- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) - A judge says he’ll rule soon on whether a lawsuit filed by three landowners in the path of a proposed oil pipeline can proceed against the Iowa Utilities Board.

District Court Judge Carl J. Petersen heard arguments from both sides Thursday in Cherokee, the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1OpiPaR ) reports. He will make a ruling within two weeks.

The landowners are challenging the board’s authority to give the power of eminent domain to an out-of-state developer, Dakota Access LLC. The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, and would cut diagonally through Iowa from the northwest to the southeast corner.

Motions to dismiss the lawsuit have been filed by the developer and Iowa Utilities Board. Their attorneys argue plaintiffs haven’t exhausted administrative remedies required before filing a lawsuit against a state agency.

Des Moines attorney William Hanigan, who’s representing the landowners, said their lawsuit is an exception to that requirement because of “immediately irreparable injury.” He said his clients don’t have a way of getting answers on the oil company, and want to go to trial.

Dakota Access attorney Bret Dublinske said questions can be asked during an administrative hearing scheduled for three weeks, beginning in November.

“There is no case law saying these questions can’t be heard by the Iowa Utilities Board,” Dublinske said.

The Iowa Utilities Board is expected to rule on the pipeline and eminent domain requests after the hearings. Plaintiffs argue that being forced to sell through eminent domain would result in lower compensation for their land.

The developer has said it would only resort to going through eminent domain when agreements can’t be reached with landowners. It estimates it will spend about $200 million on permanent easements.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com


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