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Branstad steers clear of pipeline controversy

Branstad steers clear of pipeline controversy

DES MOINES | Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday it is an appropriate option for state regulators to consider granting the use of eminent domain as it pertains to constructing oil pipelines in Iowa.

“I think eminent domain should be used only very sparingly, but there are times when it is appropriate," Branstad said. He plans to allow the Iowa Utilities Board to decide whether eminent domain authority is justified for the proposed Bakken oil pipeline through Iowa in cases where landowners and the pipeline company can’t agree to terms of a voluntary easement.

Last weekend 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator, weighed in on a controversial pipeline project in Iowa by declaring that "No private property owner should have their land taken through eminent domain and transferred to another for-profit company."

The pipeline proposed by Dakota Access LLC -- a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners -- would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken and Three Forks region of North Dakota through South Dakota and diagonally across 18 counties in Iowa to a terminal in Patoka, Ill. Each state will need to grant permission separately.

The Iowa Utilities Board is the regulating agency that will decide whether to grant a hazardous liquid pipeline permit in the state to Dakota Access, and separately whether eminent domain can be used to site it, Branstad said Monday.

Hearings are set to begin Nov. 12 and rulings are expected by the end of the year. If eminent domain is granted, county compensation commissions would determine the value of the land, which Dakota Access would have to pay.

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Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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