As Iowa Caucuses Loom, Hawkeye State Is Last Hope To Block Fracked Bakken Oil Pipeline

As the February 1 Iowa Caucuses loom, the Hawkeye State sits as the proverbial last man standing in the decision whether to grant pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) a permit for its Dakota Access pipeline.

Slated to carry upwards of 570,000 barrels per day of oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin, the pipeline would cut diagonally across Iowa. In recent weeks, ETP has obtained necessary permits from North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois

Will the Hawkeye State say yes to the fossil fuel project, or play its part to #KeepItInTheGround and protect its prized agricultural lands from a spill?

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) will host four days of deliberations on Dakota Access from February 8 through February 11, after which the Board will vote on the controversial pipeline proposal. Those not attending the meeting in Des Moines can watch a livestream at iub.iowa.gov.

Climate change is among the topics the Utilities Board will deliberate upon, according to the published briefing schedule outline. Sierra Club's Iowa branch addressed the climate change impacts of the pipeline in its public comments provided to the Board.

“We need to stop oil from being transported by any mode of transportation,” they wrote. “The only way to effectively combat climate change is to keep the oil in the ground, which includes not building the infrastructure to transport the oil.”

Bernie Sanders Opposes Pipeline

The only presidential candidate to come out against the pipeline thus far is U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). On the Republican side, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (KY) has come out against the use of eminent domain to seize land for pipeline construction.

“I’m opposed to the construction of the Bakken ‘crude oil’ pipeline because as a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, and not increase our dependence on oil, coal, and other carbon pollution sources,” Sanders said in a November press release.

Sanders has even released an advertisement highlighting his opposition to the line. 

In a January 20 press release, the Sanders campaign called on Hillary Clinton to express her stance on the pipeline in prodding her to release a detailed climate change policy plan. 

“It took [Hillary Clinton] four years to take a stand on the Keystone pipeline, which would carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet across the United States,” said the Sanders campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs. “Does Secretary Clinton oppose the Bakken crude oil pipeline that cuts through Iowa and three other states?”

Sanders again brought up Clinton's lack of a stance on Dakota Access during the January 26 Democratic town hall hosted by CNN

DeSmog will continue to monitor the IUB's Dakota Access hearings in the weeks ahead. And if you've missed it, check out our slew of Dakota Access coverage here.
  

Photo Credit: Tom Reichner | Shutterstock