Denying conflict, new Iowa regulator to decide on oil pipeline

Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The new Iowa Utilities Board chairwoman will vote on whether to build a major oil pipeline even though her family law firm represented a landowner trying to block it.

Board officials say Geri Huser doesn't have a conflict that requires disqualification because her brother, attorney Brad Skinner, has withdrawn from the case.

Board spokesman Don Tormey says Huser doesn't plan to formally disclose the connection, arguing there's no reason to do so.

Huser's decision means all three members will decide whether to approve a $3.8 billion pipeline that would transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily across Iowa. The plan has generated intense opposition from farmers, environmentalists and supporters of private property rights.

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Huser in a March board shakeup that removed one member and demoted another.

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