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Legal Issues

Iowa landowners disappointed in Iowa Utilities Board decision - March 10, 2016

On Thursday, March 10th, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) released its decision regarding Dakota Access’ request for a permit to use eminent domain to take private farmland for its proposed Bakken oil pipeline.


In the decision, the IUB granted Dakota Access the permit with some assurances that farmers and landowners will not be negatively impacted by the pipeline.


Davis Brown attorney Bill Hanigan and his clients believe that these assurances do not go far enough, “We are disappointed with the decision and the idea that an out-of-state company can take private property for industrial development in the name of the state. We believe the board has misinterpreted Iowa law, particularly the 2006 law specifically designed to protect Iowa farmland.”


A group of Iowa landowners is resolved to appeal the decision. Richard Lamb, who owns farmland in Boone County disagrees that the pipeline will not impact his land, “Allowing this out-of-state company access to my land will permanently change the nature and character of the farmland impacting my own livelihood and the future of my kids and grandkids. This land has been in my family for generations and I do not intend to let them change it now for a pipeline that will have no benefit for any Iowan.”


On behalf of his landowner clients, Bill Hanigan expects to appeal the grant of the permit in court arguing that the IUB has misapplied the 2006 Iowa law. Today’s IUB decision marks the first time that landowners may seek judicial review of Dakota Access’ eminent domain application over farmland.


In fall 2014, Dakota Access submitted its proposed pipeline project to the IUB and began approaching landowners about accessing land for the project. In July 2015, Bill Hanigan of the Davis Brown Law Firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Iowa landowners against the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) in Cherokee county. Their case was dismissed in district court forcing the landowners to appear before the IUB and wait months while the IUB conducted its administrative process.