DES MOINES, Iowa — This week, the Iowa Utilities Board will discuss whether to use eminent domain to seize property from landowners to use for a massive oil pipeline.
Dakota Access, LLC wants to use the land for an underground pipeline that would carry roughly a half million barrels of crude oil from North Dakota, through Iowa and to a distribution center in Illinois. Governor Branstad says he believes eminent domain can and should be used for some pipeline projects.
“I don’t think that we should say a blanket statement that eminent domain should never be used,” Branstad said. “But I also believe that the law that is in place that gives the utilities board the responsibility to do it is appropriate.”
The governor’s comments came after U.S. Senator Rand Paul told landowners in Newton over the weekend that private land should never be taken through eminent domain to benefit a private company. The governor stresses no land will be seized.
“They’re not taking the land. They’re only using the land to put a pipeline through. And we’ve had thousands of miles of pipeline put through this state,” Branstad said.
Farmer Leonard Larson disagrees. The pipeline would go through his family’s property. “For them to come along and take our ground for their business, that’s almost similar to rape,” Larson said.
The pipeline would run diagonally across 18 counties in Iowa. Dakota Access has said 68 percent of affected property owners have agreed to easements allowing the pipeline.
The Iowa Utilities Board will hold public hearings on the pipeline starting Nov. 4. The governor says he’ll stand by the board’s decision. So, Larson said, he won’t stand by the governor.
“Boy, I’ll tell ya. We might as well move out of the state if the governor’s gonna have that kind of an attitude on the situation,” Larson said. “We have them to protect us. not to sell us down the stream.”