I drove through Redfield on my way home Saturday. West of town, I saw a field flagged. In town, the rail yard near the kink in US 212 was piled with timbers, culverts, and some equpiment from Michels Construction. Given the Michels crews and the big plank roads I saw on the Mike and Sue Sibson farm during construction of the Keystone 1 pipeline in 2009, I figure that the rail yard is now a staging ground for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which began construction last week in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois.
Energy Partners, the Texas folks building this pipeline to move Bakken crude, planned to start laying pipe in Iowa, too, but Iowa’s state archaeologist John Doershuk just learned the Dakota Access Pipeline may run through some Indian graves:
State Archaeologist John Doershuk told The Des Moines Register that the Upper Sioux tribe has informed state officials about a historic and cultural site includes Indian graves in Lyon County.
“The mapping that the tribe has provided to me suggests that it is smack dab in to where the pipeline was proposed to go,” Doershuk said [William Petroski, “Tirbal Land Issues Block Bakken Pipeline in Iowa,” Des Moines Register, 2016.05.27].
Energy Transfer calls the information “rumors of a potential archaeological site,” but that rumored potential was enough for Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources to yank Energy Partners’ permit:
“Based on recent information provided by the State Archaeologist, a significant archaeological site (13LO335) was identified within the [Sioux River Wildlife Management Area] and may fall along the proposed path of the Dakota Access Pipeline,” James Hodgson, chief of wildlife and port fish restoration programs with the FWS, wrote Wednesday (see the documents embedded below). “Due to these recent developments the FWS is requesting that the DNR stop all tree clearing or any ground-disturbing activities within the pipeline corridor pending further investigation.”
In response to Hodgson’s letter, Seth Moore, environmental specialist with the Iowa DNR’s Conservation and Recreation Division, wrote Thursday: “This permit was issued for the construction, maintenance and operation of an underground pipeline across the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). And this permit was conditioned upon approval by the USFWS. Because that approval has been revoked, Dakota Access, LLC is no longer authorized to engage in any activities pursuant to that permit.”
If Dakota Access wishes to regain approval, Moore added, it must first receive the green light from the state archaeologist and FWS [Gavin Aronsen, “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Revokes Sovereign Lands Construction Permit for Bakken Pipeline,” Iowa Informer, 2016.05.27].
Energy Partners is already placing equipment and may already be digging holesThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that moving and repermitting the pipeline route to avoid archaeological sites may take two to six months. That’s two to six months that opponents like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe can use to continue their protest and look for a way to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.