Dakota Access Pipeline Needs Landowner Approval

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It would be the largest crude oil pipeline in the state. But it needs approval first.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would start in Stanley, pass through several counties, down through South Dakota and Iowa, before ending in Patoka, Ill.

Today the Public Service Commission, which approves the citing of pipelines, held a meeting in Mandan, one of several set in the state. From environmental concerns to reducing oil truck traffic, the company and landowners had a lot to say about the project.

Polarizing views at a Public Service Commission hearing over a proposed pipeline.

"Dakota Access has obtained permission from approximately 96 percent of landowners for survey access, and approximately 56 percent of easements have been obtained," said Chuck Frey, Energy Transfer Partners.

This means fewer than half of the landowners in the proposed path have not signed off on the project.

"There is no monetary figure that can compensate our family for the value of our land," said Sherilyn Johnson, rancher.

Johnson has not signed an easement for her family's farm.

"Over time we are concerned about the pipeline leaking oil and chemical residue into our groundwater and free flowing water supply line streams and cattle water supply," Johnson said.

Johnson wasn't alone. Another person who rents land along the route expressed concerns over rough and rugged terrain. He then offered an alternative path to the company.

"I think it would be safer for residents in the area during construction because the traffic would be kept on larger, better roads," Doug Hille said.

The proposal runs through Mountrail, McKenzie, Williams, Dunn, Mercer, Morton and Emmons counties. Some landowners suggest the pipeline will give some relief to the state's overtaxed infrastructure.

"State roads are just deteriorating and we showed get some relief for those roads pipelines are the best way to do it," said Wes Gunsch, Mercer County commissioner and landowner.

"I believe it's the safest most efficient way to move hundreds of thousands of barrels of North Dakota's product to market each day," said Dwight Wrangham, Landowners Association of North Dakota.

If approved, the pipeline would be the largest in the state, with a capacity equal to 600 rail cars of crude oil each day.

"I think if we could get some of this off the railroad and put it underground I think we'd be a lot better off," said rancher Clark Norton.

The PSC will take the testimony under consideration, while the discussion over this pipeline is far from over.