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Pipeline to bore beneath tribal grounds

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Work on the Bakken crude oil pipeline in northwestern Iowa tribal lands can proceed -- as long as the work takes place underground.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Work on the Bakken crude oil pipeline in northwestern Iowa tribal lands can proceed - as long as the work takes place underground.

An amendment made Friday to the Dakota Access pipeline’s Sovereign Lands Construction Permit allows work to proceed on that portion of the pipeline in Lyon County’s Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area.

That amended permit requires pipeline officials to bore through the ground, rather than dig a trench for the pipeline, said Alan Foster, information specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“That’s really the major change. Instead of doing any sort of surface work, it’s going to be underground,” Foster said Tuesday. “It’s obviously going to have to go deep enough so it’s not going to disturb the tribal grounds.”

Foster said Dakota Access officials might need to secure additional permits on private land where the boring process begins and ends.

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Last month, the Iowa DNR issued Dakota Access a stop work order after it was reported that the pipeline’s proposed route crossed ancient tribal burial grounds.

The Iowa Utilities Board, which is the main regulator for the 346 miles of pipeline through 18 counties in Iowa, signed an order earlier this month allowing Dakota Access to begin construction on land where voluntary easements and permission have been secured, which is the vast majority of the Iowa route.

The Army Corps of Engineers has yet to issue a permit on land under its jurisdiction, which was a requirement of the March state permit. Several lawsuits have been filed to block the pipeline and protesters have vowed acts of civil disobedience to stop construction.

Construction is underway in other states on the route - North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois.

The 1,168-mile, $3.8 billion, underground pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois will have a capacity of up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day.

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