Letter to the editor: Home truths cut through larded legalese

In March 2015 the Iowa Utilities Board approved construction of the Bakken pipeline, which crosses 18 Iowa counties. Source: Dakota Access LLC

To the editor:

I have been following the Bakken pipeline proceedings too closely — reading hundreds of pages of lawyer lectures, company-paid testimonials and laughable legalese. The media coverage has remained quite shallow throughout, playing jobs, homeland security and economic development against idealistic environmentalists, selfish landowners and leaky laws.

During the weeks of Iowa Utility Board hearings, I watched Kriss Wells, a polite, unassumingly, grey-haired grandfather sit straight backed, surrounded by slouching lawyers, patiently waiting his turn to testify.

I finally asked why he was here. He replied simply, “For the grandkids.”

His testimony was brief. “It is important that the Iowa Utility Board take into consideration the motivation of each side in this hearing,” Wells said. “Dakota Access is motivated by their need to seek a profit for the company. It is their duty to do so. Their arguments are colored by this motivation. The interveners against the project are motivated to protect their land and their families. In striving to protect the environment, they represent the public. It is clear that the proposed pipeline does not promote the public convenience and necessity.”

Linda Sorenson, legally befuddled, unaccustomed to courtrooms and not representing anyone in particular, filed her statement as well.

“So, in short,” Sorenson said, “Dakota Access LLC, a company that has never constructed a hazardous liquids pipeline, desires a permit to build one through Iowa. It has only to secure a $250,000 surety bond against catastrophe. It has publicized inaccurate tax information and over-stated job projections for over a year. If the permit is granted, the Iowa Utilities Board will have neither regulatory nor enforcement authority over it. These facts do not constitute the ‘public convenience and necessity’ for Iowa or Iowans.”

In my opinion, these testimonials, eloquent in their simplicity, did more to cut through the mountains of judicial jugglery and obtuse obfuscations than anything could have.

Mark Edwards



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