Iowa Supreme Court Decision

Yesterday’s post described the case before the Iowa Supreme Court, of land owners and the Sierra Club of Iowa against the Iowa Utilities Board and Dakota Access, asserting that eminent domain was abused when used to force landowners to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to be built on their property. Following are excerpts from the lengthy opinion. The decision was to uphold the judgment of the district court, which did not find the Iowa Utilities Board improperly used eminent domain to seize land.

Case No. 17-0423:  Keith Puntenney, Laverne I. Johnson, Richard R. Lamb, Marian D. Johnson, Northwest Iowa Landowners Association, Iowa Farmland Owners Association, Inc., and the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Appellants, v. Iowa Utilities Board, Appellee, and Office of Consumer Advocate and The Main Coalition, Appellees, and Dakota Access, LLC, Appellee.

Landowners appeal a district court decision denying a petition for judicial review of a decision by the Iowa Utilities Board authorizing a company to use eminent domain to build a crude oil pipeline. AFFIRMED

IX. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court


All justices concur except Wiggins, J., who concurs in part and dissents in part, joined by Appel, J., and McDonald, J., who dissents.

The following is from the partial dissent by Justice Wiggins.

I dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the use of eminent domain does not violate the Iowa Constitution. I agree with the majority that incidental economic benefits alone are not enough for a taking to qualify as “for public use” under article I, section 18. However, I disagree that the Dakota Access pipeline fits within the “common carrier exception” for purposes of the Iowa Constitution. I also find fault in Dakota Access’s use of eminent domain because it is unrelated to the purpose of the applicable eminent-domain-authorizing statute

WIGGINS, Justice (concurring in part and dissenting in part).

And following is the dissenting opinion of Justice McDonald.

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) approved construction of the pipeline. The IUB authorized Dakota Access to use the eminent domain power to condemn easements. Dakota Access exercised the eminent domain power as granted. The appellants accepted the condemnation awards. Dakota Access built the pipeline. Oil is flowing through the pipeline. No further relief is available. What’s done, is done. The case is moot.

McDONALD, Justice (dissenting).
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