Utilities board, landowners have say on pipeline
FAIRFIELD — “Citizens will have a chance to weigh in on the pipeline,” said Gov. Terry Branstad’s spokesman Jimmy Centers, about the proposed pipeline through Iowa, and Jefferson County.
The Iowa Department of Utilities along with individual landowners will have the final say when it comes to Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed oil pipeline that would stretch across 17 Iowa counties — including Jefferson.
Though Branstad met with Greg Brazaitis, chief compliance officer with ETP, on July 22 to discuss the proposed project, it wouldn’t ride on the governor’s decision.
Branstad garnered recent media attention for his support of the Keystone pipeline. However, Centers said the governor doesn’t have enough information on ETP’s proposal to offer an opinion either way.
“It’s in its infancy,” Centers said of ETP’s proposal. “He’s gathering information and waiting on the proposal that will ultimately be decided by the Iowa Board of Utilities.”
So far, the oil company hasn’t made an official petition to the utilities board. And protocol requires that each affected county would need to hold public informational meetings, then ETP would need to wait 30 days prior to filing its proposal with the board.
“Anyone can participate in the whole process,” said Rob Hillesland, information specialist with the Iowa Utilities Board.
“Prior to the board making its decision, landowners can be a part of it.”
Hillesland added that ETP’s proposal couldn’t be addressed until it posts formal notices in county newspapers and all public informational meetings are complete.
“They could hold all of those separately or make a large filing together,” he said.
ETP would then have two years to file the petition, though he added it could file sooner than later. A public hearing will then be held where citizen objections can be voiced.
“Once there are formal dockets, anyone can file formal objections,” Hillesland said adding that objections can be made by email, electronic form from IUB’s site, or by a letter; but that now is not the time, as the public informational meetings have not been held.
“We don’t want any objections flowing in now. It’s not at that point yet,” he said.
In the event that the proposed pipeline is approved, ETP would still need to address landowners individually regarding voluntary easements.
However, if it is denied, ETP could still request eminent domain.
“If a request were made for eminent domain, a three-member board appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate would then make that decision,” Hillesland said.
Though that board could appoint an administrative law judge to hear the case and render a proposed decision.
However, there may be a few loopholes that ETP could go though either way.
“If they were rejected, sometimes they might reroute it,” he said. “There are different scenarios that could happen, but all of this is speculative at this point.”
For more information, or to attend the pipeline informational meeting in your county, go to: http:// iub.Iowa.gov.