- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The format of a meeting to discuss a proposed $3.8 billion oil pipeline has some people accusing the Iowa Department of Natural Resources of trying to prevent them from publicly voicing their concerns.

The Wednesday meeting was held to discuss a state environmental permit application for the pipeline to cross through publicly owned land and water in 18 Iowa counties.

The pipeline, proposed by Dakota Access LLC, would transport up to 570,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil daily. The oil would originate in North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch and pass through South Dakota and Iowa to Patoka, Illinois.

Agency officials at the meeting had supporters and opponents sit at a pair of desks and speak into a recording device so their comments could be transcribed for the public record.

The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1IWpV5a ) reports that while some people complied with the rules, others ignored them and criticized the meeting’s format.

Wallace Taylor of Cedar Rapids, chairman and legal counsel for the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, which opposes the pipeline, was critical of the department’s approach.

“This is a travesty. I have been to DNR meetings before and they have never been conducted like this,” Taylor said.

The department’s director, Chuck Gipp, said that his goal was to obtain testimony in an orderly process and denied trying to tip the proceedings in favor of the pipeline.

“I have been around a long time. Anybody can make an accusation. We do the best job that we can as a department with the code authority that we have. We are following the code authority, yet we get attacked all the time that we are not stringent enough on some and too stringent on others,” Gipp said.

The Iowa Utilities Board is currently considering a request for a hazardous liquids permit for the pipeline project.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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