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Environment

Schedule Of Public Meetings On Proposed Oil Pipeline In Iowa

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Route

Iowa Sierra Club

Proposed Pipeline through Iowa Carries Risks   [Bolds and italics BFIA’s]

Energy Transfer Partners (ETF), also doing business as Dakota Access, announced plans for a proposed oil pipeline that will run diagonally across Iowa, through 17 or 18 counties. It will carry light sweet crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it will link with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals along the Gulf of Mexico. The company also announced that some of the crude oil will be loaded onto rail cars for shipment to the east coast.

The company has scheduled public informational meetings in December 2014 in each of the counties that the pipeline will cross, a requirement before asking the Iowa Utilities Board for permits. Members of the public will be able to attend and can speak during the meeting. ETF is expected to seek permits in 2015 through 2016. The company plans to have the pipeline operational in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Counties in Iowa comprising the proposed route include Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Story, Polk, Jasper, Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee. The northeast tip of Sac County is also in the study area.

Get Involved:

The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter urges you to join in opposition to the pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners by attending and speaking out at one of the public meetings. The meetings will be held as follows:

December 1, 1:00, Inwood Community Center, Inwood

December 1, 1:00, Comfort Inn & Suites, Fort Madison

December 1, 6:00, River Valley Lodge, Farmington

December 1, 6:00, Terrace View Event Center, Sioux Center

December 2, 9:00am, Sheldon Community Services, Sheldon

December 2, 9:00am, Jefferson County Fairgrounds Activity Building, Fairfield

December 2, 3:00, Cherokee Community Center, Cherokee

December 2, 3:00, Bridgeview Center, Ottumwa

December 3, 9:00am, Buena Vista University Anderson Auditorium, Storm Lake

December 3, 9:00am, Memorial Hall, Sigourney

December 3, 3:00, Gateway Church of the Nazarene, Oskaloosa

December 4, 9:00am, DMACC Newton Conference Center, Newton

December 4, 3:00, Ankeny Parks and Recreation Lakeside Center, Ankeny

December 15, 1:00, Sac Community Center, Sac City

December 15, 1:00, Gates Memorial Auditorium, Nevada

December 15, 6:00, Boone County Fairgrounds Community Building, Boone

December 15, 6:00, Calhoun County Expo center, Rockwell City

December 16, 9:00am, Triton Room, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge

Consider additional ways you can oppose the pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners. The Chapter encourages you to:

  • Write letters to the editor in opposition to the pipeline
  • Once the public meetings have ended, submit written objections to the Iowa Utilities Board. For more information about how to submit your comments,  contact the Iowa Sierra Club.

Concerns:

The Iowa Sierra Club is concerned about the impacts a tragic accident or a leaky pipeline involving the highly flammable oil will have on Iowa’s communities, farms and environment, including

  • Polluting Iowa’s streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers
  • Tragic accidents affecting lives and personal property in the communities along the pipeline
  • Destroying Iowa’s farmland
  • Harming wildlife and sensitive natural areas in its path

Although the company plans to seek voluntary easements, it may ask the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to acquire the easement through eminent domain. The pipeline will require a permanent easement 50 feet wide, with no structures allowed on the easement. An even wider, temporary easement of 100 feet to 150 feet will be taken during construction.

Once the oil in this pipeline finally reaches the oil terminals in Nederland, Texas, there is absolutely no guarantee that the oil and refined products from the oil will remain in the United States for use in this country.

Pipelines leak.

In March 2013, homeowners in Mayflower, Arkansas, were overwhelmed when oil from a leaky pipeline flowed into their basements, over their lawns and onto their streets.

The Bakken oil is the same oil that was involved in train wrecks in North Dakota in December 2013 and in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, in July 2013.

A new pipeline will delay the U.S. transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The United States needs to move away from fossil fuel extractions and to energy sources that have less impact on climate change.

sierra club iowa chapter

Does Iowa Need A New Oil Pipeline?

maureen-mccue(1)

Dr. Maureen McCue

There are calls to increase our capacity to ship oil by a new pipeline across Iowa. It is asserted a new pipeline will provide needed energy for Iowa’s industries and other energy consumers, it would help create energy independence and jobs. Overlooking the necessity to acquire valuable farmland and the inherent risk of pipeline leakage and potential to harm aquifers, pipelines could be somewhat safer and more efficient than rail transit. However, there is an even greater need to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Debate about the pros and cons of safest delivery for Bakken oil by train or by pipeline, and the number of “good” short term jobs provided by either route, distracts from the far more pressing issue. We need to begin a real conversation about how can Iowa move beyond dependency on fossil fuels–domestic or foreign.

As the number one consumer of oil in the world, the United States must make every attempt to reduce our carbon footprint and begin to improve the options for a liveable future. It’s important that business leaders & elected officials understand that pipelines are just not in our economic interest, they are not in the interest of safety or public health. As the climate continues to become more chaotic, storms, floods, reduced agricultural production, and water pollution will all become far more costly to the public, here and elsewhere, than any safety or economic gains generated by the proposed pipeline.

The public, our children and grandchildren all deserve a livable future. Let’s use Iowa’s resources, physical and intellectual, to make serious efforts to move to alternative energy sources, to reduce our demand for more energy, to improve Iowa’s capacity to provide essentials like food and water to current and future generations. Invest in good jobs in clean energy, and improve our economy, not just in the present but for many years to come.

Do not build more pipelines across Iowa!

Maureen McCue MD PhD is an adjunct professor of global health at the University of Iowa. Her medical specialty is epidemiology. She is also on the national board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility, and coordinator for its Iowa Chapter.

Keystone XL — Bright Shiny Object

Dave Loebsack

Dave Loebsack

Friday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill directing the federal government to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline on a 252-161 vote. It was less than the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto, but Barack Obama has been holding his cards close to the chest on Keystone. What he would do if a bill reached his desk is uncertain.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. Senate scheduled a vote on the bill for Tuesday, and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) believes there are already 59 of 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster when the vote comes up. If the senate can get past a filibuster, the bill’s passage is assured, although getting 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto is less certain than it is in the the house. It’s all political theater.

Our Representative Dave Loebsack voted for the bill, reversing his last vote on Keystone XL. He sent social media atwitter with shock and disappointment framed in terms that appeared to help the authors vent frustration more than say anything coherent. I am disappointed with the vote, but what politician ever consistently voted my way?

I know a couple of things.

When people talk about “environmentalists” I no longer have a clue to whom they refer. Is a farmer who plants a buffer zone based on a government grant an environmentalist? Is a non-governmental organization’s local staff member—overly dependent upon funding sources—an environmentalist? Is a Washington lobbyist for a large NGO an environmentalist? What about members of the defense department working toward a lower carbon footprint for the military? What about my neighbors who protest building a subdivision near Lake Macbride? There aren’t real answers to these questions, and that’s the problem with vague references to “environmentalists.” There is no club to which they all belong, and fewer common denominators. The idea is actually a right wing talking point, and the frame “environmentalists” is used to demonize advocates for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and against production of electricity using coal, natural gas and nuclear fuels. Keystone XL is not a common denominator among environmentalists.

The failure of environmentalists was targeting the pipeline at all, instead of the tar sands. The tar sands is a bigger problem because of humanity’s inexhaustible thirst for oil and natural gas. This is the same problem for the Bakken, West Texas and Eagle Ford formations. Because oil and gas are in demand, there is direct financial return, subsidized by our government, in exploiting these resources. The environmental communities have been unable to adequately articulate the unrecognized costs in terms of human health of these exploration, discovery and production operations—even if a small number of people are working on it. Successful efforts have taken a targeted, NIMBY approach, like the fight against frac sand mining in Allamakee County. By targeting Keystone XL, environmentalists set themselves up for failure. As a friend wrote me last night, “there are hundreds of pipelines in this country already—what’s one or two more?”

I also know unions favor building pipelines. Ken Sagar and Bill Gerhard laid out their position in a Dec. 11 opinion piece in the Des Moines Register. Only a cynic would say that Loebsack’s vote on Keystone XL was quid pro quo for union financial and canvassing support during the 2014 midterms. It is likely more complicated than that, but it had to have been a factor. Part of being Democratic is the fact that Democrats don’t always agree. Keystone XL and Iowa’s proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline are a prime examples of that. Loebsack’s framing of the explanation for his vote makes his sympathies for the union’s legislative priority clear.

“I was skeptical of side stepping the normal processes, but the jobs attached to building the Keystone Pipeline are too important and can no longer be tied to D.C. gridlock,” Loebsack said, according to Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times.

What I also know is October 2014 was the hottest month recorded on the planet since record-keeping began, according to the Washington Post. Yes, you skeptics, the world’s temperatures may have been higher or much colder in some prehistoric era. But what matters more is our civilization, and the changes produced by the industrial revolution are at risk. The underpinnings of basic facts about our lives, when the first frost comes, the amount of rainfall in a region, how we produce electricity, how we sequester carbon in the land, water sourcing, and others are all being undone.

It will take more than one vote in one governmental body to address these broader challenges. What I know is that is unlikely to happen in my lifetime unless we stop focusing on bright and shiny objects like Keystone XL.

20 reasons Not To Re-elect Branstad

branstad jobs numbers

A big thanks to Don Paulson of Muscatine for letting me use and combine his two LTTEs to his local paper into one complete list of Branstad “accomplishments.”

We need to elect Jack Hatch as Iowa’s governor! There are a lot of blemishes on the record of our current governor. Here are twenty reasons not to re-elect Terry Branstad-

#20- Branstad’s campaign pulled a dirty trick by creating a fake Jack Hatch website.

#19- Branstad actually hosted the Family Research Council’s “hate fest” in Ames earlier this year.

#18- At a Texas fundraiser Branstad admitted support for “tort reform”.

#17- In an insult to the principle of the separation of church and state, Branstad was an active participant and signed a state declaration for Bob Vander Plaats’s “Day of Prayer and Fasting”.

#16- The renovations at the Iowa Veterans Home are mired in controversy.

#15- Branstad’s Administration gave up a $1 million solar grant.

#14- His corporate tax cut will leave cities and counties short of funds.

#13- The Orascom boondoggle.

#12- With our roads and bridges falling apart, Branstad has shown zero leadership on raising the gas tax.

#11- Branstad has cost the taxpayers over $500,000 in legal fees in trying to unfairly get rid of Christopher Godfrey.

#10- Branstad illegally closed the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

#9- Branstad illegally closed 36 unemployment offices at the height of the Great Recession.

#8- Iowa’s water pollution and soil erosion are still a huge problem.

#7- Branstad’s Administration took the Chief Administative Law Judge’s position and made it susceptible to political pressure from the Governor’s office.

#6- Branstad still has close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

#5- Branstad has failed to cut the cost of state government. According to a study reported in the 8/31/14 Des Moines Register, state spending has gone up 17.5%.

#4- Another one of Branstad’s big goals was to create 200,000 jobs. So far the net number of jobs created since 2011 is around 74,000.

#3- Another big Branstad goal was to increase Iowa family incomes by 25%. Here was another miserable failure. According to the same Register study incomes have gone up just 0.17%.

#2- Branstad packed the Iowa Board of Medicine with people that did away with Planned Parenthood’s telemedicine arrangement.

#1- Instead of expanding Medicare, Branstad tried to push through a vastly inferior health insurance plan called the “Healthy Iowa Plan”.

#0- A state auditor report has found there have been 42 settlement agreements by this Administration totaling $2.4 million dollars.

These reasons should give everyone pause about re-electing Terry Branstad. Another reason may be his health.

At the first debate, Branstad’s shaking hands and erratic behavior was plainly evident. Does he have Parkinson’s disease or something like that? The rumors persist that if re-elected Branstad will step down after a time and allow the incredibly average Kim Reynolds to become governor without having to go through an election.

A Righteous Rant

voting question
The other day I was reading Dailykos when my eyes caught what looked to be an interesting story on the side list. So I clicked on it and found a very interesting rant by Charles Pierce on reasons why the Democrats need to come out loud and strong for what voting for Republicans actually leads to. The poster also faults Democrats for not attacking Republicans for their policies. Rather Democrats seem to take a “don’t rock the boat” stance.

We are old enough that we remember the proud liberals of old – Hubert Humphrey, Birch Bayh, Lyndon Johnson to name just a few, who campaigned, fought for and secured legislation for Medicare, legislation that ended Jim Crow laws and opened up voting for all Americans among other accomplishments. At the state levels we had liberals like Harold Hughes who fought for community colleges and loosening liquor laws.

At the very end of this article, the poster gives concrete examples of how Americans vote against themselves when they vote Republican:

Why Democrats don’t make these points is crazy. There is no good reason to vote for a Republican these days. If you live under a Republican government…

1) You’re more likely to have a shorter and unhealthier life. It’s not just about fighting Obamacare – it’s about having dirtier air, dirtier water as polluters run wild because of deregulation. It’s about going to work and risking your life because nobody is making sure your employer is running a safe operation.

2) Your employment chances are worse – because odds are those ‘job-creating’ tax breaks mean your state has lousy schools, crumbling roads, failing infrastructure, and employers who pay as little as possible while shipping money out of the local economy back to corporate HQ. Who wants to locate a business in a third-world style economy – aside from looters that is?

3) Tax breaks aimed at the rich and corporations mean everyone else has to pick up their share of the tab; higher license and permit fees, higher sales taxes – and everything takes longer if it involves government agencies with the workforce cut to the bone.

4) You get government of, by, and for the dollar: legislators and judges who put private gain over public interest, who measure virtue by how much money you have. When trouble strikes, you’re on your own.

I could go on and on – so why don’t Democrats campaign on the plain truth? If you live in a Red State, you’re in a race to the bottom.

Iowa has candidates who want to deliver the state into corporate hands, including our current governor.

Americans need to be re-educated that the Reagan line that “Government is the problem” is, like so much Republican rhetoric, a lie. For many problems that affect the population as a whole Government is the solution. Government is the way we, as a country, come together to solve our common problems whether they be at a local, state or national level. There is a great example going on right now with Ebola making its appearance in America.

Without true universal health care America is definitely at major risk for an epidemic. Those without access to medical care will not go immediately to a medical facility when sick. They can’t pay the bill. Government is the mechanism which can solve such a problem. Those who vote for Republicans leave this country at risk.

Vote Republican and you vote against yourself, your family including your parents (who may lose social security and medicare), your children (school, opportunity going out of the country), your grandchildren and their progeny. Voting Republican today has long range consequences.

Think about this before you vote.

I’ve Got A Thousand Million Questions

question
A line from that Moody Blues song “Question” –
“I’ve got a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war.”

And budgets and the wealth gap and the environment and health care and education and … well many more. Can I substitute for Dean Borg one week? Please?

1) Let’s start with the budget. Once again we appear to be moving to war with no talk of how we will pay for the bombs and the planes and the soldiers so on and so forth. Yet that will not stop us from going to war. However, we have bridges about to fall down, schools that are unsafe, sewer and water lines bursting around the country that are not being addressed. Why do we always have money for war, but no money for infrastructure needs?

2) An add on to the previous question, how will you pay for the next war? Please be specific on added taxes or program cuts and who will be affected.

3) Around the country we have seen corporations create major public damage to common goods like waterways, aquifers, land, health and more yet they walk away from responsibility for those damages. Tell me what you will do to relieve taxpayers of the burden of corporate irresponsibility?

4) As a country we have spent trillions to secure oil from the middle east through wars and standing armies and aid. It looks as though we will be in the middle east as long as we need oil. What are your proposals to get off the oil addiction?

5) who are you largest donors? What will they get for their investment in you?

6) When we go into war, the lives and bodies of soldiers are broken. We have been greatly negligent in repairing those broken lives and bodies. Would you favor a tax to pay for soldier maintenance throughout their lives before we send them into war?

7) Should there be a tax or cost added to products to pay for their impact on the environment?

8) Why do companies get tax breaks when they move jobs and facilities out of the US? What will you do to bring these jobs and facilities back? How will your approach work.

9) There is a new awareness of battered women in this country. What have you done in the past to address this problem and what do you propose that the government can do?

10) Finally – It has been nearly 2 years since the Sandy Hook massacre. We are killing each other as if we are in an internal war. What proposals will you advance to end this slaughter and tell us why they will work?

I could go on and I bet you could also. I really want to hear questions that affect our daily lives and see if the politicians understand what their platitudes mean.

“I’ve got a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war.”

Energy Transfer Partner’s Alarming Pipe Dreams For Iowa

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Routecontributed by Garry Klein

On July 9, the Des Moines Register reported that a Texas-based, Fortune 500 company, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), is planning to build a crude oil pipeline that would deliver a minimum of 320,000 barrels of oil 1,100 miles from the hydraulic fracturing Bakkan oil production fields in North Dakota to a relay facility in Patoka, Illinois and eventually to the Texas’s Gulf Coast refineries where much of it is likely to be exported. To do this, the company will lay a 30-inch diameter pipeline through 17 Iowa counties from Sioux City to Ft. Madison cutting a 150-foot wide right of way and a permanent 50 foot wide easement through public and private properties including miles of Iowa farmland. As a comparison, the ETP pipeline could carry three times the amount of oil than the proposed controversial Keystone XL.  http://oilpatchdispatch.areavoices.com/2014/06/26/energy-transfer-proposes-crude-oil-pipeline

Who is Energy Transfer Partners? ETP is a Dallas, Texas-based company that includes 17 subsidiaries that own or operate 35,000 miles of oil, gas, and liquid propane pipelines, as well as partnerships for distribution and retail operations. According to Zack’s Equity Research, ETP is “a master limited partnership (MLP) engaged primarily in the gathering, processing, storage and transportation of natural gas. Additionally, the partnership holds a 70% stake in Lone Star NGL LLC, a joint venture that owns and operates natural gas liquids (NGL) storage, fractionation and transportation assets in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.” Subsidiaries and partners are: CDM, ETC Endure Energy, ET Rover Pipeline, ETT, Fayetteville Express Pipeline, Florida Gas Transmission Company, Lone Star NGL, Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line, PEI Power, Regency Energy Partners, Sea Robin Pipeline Company, SEC, Southern Union Gas Services, Sunoco, Inc., Sunoco Logistics, Transwestern Pipeline Company, Trunkline Gas Company, and Trunkline LNG.  http://zcom.zacks.com/ZER/free_report

ETP was started by CEO Kelcey Warren and according to Forbes, “co-founded natural-gas pipeline firm Energy Transfer Partners with Ray C. Davis in 1995; he bought struggling gas assets and linked them into an efficient system.” Warren has been in the oil and natural gas business since 1978, as well as owning a record company in Austin, TX. Warren whose net worth by Forbes as of July 13, 2014 was estimated to be $5.8 billion (#116 on the list of wealthiest Americans). ETP itself had assets of over $43 billion as of December 2013.    http://www.forbes.com/profile/kelcy-warren/    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelcy Warren

Energy Transfer Partners have been growing steadily and in the last several years, thanks to a favorable domestic exploration environment and a need to transport more and more natural gas. Energy production is experiencing a huge boom. For example, in 2013, the United States overtook Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest oil producer as output from shale, much of it from the Bakkan and the Eagle Rock fields in Texas, has led according to leading U.S. energy consultancy PIRA. “U.S. output, which includes natural gas liquids and biofuels, has swelled 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2009, the fastest expansion in production over a four-year period since a surge in Saudi Arabia’s output from 1970-1974, PIRA said in a release on Tuesday. “While still the largest consumer of fuel, the rise of cheap crude available to domestic refiners has turned the United States into a significant exporter of gasoline and distillate fuels and China has surpassed the United States as the largest importer of crude.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/us-oil-pira-idUSL1N0I51IX20131015

A publicly- traded company, shares of ETP stock have increased from $20 a share in 1996 to over $58 at the close of the market on Friday, Sept. 12. http://finance.yahoo.com/

What should likely concern Iowans and the Iowa’s Public Utility Commission are ETP’s growing pains which have been documented in various publications and include a number of accidents that have led to environmental damage, widespread property damage, and even injury and loss of human life. Keeping in mind that pipeline companies do difficult and dangerous work, in fact, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the number of fatal work injury cases in the oil and gas extraction industries rose to all-time high of 138 in 2012 from 112 in 2011, the question should be how does ETP stack up both in terms of safety and environmental impact. From 2009 to 2012 the industry added 23 percent more workers but in 2012, 138 workers were killed on the job — an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009,” wrote Andrew Schneider and Marilyn Geewax for NPR . “In fact, the fatality rate among oil and gas workers is now nearly eight times higher than the all-industry rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers.”  http://www.npr.org/2013/12/27/250807226/on-the-job-deaths-spiking-as-oil-drilling-quickly-expands

To give a sense of proportion about property damage and workplace injury, according to ProPublica, Iowa had $10.7 million in damages between 2009 and 2012 and 4 injuries due to oil and hazardous material pipeline accidents. The Des Moines Register recent article more damningly stated “damages resulted in nearly $20 million in property damage, spilling a total of 10,712 gross barrels of hazardous liquids onto Iowa property, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.”  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2014/09/07/iowa

One of ETP’s subsidiaries Sea Robin Pipeline alone has had over $84 million in damages and 2 injuries in its past. Beyond that, are a series of incidents involving ETP projects that are summarized below:

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb

http://www.icis.com/resources/news/2008/08/28/9152431/central-texas-pipeline-explosion-contained/

Many of the incidents involving ETP cited here are at pressurized natural gas or liquid gas facilities, the question is what about crude oil facilities? The best example of what could be of concern does not involve ETP, who are relatively new at moving crude oil. However in Michigan one of ETP’s competitors, a Canadian firm, Enbridge is still dealing with the cleanup of the Kalamazoo River that was caused when it’s crude oil pipeline leaked there in 2010 causing over $809 million in clean up efforts. As Inside Climate News reported, “under orders from the EPA, Enbridge used an even more intrusive method in 2011 to clean up Talmadge Creek, a Kalamazoo tributary that received the brunt of the damage from the ruptured pipeline. The creek was so badly contaminated that Enbridge had to essentially rebuild two miles of it”   http://insideclimatenews.org/news/dilbit-6B-pipeline-kalamazoo-river-enbridge-oil-spill-michigan-keystone-xl-epa.

The parallels to the project that is planned for Iowa include the acquisition of farmland through eminent domain which as awarded by FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which must approve the projects by granting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. While the landowner must be compensated for the loss of access to their property, they have no say over where the pipeline is constructed. In an interesting twist, ETP is now in the same area in Michigan and is the process of putting new pipeline through the area where Enbridge is still cleaning up and is seeking FERC’s approval to access the existing right-of-ways.

Whether ETP will prove to be a good partner in Iowa is an unknown. As previously noted, their industry track record is far from stellar. One thing that is a certainty, the risks to the state’s natural resources and well-being of Iowans hang in the balance. Any decision that is made will have repercussions for many years to come. Concerned Iowans should visit the Iowa Public Utility Board who posted on their website:

“Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., has publicly announced a proposal to build a crude oil pipeline across Iowa (Bakken Pipeline), but the regulatory process of requesting a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board, pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 479B, for construction and operation of the proposed line has not begun. The Board will begin receiving statements in support or objections to the project when a case is initiated and an official record is opened with the Board. “ However, informational meetings are required in all counties that will be affected by the pipeline prior to application for a permit. owevwHMore on that process can be found at: http://www.state.ia.us/government/com/util/docs/permit_process.pdf .

Iowa Bakken Backers Braking

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RouteEnergy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company proposing to build a transfer pipeline from the Bakken/Three Forks shale oil production area in North Dakota, across 17 counties in Iowa, to its existing pipeline in Pakota, Illinois, announced yesterday it will delay its public information meetings until December, subject to approval of the Iowa Utilities Board. William Petroski of the Des Moines Register covered the story:

Energy Transfer Partners, which is planning a 1,100-mile crude oil pipeline that would cross through 17 Iowa counties, is pushing back its timetable for public information meetings on the project.

The public meetings, which will be held in each of the 17 Iowa counties, were expected to begin in late September and conclude in early October. They are now being moved to December to be respectful of the harvest season in Iowa and the Thanksgiving holiday, said Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for the Dallas pipeline company.

ETP burst on the scene with Iowans shortly after its board of directors approved construction of the Bakken Oil Pipeline in June. The original press release can be found here.

The company was formed in 2002, made an initial public offering in February 2006, and is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange. They are one of the companies that benefited from the development of West Texas, the Eagle Ford and Bakken oil and natural gas production fields. As their name suggests, they transfer oil and natural gas from extraction to market using pipelines. They are doing well financially, according to their latest earnings report which can be read here.

“The big challenge here in Iowa going forward over the next year is going to be to stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline,” said Ed Fallon on the Great March for Climate Action in Coralville last week. “That’s going to dissect the entire state from northwest to southeast, over 400 miles, cutting across people’s property in the worst possible angle. It’s a property rights issue but gosh it’s also an issue of are we going to continue to go in the wrong direction or continue to invest our time and effort and our resources into further developing wind and solar?”

While the angularity with which the proposed pipeline would cross Iowa may not be the main issue, Fallon touched on two things that are: property rights and alternatives to fossil fuels.

It is likely the property rights issue is what slowed the investors down, as it is and has been a key concern of the farming community.

In a July 14 article, Petroski reported Governor Branstad as being undecided on the pipeline, and wrote the following about property rights:

Branstad said eminent domain is a “controversial subject” but it can be warranted for a public purpose such as construction pipelines, roads or bridges. He said he prefers to see land acquired through negotiation in agreement between willing sellers and willing buyers.Governor Branstad said one of the purposes of eminent domain laws was to build public conveyances like pipelines, but he preferred companies like ETP resolved property issues through negotiation with landowners.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) has been a leader on property rights issues in the Iowa legislature, and has expressed concern about the intent of ETP with regard to eminent domain. Eminent domain issues led Kaufmann to join with Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and he is expected to be involved in public and private discussions regarding the Bakken Oil Pipeline.

If the Bakken Oil Pipeline is to be stopped, as Fallon indicated it needs to be, property rights issues among the farming community will become a key leverage point. Whether the concerns of Iowans over eminent domain can be assuaged by waiting to hold public meetings after the fall harvest is an open question.

In any case, ETP has the financial resources to see the pipeline through to its completion, so opposition must get beyond generalities about the oil itself, misinformation and hyperbole to focus on what can possibly stop the pipeline. Property rights is one thing that may work.

Friday In Iowa: Environmental Roundup

May Global ClimateWhile the planet experienced its hottest May in recorded history last month, the weather in Iowa was dry with normal temperatures. “Temperatures averaged 61.0°, right at normal, while precipitation totaled 3.16 inches or 1.40 inches below normal,” wrote state climatologist Harry Hillaker. “This ranks as the 66th warmest and 42nd driest May among 142 years of records.”

Iowans have an ability to appreciate our local weather, and set aside the broader picture of a warming planet and its related climate disruption to focus on things like the crop report. Aware of the devastation that can be brought by floods and drought, many Iowans are loathe to connect the dots between planet-wide systems and local conditions. During June, the weather in Iowa turned warm and wet, welcome rain after the dry spell and that may be enough worry for many Iowans. That said, there is a lot of environmental advocacy going on around the state and elsewhere.

Organizers have begun to arrive in Iowa to advocate for climate action during the 2014 midterm election. Notably, Zack Davis, formerly of Organizing for Action in Iowa, took a job with NextGen, billionaire Tom Steyer’s climate advocacy group. Alex Doherty, a field organizer for NextGen, arrived in Iowa City from Ohio this week. NextGen seeks to change the conversation on climate change. “NextGen is committed to supporting candidates, elected officials and policymakers that will take bold action on climate change,” according to their website. The U.S. Senate race in Iowa has the attention of many at the national level, and is likely to be a target for NextGen.

Citizens Climate Lobby, the carbon tax and dividend people, completed a two-day international conference in  Washington, D.C. on June 24. The purposes of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) are to create the political will for a stable climate and to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. There is an active CCL group in Iowa which includes State Senator Rob Hogg. Hogg spearheaded a just completed Climate PhoneAThon in which Iowans were encouraged to advocate for climate action with the Iowa delegation in the U.S. Congress.

On Tuesday, the Risky Business Project released an independent, non-partisan report on the economic impact of climate disruption. They echo what is becoming a familiar theme, the financial cost of inaction on climate change is too high. The group includes former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Mayor of New York City from 2002-2013 Michael R. Bloomberg, and Thomas P. Steyer, former Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. Read the press release, with links to the report here. It is undeniable that extreme weather causes economic disruption in Iowa. Two notable examples Iowa are the 2008 floods and the 2012 drought. Check out their website.

In other stories this week, the public hearing on a hog confinement operation near West Branch made national news, the Cedar Rapids Gazette opined on the Clean Water Act, and Muscatine residents will get their day in court about air qualityKWWL reported on the economic impact of climate disruption, covering the first-ever United Nations Environmental Assembly that convened in Nairobi, Kenya this week.

Buffeted by comfortable weather, there is a storm brewing in environmental advocacy, and Iowa is and will be a significant part of the action.

Erase The Keystone XL

keystone-donateDear Climate March supporters,

The Keystone Pipeline is a powerful symbol of the urgent necessity for climate action. On July 19, the Great March for Climate Action crosses the proposed path of the pipeline outside Bradshaw, Nebraska. We are working with Bold Nebraska on a major public event, and I hope you’ll consider attending to send the message that the pipeline must be stopped.

With a deep sense of urgency I need to ask you step forward and donate to our “Erase the Pipeline” fundraising drive. We have raised $14,363 of the $50,000 necessary to get us through Nebraska. Every time you help us reach a benchmark en route to our goal, we’ll erase a piece of the pipeline. Otherwise, other marchers and I will have to resort to pulling up the pipeline with our bare hands . . . like this:

Ed Fallon on the Great March for Climate Action

Ed Fallon on the Great March for Climate Action

I made an $18,000 personal commitment to helping the March by declining to accept a salary. I am challenging other marchers to deepen their commitment and make additional sacrifices to assure our success. I challenge you, our supporters, to do so as well. To donate now, click here.

In one-on-one conversations, in small groups, and through social and traditional media– the March is having a far-reaching impact. Thanks to all who have stepped forward to make this epic journey possible.

With dedication,
Ed Fallon

Click here to donate to the Great March for Climate Action.