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Letter To Iowa Landowners Along Proposed Pipeline Route

photo credit: wsj.com

Kelcy Warren’s Dallas, TX mansion-photo: wsj.com

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 fallonforum@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Ed Fallon

This Week On The Fallon Forum: Iowa Pipeline Walk, Wage Theft, Minimum Wage

fallon forumfallonforum.com

Saturday, March 7, 2015 – Bladensburg, Iowa
For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.

“Are you out for exercise or are ya broke down?” asked the bearded man driving a white pick-up truck sporting a thick coat of mud. I laughed and said, “Neither,” as I explained that I was walking the path of the proposed pipeline. “I don’t much like what this Texas billionaire has in store for Iowa,” I probed.

The driver said, “There’s only about six people who are going to get rich on this thing, and none of them live in Iowa.” He owned land just up the road, not quite on the pipeline route. He was noncommittal on what he would have done had the pipeline company wanted to come through his land. But he agreed emphatically with me when I said the pipeline wasn’t going to improve anyone’s property values.

As I walked 14.3 miles to Hedrick today, I passed about two dozen rural homes. Most of them had probably received a letter from the pipeline company. Perhaps some of them had already settled, maybe even received a check. There was little activity on the road, and I only passed one farmstead with anyone outside – two men removing boards from an old barn. One of them told me he was for the pipeline. I wanted to ask him why, wanted to talk further.

But I felt rushed to get to Hedrick in time for an appointment, and realized that even at three miles an hour, I was moving too fast. I needed to slow down. Tackling 15-16 miles per day left me little time to stop and talk with people along the route. I decided then and there that, even if it meant extending the walk another two weeks, I would cut back the distance to around 10 miles a day. That would give me an additional 2-3 hours of potentially quality conversation time.

It also made sense, I concluded, to carry with me a letter laying out my concerns, and the concerns of others I had met along the way. I wanted something I could give to people I met, or leave at their doors if they weren’t home. If you’d like to see what I’m sharing with landowners, click here. Your feedback is most welcome.

Ed Fallon, "People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life."

Ed Fallon, “People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life.”

This week’s Fallon Forum again features State Rep. Dan Kelley as host. I’ll call-in and talk about the walk for the first half of the program. Then State Rep. Bruce Hunter joins Dan to talk about minimum wage and wage theft.

The Fallon Forum airs Monday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) or online. Join the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122. You also can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Thanks!

Are Property Rights A Climate Action Tool?

Why Fossil Fuels? Why Not Sun and Wind?

Why Fossil Fuels? Why Not Sun and Wind?

For many, protecting property rights is high on the list of priorities. It’s the American way, shouldn’t it be so? A related and perhaps better question is whether climate advocates should use eminent domain as a tool to advocate against energy related projects.

Answers are elusive.

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Kelo v. City of New London that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible public use under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, property rights advocates were up in arms. There is a role for eminent domain when governments initiate the process, but private developers should have no such rights, they said.

Kelo may mean that when U.S. infrastructure projects are developed by foreign corporations (TransCanada Corporation’s Keystone XL Pipeline) or by U.S. corporations (Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline or Clean Line Energy Partners’ Rock Island Clean Line), foreign or private domestic entities have the right to initiate condemnation process and take easements and other property to build their projects.

In a March 2 article, in the Des Moines Register, William Petroski reported, “a majority of Iowans support plans for a crude oil pipeline in Iowa and a wind electricity transmission line project, but they overwhelmingly oppose the use of eminent domain for both projects.”

Politicians have argued that these projects create jobs, decidedly temporary ones, and in today’s economy people should accept such jobs, implying they should also cede eminent domain rights to U.S. or foreign corporations. This couldn’t have been clearer than the Keystone XL Pipeline bill passed in the U.S. Congress, vetoed by President Obama.

Kelo is not without emerging challenges.

On Feb. 18, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Clarke County Reservoir Commission v. Edwin D. and Deloris A. Robins Revocable Trust. The case is an appeal of an April 8, 2014 lower court decision wherein “Judge Sherman W. Phipps of the Fifth Judicial District of Iowa ruled in favor of CCRC’s ongoing Squaw Creek Watershed project, confirming it is for a public use, public purpose or public improvement as defined in the Iowa Code,” according to Amy Hansen of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. Developers seek to make a recreational lake much larger than the size required to serve water needs for the community to enhance property values as they sell adjacent lots.

Whatever the outcome of challenges to the Kelo decision, climate advocates are damned if they do and damned if they don’t regarding use of eminent domain as a tool. The contrast between the Rock Island Clean Line and the Dakota Access Pipeline exemplifies the problem.

On Aug. 20, 2014 while on the Great March for Climate Action, David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project said Iowa needed a way to get wind-generated electricity out of western Iowa to markets. His view is not unique among climate action advocates. The Rock Island Clean Line offers one such solution, but some property owners along the proposed route won’t allow an easement voluntarily. Osterberg said the Rock Island Clean Line wasn’t perfect, but it did offer a solution to shipping electricity to markets. The implication is that eminent domain may have to be used by a Texas company to build the project, although Osterberg did not say that specifically.

Use of eminent domain to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is favored by climate action advocates. Because Bakken Oil is dirty, advocates seek to obstruct access to market through Iowa. Eminent domain has made unlikely partners in the Iowa legislature, where Senator Rob Hogg, who has given more than 100 presentations for The Climate Reality Project founded by Al Gore and is author of America’s Climate Century, began partnering with Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a crop and livestock farmer and small business operator who is also a member of the Farm Bureau and National Rifle Association, to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline on eminent domain grounds.

As the Iowa Utilities Board evaluates the proposal for the Dakota Access pipeline, eminent domain has more traction than the argument that fossil fuels should be left in the ground because of their contribution to anthropogenic climate change. Climate action advocates favor the latter argument, but will support the former.

Property rights advocates like Kaufmann are unlikely to go both ways on the eminent domain issue.

“The Bakken (Dakota Access) Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line should pick out baby names and choose a honeymoon destination, because the two issues just got married,” said Kaufmann in a Jan. 31 interview with the Solon Economist. “You’ve got two different companies that want to ship two versions of energy. They’re both private Texas companies and both want to ship a product out of our state without allowing anyone in our state to tap into it.”

Use of eminent domain hinges upon “public use.” Set aside creation of a number of temporary jobs and the public use of conveyances for energy related products is elusive, especially with the Dakota Access Pipeline. In any case, corporations benefit more than people in both Iowa projects and with the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Property rights can be a tool for climate action advocates, but it has been an imperfect one at best.

Hughie Tweedy To Pipeline: “My Land Is Not For Sale – Not For A Million Bucks”

fallon forumfallonforum.com/

Beginning on March 2, 2015, Ed Fallon began a walk of 400 miles following the path of the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. He will walk from the southeast corner of Iowa to the northwest corner of the state, meeting with landowners and others to talk about the importance of respecting farmland and the imperative to stop the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Follow his walk on the Fallon Forum website. You can also keep track of Ed’s walk on Facebook and through regular email updates.   For Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.

Here is Ed’s post written yesterday, prior to embarking on the first step of his journey.

###

Hughie Tweedy fallonforum

Hughie Tweedy/photo credit fallonforum.com

I’ve not even taken the first step of my walk and I’m already meeting landowners opposed to the Bakken Oil Pipeline. Last night I had dinner with Hughie Tweedy at a Lee County farmhouse. Hughie is a colorful, fiercely independent farmer whose homestead is just a few farms west of the Mississippi River – and directly in the path of the pipeline. A forest that Hughie and his Dad before him planted and cared for would be torn to pieces if the pipeline were built. Hughie considers his land sacred, and cannot understand how anyone would condemn it for an oil pipeline.

Hughie informed the pipeline company that, in no uncertain terms, his land was not for sale, not for a million bucks. His neighbors don’t want a pipeline coming through their land either, but many feel helpless, resigned to the notion that “you can’t beat City Hall.”

Last night, I told Hughie about some of the nearly two dozen eminent domain battles I was involved with back in the 1990s and 2000s. I told him how farmers and landowners banded together to stop developers who wanted to take their land. Often it was for a lake or an airport, sometimes for a mall or a four-lane highway. When people in the path of these projects stood firm – and got others to stand with them – more often than not, they won.

Hughie is one of several Iowans featured in a documentary focused on Iowans fighting against the misuse of eminent domain. Last night, our evening went late as the documentary crew filled the living room with cameras and equipment and captured much of our conversation.

Today, I head down to the Mississippi River for the first leg of my journey. I’ll take with me cedar, sage and sweet grass given to me by my Native American friend from Earlham, Robert Knuth. Following Robert’s instructions, I’ll offer a prayer of protection for the land threatened by this pipeline, and a prayer that Hughie Tweedy and all caretakers of the land will continue to stand strong.

On today’s Fallon Forum, [see re-broadcast times below] I’ll call in with an update from the Iowa Pipeline Walk as State Representative Dan Kelley hosts the program in the KDLF studio. Also, Dan interviews the new director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Jeremy Rosen, about the surprising lack of pardons issued to federal prisoners by President Obama. Also, State Representative Ruth Ann Gaines joins Dan to talk about the achievement gap in education.

Ed Fallon, "People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life."

Ed Fallon, “People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life.”

The Fallon Forum airs live on Monday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) or online. Join the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122. You also can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Thanks!

Ed Fallon

Why Bakken Oil Is Dirty

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RoutePeople who care about hydraulic fracturing say the oil coming from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan is dirty. It is. All oil is dirty, and my two cents is we should leave what’s there in the ground. That won’t go over well in North Dakota where discovery of the Parshall Oil Field in 2006 created an oil boom.

What makes Bakken crude oil problematic is that it contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil shipped from wells in other regions of the country. This makes the oil more flammable, so when there is a train derailment, as there was in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec in 2013, the oil easily ignites and creates hell on Earth. (Read Adam Federman’s article in Earth Island Journal here).

Because so little public study has been conducted on Bakken crude oil and the operations that produce it, scientists don’t fully understand why the oil is so flammable. There are suspected causes.

The Bakken formation shale oil boom developed from almost nothing to more than a million barrels of crude oil daily in a short period of time. According to Federman, the infrastructure doesn’t exist in the Bakken to fraction off the VOCs as is done with other oil production facilities. The oil is shipped with the VOCs in it, making Bakken crude oil more flammable. There’s more Bakken crude oil today, it poses a real threat to public safety, and the transportation modes used are not regulated well enough for the commodity’s characteristics.

One of the frequent concerns in the Bakken is there are not enough suitable rail cars available to meet shipping needs. Lack of transportation capacity to get the oil to market is an issue. This created a business opportunity, and that’s what the Dakota Access pipeline is about.

Debate over trucks vs. rail vs. pipeline to transport Bakken crude oil is wasted time. Each mode of transportation has its own issues, and most transportation experts agree pipeline is the safest of the modes of transportation. Regardless of transportation mode, if there is a spill, first responders will be required to deal with a commodity on which they have in most cases received inadequate training. That problem could conceivably be fixed, but awareness of the issue hasn’t adequately emerged as we wait for the Iowa Utilities Board’s public healing on the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Combine the increased flammability of Bakken crude oil with lack of proper shipping regulations and capacity, and we know why it is called dirty oil.

BP Gets Off – A Nation Of Laws?

Ed Schultz did yeoman’s work over the past couple of weeks following up on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. As noted in the video above the perpetrator of the spill, BP, did all it could to avoid restitution for their damage. Instead of paying for the damage they caused, they sunk money into lies and propaganda through advertising. They also greased the skids with “campaign contributions” to politicians who have worked hard to get BP off and allow them to get drilling rights once more in the Gulf and in the Atlantic. All the while the American public saw the horror of BP’s negligence slowly morph on their TV screens into BP, a company that cares.

During 2012 Americans were able to learn a great deal about how vulture companies like Bain Capital, at one time headed by then candidate Mitt Romney, would take over companies and essentially strip them of any assets. Among those assets were pension funds that workers had planned to live on in their old age. In the case of Bain victim companies, pension funds would be raided and added to the payments Bain extracted from the company. Thus Bain got some huge checks, many lives were ruined (insignificant no doubt in the Bain way of thinking), and the American taxpayer gets a bill to make up some of the pension “raided” – stolen actually.

Since the pension funds were part of the compensation for work done by company employees every bit as important as their weekly pay, medical benefits and vacations, “raiding” the pension funds is simply a polite term for theft. Why laws were passed for legalizing this theft is simply unbelievable. Bain had a fairly structured way of taking their targeted companies apart and stealing the future from the companies employees was simply part of the plan.

What was good for Bain also appears to be good for governments. Last year we witnessed the dismantling of Detroit. Among the assets seized to pay Detroit’s debt were the pension funds. Funds that police and fire fighters and all sorts of municipal workers had planned to be there when their so-called “golden” years was gone. Some of these folks had worked for the city for as long as 40 years.

In New Jersey last week, Presidential wannabe Chris Christie was handed a judgment that said he must fully fund pension funds. When offered a plan that would raise taxes on the wealthy that would raise the money needed to fund the pension fund, Christie immediately rejected it.

In Illinois new Republican Governor Bruce Rauner wasted little time in going after public pensions. Even though most public pensions are part of a negotiated contract which we may assume are negotiated in good faith with access to viable fiscal projections. Seems like Rauner wants to unilaterally change the contract like so many of his Republican gubernatorial colleagues across the country have been doing. And of course while he can’t find money in the budget to pay legally mandated payments, he can find oodles of money to cut his own taxes and those of his rich buddies.

And let us not forget our governor for life Terry Branstad. While the pension story here in Iowa is good so far, we still have yet to hear anything on Branstad’s paying released employees last year with moneys that seemed to have been shifted illegally.

When I hear some politician, usually Republican, rail about this country being a nation of laws I just have to shake my head. “We are all equal in the eyes of the law” the old story goes. But there is hardly a person among us who can’t tell a story right off the top of their head of some well connected person who got a big break. Still waiting for one person to be arrested and tried for the financial meltdown in 2007 and 2008? So am I. Maybe at least a few real questions of those who led us into an illegal war in Iraq? Still waiting.

In some of the cases above, actions taken were made legal even though they are, to many, repugnant and unethical. When you have money and can buy some influence, you get favors. The reason I used so many stories of workers having their pensions, often pensions they contributed to, flat out stolen from them is to bring it home to the reader. Yes, they are just like you and me. If you think you have a good job with a solid company or a government pension awaiting your golden years don’t be surprised if you wake up one day to find all that money in the back pocket of some Wall Street hedge fund manager and you looking at working until you die.

And when some politician, particularly a Republican tells me they are a Christian, I think of Ghandi’s statement: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If you claim to follow the Ten Commandments then do something to stop the unethical laws, stop the thievery, stop the discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or skin color. In short let the beliefs you profess actually guide you.

Oh – what’s this? Illinois Congress member Aaron Shock living the high life on the taxpayer’s dime and campaign funds? Que surprise? Hey just rub our noses in it knowing that enough campaign commercials and you will forget – you always do.

Road To #COP21 Comes Through Iowa

WhyWhyNot-hdr-clean_1On Tuesday, The Climate Reality Project announced three North American trainings, one of which will take place within a short commute from my home. Here is the announcement email I received from colleague Mario Molina:

Dear Paul,

Our New Delhi, India training is coming to a close, and we have some important news to share with you as we continue along the Road to Paris.

We’re hosting three trainings in North America this coming year — and we’re going to need your help to grow the Climate Reality Leadership Corps! Below are the upcoming training locations and dates:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: May 5-7
Toronto, Canada: July 9-10
Miami, Florida: September 28-30

Will you share this exciting information with your networks today? We know some of our best new Climate Leaders will be sent to us from you, and we trust your judgment. As a matter of fact, our training in New Delhi boasted the highest ever referral rate from existing Climate Reality Leaders.

Each one of these trainings is a key stop along The Road to Paris, and it’s extremely important that by the time COP21 descends on Paris, we have a strong, loud, and dedicated group of leaders to demand climate action.

Training applications are now open, so don’t let these future leaders wait. Their opportunity to make a difference in this crucial fight for a safe climate could be waiting in Cedar Rapids, Toronto, or Miami.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to climate action, and for inspiring your friends, family, and colleagues to join you.

Warm Regards,

Mario E. Molina
Climate Reality Leadership Corps Director
The Climate Reality Project

the-climate-reality-project-logo

Is Iowa Prepared For A Megadrought?

State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City)

State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City)

State Senator Joe Bolkcom, member of the natural resources and environment committee, spoke last Tuesday at the capitol about environmental issues.

“Is there anything related to the environment you would like to see covered in greater detail?” I asked.

“There are some questions around megadroughts coming mid-century,” he said. “Have we dedicated enough attention and resources to protecting underground water systems?”

Bolkcom pointed to a number of concerns: recent defunding of the Department of Natural Resources underground water monitoring system; gaining an understanding of the water withdrawal rate for ethanol plant operations; a needed review of policy by the Environmental Protection Commission; a review of DNR regulations pertaining to water permitting; the need for a geological survey of water resources, the Silurian and Jordan aquifers specifically; and the impact of water usage by data centers such as Google and Facebook. He had given the matter considerable thought.

“Should we have other thoughts about the Jordan and Silurian aquifers as we head toward 2050?” Bolkcom asked. “Today, once an industrial user secures a permit, they can withdraw as much water as they want.”

There were more questions than answers during my brief time with Bolkcom, but his thrust was that Iowa needs to do more to ensure resiliency during extended drought conditions.

It is difficult to forget the severe drought of 2012. Governor Branstad called a special meeting of agriculture groups in Mount Pleasant that July. (Read my coverage of that meeting here.) Climate change was completely absent from the discussion, even if farmers had to deal with its enhancement of drought conditions. To paraphrase the reaction, farmers planned to plow the crop under, capitalize the loss, and plant again the following year.

What if the drought extended more than a season or two? What if it lasted for decades? According to a study released this month that’s what we can expect.

“Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains during the last half of this century could be drier and longer than drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years,” according to a Feb. 12 press release issued in conjunction with a new study led by NASA scientists.

“Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less,” said Ben Cook, climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City, and lead author of the study. “What these results are saying is we’re going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years.”

When Bolkcom referred to megadroughts, this is what he meant.

The potential exists for megadroughts more severe than any in recent history, according to the study published in Science Advances by Cook, Toby R. Ault and Jason E. Smerdon.

“Future drought risk will likely exceed even the driest centuries of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (1100–1300 CE),” the authors wrote. “The consistency of our results suggests an exceptionally high risk of a multidecadal megadrought occurring over the Central Plains and Southwest regions during the late 21st century, a level of aridity exceeding even the persistent megadroughts that characterized the Medieval era.”

Whether Bolkcom’s questions find answers is uncertain, however he is alone among legislators I spoke with in asking them. He was correct that members of the public haven’t engaged on something the legislature should be taking up during its 86th General Assembly.

Finding A New World? Harder Than Some Think!

treating your home like we treat the earth
Tip of the hat to www.dailykos/comics

As some of you may have read here Thursday Iowa is in the process of “studying” allowing the Bakken Oil to build a pipeline across Iowa. Minnesota is also looking at a pipeline from North Dakota crossing their land.

Rivers in West Virginia have had all sorts of chemicals and sludge dumped into them as though they were corporate toilets. Yet even with all that the West Virginia legislature is discussing rolling back environmental provisions even further.

Republicans have been targeting the Environmental Protection Agency from the day it was conceived by, oddly enough, Richard Nixon’s Administration. While crying about environmental laws in this country, corporations take their processes to countries with few laws so they can pollute freely over there.

One of the world’s largest cities is running out of water due to climate change, a condition many on the right refuse to acknowledge.

Oklahoma now has daily tremors, a condition that did not exist before fracking. Across the country we see many youtube videos of folks lighting their tap water on fire thanks to fracking.

In Iowa the water works in Des Moines is resorting to the courts to try to force the sate or county governments to enforce some standards on nitrates.

After many years companies are finally slowly taking micro beads out of cleansing products after these products had done much damage to fish and other aquatic wildlife.

And of course we are approaching the 5 year anniversary of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (here is a story on the anniversary last year). Over the years the effects of the spill have slowly faded from the collective memory. The perpetrators have slowly been released from paying for the damages they caused. And projects with huge potential damage are in the works or being planned with little thought toward recovery in the case of problems. Call me old and cranky, but like many I don’t think that a company or a person should leave an area in worse shape than it was before they came. At the very least it should look like no one was there.

The earth is closing in on some tipping points. We may already be too late to reverse climate change with all the feared effects of wild weather and drought. Overpopulation has put a huge stress on earth’s resources. But some of the greatest stresses that the earth must endure are those put on it by industrial polluters. Using the skies, the rivers and the oceans as their toilets they have endangered much of the life on earth and their own species.

It is like they believe there is some kind of an escape hatch, some type of a new America that they can run from the mess they have made. News flash folks: they can’t and neither can we. The earth is full. There are no undiscovered lands on the earth. There are no “nearby” planets that can sustain life. There are no remote and undiscovered planets that could sustain our type of life. Even if there were planets we knew of, how would we get there?

Some subscribe to a theory that a supreme being will swoop down and make it all good. Aside from some mythological books written in the iron age there is no proof nor any real expectation that such will happen.

What we are left with then is humanity’s collective desire to survive on the one world we have and the only world we will have into the foreseeable future. Few want to see their children or grandchildren suffer. People will sacrifice today for their posterity. Our forefathers and mothers did so. Before we have pipelines we need real plans for clean up and restoration. Resources (money) for such restoration must come from those who stand to gain from such projects and not from the taxes of the citizens.

But our political systems worldwide are geared to serve those who have money and power. This has always been true to some degree, but the Supreme Court took the lid off a few years back wight the Citizens United v. FEC decision. Now we find power pretty much fully controlled by those with money.

One thing for sure. No one dies from a spill of sunlight.

Bakken Oil Pipeline Update

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RouteThere has been a lot of news about the Dakota Access Pipeline (aka Bakken Oil Pipeline) during the last three months. Where does the project stand? Here’s a Blog for Iowa update based on information gathered this week.

On Jan. 20, Dakota Access, LLC, an Energy Transfer Company, filed its petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit with the Iowa Utilities Board in Docket No. HLP-2014-0001 according to Donald Tormey, IUB spokesperson.

After the petition has been fully reviewed by board staff and is determined to be sufficiently in order, an order will be issued by the board setting the date for a public hearing.

“Due to the size of this project, the petition review process will take considerable time and there is no certain way to predict an exact hearing date,” Tormey said. “When a hearing date is established, it will be posted on the Board’s hearing and meeting calendar on the IUB website.”

During a meeting with state Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) Tuesday, he said a bill has been introduced into the legislature to increase the amount of liability insurance for companies seeking to pursue large projects such as the Bakken Oil Pipeline. State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) said he is seeking House support for a similar bill.

Wally Taylor and Pam Mackey Taylor, representing the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, were at the capitol soliciting signatures on a letter to the IUB opposing approval of the Dakota Access project. The draft letter cited four reasons for opposition. The pipeline would provide no benefit to Iowans, landowners would be forced to give up their land by eminent domain, pipelines leak, and the pipeline will further enable this country’s addiction to oil.

A new pipeline will delay the U.S. transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles according to the Sierra Club.

The period for filing comments, objections and letters of support is still open according to Tormey. Anyone seeking to file objections, comments, and letters of support in this docket may do so by using the Iowa Utilities Board’s Electronic Filing System (EFS), citing the docket number, and clicking on the “Submit Filing” tab and following all instructions to log-in as a guest. Persons lacking computer access may file written comments by mailing them to the Iowa Utilities Board, Executive Secretary, Docket No. HLP-2014-0001, 1375 E. Court Ave., Rm 69, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0069

The direct link for electronic submissions is here. To view other filings, click here.