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Iowa landowners sue Bakken pipeline developers

Two Iowa couples living along the Dakota Access pipeline route have filed lawsuits against the company's attempts to use eminent domain to seize farmland.

Two Iowa couples living along the Dakota Access pipeline route have filed lawsuits against the company’s attempts to use eminent domain to seize farmland.

Bill Hanigan, of Davis Brown Law firm, filed lawsuits Friday on behalf of Verdell and Marian Johnson and Marvin and Bonnie Zoch opposing the pipeline’s use of eminent domain, according to a Friday news release.

The law firm argues in the release that the Iowa Utilities Board misinterpreted Iowa law – specifically a 2006 law aimed at protecting farmland – when the board ruled earlier this year to allow Dakota Access the use of eminent domain to proceed with the oil pipeline.

The landowners are in Cherokee County, where compensation commissioners are set to begin meeting June 13 to begin valuing farmland eyed for eminent domain. The lawsuit asks the court to suspend those meetings.

“Unless suspended, these meetings will result in Dakota Access taking possession of the farmland. We are asking Iowa courts to suspend these actions until after a full hearing on the merits of each landowner’s case,” Hanigan said in the release. “We expect additional lawsuits will be filed in additional counties during the coming weeks.”

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Dakota Access, a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, won initial approval of a permit and eminent domain authority from the Iowa Utilities Board in March.

Utilities boards in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois also gave approval for the pipeline, but the Army Corps of Engineers still has not.

The company indicates it has voluntary easements for up to 88 percent of the 1,254 Iowa parcels held by 910 landowners along the 346-mile route through 18 Iowa counties where the pipeline would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to a distribution hub in Patoka, Ill.

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