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Pipeline Pros and Cons

08:32AM Feb 07, 2015

Multistate pipeline could ease rail load but disturb farmland

The Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t the only pipeline in the works. A second multistate pipeline could be built to carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and to an existing pipeline in southern Illinois. If built, it could ease pressure on the nation’s railways to make more room for grain cars, but some fear the move would hurt farmland productivity.

An application has been filed. The Commission has not approved the construction permit. Now, the commission has one year to decide whether to break ground from when the permit was filed. Meanwhile, Iowa’s utilities board has held informational meetings, but no permits have been filed.

The pipeline could stretch more than 1,100 miles, carrying as many as 570,000 barrels of oil per day. 

“I don’t think there’s anything in it for the farmer,” says Jim Schmidt, Lincoln County commissioner, South 
Dakota. “[The farmer] may get an easement price or something for that one time and it’s over.”

Schmidt, who has a pipeline running through his farm, says the pipeline disturbs the soil. “In a field of corn that’s 7' tall, you can ‘see’ the pipeline because that corn is 5' tall,” he says. 

While the state legislature could get involved, it is ultimately the decision of the Public Utilities Commission, Schmidt adds.

If approved, construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota, could start in late 2015 or early 2016.