Iowa lawsuit filed over eminent domain for oil pipeline

Sioux City Journal

DES MOINES | A lawsuit has been filed against the Iowa Utilities Board for authorizing use of eminent domain to access land for the Bakken oil pipeline.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Polk County on behalf of the Northwest Iowa Landowners Association and individual landowners.

The proposed 1,130-mile Dakota Access Pipeline planned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa on its way to Illinois. The suit says Dakota Access does not qualify as a utility and should not have the ability to use eminent domain to build a pipeline.

Lawyer Bill Hanigan of the Des Moines-based Davis Brown Law Firm is representing the property owners. The firm released a statement Monday that said its clients contend the Iowa Utilities Board has misinterpreted Iowa law, particularly a 2006 state law that was designed to protect farmland.

The plaintiffs’ petition says the board’s decision to grant eminent domain would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which requires a public use, public purpose or public improvement to justify taking private land. The lawsuit also contends that the Iowa Constitution limits eminent domain and protects the plaintiffs’ rights to possess and protect their property.

“This will be the first opportunity for our clients to seek judicial review of Dakota Access’ eminent domain application,” the Davis Brown statement said. “In addition to our own suit in Polk County, we expect that many similar eminent domain lawsuits will arise as land is condemned in the impacted counties.”

Dakota Access said last week that it’s planning to begin construction on the $3.78 billion project in all four states.


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