Iowa Investigates Oil Pipeline Leak as President Donald Trump Revives Two Other Pipeline Projects

pandemin/iStock/Thinkstock(HANLONTOWN, Iowa) -- Officials are investigating how almost 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel mix leaked from an oil pipeline in Northern Iowa on Wednesday morning, just one day after President Donald Trump revived two major pipeline construction projects.

A 12-inch pipeline owned by Magellan Midstream Partners L.P. was transporting diesel fuel at the time when the system "experienced a petroleum product release" and leaked 3,300 barrels worth of diesel, according to the company’s spokesman Bruce Heine.

The Iowa pipeline "ruptured" northeast of Hanlontown, in Worth County, releasing diesel fuel that pooled in a farm field, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The fuel "does not appear to have reached surface waters," the department’s field office supervisor, Jeff Vansteenburg, said in a statement Wednesday.

A country roadway near the affected area has been temporarily closed as a result of the incident. There were no evacuations or injuries associated with the leak, and all appropriate federal and state agencies have been notified, Heine said.

Clean-up and environmental crews were on site Wednesday morning, as well as Magellan representatives, local emergency responders, regulators, and contractors, though winter weather has impeded some cleanup efforts. Heine said the spill was contained in the immediate area and the fuel did not come into contact with any waterways.

Although pipeline repairs were planned for Wednesday, Heine said they don't know when operations on the pipeline will resume.

"We do not expect this incident to disrupt supply of gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum products in the region," Heine said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. "The cause of the incident remains under investigation."

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources remains on site to continue to assess the spill and monitor the cleanup effort, Vansteenburg said.

The department’s environmental specialist, David Miller, said the pipeline company hopes to clean up the pooled fuel in one to two days and then it will excavate the contaminated soil. Miller echoed the company's position that the spill did not contaminate waterways.

"There has been no evidence the fuel entered surface water," Miller said in a statement today. "Magellan has not yet determined the cause of the pipeline rupture."

The pipeline leak in Iowa comes at a contentious time for oil pipeline projects, which have triggered protests around the nation and become a focal point of Trump’s first days in the White House. On Tuesday, Trump used his second weekday as president to sign memorandums aimed at advancing the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects. While signing the documents, Trump said construction of both pipelines would be "subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us."

Trump's memorandum on the Keystone XL, which was addressed to the State, Army and Interior Departments, seeks to restart the presidential permit process for the project, asking the Canada-based energy firm TransCanada to resubmit its application. The memo calls on the State Department to make a decision on the application within 60 days, utilizing existing information, including the environmental impact study from 2014. It also asks the Interior Department and Army Corps of Engineers to expedite approvals for construction requests. Trump promised nearly 30,000 jobs as a result of the construction of the pipeline, though all but 35 of those jobs would be temporary, according to the 2013 State Department report on Keystone.

Meanwhile, the memorandum on the Dakota Access Pipeline also seeks expedited review and approval of the project, "including easements or rights-of-way to cross federal areas," but cautions that any private lands obtained must be acquired according to federal, state and local processes.

The Keystone XL project was killed when President Barack Obama rejected a presidential permit in November 2015 that was necessary because the project would cross from Canada into the United States. The planned 1,179-mile pipeline would stretch from Canada through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast. It was supported by Republicans and some Democrats who said the project wouldn't harm the environment and would create thousands of construction jobs, as well as decrease America's dependence on oil imports from the Middle East. But opponents argued it would contribute to climate change by producing more greenhouse gases through the extraction of petroleum from oil sands.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was put on hold in December 2016 when the Army Corps denied a crucial easement needed for the 1,170-mile pipeline project to cross under Lake Oahe, a large reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. The Corps said it made that decision in order to have other routes explored.

Both pipeline projects have prompted protests from opponents.

In the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, thousands of Native Americans, environmental activists and their allies have camped out for months near the pipeline’s planned route nearby the Standing Rock reservation in the Dakotas. The tribe sued to block the four-state crude oil project in July, claiming that they were never meaningfully consulted before construction began. The tribe also cites an 1851 treaty, which it says specifies that the land in question was designated for Native American tribes. That lawsuit is still pending; the Corps and the pipeline company argued in court papers that they followed standard review process.

Trump's financial disclosure forms indicate that in May 2016 he owned $15,000 to $50,000 in stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline project. That amount was down from the year before, when records show that Trump had $500,000 to $1 million invested in the company.

In December, Trump said that he had sold all of his stocks, without offering proof. Trump transition team talking points obtained by ABC News on Dec. 2 state that "his support for this project has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans."

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and Trump's pick for energy secretary, stepped down earlier this month from the boards of two energy companies that are developing the proposed 1,170-mile Dakota Access Pipeline. Perry said he still owns stock in both companies -- Energy Transfer Partners LP and Phillips 66, according to the AP -- but will divest the stock within three months of his confirmation. He also said he will not partake in any decision involving the two companies for at least two years.

After signing the memoranda Tuesday, Trump added that he wants to make it a requirement that when pipelines are constructed in the United States, the pipes themselves are built in the country.

"If we are going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipes should be built in the United States," the president said. "We build the pipelines, we want to build the pipe, going to put a lot of workers, lot of steel workers back to work."

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