This week, two Boone County landowners contacted me when they noticed a large amount of pipe arriving at the staging area used last year to stockpile materials for the Dakota Access pipeline. Ever suspicious of Dakota Access’ activities and motives, folks in Boone County were rightfully on guard.
So, I dug into it a bit. I contacted officials with both the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). I learned that the pipe is for the Northern Natural Gas (NNG) Company Des Moines B-Line Loop Project (Docket No. CP17-434-000, for those inclined to dig further). It’ll extend 13.8 miles through Boone and Polk counties.
Here’s one of the documents from FERC that I’ve been studying. It tells a bit about the project, and shows photos of extensive crop destruction. It opens the door to a lot of unanswered questions. For starters:
– Why is NNG’s project just coming to the public’s attention now? Did we miss something? Were the press and general public asleep at the wheel? Or did NNG hope to avoid public awareness, input, and potentially, opposition?
– Will this project expand the capacity to transport natural gas? If so, by how much? If it does increase gas production, that raises concerns about the impact on climate change, since methane is arguably more problematic than carbon dioxide. (Check out this Union of Concerned Scientists article on the subject.)
– Is the gas being transported through this pipeline fracked? If so, there are concerns about water quality and land-use issues at the site where the gas is being fracked.
– How much corn and bean crop will this pipeline project destroy? Are landowners being compensated for crop damage? Since the project is fairly small, why couldn’t NNG wait until the crops have been harvested? It seems doubtful that farmers were given much notice about this project, because I suspect they wouldn’t have wasted time and money planting this spring if they’d known their crops were going to be destroyed.
– Is NNG using only existing easements, or is new land being condemned through eminent domain?
– What precautions are being taken to assure the safety and protection of Beaver Creek, which the pipeline crosses three times?
– How many men and women working on this pipeline are from Iowa? Thinking back to the many times I visited construction sites along the Dakota Access pipeline, only one out of every ten vehicles had an Iowa license plate.
I’m sure I’m missing some important questions. I’ve known about this situation only since late Wednesday. If you live in Boone County or feel inclined to an investigative road trip, I’d appreciate any additional information you can share. Let’s remain vigilant, and let’s keep pushing back against big fossil fuel companies (mostly from Texas, it seems) that think they can trample on our land, water, climate and property rights with impunity.