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9 Sep, 2016 00:05

Dakota Access pipeline: Iowans sue, while North Dakota calls in National Guard (VIDEOS)

Dakota Access pipeline: Iowans sue, while North Dakota calls in National Guard (VIDEOS)

As the Dakota Access pipeline faces high-profile opposition in North Dakota, including in federal court from Native tribes, another state’s residents are suing over the crude oil transportation project. Landowners in Iowa want its eminent domain status voided.

The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is being built across 1,172 miles, from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. That is, unless a court order prevents the project from moving forward, and that is a possibility in multiple court cases.

Bill Hanigan represents 15 Iowan farmers in their suit against Dakota Access LLC. What’s different about this case, compared to the one in North Dakota, is its focus on eminent domain law, which codifies the government’s power to seize private property for the public good.

“In North Dakota, they’re arguing about Native American artifacts. In Iowa, we’re arguing about the application of the Constitution,” Hanigan explained on Democracy Now! in an interview Tuesday.

The pipeline’s defenders “can’t prove” they are serving a public purpose, Hanigan plans to show in an Iowa district court. He hopes Judge Jeffrey Farrell will override the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to grant eminent domain status for the project.

Bold Iowa Director Ed Fallon told RT America’s Ashlee Banks that the costs of the pipeline to the environment and private property owners outweigh any promised benefit.

“There’s an incident that I just learned about this week where they failed to fence the trench where they put the pipeline,” Fallon said, “and a woman had one of her cows fall in that trench and die.”

Following “complaints after complaints,” Fallon says, there will be a protest this Saturday against the construction of Dakota Access.

In North Dakota, activists are hoping for a preliminary injunction, a court-ordered stoppage on all construction of the pipeline while the lawsuit is in effect. That decision is anticipated to come Friday, following a ruling last week that placed a temporary moratorium on building near a contested river site.

Calling the pipeline a “continuation of policies of destruction” and “something that has been occurring throughout the history of the United States of America,” national campaign director at Honor the Earth, Tara Houska, told RT that her organization and the others in the lawsuit have their “fingers crossed” that the judge will recognize the pipeline’s threat to Native American sacred sites and its environmental risks.

Future protests in North Dakota may be quelled more swiftly, as Governor Jack Dalrymple announced Thursday that the state’s National Guard will serve an administrative and assisting role to the Morton County Sheriff's Department in order to secure that the pipeline production continues peacefully.

On the other side of the North Dakota river dispute is Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who told RT that although those against the pipeline have “a legitimate question” about the risk posed to the river, the pathway already “follows an existing corridor.”

“In fact, some of the sites that are under dispute are literally right on top of the Northern Border gas pipeline that's been there for 30 years,” Cramer told RT’s Ed Schultz.

“The safest pipe on a pipeline is that which is buried under the river,” Cramer added. “In this case, 95 feet below the floor of the river, pulled through double-layered shut off valves that respond quickly should there be a leak.”

Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the pipeline, claims its workers based in Texas are able to close block valves in less than three minutes if a pipeline break is identified.