Iowa Needs Budget Deal, Not Activist’s Pipeline Political Theater

Ed Fallon, a former Iowa state legislator and former candidate for governor, hosted an event today in support of a “poison pill” eminent domain bill currently under review by the Iowa state legislature. The event was largely a political distraction from lawmakers hard at work at competing the state’s budget.

The bill will inadvertently create barriers that will make any large scale energy infrastructure projects prohibitively expensive and virtually impossible in the state, preventing Iowa from getting access to billions in potential investments. This is an extremely troubling development for both the region and our nation as a whole. The U.S. Department of Energy’s recently released Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) has praised precisely these kinds of infrastructure projects, stating that they have:

“…improved U.S. energy security. Without it, the United States could not have reduced its reliance on imports of liquid fuels to the extent that it has.”

The Des Moines Register has recently voiced its dissent to the bill in a recent edition of their “Roses and Thistles” section. The staff opined:

“Bills backed by key Republicans and Democrats in both houses would require companies to have voluntary easements from 75 percent of property owners before receiving eminent domain authority from the state. Pipeline and power line companies say setting the bar so high could force them to risk costly investments in projects that may never happen. That would be fine with some proponents of these bills, however, because their aim is to block both projects. In the process, however, they could prevent all future pipelines and powerlines, even ones that environmentalists might support. Until scientists figure out a way to magically deliver power without wires or underground pipes, they will be necessary.”

 MAIN has expressed its support for the Dakota Access Pipeline project. As a coalition of stakeholders representing business, labor, and agricultural communities, we recognize the public benefit that such a project brings to our region. Our coalition chairman and former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, Ed Wiederstein has said that:

“New pipelines – especially those that service the Northern Plains and the Bakken region in particular – are urgently needed. Dakota Access would take four to seven unit trains of crude oil off of the region’s rails, helping the region’s farmers and other commodities shippers to gain greater access to the affordable railcars needed to transport their products. Infrastructure improvements of this nature carry benefits that reach far beyond the energy sector, and deserve our support.”

 The Dakota Access Pipeline will help create well-paying construction jobs, reduce oil rail traffic, increase access of Iowa and Midwest farmers to trains transporting agricultural products, and generate tens of millions of dollars to state coffers in property taxes to use on whatever projects are of most benefit to the residents in each state.

Mr. Fallon’s statements are big on rhetoric and short on any concrete ideas. Whether he likes it or not, oil and natural gas will remain a major component of the national energy mix for decades to come.  Oil from the Bakken will continue to be transported through our region, whether it is through oil pipelines or oil trains, as they do so right now.

We urge Iowa lawmakers to complete the vital work at hand, approving the state budget, and to refrain from letting politics and empty rhetoric infringe on the review process for the Dakota Access Pipeline currently underway at the Iowa Utilities Board. Allowing external influence to infringe on an impartial review of the project would set a very dangerous precedent. Poison pill legislation is not the way to attract investment and promote the growth that Iowa and our region needs.