BOONE, Iowa -- Iowans voicing their opinion Thursday in front of the Iowa Utilities Board view the Bakken Oil Pipeline one of two ways. Richie Schmidt sees it as "Jobs and opportunities for iowans," while Jonas Magram of Fairfield said, "This is a terrible idea, not just for Iowa but our entire planet."
The controversial proposal began nearly a year ago when Dakota Access, a company from Texas, proposed a crude oil pipeline stretching across 18 counties in Iowa and into illinois. Mirian Kashia, from North Liberty, said, "It's taking Iowa land through eminent domain for an out of state corporation."
Schmidt said, what worries a large group, could also help another."One, jobs. Obviously that's what a lot of people are here to talk about." The pipeline could help create an additional 4,000 jobs while it's constructed and supporters took issue to those who say the jobs are only temporary. "These are temporary projects for our members but they are permanent careers," said Schmidt.
Opponents of the pipeline which would carry nearly half a million gallons of crude oil underneath Iowa farmland are worried about environmental disasters. Patrick Bosold of Fairfield said, "One rupture in any of these waterways would be a year-long nightmare to clean up, if it could be cleaned up at all."
Others, like Nick Prymek of Waukee, say it's more than reliable. "Pipelines are statistically the safest way to transport oil. If the oil is going to come out of the ground, we might as well transport it the safest way possible."
Supporters believe their lives are at risk if it does not pass. "That's how we get paychecks, put food on the table, that's how we send our kids to school, that's how we go to the doctors office so yeah we have a financial state in this," said Schmidt.
While Dakota Access has said they'll provide right of way compensation and millions in property tax relief, those against feel everyone is at risk if it is built. Magram said, "It would be detrimental for our entire state and not just our generation but your's and future generations to come."
A decision could be made as early as the end of this year. Many, both for and against, say the verdict will have an immediate effect.
The potential denial of the Dakota Access Pipeline, I think you can count on the employment rates in those counties going back on the rise," said Schmidt. "Climate change is real and it's happening faster than anyone ever predicted," said Kashia.
An evidence and cross examination hearing will take place Monday, november 16 at the same location. There is no deadline for the Iowa Utilities Board to make a decision.