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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.

EPA Clean Power Rulemaking

Drought Stressed Corn

Drought Stressed Corn

“The United States has a moral responsibility to act on climate,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday, June 2. Her agency proposed what they described as “a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants.” New rules would potentially cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. We couldn’t agree more with the need for action, yet the regulations proposed by EPA to reduce emissions were underwhelming.

While it is important to support the administration initiative, some bandwidth must be reserved for the rest of the fight regarding mitigating the effects of climate change. To serve that purpose, Blog for Iowa made this list of links as a reference for readers.

The proposed rules are here along with a number of additional EPA links to related topics.

The draft rule will be politically contentious, as has been almost every proposal, appointment or executive action by the Obama administration. The Washington Post presents a step by step explanation of the rule making and political fight over it. The article is titled, “Everything you need to know about the EPA’s proposed rule on coal plants.”

Dr. Wendy Ring of Climate 911 recently rode her bicycle across the country, including stops in Iowa, to discuss negative health outcomes related to climate change. “We can do better,” said Dr. Ring of the EPA proposed rules. “It is technically and economically feasible for the U.S. to do much better.” She provided the following links to support her argument:

Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy” by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030” by The American Solar Energy Society.

The Solutions Project’s 50 state plans for conversion to 100% renewable energy.

There is a lot to learn about the proposed EPA rules, yet perfect can be the enemy of good. It is time to act on climate, and the administration initiative, while not as good as one hoped, is better than no action at all.

Here is the White House’s web page on the new rules along with social media share buttons.

Organizing for Action has also asked for support here.

On Thursday, U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley released a statement on the proposed rules here.

Hit the follow button to stay tuned to Blog for Iowa’s continuing coverage of the EPA rule making on emissions from power plants.

Iowa’s Clean Water v. Factory Farms

Factory farms poisoning IowaThe Sierra Club Iowa Chapter has waited since September 2007 when it filed a dedelegation petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop and approve rules requiring concentrated animal feeding operations – particularly swine operations – to comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements.  Now is your chance to provide input on the rule.

The proposed changes are required by state law and satisfy the terms of a work plan the DNR and the EPA signed in September 2013.  The proposed rule changes would adopt federal regulations requiring totally roofed, concentrated animal feeding operations to comply with federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. The changes would also require animal feeding operations that have NPDES permits to comply with federal setback requirements for land application of manure.

EPA reviewed DNR enforcement records and concluded that DNR does not adequately enforce the Clean Water Act against CAFOs that discharge waste into our waters.

Tell DNR to improve its enforcement program regarding CAFOs.

EPA expects DNR to adopt rules on issuing NPDES permits to CAFOs that discharge (accidently or on purpose). NPDES permits are one of the most important tools used to control water pollution.

Tell DNR must adopt the strongest rule possible to ensure every CAFO that discharges has an NPDES permit.

The rule must include DNR’s building a comprehensive, user-friendly, online database of manure spills, Clean Water Act inspections and permitting so that everyday Iowans can audit the DNR’s inspections and permitting decisions and hold them accountable.

Tell DNR to maintain a database for the public to review inspecting and permitting decisions.

The DNR will host six public hearings and is asking for public input on proposed rule changes regarding concentrated animal feeding operations.

The Chapter encourages you to attend in person any of the meeting DNR has scheduled across the state.  You can comment in person or in writing.

May 6 at 6 p.m., Lime Creek Nature Center, 3501 Lime Creek Road, Mason City
May 7 at 6 p.m., Clay County Administration Building, Boardroom, 300 W. Fourth St., Spencer
May 8 at 6 p.m., Carroll County Courthouse, Meeting Room, 114 E. Sixth St., Carroll
May 9 at 10 a.m., Wallace State Office Building, Fourth Floor Conference Room, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines
May 12 at 6 p.m., Northeast Iowa Community College, Dairy Center, Room 115, 1527 Highway 150 S., Calmar
May 13 at 6 p.m., Washington County Conservation Board, Education Center, Marr Park, 2943 Highway 92, Ainsworth.

Neila Seaman, MPA, Chapter Director

Please share this message with your networks.


Every Day Should Be Earth Day

earth day 1970 According to, every year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day.  That fact in itself is cause for hope.

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:

Have you taken action for clean water?

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.


Earth Day: The History of a Movement

Eastern Iowa Sustainability Lectures

the-climate-reality-project-logoPaul Deaton of Blog for Iowa will give a series of four public lectures about personal finance, the environment and nuclear abolition between April 19 and 24. If you are nearby, please consider attending one of these events:

April 19, 11 a.m.: “Alternative Living: Focus on Finances” with Solon resident and writer Paul Deaton. Paul gave up his 9 to 5 job to focus on his writing. He will describe his creative methods of putting food on the table and how he covers his expenses to survive and thrive. Part of the American Library Association Money Smart Week, Solon Public Library, 320 W. Main St., Solon, Iowa.

April 19, 1 until 3 p.m.: Soap Box Speech on the environment: “Mount Tambora, Mount St. Helens and Nuclear Famine” at the Celebration of Life at Old Brick, 20 East Market St., Iowa City, Iowa.

April 23, 6:30 p.m.: “Earth Week: Climate Reality in Iowa” at 220East, 220 East Fourth St., Waterloo, Iowa.

April 24, 6:30 p.m.: “Earth Week: Climate Reality in Iowa” at the Independence Public Library, 805 1st St. East, Independence, Iowa.

For more information email Paul Deaton here.

What Would The Greatest Generation Do?

rosie_the_riveterI will admit from the outset that I have not read Tom Brokaw’s book on “The Greatest Generation.” However, I have heard many discussions of those years and indeed did grow up in the home with parents from that generation. Of course our neighborhood and school were filled with parents who were the core of that group. Living in Iowa City we were right in the midst of some of the thousands who came to the University of Iowa on the GI Bill. Some of my best friends’ parents were in Iowa City on the GI Bill.

From what I understand, the “Greatest Generation” had three life experiences in common. The first was coming of age during the Great Depression. The hard times when food was hard to come by for many. Having some faith in leadership and democracy were essential for digging out of the Depression eventually.

The second life experience that this generation shared was the horrors of World War Two. No matter whether you were in the war itself or back in the US, nearly every American was involved in the war effort and most had kin doing the fighting. This was an experience that was fully shared among the population.

The last shared experience was remaking society and rebuilding after the war. Once again, this was a task that each and every American was involved in. The aforementioned GI Bill was one of the cornerstones of gearing up for a peacetime economy and staving off future wars. Americans of that generation once more took up this task almost as though it was another war. They started businesses, joined groups, sat on school boards and city councils and state governments – one way or another they worked together to make America into the the greatest country that ever existed on earth.

There was an equality among the working folks and those who ran the businesses and shops. There were common purposes and there were little to no barriers between classes. (I must make a point here that this was in white America. The barriers between races were fraying and ready to blow). Go into a restaurant or a bar on a Saturday night in the Midwest and there would be a good mix of folks from all walks of society.

The difference in wages and salaries was not so great that one group could exclude itself from society. Besides, those folks in the bar or restaurant were probably their customers or neighbors. There also seemed to be a shared general vision for the country – building highways and great buildings, homes and good schools. One major focus was that the kids would get what they didn’t have – good education and medical care and no fear of starving in the land of plenty. What helped make the Greatest Generation great was their ability to prepare for the future and their willingness to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. They also created jobs in America for Americans.

So now we dial forward fifty to sixty years. As often happens the generation below that first generation doesn’t share that vision and the second generation removed has almost no clue as to why anyone would have had such a vision in the first place. The things that drove that first group has never even been experienced by them, so they have no way to relate to the hunger, the fear, the threats that drove their grandparents. Any connection that existed between business owners and their workers has long been stripped away so that the only commonality they have is a paycheck.

And that common vision for society is long gone. The “we are all in it together” atmosphere has long since been replaced by the attitude of “I am getting mine and screw everyone else.” The only vision many have, especially in the wealthy classes is that next $ sign. Any vision that includes giving back to society is quickly blown away. For the past 35 years these folks have been in charge of government and have turned a government that once responded to people into one that is beholden to those with dollars. Those with the dollars are well aware of that and extract favors for the dollars they grant.

We continue to be mired in a recession that is exacerbated by Republicans in Congress who want to punish America for electing Obama. As I think back on those of the Greatest Generation who served from town councils on up to the White House and who laid out a vision of a future America, I am sure that they did not want to build a great country only to give it away piece by piece to the rich and damn all others. We should be in outrage about what has happened to our parents’ and grandparents’ dreams.

There is plenty of work that needs to be done in this country to get back in line with the essence of the dreams the Greatest Generation had. We are no longer #1 in anything but war. There is work to be done to bring our health care system up to where it should be with access for all. There is work to be done in replacing aging water lines and sewer pipes and replacing them with environmentally sound systems. The pipes and sewer lines should be made in the United States. There is work to be done to run fiber optic line to make the internet accessible to all as a common carrier. Their is work to be done in upgrading rail as the most efficient means of transport for materials and possibly people.

One of the most important places where there is work to be done is to get off our dependence on fossil fuels and create the next generation of power sources. This alone would create a huge amount of jobs. If we couple that with a policy that buys American made first, we would have a true “win-win” for the USA.

America faced up to the challenges after World War 2 and they were not afraid to be bold. They also were not afraid to tax equitably for the good of society. We have been at a cross roads for awhile. So far we have let the wealthy choke the rest of us so they can keep their wealth while polluting the environment and starving their employees. It is now time to act as the Greatest Generation once did. It is time to elect leaders who will lead the planning and execution of our next resurgence for America.

Hogg, Kaufmann Oppose Keystone XL

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

Joint Statement by Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Bobby Kaufmann on Keystone XL Pipeline:


DES MOINES– Two Iowa state legislators– Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) and Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton)– joined today to call on Congress to oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because of the expected use of eminent domain in the development of the project.

“I urge you to stand with those land-owners who do not want this pipeline running through their property,” wrote Rep. Kaufmann in a letter to Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s Second Congressional District.  “The interests in oil profits should not supersede the rights of property owners.”

 “It is not in America’s national interests to allow a foreign oil company to condemn American farms and ranches to take foreign oil to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global market,” wrote Sen. Hogg in a letter to Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa’s First Congressional District.  “The Keystone pipeline threatens America’s land, water, and wildlife– Congress should say no, the State Department should say no, and President Obama should say no.”

Senator Hogg and Representative Kaufmann’s letters were also submitted to the U.S. State Department in advance of the March 7 deadline for public comments on the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal.  The public can submit comments at the following web address:

Download PDF of Senator Hogg’s letter to Rep. Bruce Braley here.

Download PDF of Rep. Kaufmann’s letter to Rep. Dave Loebsack here.

Why We Must Say No To Frac Sand Mining In Iowa

fracking-hell-1Say NO to FRAC SAND MINING

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.


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:

Previous BFIA posts about fracking in Iowa

Fracking Industry Mining Iowa’s Sand Bluffs

Allamakee County Just Says No To Fracking…For Now

Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

No Fracking Way!