recognized the importance of expanding our region’s critical infrastructure through projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our membership is diverse, representing statewide organized labor groups, state Chambers of Commerce, agriculture groups and farmers, trade associations, economic development authorities, and individual businesses and landowners from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Those of us from the business and industry community recognize the immediate impact that this level of investment will have on our local and regional investment landscape, and we appreciate the fact that this project will be created without a dime of cost to taxpayers.

The farmers and agricultural groups among us support this project because of what it will mean for our sector’s bottom line, keeping energy prices and input costs low and making the shipment of our ag products more affordable thanks to reduced strain on the region’s rail network.

And the labor leaders that helped to convene this coalition support the project because it will create thousands of jobs for local laborers – living-wage jobs that will help our members to feed their families and support their communities.

Our reasons for supporting this project are diverse, but we’re joined by a common belief that the construction of this project is the right move for the communities in which we live and work. We believe that pipelines are the most efficient and most environmentally sound means of transporting the fossil energy that we need to keep our region competitive.

We also believe that the future of this project should be decided on its merits, and should hinge on a clear discussion of the facts rather than an ongoing exchange of talking points and rhetoric.

We’re eager to be a part of this debate, and to articulate the many reasons that our members – from truckers and hotel owners to farmers and laborers – want to see this project move forward.