DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Texas company planning a crude oil pipeline that will cut across Iowa received the final federal permit approvals Tuesday needed to proceed with construction.
Documents posted by the Iowa Utilities Board show the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved 60 river crossings in Iowa for Dakota Access, a decision pipeline opponents hoped to stop.
The company, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, plans construction of a $3.8 billion, 1,168-mile project that's already begun in Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. Some preliminary work had also begun in Iowa but the final permits were needed for workers to complete large stretches of pipeline, including sections that cross major rivers.
"We can now move forward with construction in all areas as quickly as possible in order to limit construction activities to one growing season and be in service by the end of this year," said Lisa Dillinger, a company spokeswoman.
Two groups opposing the project, Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, vowed to continue opposition to try to delay and halt construction.
"Today's decision from the Army Corps isn't a surprise," said Cherie Mortice, Iowa CCI board president. "It has been 'business as usual' for Iowa and federal regulators — putting corporate interests ahead of the common good and our land."
The groups are training project monitors to report what they may consider environmental violations or hazards.
Bold Iowa President Ed Fallon, a former Democratic state representative said he's disappointed in President Barack Obama for not stopping the project. The group had sent a direct appeal to Obama.
"When the president sees hundreds of us getting arrested, standing side-by-side with our landowner and tribal allies as we block construction of the pipeline, then maybe he'll do something," Fallon said.
The opponents fear leaks that could irreparably damage Iowa farmland and rivers.
A lawsuit filed by 10 landowners alleging that Dakota Access cannot legally be given the authority to use eminent domain to forcefully take farmland for the project is working its way through the state courts.
The Corps' documents outline conservation measures Dakota Access must undertake at sites where certain bat and fish species might be affected. The company also must provide wetland mitigation when natural wetlands are disturbed and must allow American Indian tribal monitors to observe work.
The pipeline crosses 18 Iowa counties diagonally from northwest to southeast.