Regional Fight

For immediate release: 07.23.2015

Contacts:

(SD) Matthew West of Dakota Rural Action, mwest@dakotarural.org, 605 212 6088

(IA) Nathan Malachowski of Iowa CCI, nathan@iowacci.org, 515 282 0484

(IL) Tabitha Tripp of Shawnee Forest Sentinels, saveILwater@gmail.com, 618 697 1183

 

Bakken Pipeline Fighters call for State Utility Commissions to be held accountable to the demands of concerned citizens and landowners across state lines

 

Partners in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois band together to fight back against proposed Dakota Access Pipeline in the Midwest

 

Des Moines, IA: Today a group of 14 organizations from across the route of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois banded together to  issue an indictment of the Bakken Oil Pipeline in each state impacted by the proposal. The groups emphasized the common threat that the pipeline proposal poses to each of the impacted states, and called for stronger representation of public opinion in the decision making process of the Utility Boards and Commissions.

 

This included demands for evidence against the proposal to be considered across state lines in evidentiary hearings, recognition of tribal treaties in the region, and for legal representation through a guardian ad litem in the hearings to defend the interest of future generations. The full list of demands, which were submitted to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the South Dakota Public Utility Commission, the Iowa Utilities Board, and the Illinois Commerce Commission, can be found attached to this release and at this link.

 

This list of demands is the first collective action taken against the Bakken Pipeline across state lines, and is indicative of the immense opposition the Dakota Access proposal is facing. People in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois know that this project is all risk and no reward for their states and for future generations. They are demanding accountability from not only the company proposing it, but from the government agencies that will make the ultimate decision on whether the pipeline is built.

 

“Big Oil hopes to get their way at the expense of our farmland, our waterways, and our communities.” said Dick Lamb, an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member impacted by the pipeline. “We are standing against the proposed Bakken Pipeline- it’s time for folks across the United States to pay attention to what is happening in the Midwest and see that the fight against crude oil pipelines is far from over.”

 

The groups also shared an equal frustration with the manipulation and coerciveness demonstrated by Dakota Access, LLC and Energy Transfer Partners, the companies behind the risky proposal. They claim that the misinformation campaigns of the pipeline company has translated to a lack of transparency on the part of the government agencies overseeing the permitting process for the pipeline.

 

“The South Dakota government and leaders across the state have fallen short of their duty to inform landowners and citizens about their rights, the process of application by Dakota Access Pipeline, and the facts and truth of what is to come if the pipeline is installed.” said Peggy Hoogestraat, a Dakota Rural Action member and landowner affected by the proposed pipeline. “Responses from the general public prove there has been a lack of information in regards to the proposed pipeline.”

 

In addition to fighting back against the proposal, the groups have a shared interest in defending the status of their states as leaders in the renewable energy sector. They noted that Iowa, North Dakota, and Illinois are all national leaders in wind energy, which has positively impacted the economies of the region.

 

“We would rather see our respective  government officials investing in renewable energy infrastructure and maximizing our true resources in the Midwest: wind, solar, and fertile farmlands for future generations” shared Tabitha Tripp, founder of the Shawnee Forest Sentinels in Illinois. “One way to help that process along is to deny any new permits for fossil fuel infrastructure.”

 

The groups also drew connections between a recent proposal from TransCanada that would connect North Dakota bakken crude to existing pipeline infrastructure known as the Upland Pipeline. Opponents of the Bakken Pipeline recognized that if the Upland Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline were to succeed, that TransCanada would easily be able to negotiate the easements to transport dirty tar sands oil throughout the Midwest with little regulatory oversight. For that reason, the groups are committed to stopping the Bakken Pipeline, as well as any other new fossil fuel infrastructure in the region.

 

The group included representatives of the indigenous communities impacted by the pipeline and the bakken crude oil boom in North Dakota, as well as folks involved in the pipeline fight from Dakota Rural Action of South Dakota, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition of Iowa, and the Shawnee Forest Sentinels in Illinois. The pipeline fighters intend to mobilize further actions in solidarity against the Bakken Pipeline across state lines as the fight against the proposal grows stronger.

 

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July 23rd, 2015

 

DAP #PU-14-842

North Dakota Public Service Commission

600 E. Boulevard, Dept. 408

Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0480

 

DAP #HP-14-002

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission

500 E. Capitol Avenue

Pierre, South Dakota 57501

 

DAP #HLP-2014-0001

Iowa Utilities Board

1375 E. Court Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

DAP #14-0754

ETCO #14-0754

Illinois Commerce Commission

527 East Capitol Avenue

Springfield, Illinois 62701

 

Attention:

Julie Fedorchak, Randy Christman, Brian P. Kalik [North Dakota],

Chris Nelson, Rich Sattgast, Gary Hanson [South Dakota],

Geri Huser, Elizabeth S. Jacobs, Nick Wagner [Iowa],

Brien J. Sheahan, John R. Rosales, Ann McCabe, Miguel del Valle, Sherina E. Maye [Illinois],

 

Recognizing the common threat to water, soil, climate, treaties, and future generations posed by the proposed Bakken Crude Oil Pipeline, a multi-state coalition of environmental groups, landowners, tribal representatives and church groups have joined together to call on the state agencies and commissions that are deciding whether to permit the Dakota Access Pipeline across four states or to reject the pipeline.

 

We urge the public utility commissions and boards to recognize the unprecedented nature of this pipeline and do the following:

 

Allow testimony from other jurisdictions that is directly relevant to the pipeline, regardless of which state that testimony was taken.  The agencies should solicit that testimony from the other states’ proceedings on Dakota Access’ permit in order to have a complete and comprehensive picture of the impacts the pipeline will have over its lifetime.

 

Designate a guardian ad litem for future generations to intervene on behalf of future generations. The pipeline poses exceptional risks to future generations since Dakota Access has no plan to sunset operations.  While there are a few economic benefits that will accrue to states in the short term, the longer term harm to rivers, fertile soils, groundwater, climate and other state assets demand that governments fulfill their public trust responsibilities to future generations and take into account the probability of spills, pipeline ruptures and company bankruptcy.

 

Take official notice of Energy Transfer Partners’ own assessment of its financial status, the existing glut of crude oil, the fact that it self-insures, and the recognition that this is a hazardous business. The 2014 annual report of Energy Transfer Partners is the best information we have for its daughter company, Dakota Access, LLC. In the annual report it says the following:

 

  1. Their business carries with it “underlying risk inherent” to their operations  (pg 46). Many of those risks are environmental liabilities. In fact ETP says, “we cannot assure you that our current {cash} reserves are adequate to cover all future liabilities, even for currently known contamination.”

 

  1. ETP acknowledges that crude oil is in “general oversupply” (pg. 70). They export natural gas primarily to countries that have free trade agreements with the United States (pg. 18). In all likelihood they will also be exporting Bakken oil since there is a glut of oil. This indicates that the Dakota Access Pipeline is not needed for national security since we already have too much oil.

 

  1. There are circumstances where emergency response planning requirements do not apply. Rural areas can be treated differently and with fewer protections because they are not considered “high consequence areas” (pg 23).

 

  1. Because of the structure of the master limited partnerships, Energy Transfer Partners do not pay federal or state taxes.

 

  1. The sole goal of Energy Transfer Partners is to create and maximize value to its Unitholders  (pg 18). The goal is not to protect the environment, the people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa or Illinois.

 

  1. ETP is being sued or has been served with notices of violation for various spills, leaks and contamination of water. Some of these violations include pipeline spills of other subsidiaries  (pg. 58-59).

 

  1. A full analysis of the annual report, prepared by Carolyn Raffensperger of the Science and Environmental Health Network, can be found here.

 

We note that three of the four states that this pipeline would cross, if permitted, are national leaders in sustainable energy production. Iowa, North Dakota and Illinois are all in the top 12 states for wind energy. We do not wish to compromise our position as national leaders in the renewable energy sector with this risky proposal. Rather than investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure, we must move toward an energy infrastructure that is controlled by and offers benefits to local communities.

 

We believe that neither Dakota Access nor its parent company Energy Transfer Partners have a suitable plan for protecting the long term financial or environmental interests of the states that are proposed to host it. We strongly urge decision-makers in all four states to consider their public trust responsibility to future generations and honor the necessity of leaving this oil in the ground.

 

Undersigned organizations:

 

Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition

Dakota Rural Action

Indigenous Environmental Network

Shawnee Forest Sentinels

Women’s Congress for Future Generations

Science and Environmental Health Network

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Women, Food and Agriculture Network

Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter

Iowa State University ActivUs

Iowa State University Sustainable Agriculture Student Association

Food and Water Watch