Pipeline Work Begins in Iowa, Protesters Vow Nonviolent Acts

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Work has begun in Iowa on an oil pipeline despite repeated attempts by landowners and environmental groups to stop it, a spokeswoman for the Texas company building the pipeline said Thursday.

The Iowa Utilities Board signed a final order Wednesday allowing construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,150-mile pipeline that spans four states, and work began shortly after that, according to Lisa Dillinger with Texas-based Dakota Access.

“We have provided the proper notifications in Iowa, allowing us to begin immediately,” she said. “Construction activities have begun along the route in all four states.”

Iowa was the last state to approve construction on the pipeline, which will carry oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa before ending at a storage facility in Illinois. Work began last month in the other three states.

Dakota Access has not received permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for river crossings and other federal land in Iowa, including a parcel that is under investigation as a possible Native American burial site. Plus, the project faces at least five lawsuits in Polk County District Court in Des Moines, and individual landowners along the route have said they plan to challenge in court the company’s use of eminent domain. The first condemnation hearings begin next week.

Pipeline opposition group Bold Iowa said Thursday that 60 members have signed a pledge to risk arrest if necessary in nonviolent protests.

“In the tradition of other great American struggles for freedom, from the Boston Tea Party to the March to Montgomery to the Farm Crisis, when farmers stood with their neighbors to block foreclosure auctions, we ask Americans passionate about defending our land and liberty to step forward to stop the Bakken Pipeline,” said Ed Fallon, the group’s director.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a citizen activist group in Des Moines, will join Bold Iowa’s protest, political director Adam Mason said, adding that action could begin as early as July.

Dakota Access said the construction work that has begun includes staking, grading, clearing, temporary road construction and building temporary fences and gates, Dillinger said. Currently, there are a few hundred workers are in Iowa, but she said that number will grow as work expands, reaching about 4,000 workers in each state at the peak.

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