In our backyard: Iowa law and the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

John Lande Iowa Real Estate & Land Use Dickinson Law Des Moines Iowa

Posted on 01/20/2015 at 07:21 AM by John Lande

There has been a great deal of media attention regarding the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline that Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is seeking approval to build across Iowa. The pipeline will move oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to Illinois. Public meetings have already been held across the state to provide landowners with their first glimpse of the proposed route. While the Iowa Legislature may yet intervene in the process of approval and construction of the pipeline, for now there is already a procedure in place for approval and construction of the pipeline under Iowa Code Chapter 479. The first step is already done public informational meetings. The next step will be for the Iowa Utilities Board ('IUB') to consider the application for construction of the pipeline. If the IUB approves the application and issues a permit for the construction of the pipeline then construction can commence. With so many landowners affected by the construction, it is very likely that Energy Transfer Partners will have to exercise one of the more controversial powers available under Iowa law eminent domain. If the IUB approves a permit to build the pipeline then Energy Transfer Partners will be vested with the power to compel landowners to sell portions of their land. Iowa law requires land owners to be compensated when a company forces a sale. Energy Transfer Partners must pay landowners fair market value for their property. More specifically, the Iowa Code requires compensation for the following losses:

1. Loss or reduced yield of crops or forage on the pipeline right-of-way, whether caused directly by construction or from disturbance of usual farm operations.

2. Loss or reduced yield of crops or yield from land near the pipeline right-of-way resulting from lack of timely access to the land or other disturbance of usual farm operations, including interference with irrigation.

3. Fertilizer, lime, or organic material applied by the landowner to restore land disturbed by construction to full productivity.

4. Loss of or damage to trees of commercial or other value that occurs at the time of construction, restoration, or at the time of any subsequent work by the pipeline company.

5. The cost of or losses in moving or relocating livestock, and the loss of gain by or the death or injury of livestock caused by the interruption or relocation of normal feeding.

6. Erosion on lands attributable to pipeline construction.

7. Damage to farm equipment caused by striking a pipeline, debris, or other material reasonably associated with pipeline construction while engaged in normal farming operations . . . .

Iowa law states that these are not the only losses landowners can be compensated before. Landowners should consult with an attorney about special circumstances that may not be covered by the list above. The media and landowners will continue to follow Energy Transfer Partners application to the IUB for a permit. If the permit is approved, landowners should be prepared to consult with an attorney if their land happens to be in the path of pipeline construction.

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.


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