If the Bakken Pipeline planners were wise - about something other than making a maximum of profit, that is - they might have considered doing something to make their project more palatable to the people who will live with it.
Let the imagination wander a bit. The Bakken... bike trail?
What incentive does Iowa have to accept this project?
Sure, farmers who agreed to have the pipeline cross their land get a little easement money, the state pockets some taxes, some towns get a little very temporary boom as work crews pass through.
But in the long run, the profit goes to Texas where the corporations are based. Benefits go to the Bakken oilfields, and to Illinois where the oil depot will be built. In this equation, Iowa's just is the cheap way to get crude from point A to point B.
We bear the risk for an oil spill to contaminate our soil, streams or drinking water supplies, and the uneasy question of what happens when the line is almost inevitably abandoned or bankrupted, or the oil fields eventually run dry - with no assurance of pipeline removal and land restoration.
In return, we get almost no permanent jobs and probably zero associated future development to balance our risk.
I'm guessing that at least half the people in Iowa don't want this corporation's project in their state at all. And the other half may largely be motivated by hopes of getting a little taste of the dollars involved in putting in the pipeline, or the fantasy that a pipeline from an existing oilfield is somehow going to reduce the pump gas price in Iowa or free the country from dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
Now emotions run high. Native Americans are protesting that the pipeline is going through ancient sacred sites - serious juju that a company does not need on its resume.
The project is entangled in court with unwilling landowners - with reason - challenging the state's power to grant eminent domain to a private corporation to seize access to personal property.
Iowa activists are already gathering to block work and get themselves arrested - yes, possibly in part for their own publicity, but certainly slowing progress and stirring ill will against the plan.
And just today, a powerful Iowa Senator called on the governor to suspend pipeline construction until complaints can be resolved - if the project didn't have enough problems, now it's a partisan political squabble.
In short, a wealthy oil corporation is badly in need of an image boost. And Iowa will have a 50-foot-wide swath of valuable farmland stuck in perpetual easement, just sitting there so that workers can tear in any time in the event of spot pipeline problems.
And meanwhile, you have committees like those in Storm Lake and Buena Vista County, all across the state, trying desperately to find ways to create needed recreation trails in a state that has never managed to build a real, statewide backbone trail - the kind that can attract eco and recreation tourism and connect networks of small trail so that people can travel safely by bike and foot. There's no money to get land, we're told.
Say a utility board leans on a company like Dakota Access to grade the soil on top of their pipeline - they have to cover it anyway, right? And the state has only to lay an eight-foot strip of concrete on the provided grade, basically a sidewalk. Giving contractors work and creating at least some new jobs. A considerable trail could happen relatively quickly. Be it river to river, or a short stretch to connect two existing trails.
The pipeline runs right by the three biggest towns in our county. A trail on that path would be gold, and connectable to Cherokee and Sac counties' systems. Would a dedicated path be better than putting bikers on the side of a highway? Such a project could even allow tribal groups public access to their sacred sites.
Is it going to happen? Of course not.
Oil businesses aren't exactly humanitarian. And our state is so busy kissing the behind of big out-of-state business in hopes of refilling its own state tax coffers that recreation is barely on politicians' radar. Might say we're giving away the farm.
Easement deals are done and can't be taken back now, not that every landowner would be as eager to have bikers as they are for underground oil that comes with a check.
But, with a pipeline you do have potential land access. The recreation need is obvious. The will, sadly questionable. It's unlikely but it's not impossible.
We've set the dangerous precedent that pipeline can go anywhere it wants, whether landowners like it or not. I expect this isn't the last project of its type. Maybe we will learn something, and ask something in return next time.
Face it, no one is going to make the pipeline go away now. Protest and sue as we may, it will only delay or maybe cause minor re-routing. We can invest all our time and energy in fighting it - and maybe we should, to make a point - but ultimately, do we try to find leverage for some small positive to make of this mess?
Pie in the sky thinking? Absolutely. Just wish it was cement on the ground thinking.