OGDEN, Iowa–It’s harvest season in Boone County, something that Ogden resident and Boone County Board of Supervisors Chair Chet Hollingshead’s family has been doing for nearly one hundred years now. “So yeah, there’s legacy to take into this.”
It’s a sentiment that many Iowa farmers share as they continue their fight against the proposed Bakken crude oil pipeline that would stretch from the northwest to the southeast corner of the state and into Illinois. Hollingshead said, “The message is clear. Our citizens don’t want the Bakken pipeline and they feel their property rights are being infringed on.”
On Wednesday, Hollingshead and the county’s board of supervisors voted unanimously to oppose the pipeline. “It’s not just because our citizens said you need to do this, but we believe what they believe, that and we are united in saying we don’t think their pipeline is good for Boone County or good for Iowa,” said Hollingshead.
Hollingshead says many cited envioronmental risks that the pipeline presents as it would carry 450,000 gallons of crude oil a day through iowa. “As a landowner, you have to ask do I want the liability, the responsibility of knowing that there’s crude oil going under high tillable land and knowing that if there’s a leak, that farm might not be productive for ten years.”
Those in favor of the pipeline point to landowners being paid $27 million annually in property tax relief, another $60 million total in permanent right of way compensation and also the employment factor. “These aren’t just temporary jobs. It’ll employ four hundred union members for union engineers,” said Chad Carter, International Union of Operating Engineers member.
Hollingshead believes Boone county has spoken to protect their livelihood’s on the farm and that the Iowa Utilities Board, who has the ultimate say, should listen. “We don’t have any regulatory power when it comes to this pipeline but we can send a message to the folks on the Iowa Utilities Board that we are not in favor of this and it sends a strong message,” said Hollingshead.
The Iowa Utilities Board will hold nearly a dozen public meetings on the issue through December. There is no statute that says when the IUB needs to make a ruling on whether Dakota access has the right to use eminent domain.
Meanwhile an attempt to stop the pipeline in northwest Iowa through the courts has failed. Three landowners were trying to sue the Iowa Utilities Board to stop them from allowing the use of eminent domain. This week a judge threw out that lawsuit saying the landowners have to wait for the board to actually act before they can sue.