Attorneys Claim Dakota Access’ Use of Emiment Domain is Illegal

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nine landowners officially filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Iowa Utilities Board in Polk County.

The lawsuit claims Texas-based Dakota Access, which is building the pipeline, does not qualify as a utility and therefore doesn't qualify to use eminent domain to take Iowa land.

The Iowa Utility Board approved the building of the pipeline last month. The attorneys behind the suit at Davis Brown say they recognize this is a "David-versus-Goliath" fight, but there is more than one "David" on their side.

“This lawsuit is about whether Iowa allows allow a private company, which provides no services to anyone in Iowa, to use the state’s power of eminent domain over farmland. We believe that this is illegal,” said Bill Hanigan, of Davis Brown.

The petitioner landowners argue that the Iowa Utilities Board has misinterpreted Iowa law, specifically a 2006 law designed to protect Iowa farmland.

The plaintiff's petition also says the board's decision to grant eminent domain would violate the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which requires a public use, public purpose or public improvement to justify the government taking private land.

The Davis Brown law firm says in addition to their own suit in Polk County, they expect that many similar eminent domain lawsuits will arise as land is condemned in the impacted counties.

Hear more from one landowner, Keith Puntenney, who says by the time Dakota Access is done tearing apart his land, the productivity of his farm will have suffered greatly. Story here: Nine Landowners File Suit to Prevent Pipeline Construction

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