A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Polk County District Court with the intent of temporarily stopping Dakota Access from beginning construction on the Bakken pipeline across the property of 14 landowners in Iowa while another, previously filed lawsuit is pending.
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday by Bill Hanigan of the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, challenges the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to grant the use of eminent domain to Dakota Access in order to gain rights to property that owners have not signed voluntary easement agreements.
According to a press release issued late Tuesday, Hanigan argues the IUB misinterpreted Iowa law, specifically the 2006 law designed to protect Iowa farmland and the United States Constitution. The landowners believe that Dakota Access is not a public utility and should not have the ability to use eminent domain to forcibly access Iowa landowners’ property to build a private pipeline.
According to the motion filed Tuesday, at least two of the people taking part in the lawsuit include Laverne Johnson, a Boone resident, and Richard Lamb, who owns property on the Story County line with Boone County where the pipeline is scheduled to cross.
In the motion, Hanigan states that “irreparable harm” will be incurred by the land and landowners if the pipeline is allowed to be constructed, because it would damage both the farmland owned by the landowners who he represents and also the landowners who, in some cases, have worked their farms for generations.
“If a stay is not granted, Dakota Access, within weeks, will dig a massive trench across petitioners’ farms. Once the pipeline trench is dug, the harm to petitioners will be permanent and irreparable. No order of this Court or any amount of damages can repair the damage that Dakota Access proposes to do to petitioners’ farmlands or grant petitioners the relief that they seek: to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) off their farmland in the first instance. If petitioners’ due process right to challenge the constitutionality of Dakota Access’s exercise of eminent domain is to have meaning, the Court must grant the stay until it can hear petitioners’ challenge,” Hanigan said in the lawsuit.
It is unclear if the lawsuit will have its desired effect to stop construction of the pipeline, which began officially in Iowa in the last few weeks.
Representatives of Dakota Access were contacted for comment, but did not immediately respond.