Sioux Falls pipeline approval includes symbolic ‘no’ vote

Farm Forum

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Leaders in South Dakota’s largest city voted to allow a proposed $3.8 billion oil pipeline to pass by, but not before one Sioux Falls councilman made a point about what some view as the pipeline company’s poor treatment of landowners.

The proposed 1,130-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would move oil from North Dakota to Illinois, passing through South Dakota and Iowa. State regulators in Illinois, Iowa and both Dakotas have approved the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also must approve the pipeline because it would cross beneath the Missouri River twice in North Dakota.

Landowners along the route also must reach easement agreements with Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, developer of the pipeline. Some landowners have said they have been treated fairly, while others say the opposite.

The Sioux Falls City Council on March 8 approved an easement for the pipeline to run near the city’s landfill, but it took two votes. The first time around, Councilman Rex Rolfing voted in opposition, saying he was symbolically acknowledging complaints from landowners, the Argus Leader reported.

“My sole point in voting ‘no’ was basically to make sure people knew that I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls, and I think some of the others have too, about the way some people have been treated on this,” he said.

Rolfing then called for a revote and voted in favor the second time, enabling the proposed easement to pass.

Energy Transfer Partners vice president Joey Mahmoud told the council that the company has initiated some eminent domain cases for the project. Agreements with six landowners remain unresolved, he said.

“You do reach an impasse in certain circumstances,” Mahmoud said.