Follow BFIA on Twitter
Blog for Iowa Archives
Blog for Iowa Categories
Search BFIA by Date
March 2015
« Feb    

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Fight Media Bias


Iowa Rapid Response Action

First responders to biased, imbalanced or factually inaccurate media coverage

Iowans for Better Local TV


FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

*FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship

Free Press

News Corpse

Prometheus Radio Project

Radio for People

Save the Internet

Save the News

Summary: A Safe And Secure Iowa Medical Cannabis Program


SSB 1243:
A safe and secure Iowa medical cannabis program


A responsible, compassionate response to suffering:

Establishing an Iowa medical cannabis program is the most responsible, compassionate alternative to continuing to tell Iowans to either (1) suffer in silence, (2) use legal but ineffective or dangerous medicines, (3) break the law by obtaining medical cannabis illegally, or, (4) leave their homes and move to a different state.

Equal access for Iowans:

Iowans strongly believe that their friends and neighbors with debilitating conditions deserve the same access to medicines already legally available to more than half of all Americans, including the residents of Minnesota and Illinois.

A medical approach instead of political posturing:

Political gridlock prevents the federal government from regulating medical cannabis in a manner similar to other medicines. In response to the federal government’s failure to act, 23 states have created regulated systems to provide their citizens with access to medical cannabis.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, Iowa can draw from the best of these state-level programs. Iowans can be provided access to medical cannabis in a way similar to other, federally approved medicines, medicines that are often inherently more dangerous and addictive than medicines made from cannabis.

How would Iowa’s medical cannabis program work?

The diseases covered by Iowa’s existing medical cannabis law would be expanded from intractable epilepsy to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS/HIV, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain resulting from an underlying medical condition.

The diseases covered by Iowa’s existing medical cannabis law would be expanded from intractable epilepsy to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS/HIV, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain resulting from an underlying medical condition.

The Iowa Department of Health would have overall responsibility for the program. A Medical Advisory Board would oversee the program and decide on future proposed medical conditions.
An individual’s certification for medical cannabis would be based on Minnesota’s approach: a written certification from a licensed health care practitioner that the patient suffers from one of the eligible medical conditions.

To address the main reason for the failure of last year’s medical cannabis law, SSB 1243 calls for licensing of four Iowa-based medical cannabis manufacturers and 12 dispensaries. Manufacturers and dispensaries are subject to inspections and strict security requirements.

The Iowa Department of Health would determine the form and quantity of medical cannabis available to patients. Smoking of medical cannabis is prohibited.

“Contaminated Water Would Travel Across Nebraska In Three Days”

Please share and help this go viral.

Governor Endangers Vulnerable Iowans, School Funding, Workforce Development, Legislative News

Courtney Report

ed. note: This is an edited version of the Courtney newsletter. For the whole newsletter, please go here.

In January, Governor Branstad surprised Iowans by proposing to privatize almost all of Iowa’s Medicaid system.

Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage to just over a half million Iowans. They are some of the most vulnerable people in our state, including families and children, pregnant women, seniors and people living with disabilities. More than 71 percent of Medicaid dollars are spent on services for the disabled and seniors.

Iowa’s Governor once again decided—on his own—to make big changes at break-neck speed to the health care of other people. And once again, those affected don’t have much political power. The Branstad Administration is ignoring painful lessons learned by other states that have adopted the managed care approach.

The responsible way to address the issue would be to bring together stakeholders and take a systematic approach. Iowa Medicaid is, after all, Iowa’s second largest insurance company.

Right now, only two things are certain:

1. There will be major changes to the health care of at-risk Iowans and to essential services for seniors and the disabled. This includes the social safety net that families depend on in times of need. All of us are just one terrible accident away from needing care for the rest of our lives.

2. With a cost of $4.2 billion, this will be the largest single purchase in state history. The winners most likely will be for-profit, out-of-state companies that will take home as much as $630 million a year.

Under existing state law, the Governor has a great deal of freedom to make this transition with little or no legislative direction. That’s why the Iowa Senate unanimously approved SF 452. The bill:

• Creates a process to closely monitor the transition, ensure that tax dollars are used wisely, and give vulnerable Iowans access to critical healthcare services.

• Outlines consumer protections to ensure continued access to high-quality care, emphasizing consumer choice, self-direction, nearby access and more.

• Ensures fair reimbursement for healthcare providers, the Iowa-based organizations that will actually do the work, while taking part in coordinated care to improve health outcomes.

• Establishes a legislative oversight commission to monitor implementation and recommend corrections should problems arise.

State funding for our local schools remains undecided, even after a fourth meeting this week of the special legislative committee charged with finding a compromise between the House and the Senate.

At the most recent meeting, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha insisted on setting state aid for the 2015-16 school year at 1.25 percent, but his motion failed on a tie vote. All the Republican members of the committee supported the Speaker’s meager proposal; all Democrats voted against it.

We’ve got to get past the gridlock. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and other concerned Iowans are counting on us. They say that local school boards are making critical budget decisions now. Schools will have to cut staff and teachers, stuff more students into classrooms, and reduce educational and extracurricular offerings if they don’t get more than a 1.25 percent increase in state funding.

Woodbury Central Community School officials said their local schools need more.

Superintendent Doug Glackin told a Sioux City TV station: “When we started cutting, we were cutting the fat, and then we got a 0% allowable growth in fiscal year 2011-2012 and then we started cutting the bacon. If we get to 1.25%, we’ll be cutting into the rib meat and into the loin pretty soon, and that’s never good.”

Clear Lake Superintendent Anita Micich has told the local newspaper: “You cannot starve the schools in Iowa and expect to have world-class (education) continue.”

It’s not just smaller, rural school districts. Ankeny is among the largest school districts in the state. Their school board president said that “1.25 percent is irresponsible. We’re at the point where we are cutting programming and looking at class sizes.”

If your local schools are making these same tough budget decisions, please contact me so that I can share your concerns with conference committee members as they hammer out a final decision.

I’m working to stop the slide in Iowa’s support for local students compared to other states. A 4 percent increase in funding for our K-12 schools would help when it comes to per-student investment. That’s one of the many topics I discussed with Joe Crozier of the Grant Wood AEA when he visited the Statehouse with other Iowa Areas Education Agencies.

Last year, Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) expressing concerns about Iowa Workforce Development and its director, Teresa Wahlert.

The letter was based on testimony Senator Dotzler had received from Unemployment Administrative Law Judges indicating there was undue pressure on them, concern about the fairness of the appeals system, and problems with a political appointee directly supervising the appeal judges.

This month, DOL informed the new Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, that her predecessor had created perceived pressure on Iowa’s Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to be biased in favor of employers or face retaliation. The DOL also recommended that the new IWD director:

• Immediately fill the Chief ALJ position on a merit staffing basis.

• Ensure that the Unemployment Compensation appeals process is insulated from outside pressures that might compromise the process’s fairness and impartiality, or appearance of fairness and impartiality.

• Ensure that ALJs are free from actual or perceived intimidation.

• Review any negative personnel actions received by ALJs during the period they were supervised by Teresa Wahlert to determine if the action was appropriately taken, and take any necessary remedial action to reverse the action if not appropriately taken.

• Not take any personnel action against individual ALJs related to their possible participation in the review of this matter moving forward.

To learn more about U.S. Department of Labor findings and recommendations for Iowa Workforce Development, go to

Iowa is doing the right thing to strengthen our middle class after the devastation of the national recession.

One of the reasons Iowa has weathered the economic downturn better than other states is that we’ve kept our fiscal house in order. Each year, we balance the state budget and set aside money for a rainy day. According to 24/7 Wall St., Iowa is one of the best-run states in the nation, with low debt, a strong credit rating and a well-managed budget.

That’s important because it allows us to invest in initiatives to strengthen our middle class, create jobs and grow our economy. And the latest financial projections by Iowa’s non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference confirm that Iowa can afford new investments.

We must do all we can to continue strengthening our middle class. The percentage of middle-class households shrunk between 2000 and 2013 in all 50 states, Iowa included. In 2013, 51 percent of Iowa households were middle class, down from 54.1 percent in 2000, and the median income for Iowa households has dropped, according to new research from Pew.

What can we do to continue our bipartisan efforts to expand Iowa’s middle class in all 99 counties?

A good start would be renewing Iowa’s traditional, bipartisan support for public schools, freezing tuition at our public universities for a third year in a row, and investing more in community college opportunities for Iowans preparing for 21st Century jobs.

Sunday Funday: Is School More Important Than The Fair Edition

looks like a guy who could ace the quiz!

looks like a guy who could ace the quiz!

Back in the day there was a young man who wrote for the Des Moines Register by the name of Donald Kaul under the banner Over The Coffee. One of Kaul’s great delights or perhaps painful duties was to inform Iowans how the legislature annually made a mockery of what most Iowans considered common sense by hashing over seemingly ridiculous folderol. Once more the legislature is giving wits much fodder with their debate over when schools should start. Seems that the major economic driver in Iowa is the State Fair, no doubt the greatest of all State Fairs ever. Reading and Cyphering learning must be compliant to the whims of the awesomest of State Fairs!

Well, Sunday Funday is here with a solution for the legislature wanting to feed the fair and the schools wanting to – uh you know – educate. There are other breaks in the schools year that could easily be eliminated so the State Fair can be attended to. Start with Christmas and Easter breaks. It is usually cold in Iowa at those times, so let’s take time for the State Fair from the winter and spring breaks and move it to summer.

Were you paying attention?

1) Many folks called Ted do not really have Ted as their given name. What is the given name of ‘Ted’ Cruz?

2) With friends like this who needs enemies? What country was accused by the Wall Street Journal of spying on talks between Iran and the US?

3) Ted Cruz claimed a strange conversion occurred in him on 9/11 that caused him to turn away from what in favor of what else?

4) Appearing in Iowa last weekend, what potential presidential candidate said it is time to “crack down on Wall Street recklessness.”?

5) What Iowa legislator was photographed reading a book titled “Sex After Sixty” instead of paying attention to floor debate?

6) It appears one man in Iowa has decided that current Medicaid needs dismantling and that may be enough to make it happen. Who is this man?

7) He got away with murder, now he blames Obama for his image problems. What former darling of the right claimed Obama ruined his image?

8) Lieutenant Rags, move your troops! The National Park Service is considering using dogs at the Lincoln Memorial to stop what from happening?

9) Utah takes a few steps back as they once more opt for what method of executing prisoners?

10) Two US senators announced they would not run in 2016. Can you name them and their states?

11) As of last week, Starbuck baristas will no longer write what phrase on customer’s coffee cups?

12) After demonizing Obamacare, what Tea Party presidential candidate was discovered to be planning to sign up for Obamacare, claiming Obama was making him do so?

13) Indiana governor Mike Pence signed a Religious Restoration Act last week. One of the major consequences will be that, based on religious reasons, businesses can do what?

14) The SCOTUS is taking a case from Texas concerning free speech and the placing of what on Texas state license plates?

15) A combination Russian and US crew took off for a mission on the ISS. How long is this mission expected to last?

16) Jumping on the bandwagon, Willie Nelson is expected to launch a brand of what that will bear his name?

17) Bowe Bergdahl was charged with what this week?

18) In another major scoop for Wikileaks, what closely guarded document did the group release this week?

19) A state Senate Committee voted to make what medicinal crop available to possess Thursday after they made using it legal last year?

20) A sure sign of spring! What states got hit with tornados Wednesday?

Ok here is a new sport. It is up to you to figure out what it is:


1) Raphael

2) Israel

3) turned away from rock and roll music and picked up country music

4) Martin O’Malley

5) Ross Paustian of Walcott

6) Governor Branstad

7) George Zimmerman

8) geese pooping around the National Mall

9) firing squad

10) Dan Coates of Indiana and Harry Reid of Nevada

11) “race together”

12) Ted Cruz!

13) discriminate based on their religious feelings

14) the confederate flag

15) a year – the longest for a US astronaut

16) marijuana

17) desertion

18) the TPP trade agreement

19) medical marijuana

20) Oklahoma and Arkansas

Republican Asking For ACA Horror Stories Gets Slammed

Republicans in congress just don't get it

Republicans in congress just don’t get it

Seems like whenever Republicans take their suppose great ideas outside of their little self reinforcing bubble, the reality they run into is harsh and brutal. Sadly it is seldom enlightening to them and they run shaking back to the glow of the burning BS that is Fox News and their wannabes.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a pathetic congressperson from eastern Washington, had the bright idea to take to Facebook to solicit horror stories about how Obamacare (also known as the ACA) has simply ruined America. She knew it was true because Fox and Boehner and the Kochs told her it did. They wouldn’t lie to her would they?

So Rodgers put her plea out there – tell me America about how bad this worst of all presidents ever not born in the US has so ruined your lives, your health, your fortune.

America responded in a way Ms. Rodgers did not expect. Maybe she should have narrowed the group she was addressing a bit – but with the exception of some far right Republicans, most Americans like many of the aspects of the vile Obamacare.

What did America tell Ms. Rodgers? Read on, if you dare:

I’m very happy. We still have great coverage and our premiums are much lower than before

And now my daughter, diagnosed with MS at age 22, can have insurance. What do you plan to do with her?

My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn’t get health insurance. Now they all have it, thanks to the ACA and President Obama, and their plans are as good as the one my employer provides–and they pay less for them. Now, that’s not the kind of story you want to hear. You want to hear made-up horror stories. I don’t know anyone with one of those stories.

I work for cancer care northwest. We actually have more patients with insurance and fewer having to choose treatment over bankruptcy. Cathy, I’m a die hard conservative and I’m asking you to stop just slamming Obamacare. Fix it, change it or come up with a better idea! Thanks

With Obamacare, I saved 300 bucks a month premium.. I have more coverage.. I like ObamaCare and can’t wait til we go to the next step… Medicare for ALL.

Instead of doing all you can to tear down our Nation why don’t you start working to make it better.. Seems like Republicans have just become the real terrorists of this Nation..

I love people like you Cathy who HAVE Gov’t Health Care who want to cancel it for others! it’s the Christian thing to do!

I work as the facilitator of a task force that is overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington State. I have learned that the ACA is helping people who did not previously have health insurance get it. It is helping bring down medical costs. It is improving the quality of care. It is improving experiences of both patients and their families.

I work with doctors, nurses, hospital and clinic managers, non-profit service providers, citizens-at-large. Each of them can site an improvement they would like to make to the Act. But whether they are Republican or Democrat, from urban or rural areas, powerful or not, they all say the ACA is working.

Can’t you and your Republican colleagues stop trying to repeal this Act and work to make it even more effective? Please?

Thank you.

These are just a few comments pulled at random. There are literally hundreds more and I expect there will be hundreds additional as word of this Facebook page gets around.

If you have a strong desire to add your story or the story of a friend, here is the Facebook page:

Expect to be trolled. I notice that many of the commentors are being attacked. But trolls need work too, no matter how stupid they are. They are just making themselves look extra foolish as they make up ‘facts’ and try to diminish the stories of others.

Hope we hear a followup Rodgers experiment. My guess is that it will be disappeared.

2016 Race Opens – Iowans It’s Time To Cut Your Grassley

Grassley signature on letter to Iran

Grassley signature on letter to Iran

Ted Cruz became the first “official” candidate of the 2016 campaign last week with his very uninspiring speech in front of a coerced audience in the very reddest part of red America. Even with all that, Cruz’s speech had the effectiveness of pouring water on a grease fire. Many in the forced audience spent time mocking old Ted on their smart phones.

But what Calgary Ted did do was help wake folks up to the fact that there is an election with huge stakes for each and every American and Iowan coming up really soon. Since Cruz’s announcement came at almost the same time as the 5th anniversary of the signing of the ACA, naturally Chuck Grassley crossed my mind.

Who can forget how Grassley did all he could to sink any chance of any kind of health care reform? How President Obama leaned over backwards to satisfy Grassley only to have Grassley act like a spoiled child? Who can forget the Grassley bald face lie broadcast around the country claiming that the ACA would “kill Grandma?”

Most Iowans now agree with most of the provisions of the ACA. Yet only a couple of months ago, Chuck came out four square in favor of repealing Obamacare yet again. Grassley is simply way out of step with Iowans. BTW – don’t think he wouldn’t be first in line to voucher-ize Medicare and cut Social Security. He would.

Of course it is not only healthcare where Chuck is many steps out of sync with Iowans. Grassley opposed the Lilly Ledbetter law back in 2009, in many ways reinforcing his well known view that women do not have the worth of a man. He is still one the few sitting congress members that opposed the Martin Luther King holiday.

But the coupe-de-grace in the Grassley portfolio is his signature on the treasonous letter to Iran. Grassley showed his true arrogant colors with this signature. Shred the Constitution, Chuck Grassley says.

A quick viewing of Grassley’s donor page shows Grassley is in the pocket of insurance companies and finance. Hard to fit any concern for the common Iowan in between all the special interests that own Grassley. Sure he drives around in an old Olds, but unlike many of his constituents he doesn’t have to.

Let’s track kitchen table economics and see where Grassley fits in. Are your wages keeping up with inflation or has Republican obstruction stopped any hope for raises? Are your children’s schools getting better or having to cut back? When it comes time for college, can your children go without having to incur a debilitating lifetime of debt? What about medical insurance? If Grassley gets his way and Obamacare is repealed, what are you going to do? Can you afford insurance the way it was before Obamacare? Should the advances in the economy all go to the top 1%? Grassley will work hard to see that they do.

And what if you hit some hard times and lose your job? Grassley will be working hard to cut unemployment insurance and any kind of food programs. Bet you never thought your own government would let you down, but that is what you vote for when you vote for a Grassley.

Economic issues, especially the huge and widening gap between the uber-rich and working Americans, should be the top issue in the next election. Who has done more to make the rich richer and the poor poorer than our own Chuck? Who is working harder to dismantle any gains that consumers have made? Grassley is the horse that the rich will be backing big time.

My best wishes to the two declared candidates opposing Grassley, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause. Iowa Democrats need to start working NOW to let their fellow Iowans know what they are voting for when they vote for Grassley wherever and whenever they can.

Boycott! The Art Of Economic Activism Comes To Iowa

boycott2_2Scattergood Friends School in West Branch will host a traveling art exhibition sponsored by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) March 31 through April 11.

Boycott! The Art of Economic Activism features poster art from more than 20 movements from the 1950s to the present, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, United Farm Workers’ grape and lettuce boycott, divestment from South Africa to protest Apartheid, boycotts of corporations using sweatshops, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS), and many others.

Activists and solidarity groups have often responded to injustices by implementing boycott and divestment campaigns targeting companies and governments that support and sustain these injustices- and posters have been a primary tool for educating about the issues and inspiring people to action. This exhibition uses powerful posters to demonstrate the effectiveness of boycotts as a nonviolent tactic to end injustice and oppression.

In addition to the art exhibit, Scattergood, a 125 year-old Quaker boarding school, will also host a series of speakers. Events include a staged reading with Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander, and a screening and discussion of the film The World According to Monsanto.

Iowa AFSC director Kathleen McQuillen will open the exhibit March 31 at 7:30 p.m. with Dr. Maureen McCue, a founding board member for the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights involved with peace and justice efforts through her participation in a number of local and national groups. Dr. McCue will deliver a talk entitled “Reading Economic and Social Status on the Body.”

On April 9 at 7:30 pm, Iowa Poet Laureate and playwright Mary Swander will moderate a discussion following staged readings from her plays Vang and Map of My Kingdom. Mary Swander is a fourth generation Iowan, and a Distinguished Professor of English at Iowa State.

Other events will include a panel of youth activists speaking to the power of youth-led activism, moderated by AFSC Middle East Peace-Building organizer Katie Huerter  at 2 p.m. on April 11.

Scattergood students will moderate a free viewing and discussion of The World According to Monsanto Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. on campus.

Ed Fallon will close the exhibit April 10 at 7:30 p.m., with a talk titled, “Turning Passion in to Activism.” Fallon will have just recently completed a 400-mile walk following the path of the proposed Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. In 2014, Fallon organized and led the Great March for Climate Action, one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history.

The exhibit will be open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from March 31 through April 11; additional visiting hours may be arranged upon request by contacting Scattergood Friends School is located at 1951 Delta Ave., east of West Branch, Iowa.

For more information on the art exhibit and events, contact Christine Ashley, head of school for advancement and development at 319-530-7149 or

Why Is Governor Branstad Dismantling Medicaid?

OFrom the newsletter of Senator Bolkcom (D) – Iowa City


Medicaid provides health coverage to just over a half million of the most vulnerable people in our state, including seniors, families and children, pregnant women, and people living with disabilities.

In January, Governor Branstad surprised Iowans with a proposal to privatize almost all of Iowa’s Medicaid system, which is jointly funded and administered by the federal and state governments.

Iowa’s Governor has again decided on his own to make big changes to the health care of other people—people without much political power.

At this moment, only two things are certain.

One: There will be major changes to the health care of at-risk Iowans and to essential services for seniors and the disabled. This includes the social safety net that all Iowa families might need in the future.

Two: With a cost of $4.2 billion, this will be the largest single purchase in state history. The winner will most likely be for-profit, out-of-state companies that will take home as much as $630 million a year.  [Bolding BFIA’s]

Under the Governor’s plan, these decisions will be made at breakneck speed by a handful of people in his administration. The Branstad Administration plans to do more and do it faster than any other state. This approach ignores lessons other states have learned when adopting the managed care approach: Be methodical. Work with vulnerable Iowans and service providers. Take the time to make sure you do it right.

Iowa Medicaid is, after all, Iowa’s second largest insurance company.

This week, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved SF 452 to protect vulnerable Iowans and the safety net we all count on.

SF 452 creates a process to closely monitor this transition, ensure that tax dollars are used wisely, and be sure that vulnerable Iowans have access to critical healthcare services. It outlines consumer protections to protect high-quality care that emphasizes consumer choice, self-direction, person and family centered care, nearby access to care, and fair appeals.

The Senate voted this week to provide some accountability to ensure that the most vulnerable Iowans have access to quality health care.

Loebsack Statement on FY 2016 Republican Budget

loebsack bannerLoebsack Statement on the FY2016 Republican Budget

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after House Republicans passed their budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

“It has long been said that a budget is a set of priorities, a vision of where one believes the country should be headed. The Republican-supported budget that passed the House today fails to reflect the priorities of Iowans I meet every weekend when I travel around my district. This budget ends the Medicare guarantee as we know it, disinvests in education, cuts important funding for rebuilding our infrastructure and eliminates vital job training programs. At a time when our economy is still continuing to recover, this is the wrong approach to putting our nation on a sustainable path forward. We need to pass a budget that invests in our nation’s future by growing our infrastructure, providing retirement security for seniors and making sure any child who wants to can afford to attend college. We need a budget that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-to-do.”

Iowa Pipeline Walk Uncovers New Hero

Kenneth Larkin, Story County, Iowa / photo:

“All we wanted was to have the house fixed.”  –  Kenneth Larkin

Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day Nineteen
Posted on March 24, 2015

by Ed Fallon

Monday, March 23, 2015 – Cambridge, Iowa
Click here to go to original post at
For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here

I’ve seen plenty of “Gas Pipeline” markers during the course of this walk. Today, I saw my first “Oil Pipeline” marker – on the front lawn of a well-kept farm near Cambridge, Iowa. I wondered about that as I knocked on the door. I was greeted by Kenneth Larkin, and after introducing myself said, “I notice you’ve already got a pipeline running across your property.”

“No,” said Kenneth. “I’ve got five! One carries propane. Two that used to transport LP gas now run fiber optic. The fourth one, the one marked ‘Oil Pipeline,’ doesn’t really carry oil. It carries distillates – gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene – and they’re all running through the same pipe with a slug of water in between.”

I had no idea you could transport different fuels through the same pipeline at the same time, merely separated by water. Before Kenneth could tell me about the fifth pipeline, I had to ask:

“So, you’re pretty accustomed to pipelines. I suppose it doesn’t bother you to have one more running across your property?”

“No!,” he said. “I don’t like the pipe I’ve got. They’re dangerous. We had an explosion once.”

He went on to explain in great detail – and with evident mastery of the technical aspects – what caused the explosion to occur. I got out my computer and frantically tried to keep up with him. Failing miserably, I piece together the story as best I can:

The pipeline company takes electricity off the high line. They run it through a box with a wire that goes underground to where it’s attached to the pipeline. That reverses the polarity of the ions in the soil, and the pipeline grabs hold of those ions and expands. But the polarity reversal also eats holes in the copper tubing to Kenneth’s propane tank, and follows a line into the house where the propane meets up with the water heater. When the water heater kicks on . . . KABOOM!

“Someone could have been killed if they’d been near the water heater,” mused Kenneth. “My wife, Judy, who has since passed away, had nick-knacks in the window and the explosion blew them clear out to the road ditch.”

I’m still reeling from Kenneth’s story when he says, “Nope. I don’t want this oil pipeline. 

I think that wind and solar are two of the bases that we should pursue more of. Why do we need fossil fuels? This country has advanced so far, but we’re still using more and more oil.”

In just over 30 minutes, this guy has become my latest hero. He’s against the pipeline for personal reasons AND gets the broader social and environmental concerns.

But I want closure on the explosion. “Did the company compensate you for damages?” I ask.

“Well, we just told them all we wanted was to have the house fixed,” said Kenneth. “They drug their feet and they drug their feet and they drug their feet. Close to a year passed, and our lawyer said we might just as well sue them. The day before we were supposed to go to court, I never will forget. This big, black Cadillac sedan pulls in, and three guys in three-piece business suits out of Tulsa, Oklahoma get out. They pull out one of those big check books. I showed them the bills for fixing the house, and they just wrote us a check, and that was that.”

A happy finish to a story that could have ended much worse. But I am still not satisfied.

“What about that fifth pipeline,” I probe.

“Oh, that one belongs to the Koch Brothers,” concluded Kenneth. “It’s empty.”

“Yeah, I know that,” I said. “Do you have any idea why it’s empty?”

Kenneth tells me about a conversation he had with a Magellan Pipeline Company worker. The guy told him that oil running through that pipeline was a product of fracking. It had salt in it. “That salt was supposedly rusting the seams on the inside of the pipes, and that’s why they’re not using them.”

I asked Kenneth if he felt we could stop this new pipeline from being built. “You don’t have enough money to stop them, and Branstad has already sold us down the water,” said Kenneth. “But if the company is not allowed to use eminent domain, then they can be stopped.”

“And as far as I’m concerned,” said Kenneth, “they ain’t coming on my property.