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Puntenney v. Iowa Utilities Board

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20092
Nos. 17-0423, (Iowa, 05/31/2019)

A state high court affirmed a lower court denial of landowners' and an environmental group's petition to review a decision by the Iowa Utilities Board authorizing a company to use eminent domain to build a crude oil pipeline. The landowners and group argued the pipeline did not serve the "public convenience and necessity" as required by state law, and did not meet the statutory standard for taking agricultural land. The court concluded that the Board's weighing of benefits and costs supported its determination of public convenience and necessity, and that the pipeline company was not barred from utilizing eminent domain to take agricultural land because it was both a company under the Board's jurisdiction and a common carrier. The challengers also argued that the pipeline did not meet the Iowa Constitution's definition of "public use." The court concluded that the use of eminent domain for a traditional public use such as an oil pipeline did not violate the state constitution nor the U.S. Constitution simply because it passed through the state without taking on or letting off oil. It therefore affirmed the lower court's judgment.