The Dakota Access pipeline, commonly known as the Bakken pipeline, has been at the center of controversy lately, and the latest challenge is coming from three Iowa farmers.
The farmers are suing the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) in an effort to prevent Dakota Access LLC from gaining the right to use eminent domain.
Thursday a hearing was held in Cherokee County District Court on a motion filed by the IUB and Dakota Access to dismiss the lawsuit.
The two parties argued that the lawsuit was filed before the plaintiffs could know whether or not the pipeline would affect their property.
While Dakota Access and the IUB presented their defense together, the parties told the court they are not working as a team.
Both parties asked Judge Carl. J Petersen to dismiss the lawsuit and allow the IUB to determine whether eminent domain could be used to acquire farmland.
The plaintiff’s argued that eminent domain is only a tool for government agencies to use when developing projects for public use. Two standards, the plaintiffs claim the Dakota Agency does not fulfill.
“This oil goes into one corner of the state and out the other. Iowa has no refineries, no use for crude oil and yet they want to take our land and claim it’s a public utility,” said Richard Lamb, farmer suing IUB.
The project is designed to transport nearly half a million barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting diagonally through parts of South Dakota and Iowa.
Lamb has 300 acres that is in the path of the proposed pipeline. He told ABC9 news the group is fighting to prevent unforeseen disasters that may arise from the 1,134 mile crude oil pipeline.
“This pipeline would be devastating for a number of reasons and we don’t want it. We just want it to go away, said Lamb.
The pipeline would go through 18 Iowa counties.
At the root of the argument is whether or not the pipeline would be used as a public utility. That status would give Dakota Access the ability to use eminent domain.
“You can’t threaten landowners to take their land or sign an easement when you’re a private entity on a pass-through pipeline,” said John Murray, co-organizer of Private Property Rights Coalition, a non-profit that is funding the lawsuit against the IUB.
Judge Carl Peterson told the court he will make the matter a “priority case.” Peterson says he will make a decision in the next two weeks.