Dear Friends –
I spoke with State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann today on my talk show and he announced big news on the Eminent Domain Bill:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 noon in Room 22 of the Iowa State Capitol, a joint House-Senate sub-committee will meet to debate and possibly vote on SSB 1276!
There are three things you can do:
1. COME!! Sub-committee meetings provide one of the few opportunities for average Iowans to speak on and influence legislation directly. I will be there and would love to have a slew of pipeline fighters join me.
2. Share this message and the Facebook Event invite with as many people as possible.
3. Write or call sub-committee members. If you write, carbon copy your own Representative and Senator. To figure out who your Representative and Senator are, and get contact information for them, click Find Your Legislator.
Sub-committee members are:
– Senator Rob Hogg – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Julian Garrett – email@example.com or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Brian Schoenjahn – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Representative Bobby Kaufmann – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Greg Heartsill – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Mary Wolfe – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
My take is this: The bill needs to be simple and straightforward. All we are saying is that a private, for-profit business that does not provide a public service to Iowans should not be granted the power of eminent domain. My concern is that there is pressure from Big Oil’s friends at the Statehouse to craft a compromise that will weaken this core position.
The bottom line is this: We want the strongest possible bill to come out of sub-committee, as it becomes more difficult to strengthen it later.
Thank you! This is a pivotal moment, and I hope you can take a little time today and tomorrow morning to do what you can. And if at all possible, come to the State Capitol tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon!
Letter to Landowners
Posted on March 9, 2015 by Ed Fallon
This is the letter Ed is sharing with landowners and others he meets along the pipeline route.
Dear Fellow Iowan,
As I’m sure you know, a Texas billionaire named Kelcy Warren wants to build an oil pipeline through Iowa. I am walking across Iowa following roads near the path of the proposed pipeline. As a state lawmaker for 14 years, I worked to toughen eminent domain laws to protect property owners when government and developers tried to take land for private gain. I also served on the House Environmental Protection Committee because I care deeply about Iowa’s land and water.
Warren is offering landowners a lot of money for an easement to their land. But it’s important that you and other landowners in the path of the pipeline know the risks involved.
* Pipelines break. You may have heard about the big ones, like Yellowstone and Kalamazoo. But the full list of spills is incredible (See Wikipedia: “List of pipeline accidents in the United States in the 21st century”). It’s not a question of if Warren’s pipeline will break, it’s a question of when and where.
* When the pipeline does break, there isn’t enough money to clean-up even one spill. Warren’s company has pledged only $250,000 to clean-up efforts in Iowa. The Kalamazoo spill has cost almost $1 billion – and it’s not done yet. In Wisconsin, the pipeline company pledged $100 million – for one county!
* Even if the pipeline doesn’t break on your land, it will still affect your property values. No one has ever seen their property values increase because an oil pipeline ran through it.
* You won’t be the only one affected if something goes wrong. Iowa’s water is important to us all.
There are many unanswered questions and potential problems. The pipeline company wants you to think this is a done deal, that you should just sell them an easement to your land. But the Utilities Board hasn’t even granted them the right of eminent domain. And there is a bipartisan bill in the Iowa Legislature that would, among other things, make it clear that a pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to refineries in Texas (most of which will be exported) does not constitute a public benefit for Iowa.
I talked to one farmer who’s against it because it goes through the pasture where he wants to build a home for his grand kids. I talked with another landowner whose forest would be decimated. I met a couple who were going to lose their home to the pipeline before they found a loophole that protected them. I have spoken with many other landowners, each with their own reason why they hope and pray that this pipeline will be stopped.
For the sake of these and many, many other landowners – and for your own sake – I ask you to carefully consider whether it’s worth a one-time cash payment, given the potential long-term damage to your property, your neighbors and Iowa’s waterways.
Thank you for reading this letter. I would be happy to talk with or meet with you or any of your neighbors. Here’s my cell phone number: 515-238-6404. And you also can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elections matter – and the 2014 election results could mean disaster for efforts to clean up & protect Iowa’s rivers, lakes & streams …. our sources of clean drinking water.
Senator-Elect Joni Ernst has said she supports getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency and thinks the Clean Water Act is just meddlesome regulation. Gov. Branstad vetoed $20 million that would have protected sources of drinking water and improved Iowa’s parks & natural areas. Long story short … Iowa could be moving in the wrong direction fast.
Are you tired of Iowa politicians putting out of state special interests before protections for clean drinking water? Take action and help us fight back!
Sign the petition to join Citizens for a Healthy Iowa and #CleanWaterVoters from across the state in sending Governor Branstad and Senator-Elect Joni Ernst a message:
It’s time to acknowledge the potential for a statewide public health crisis due to contaminated drinking water, and to stop condemning the environmental agencies and programs that are fighting to protect Iowa’s waterways from pollution.
But it is tempting to be cynical because we’ve been having Earth Days since 1970. When Earth Day started, it signified the beginning of a mass environmental consciousness, a wonderful, hopeful new awakening! You would think something repeated for 44 years would have improved conditions, educated and enlightened people, resulted in positive change, but that hasn’t really happened. People have become more informed about environmental issues, but things have still gotten worse.
Earth Day should not be like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretaries Day, Boss’s Day, etc. A day set aside to make us all feel like we’re doing the right thing. Then when the day is over most of us move on and forget about it. Unlike other (fill-in-the-blank) days, the point of Earth Day is to actually do something, not to merely acknowledge.
Truly, we need more than an annual Earth Day. We should have an Earth Year or an Earth Decade or two where every day is dedicated to repairing and making amends to our abused planet. Perhaps this Earth Day will be the one that marks the environmental tipping point.
For some, like CCI members, every day is Earth Day because they are fighting every day for Iowa’s environment.
So in the spirit of doing something meaningful on Earth Day, the one day every year that we are all designated environmentalists, why not take an action that could help? There is a fight going on right now for something as basic as clean water. Let’s try to win this fight.
CCI Action Alert:
We are a few days into our 28-day Clean Water Fight public comment period and we need your help to demand a stronger rule to protect our water.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has been hit with 200 comments. Let’s double that number for Earth Day!
Today, people will be celebrating our planet. What better reason to lift up the need for clean water in our own backyard.
Help us get 200 more comments into the DNR for Earth Day!
Make your voice heard. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION
Let’s make Earth Day count and let the DNR know we care about our water.
They dump it. You drink it. We won’t rest until they clean it up!
Thank you for being a part of the Clean Water Fight.
There is a petition to Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors: John Logsdon, Dennis Karlsbroten, Mark Kuhn, Floyd Ashbacher, and Dean Thompson, which says:
“We, the people of Winneshiek County, call for a rights-based ordinance banning industrial frac sand extraction and processing.
NO FRAC SAND MINING. Period!”
Will you sign this petition? Click here
Frac sand mining and processing cause long-term economic and environmental destruction.
To prevent this imminent danger we must act now to protect the health and integrity of our community.
For more information, please go to: CommunityRightsAlliance.org
Previous BFIA posts about fracking in Iowa
10 WAYS IOWA GOT SAFER IN 2013
Iowa is a pretty safe place. We rank among the 10 most peaceful states in America in the 2012 U.S. Peace Index report, which looks at homicide, violent crime, policing and prison rates.
We also fare well when it comes to accidents. According to the Trust for America’s Health, Iowa has the 12th lowest rate of injury deaths. Our state ranks high because we meet many recommended safety standards that keep us healthy and save lives. These include tracking the causes of injuries, prescription drug monitoring to prevent overdoses, required seat belt use and increased attention to head injuries in youth sports.
We further improved Iowa’s reputation for safety this year by:
1. Requiring criminal background checks of health care employees to prevent abuse and fraud (SF 347).
2. Requiring repeat OWI offenders to install an ignition interlock device before they can get a temporary restricted license to drive to work and substance abuse treatment (SF 386).
3. Ensuring teens get supervised driving practice in all seasons and face fewer distractions by strengthening Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s Licensing (SF 115).
4. Requiring more criminals to submit DNA samples. Research shows those who commit property crimes have a high chance of reoffending, with crimes and violence often escalating (HF 527).
5. Providing effective response to emergencies through necessary 911 funding (HF 644).
8. Toughening Iowa laws to better ensure law enforcement can prosecute and put away sex offenders (SF298).
9. Preventing recidivism through corrections education, which helps offenders acquire the skills to become productive members of their communities once they are out of prisons (SF 447).
10. Allowing Iowans to add medical information to their electronic driving record, making it immediately available to health care providers in emergencies (SF 386).
ENSURING ACCESS TO JUSTICE
In addition to protecting our physical well being, safe communities also provide justice for citizens.
The Legislature worked this year to ensure Iowans get that access to justice by providing the funding our courts need to offer full-time services, particularly through clerk of court offices and juvenile courts (SF 442).
Clerks help thousands of Iowans every day but because of staff shortages, their offices had been closed part time since the fall of 2009, making it difficult for Iowans to take care of court-related business. Clerks of court manage all court records; notify government agencies of court orders; and process fines, fees, court costs, child support, civil judgments and speeding tickets.
Nearly all court cases in Iowa begin with a filing with a clerk of court. Citizens shouldn’t find a closed sign on the door when they show up to apply for a protective order, access legal documents or pay a bill. That’s why the Legislature approved enough funding this year for the state’s 100 clerk of court offices to be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
We also made sure Iowa courts have the resources to help Iowa’s troubled youth and their families. Juvenile court officers are key to this process. They work with judges to identify the underlying problems a child may be experiencing. Hiring more juvenile court officers will help the courts meet face-to-face with all young offenders and ensure their needs are met.
This year’s court funding will continue Iowa’s tradition as one of the most responsive and respected court systems in the nation.
VOLUNTEERS HELP VULNERABLE KIDS
Thousands of children are in the Iowa court system because of family abuse and neglect. I’ve voted to help to help protect these vulnerable kids by investing in Iowa’s statewide Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program (HF 603).
The CASA program recruits, trains and supports community volunteers to serve as an effective voice in court for abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers make sure the children they work with are in safe, nurturing places. CASAs also ensure that an abused or neglected child is not further victimized by the system devised to protect the child.
While social workers, judges, and attorneys handle dozens of cases at a time, the independent CASA volunteers typically have just one. This allows them to promote the child’s best interests through investigation, assessment and advocacy. They communicate with family, attorneys, social workers, foster parents, therapists, teachers and doctors. The volunteers attend court hearings and placement and family meetings.
The CASA program has proven its effectiveness, and CASA volunteers now serve children in all 99 Iowa counties. Studies show that children in foster care who have a CASA assigned to them receive more help and are more likely to find a permanent home.
To learn how you can help a child in need as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, visit http://childadvocacy.iowa.gov.
PREVENTING ELDER ABUSE
The Iowa Department on Aging tells us that older Iowans are increasingly falling prey to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Nationally, 1 in 13 seniors report abuse, and it is estimated that 80 percent of elder abuse cases go unreported.
This fall, a special legislative committee will collect ideas to improve Iowa’s efforts to prevent this abuse. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Intervention Study Committee will examine data, look at what is working in other states, hear from experts and offer recommendations to be considered during the 2014 session of the Legislature.
Elder abuse appears in many different forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, undue influence, sexual exploitation, financial exploitation and denial of critical care. We all have a role to play when it comes to ensuring older Iowans are safe and able to enjoy the best possible quality of life.
How can you help?
• Keep in regular contact with older friends and family.
• Listen to seniors and their caregivers.
• Take action when you suspect elder abuse. In Iowa, you should call 800-362-2178 if you suspect a senior you know is at risk of being abused.
The Iowa Department on Aging is hosting a two-part Webinar series on Elder Rights & Protection. These free online seminars take place from 10-11:30 a.m. on October 22 and November 19. The sessions will provide an overview of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation; how and why it occurs; warning signs and risk factors; barriers to addressing elder abuse; and available resources. Register and learn more at www.iowaaging.gov/elder- abuse-neglect-and-exploitation.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Phone assistance for low-income Iowans Telephone service is vital in emergencies and essential for staying connected to family, employment and community resources. Low-income Iowans may qualify for help with their phone bill though federal Lifeline telephone assistance. Eligible Iowans must have an income at or below 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines or be eligible for other federal public assistance. Those who apply and qualify will receive a $9.25 monthly telephone bill credit. For complete details and an application, go here
Communities can apply for Great Places designation
Through October 1, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is accepting Letters of Intent from Iowa communities interested in seeking designation as an Iowa Great Place and funding for related projects. This year, the Legislature approved $1 million so that state and local groups can work together to cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions.
Since 2005, Iowa Great Places has helped make our state an ever-better place to live and work. The return on investment has been significant, as reported in the 2010 Economic Impact Report, and Great Places projects have resulted thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs. For more information and to apply, go to www.iowagreatplaces.gov.
Grants available to rural fire departments
Through October 15, the Forestry Bureau of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is accepting grant applications from rural fire departments to help pay for equipment to battle wildfires. The grants can be used for wildfire suppression equipment, slide in units, hoses, nozzles, adapters, portable tanks and pumps, personal protective equipment and communications equipment. The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Application package and other resources are available at www.iowadnr.gov/fire.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
DOON – On Labor Day, the Iowa DNR investigated a fish kill on the Little Rock River east of Doon in Lyon County.
A concerned citizen reported the fish kill to DNR Monday morning. When environmental specialists arrived at the river, they found high levels of ammonia, odor and color indicating manure-laden water killed the fish.
They traced the runoff to two open feedlots north and east of Doon belonging to Jim Koedam and Marvin VanMaanen. Both producers raise beef cattle.
The area received about two inches of rain Saturday night. The preliminary investigation indicates manure-laden runoff ran overland and then into draws that flow to the river.
DNR staff found dead fish along a two-mile section of stream starting about 1.5 miles north of the Highway 75 bridge. The dead fish included many smallmouth bass and channel catfish, along with carp, suckers, largemouth bass, gar, chubs and minnows.
DNR fisheries specialists are on site Tuesday conducting a fish count. The DNR will continue to monitor the clean up and consider appropriate enforcement action.
Prompt reporting of the fish kill allowed the DNR to trace the source of pollution and stop it quickly. It’s important to report fish kills and spills to the state’s 24-hour spill line at 515-281-8694 as quickly as possible.
And how about this lovely incident of “improper manure release” in Steve King’s District last Thursday:
INWOOD, Iowa | An improper release of thousands of gallons of manure Thursday into an unnamed tributary of the Rock River has led to high levels of ammonia in the water.
An Iowa Department of Natural Resources news release said the manure came from a solids settling basin at a 4,000-head open cattle lot owned by John Fluit Jr.
Fluit improperly unloaded 12 loads of manure, ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 gallons, onto a cornfield. From the cornfield the manure ran into a creek, where it was carried about a mile down to a neighbor’s pond. The manure then flowed out the pond’s outlet and back into the creek, the release said.
This spring, Iowa again saw rising rivers and streams across the State due to record levels of rainfall. As Iowans, the threat of flooding never seems far away, and it’s only getting worse. Each time waters begin to rise, thoughts of 2008 and the devastation that families and communities suffered quickly returns. This year the rising waters once again sent communities scrambling to prepare for the worst and thousands of acres of farmland sat underwater, unable to be planted. The rising waters also sent another check from the federal government to help cover the necessary disaster costs of preparing and recovery. We can do better.
In Iowa, folks like those at the Iowa Flood Center and the University of Iowa are doing work that is helping Iowa communities prepare better and smarter for flooding. This success is already at work saving our communities money, time, and resources. The entire country should follow Iowa’s lead in planning better and smarter for flooding in order to help families and communities, and achieve significant, long-term savings to the federal government. This is why last week I introduced the National Flood Research and Education Center Act (NFERC). This bill would create a National Flood Center to study ways to better predict and prevent flooding, and provide valuable information to the public.
Flooding is costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year for preparation and recovery. The prediction and prevention tools from a National Flood Center would help prevent damage and allow our communities to better allocate resources such as sand bags, machinery, volunteers, and temporary flood walls. Every year flooding costs taxpayers, and the new technologies and methods already being put to use in Iowa could save our country untold millions.
As Iowans, we have experienced the devastation that flooding can bring. I believe through a National Flood Center we can help prevent similar devastation across the country and in Iowa. We don’t need to wait for the next devastation to act. No time is better than now to get a National Flood Center into action to save lives and resources, and achieve significant long-term savings. I look forward to chatting more about my bill with you in Iowa soon.
Iowa’s Second District