Judge Won’t Stop Iowa Pipeline Protests

     DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal judge denied an energy company’s request to keep protesters away from its pipeline route in Iowa, finding that the protests were not likely to be violent or cause “irreparable harm.”
     On Monday, Dakota Access petitioned the court to issue a restraining order against members of Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, two activists groups who notified the oil company that they planned to protest the pipeline in Boone and Story Counties, Iowa, on Wednesday.
     Dakota Access claimed the protests could result in injury to pipeline workers and protesters, or that the slowed construction could lead to the expiration of its construction permits.
     U.S. District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger was not convinced.
     “The harm alleged by Dakota Access is not irreparable,” she stated in her 10-page order, issued Tuesday. “There is no indication the protest will be violent or cause harm to Dakota Access employees.”
     She cited the activist groups’ publications, which referred to the planned protest as “peaceful, civil disobedience,” as well as the fact that protesters were required to attend non-violence training before participating.
     “Money damages could adequately address any harm caused by any delay in construction pending an adversarial hearing on the preliminary injunction,” she added.
     Denying the company’s request for a temporary restraining order, she also dismissed the implication that the current protesters had any connection to the burning and vandalism of some of Dakota Access’s construction equipment last month.
     A hearing on Dakota Access’s request for a permanent injunction is scheduled for September 2.
     The Dakota Access Pipeline, which began construction in Iowa in June, will run a 1,172-mile route from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to a transfer station in Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa on the way.

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