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Supervisors take no action on Bakken pipeline resolution

The Story County Board of Supervisors took no action Wednesday on a resolution proposed by the League of Women Voters of Ames & Story County, urging the board to request the Iowa Utilities Board conduct a complete and independent environmental and economic impact study on the proposed Bakken Pipeline.

This decision comes just two weeks after the Boone County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the pipeline. The Story County Board of Supervisors took no action on a request from the League of Women Voters earlier this year to oppose the pipeline. The Bakken pipeline would cross through 18 Iowa counties, including Boone and Story counties, carrying 320,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

It has faced strong opposition from property owners concerned about the potential environmental risks of the pipeline and the possible use of eminent domain to gain access to their land.

“I’ve gone back and forth on this issue a lot,” Supervisor Paul Toot said. “I’m a little bit troubled by the use of eminent domain.”

Toot ultimately motioned to support the League of Women Voters’ resolution, but it received no other support from the board. Supervisors Rick Sanders and Wayne Clinton both said they may have considered approving this resolution if it had been presented to them earlier.

“Had this proposal come to us the first time, I would be much more inclined to support it,” Clinton said.

“I really wish this resolution had come to use the first time, and not this time where it just feels like a delay tactic,” Sanders said.

Related: Supervisors take a pass on anti-pipeline resolution

Although Sanders said he is “greatly troubled” by eminent domain, he said approximately half of the properties in Story County where the pipeline will pass through have granted easement for the project. Wayne also questioned how the Iowa Utilities Board would be able to find an independent entity to perform the study.

Eric Schmitt, representing the Laborers’ International Union of North America, supported the pipeline, citing that a buried pipeline is the safest way to transport oil and it would unburden the railroad system from carrying oil while also creating jobs.

“These are careers, not just temporary jobs,” Schmitt said.

Ames resident Holly Fuchs supported the League of Women Voters’ resolution, saying the independent study would provide the public and the board with the information it needs to make informed decisions.

“I am concerned that this pipeline will harm Iowa’s land and water resources when, not if, it breaks,” Fuchs said.

George Belitsos, board member of the League of Women Voters, said the county should be concerned with improving soil and water conditions, and this pipeline does the exact opposite.

“Cleanup is going to be millions of dollars and it’s going to fall to the local taxpayers,” Belitsos said. “We are not asking you to go as far as to oppose it. We are asking you to allow time for deeper study. This will be something that has an impact for generations. Why can’t we take the time to really study that?”

This article was written by Sarina Rhinehart from Ames Tribune, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.