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Proposed oil pipeline faces regulatory hurdles

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 3, 2014 at 8:58 am •  Published: August 3, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Texas company seeking to run an underground oil pipeline through Iowa has a laborious approval process to get through before they can start digging.

Energy Transfer Partners LP is behind the proposed project, which would carry crude oil 1,100 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois, traveling diagonally through roughly 17 Iowa counties along the way. The pipeline would use a 30-inch diameter pipe to carry at least 320,000 barrels a day.

The pipeline would cut between Ames and Ankeny and toward Keokuk in the state's southeast corner, then cross the Mississippi River to its destination in Patoka, Illinois, about 70 miles east of St. Louis.

The company says the pipeline would allow them to transport oil more safely than by trucks or rail, but environmental activists are already aggressively campaigning against the project and calling on Republican Gov. Terry Branstad to oppose it.

"Our position is that there's no pipeline plan that can pass the bar to meet the public interest," said David Goodner, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that focuses on agricultural and environmental issues. "We launched a petition earlier this week calling on Gov. Branstad himself to reject the pipeline...He has a choice to stand with everyday Iowans or stand with big oil and out of state corporations."

Branstad said he hasn't decided whether he would support the project. He met with a representative of the company over a week ago but said he still had questions about how the pipe would impact Iowa farmland and state residents.

"It's premature," he said. "I want to see how the constituents, how they feel. That's the reason why I think it's important to have those public hearings and get the input. I think you have to weigh the public safety element, weigh the jobs that are created."

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