Eric Byler spoke to property holders in Iowa whose land is being seized from them for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The coalition of farmers and environmentalists that is taking legal action to prevent the pipeline from going into service includes many Donald Trump supporters and voters, even though the Trump administration lists the fast track approval of the pipeline as an accomplishment that will lead to "job creation."

In its application to the IUB, Dakota Access promised to parallel roads and existing right-of-ways when possible, and the company also estimated it would pay landowners up to $189 million for easements across private property.

IUB began holding informational meetings in December 2014, which is when property owner Shirley Gerjets of Calhoun County first heard of the project.

“It started out wrong in the first place,” she says, as citizens weren’t allowed to ask questions and the group was told that surveyors would be coming to individual properties without any recourse to stop them.

“I chased them off two or three times,” says the 81-year-old Gerjets. “And then after they got that surveying done we kept getting letters and letters and letters about this offer and that offer.”

In the end, Gerjets says the company offered her $64,000 to run the pipeline through her 65 acres, an offer she refused.

“My dad worked hard to own this little piece of property,” she says. “He always worked because that was his goal to own his own piece of property and he finally did it [in the early 1970s]. I helped farm the thing so he could pay for it.”

“This sets a precedent that eminent domain can be used for anything,” says Ed Fallon, a former state representative, now representing Bold Iowa, a group opposing the pipeline. “If they can come in and take your land for a private oil company’s pipeline, what can’t they take it for? What rights do you have anymore to your own property?”

“The farm is not going to be the same for a long long time,” Coppola says. She’s worried about compacted soil, damaged topsoil, turned up rocks, metal and other debris left behind by the pipeline. And most importantly, she’s worried about potential oil leaks in her soil.

“To me it’s only a matter of time until these pipelines leak because it’s corrosive, crude shale [oil] that’s going through these pipes,” Coppola says. “It just makes sense that sooner or later there will be a leak.”

When it comes to the Dakota Access Pipeline, much remains unclear. But one thing is certain — both the Standing Rock Sioux and the landowners in Iowa aren’t backing down.


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