Environment | National

Iowa board approves energy pipeline work amid tribal objections






Youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe participated in a spiritual ride on March 29, 2016, to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo from Indigenous Rising

The Iowa Utilities Board voted 2-1 on Monday to allow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in areas under state and private control.

The board's decision does not apply to lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency has been meeting with tribes to discuss their concerns about the crude oil pipeline.

The Iowa State Archaeologist also met with tribal representatives to discuss a specific site, known as 13LO335. The Upper Sioux Community, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes consider it to be "a place of significant cultural and historical importance," John Doershuk wrote in an e-mail that was filed with the board on Monday.

Doershuk told the board that the site should not be disturbed because tribal ancestors are buried there. He is recommending that it be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and protected under state burial laws.

"As I stated in a previous email, no one (including professional archaeologists or biological anthropologists) may conduct any sort of ground-disturbing activity or investigation at or near the location of 13LO335 without my prior written permission or that of my Bioarchaeologist," Doershuk wrote in the message.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had granted a permit that would have allowed the pipeline to cross through the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area. But the permit has been revoked because of the site, The Iowa Informer reported.

“This action by Fish & Wildlife Service sets a precedent we hope other local and federal agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, take notice of and follow," Dallas Goldtooth, the Keep It In the Ground organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a press release. "We must not allow Big Oil to trample Indigenous rights, landowner rights, and federal policies that aim to protect the land, water, and culturally significant sites. Dakota Access is against the ropes, now is the time to deliver the final blows and stop this pipeline.”

The 1,100-mile pipeline would start in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and would cross South Dakota before entering Iowa and ending in Illinois. The company behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners, has said it will comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and other historic and environmental preservation laws.

Documents about the project in Iowa can be found on Docket HLP-2014-0001.

Get the Story:
Dakota Access Can Start Pipeline Construction (Iowa Public Radio 6/6)
Iowa board votes to allow pipeline work to begin in state (AP 6/6)
Iowa regulators allow construction to begin on majority of Bakken pipeline (The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier 6/7)
IUB grants Dakota Access permission to start construction in Iowa (The Ames Tribune 6/7)
IUB gives Dakota Access 'OK' for pipeline for construction (The Newton Daily News 6/7)

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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Army Corps to discuss oil pipeline (04/26)
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