Hold Exxon accountable for climate change coverup

Dear Friends,

2015-05-22 ed arrested 13492_10153321632537500_6688470756927352338_n

Photo by Troy Church, May 18, 2015

A year ago today, I was arrested by my friends with the Iowa State Patrol because Governor Branstad refused to hear the stories of landowners I’d met during my 400-mile walk along the Bakken Pipeline route. Thanks to a coalition of landowners, farmers, tribes, property-rights advocates and environmentalists, this fight is still on. For a handcuffed-stroll down memory lane, from my visit to the Governor’s office to the Polk County Courthouse, click here, here, here and here.

In other news, Bold Iowa has joined the national mobilization to hold Exxon accountable. Click here for the op ed I wrote as it appears in today’s Des Moines Register, or continue reading . . .

Democrat or Republican. Cubs or Cardinals. Tea or coffee. Regardless of where you come down on life’s biggest decisions, here’s a simple concept we all should be able to get behind:

When people behave badly, they need to be held accountable.

Since corporations are people, as we learned from Mitt Romney a few years ago, corporations who behave badly likewise need to be held accountable.

Alas, by now I should know better. Yet, it still surprises me when tough-love politicians — i.e., those who favor corporal punishment, the death penalty, drug testing of welfare recipients, etc. — want to let corporate offenders off the hook with a slap on the wrist, or more commonly, a slightly-smaller tax handout.

Exxon-Bold graphicAmong corporate bad-boys, Exxon Mobil, America’s largest oil company, recently moved to the top of the list, ahead even of Big Tobacco, Big Bank and the NFL.

How badly has Exxon behaved? Well, if you thought Big Tobacco was deceitful for lying about its product while destroying enough lungs to kill 100 million people in the 20th century alone, that pales alongside Exxon’s assault on every lung on the planet.

Last fall, a brilliant piece of investigative journalism conducted by InsideClimate News revealed shocking truths about what Exxon knew about “the emerging science of climate change. The story spans four decades, and is based on primary sources including internal company files dating back to the late 1970s, interviews with former company employees, and other evidence…”

Forty years ago, Americans were mostly one big, happy family of climate deniers. Who could fault us? With little information available to the average person, climate change appeared to be but a muddled theory, potentially no more valid than spontaneous generation or canals on Mars.

But back then, there were those who knew exactly what was happening, including the top brass at Exxon. Like Big Tobacco, instead of dealing responsibly with the findings of its own scientists and researchers, Exxon worked “at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day,” the report found.

Americans should be outraged. And the investigation launched by InsideClimate News last year should be just the beginning.

And it is just the beginning. Attorneys general across the nation are conducting their own state-by-state investigations. To his credit, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has expressed interest as well. Hundreds of Iowans have signed petitions encouraging Miller to investigate Exxon with the same tenacity he brought to bear with the tobacco lawsuit several years ago.

(On May 25 at 11 a.m., a coalition of Iowa organizations plans to present Miller with petitions calling for such an investigation. Details here. Please join us!)

Of course, not all Iowans agree. Just as Big Tobacco had its friends, so does Exxon.

Enter Iowa Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison. In his recent guest column, Holt defends Exxon, arguing against “using the legal system to silence businesses that do not subscribe to government’s conclusions on climate change.”

Silencing Exxon? Hardly. We want them to speak loudly — and truthfully — about everything they knew about climate change, and when they knew it. And we want them to speak before a court of law, if it comes to that.

These state-by-state investigations are not about suppressing dissent. From the perspective of an attorney general, charged with being the chief legal advocate of the public good, an investigation of this nature is about consumer protection, about holding accountable businesses that mislead the public.

Over the years, Iowa Attorney Tom Miller has done an admirable job in that role. Here’s hoping he’ll rise to the challenge again when it comes to Exxon.

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Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Running for their lives

Dear Friends,

It was a great honor to be invited to speak in Omaha last week at the conclusion of “Run For Your Life,” a 500-mile relay organized by tribal youth in opposition to the Bakken Pipeline. I was deeply inspired by the commitment and passion of these young people.

 

Run for your life video screen shot on new laptop 5-3-16

Please take six minutes to watch this video — Run for Your Life Relay Against Dakota Access — produced by my coworker, Shari Hrdina. I hope you’ll take an additional minute to share it with others.

Here’s an abridged version of the speech I gave:

“Iowan pipeline fighters have come here today to stand with you in opposition to the Bakken Pipeline. We are from many groups, including Bold Iowa, the Bakken Resistance Coalition and the Meskwaki People.

Marching at Omaha Rally 5-3-16

Relay runners lead the march to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Omaha.

“We represent farmers, landowners, tribes, environmentalists. Many of us have been in this fight for almost two years. In Iowa, we continue to stand strong against the Bakken Pipeline. And we honor the strong men and women who have accomplished something great — this run of 500 miles.

“Thirty years ago, I came here with another group of Iowans to greet 600 people with the Great Peace March, who had walked from Los Angeles on their way to Washington, DC. Two years ago, I came to Omaha from the other direction, on foot myself this time, walking from Los Angeles with 35 others on the Great March for Climate Action.

“It seems that every time I come to Omaha it has something to do with walking or running. This run you have done is truly a great thing. You sent a message to the Corps and to the President. You sent a message that was heard across the Missouri River and beyond.

“Last year, when I walked the Iowa portion of the pipeline route, I got to meet the people who live and work directly in its path. I talked with hundreds of farmers, landowners and residents of nearby towns. Very few of them want this pipeline. Even most landowners who signed an easement don’t want this pipeline.

Omaha Rally Bobbi speaks 5-3-16

Bobbi Jean Three Legs, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, addresses the Army Corps of Engineers and the crowd at the rally.

“I heard story after story of people who were lied to by Dakota Access, who felt cajoled, pressured, even harassed. The company reps would say that the oil was going to stay in the U.S. They would lie about the safety of pipelines, and   about how landowners would get very little compensation if the company had to come after them using eminent domain.

“There was even one farmer in southeast Iowa who refused to grant the company an easement. Well, they offered him teenage prostitutes if he would sign their papers. This company has no moral compass.

“That southeast Iowa farmer is still standing strong. And many others continue to stand strong. In Iowa, over 150 landowners refuse to sign away their land to Dakota Access. Nine landowners are part of a lawsuit that makes a very, very strong case that eminent domain cannot be used by a private, for-profit company.

“In Iowa, we continue to fight. Every week, there are multiple actions happening across the state, including a vigil last week in Des Moines in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. And soon, I will send a letter to President Obama signed by over 20 Iowa organizations, the same letter we delivered to the White House two weeks ago and signed by Jane Kleeb, Dallas Goldtooth, Frank James and me, a letter asking the President to tell the Corps to do its job.

“Yes, we remain strong. But this great thing you have done, this run of 500 miles, makes us stronger. It inspires us to continue to fight the Bakken Pipeline in court, through pressure on the Corps of Engineers, through the media — and if it comes to it, through standing in front of the bulldozers when they come to tear up our land. Farmers who’ve never even had a speeding ticket tell me they’ll stand with us to block the bulldozers.

“The writing is on the wall. Pipeline companies are losing. Just in the past month, people standing together stopped the Constitution Pipeline in New York, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in New England, and the Palmetto Pipeline in Georgia.

“So, rest, tired runners. But only for a day or two. Because we need you. We need your strength, your vision, your minds to win.

“And we win when we stand side by side.

“We win when we are broad, diverse, and united.

“We win when farmers, ranchers, tribes, city folk, environmentalists and climate activists work together, walk together, run together, and if necessary, get arrested together.

“So again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done. Thanks to all who helped organize this run and this rally. And thank you for gifting me the honor of speaking here on behalf of Iowa’s thousands of pipeline fighters.”

*******

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Bold Iowa Blasts Dakota Access For Attempting to Bypass Corps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMay 5, 2016

Contact:
 Ed Fallon, 515-238-6404, ed@boldiowa.org

Bold Iowa Blasts Dakota Access For Attempting to Bypass Corps

Des Moines — In response to a request made this morning by Dakota Access to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), asking the IUB to allow it to begin construction without waiting for final permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, Bold Iowa issued its own response to the IUB challenging the legitimacy and even legality of Dakota Access’ request.

“Throughout this process, Dakota Access has bullied landowners,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Now they are trying to bully the IUB. In doing so, they’re hoping for an end-run around the Army Corps of Engineers — the entity rightfully charged with a full, objective analysis of the wide range of potential impacts of this pipeline.”

The Corps just recently reassured all parties that it was neither pro- nor anti-pipeline, making it clear that it intends to fulfill its responsibility to the Corps’ stated mission to protect and manage the nation’s water and land resources with a blind eye to political consequences. Nonetheless, the Corps has come under strong criticism in recent months for failing to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed pipeline. Some of the strongest critics have been the Tribal Nations who live along the path of the pipeline, who argue that the Corps has largely ignored them.

“Bold Iowa certainly has an opinion about the Bakken Pipeline,” concluded Fallon. “We don’t want it. And we stand with tribes, landowners, farmers and environmentalists against it. But above all, we expect a fair and open process. Many of Dakota Access’ tactics over the past two years amount to bullying, and we trust that the IUB will stand its ground, and stick with its earlier decision to require ALL permits to be complete before Dakota Access can begin construction.”

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, a newly-formed grassroots effort in four states, building unlikely alliances to oppose the expansion of fossil-fuel infrastructure, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and encourage investment in renewable energy.

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Awaiting presidential action on the pipeline

Dear Friends,

The Bakken Pipeline poses serious risks to Iowa’s farmland and waters. Yet the project’s impacts have not been fully assessed by the Army Corps of Engineers, despite what the MAIN Coalition claims in a recent opinion piece in The Des Moines Register [Obama urged to allow pipeline to proceed, April 24] and in a letter MAIN sent to President Obama.

The Corps has a stated responsibility “for investigating, developing and maintaining the nation’s water and related environmental resources” on projects like the Bakken Pipeline. That includes the Corps responsibility to the entire area affected by the pipeline, not merely segments of it.

This charge demands a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the full range of impacts, including climate change and tribal cultural resources.

Landowners, advocates and the Tribal Nations are not the only ones urging the Corps to do its job. The Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency stated their concerns as well. Yet the Corps so far has refused to conduct a full and comprehensive EIS.

Without an EIS, the threat to primary water sources for farmers, ranchers, tribes and city dwellers throughout the four-state region and beyond can never be fully assessed.

Without an EIS, the likely impact on climate change won’t even enter the conversation.

Without an EIS, concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes about potential damage to the Missouri River watershed and other waters of the United States won’t be heard.

From what I can gather, the MAIN Coalition exists solely to promote the Bakken Pipeline. So, it should come as no surprise that fossil-fuel interests dominate MAIN’s membership.

MAIN’s letter to President Obama was sent exactly one week after I sent a letter on the same subject to the president. That letter was co-signed and co-authored by Jane Kleeb of Bold Alliance, Dallas Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, and Frank James of Dakota Rural Action. The letter has since been signed by over twenty Iowa organizations opposed to the pipeline — organizations that Wiederstein characterizes as “outside groups” and as  “environmental groups opposed to all forms of energy.”

Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. MAIN is on extremely shaky ground to disparage criticism of the pipeline as agitation from “outside groups.” I’ll remind readers that Dakota Access is from Texas.

Furthermore, our letter’s signatories stand with tribal leaders who claim the Corps failed to properly consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on the pipeline’s impacts.

The letter reads: “{T}he Corps is mandated to initiate consultation with tribes whose historic properties may be affected by the pipeline route. This includes consulting and coordinating with the aforementioned tribes on the identification of historic and tribal properties that may be adversely affected by pipeline construction and route.”

Not only do we stand with the tribes, but some of us will run with them as well on May 3, when a 500-mile relay led by a young Lakota woman name Bobbi Jean Three Legs arrives at noon at the Corps’ headquarters in Omaha, to tell the Corps that pipelines are not wanted on native lands.

Back to President Obama and his role in the Bakken Pipeline. I’ll quote from our letter:

“Dear President Obama. Your rejection of the Keystone Pipeline was truly historic, and we again commend you for that bold act of foresight and leadership. Your decision sent a strong statement about the importance of protecting land, water and property rights. It also conveyed the message that climate change is a clear and present danger demanding America’s full commitment to ending our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

“With that frame of reference, we ask you in the strongest possible terms to exert the same clarion leadership with regards to the proposed Bakken Pipeline.”

I wish I were a fly on the wall of the president’s office as he considers our letter and the letter from MAIN. These letters sum up his options.

Will the president tell the Corps to ignore its historic responsibility of “maintaining the nation’s water and related environmental resources,” thus allowing Dakota Access to rush forward on a pipeline that has generated so much public backlash?

Or will he hear the plea of those with no vested financial interest in oil or pipelines, those who will suffer with the destruction of farmland, water and habitat?

Given the legacy President Obama has built, I believe he will side with the people, with our water, our land, our property rights and our planet.

{If you want to see what I wrote above as it appeared in The Des Moines Register on Sunday, go to “Army Corps refuses to assess pipeline’s impacts.”}

On today’s Fallon Forum:
– Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster discusses his film, Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now!.
– Dairy farmer Francis Thicke talks about the confusion over nitrogen pollution, in large part due to Big Ag’s campaign of disinformation.
– Defenders of Exxon’s decades-long campaign of deceit fight back, even as Exxon’s quarterly profits hit a ten-year low.
– Kevin McCarthy with the Iowa Attorney General’s office discusses progress being made to address sentencing disparities for non-violent offenders.

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Pipeline opponent needs our support

Dear Friends,

In the past three weeks, unlikely coalitions have stopped two pipelines: Palmetto in Georgia and Kinder Morgan in New England. These victories are very encouraging to those of us fighting to stop Bakken, and we need to keep pushing:

– Tell the Army Corps of Engineers to do a full Environmental Impact Statement.
– Circulate our letter to President Obama asking him to tell the Corps to do its job.
– Support legal action defending landowners standing up to Dakota Access.
– Support tribal actions, including the Run for Your Life.
– Prepare for the possibility of civil disobedience.

There’s one more critical action you can take: Support elected officials who’ve stood with us against Dakota Access and against the politicians bought and paid for by Big Oil’s tainted money.

The most vocal, consistent Iowa House member standing against the Bakken pipeline is State Rep. Dan Kelley of Newton. Dan has been with the people in this struggle, and now has a well-financed opponent.

Please take a few minutes to go to Rep. Dan Kelley’s website and make a contribution. He’s up against the very forces we’ve been fighting. Dan’s running a strong campaign, and donations from the grassroots will allow him to buy brochures, yard signs and other materials he needs to get his message out.

And Dan’s message is our message: “It’s clear that the IUB is listening to power and money instead of the people of Iowa, so it’s time for the Legislature to step forward and clarify that eminent domain must only be used for a genuine public purpose,” and “I’m proud to have been the first Iowa legislator to join The Climate Mobilization, a full-scale effort to combat the causes of climate change and to champion realistic solutions.”

So please, go to Dan’s website today and either send him a check or click the “Donate” button. It’s only six weeks until the June 7th primary election, so Dan needs your help ASAP.

On today’s Fallon Forum, we discuss:
– The refugee crisis in Europe, with Michael Luick-Thrams
– How the national political establishment continues to mess with Iowa’s US Senate race
– The frightening number of high school science teachers who deny climate change
Run for Your Life, with Donnielle Wanatee
– Climate catastrophe in the Mekong Delta . . . and possible lessons for the Mississippi Delta

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Exxon Fights Back

Dear Friends,

Here’s the mug I use to drink my strong, black tea every morning.Mug The quote by Gandhi does as much to jump-start my day’s work as the tea itself: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

(For what it’s worth, that mug also serves as the receptacle for my cheap, dry red wine. Just my rebellious, urban redneck nature, I guess.)

The world is rich with inspiring quotes from Gandhi. Here’s one relevant to today’s conversation: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

When it comes to the campaign to expose Exxon for flagrantly lying about climate change, we’ve arrived at “fight.” Last week, the fossil-fuel-financed fringe struck back, lobbing alarmist accusations at Big Environment (that’s me) for colluding with Big Attorneys General (like Iowa’s Tom Miller) to make Lil Ole Exxon look bad.

But it gets even better. Our campaign to shed light on what Exxon knew, when they knew it, and to what extent they lied about it is, apparently, not just a threat to Exxon but an existential blow to the very foundation of America’s liberty.

That bastion of independent journalism, The National Review, had this to say: “What’s at stake here is nothing less than the rule of law and the maintenance of a free society, one in which people, think tanks, and businesses are not subject to prosecution for political activism on contentious public-policy questions. This is an attack not only on the First Amendment but on the entirety of the political process itself.” (See article here.)

Wow! Yes, little-known fact: We Big Enviro types hate freedom and the First Amendment.

Like I said, this fight has begun in earnest, and Exxon’s well-financed defenders will stop at nothing to paint those of us taking on Exxon as evil and anti-American.

So, what can YOU do?

1. Sign the petition calling on Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to launch an investigation into Exxon’s climate fraud.

2. Thank Miller for his leadership taking on Big Tobacco years ago, and ask him to apply the same level of passion and diligence to holding Exxon accountable. Attorneys general in New York, California, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands have launched investigations, and more are likely to follow. Here’s the main phone number for the Attorney General’s office: 515-281-5164. (Yes, I know phone calls are so last millennium. And simply because of that, the personal, nostalgic touch of a phone call is very effective.)

3. Learn more about the campaign to expose Exxon. Check out the work of Inside Climate News, the folks who were nominated for Pulitzer Prize for their research into what Exxon knew. Click here.

And if you need more motivation than the desire to rein-in climate change and hold a deceitful corporation accountable, just remember the Exxon Valdez, a tragedy that, 25 years later, Exxon has yet to pay for the long-term damage it did to Alaska’s environment. (See Climate Progress story here.)

*******

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Tell the Corps to do its job!

Dear Friends,

Pipeline fighters know the important role President Obama played in helping defeat the Keystone XL Pipeline. Today, four of us stepped forward with a letter to the President imploring him to exert the same type of leadership on the Bakken Pipeline.

I’m grateful to the collaborative effort that helped draft this letter: Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska and president of Bold Alliance, Dallas Goldtooth, coordinator of Indigenous Environmental Network and Frank James, director of Dakota Rural Action.

Below is the text of the letter we sent today to President Obama. If it is successful at persuading the President to insist that the Army Corps of Engineers conduct an Environmental Impact Statement, it could have a decisive impact on the Bakken Pipeline.

With that in mind, I have two important asks for you today:

1. Share the link to the full letter (complete with logos and contact detail for signatories) on Facebook, Twitter, or through your preferred social media venue. Click here for the letter.

2. Share the press release with one or more of media contacts. Click here for press release.

*******

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear President Obama,

Your rejection of the Keystone Pipeline was truly historic, and we again commend you for that bold act of foresight and leadership. Your decision sent a strong statement about the importance of protecting land, water and property rights. It also conveyed the message that climate change is a clear and present danger demanding America’s full commitment to ending our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Again, we thank you.

With that frame of reference, we ask you in the strongest possible terms to exert the same clarion leadership with regards to the proposed Bakken Pipeline. Over the past twenty months farmers, ranchers, landowners, tribal leaders, property-rights advocates, environmentalists, attorneys, local elected officials and climate activists in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois have done everything possible to stop Dakota Access from building the pipeline.

In Iowa on March 10, despite overwhelming public opposition to the use of eminent domain for a private company (74% in a poll last year), and despite eroding public support for the pipeline itself (support dropped from 57% in 2015 to 47% in a recent poll), the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued Dakota Access a permit to build the pipeline, granting it the authority to use eminent domain. But that permit came with six conditions that Dakota Access had to meet before it could begin construction.

On April 9, the IUB determined that those conditions had been met, but made it clear that Dakota Access could not begin construction until the Army Corps of Engineers completes work on “issues that include endangered species, environmental issues, cultural resources and historical preservation.” [Bakken pipeline set to get a green light, Des Moines Register, April 9, 2016]

Two critical items are missing from the Corps’ intended course of action:

(1) Failure to properly consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on the pipeline’s impacts;

(2) A comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that includes the pipeline’s impact on climate change.

Regarding the failure to properly consult, as mandated by section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), revised regulations 36 CFR Part 800, the Corps is mandated to initiate consultation with tribes whose historic properties may be affected by the pipeline route. This includes consulting and coordinating with the aforementioned tribes on the identification of historic and tribal properties that may be adversely affected by pipeline construction and route. This entire process has not occurred properly.

Regarding the Environmental Impact Statement, letters to the Corps from the Environmental Protection Agency on March 11, Department of Interior on March 29, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on March 15, all make it clear that the Corps’ efforts have fallen short.

Specifically, the Department of Interior’s letter to the Corps requests an “EIS to fully evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.” We concur.

A full Environmental Impact Statement, that is comprehensive to include climate change and cultural resources, is warranted for the entire 1134-mile pipeline route.

We respectfully request that you and your Administration make clear to the Corps that nothing less than a full EIS is demanded and expected.

Again, thank you for your strong leadership on renewable energy, climate change and a range of pressing environmental concerns. We are confident that your voice in this matter will further define your legacy as a President who acted with great foresight not just on the Keystone XL Pipeline but on the Bakken Pipeline as well.

Sincerely,

Ed Fallon, Director, Bold Iowa
Jane Kleeb, Director, Bold Nebraska & Bold Alliance
Dallas Goldtooth, Coordinator, Indigenous Environmental Network
Frank James, Director, Dakota Rural Action

*******

Podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum can be heard here, and include:
– Human trafficking, with Robert Brownell and Kellie Markey
– Bakken Pipeline delayed
– The New Grassley
– Fight for $15, with Bridget Fagan of Iowa CCI
– War on the Amazon

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, list live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Dems’ caucus review panel a joke

Dear Friends,

Last fall, Dr. Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP), approached me to discuss how to build a bridge to progressives and other disaffected voters who’d left the IDP. A few weeks later we met over lunch at Hoq Restaurant, where Dr. McGuire offered to convene a statewide meeting to hear the concerns of these voters. We stayed in touch and agreed to move forward with the idea after the Caucuses.

On February 1st, the Iowa Caucuses saw a virtual tie between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, followed by a slew of complaints about cramped venues, long lines and other glitches. That led to a clamor across Iowa and beyond to examine what went wrong and institute reforms. The IDP announced a task force. I told Dr. McGuire on two occasions I was willing to serve on it, and received encouraging responses that she would get back to me.

Well, she didn’t get back to me. A caucus review panel was indeed established, and its membership announced last Saturday.

Disaffected voters are nowhere in the mix. Of the committee’s 25 members, nearly every appointee is an IDP insider.

And the goal of the committee? As quoted in the Des Moines Register (April 2): “{P}arty officials — including those now serving on the committee — have all but ruled out major changes to the Democratic caucus process.”

That’s code for, “We’ll pretend to care, but let’s stack this committee to make sure nothing of substance gets done. And let’s minimize exposure by sending-out the press release on Friday — the slowest news day of the week.”

Like the Democratic National Committee and, presumably, state Democratic parties around the country, the IDP doesn’t get it. If Dr. McGuire was sincere about wanting to rebuild the Party and stem the hemorrhage of voters from its rolls, setting-up a rubber-stamp committee of insiders only digs the Party’s hole even deeper.

How deep is that hole?

– In Iowa in 2009, there were 111,000 more D’s than R’s.
– There are now 28,855 fewer D’s than R’s.
– “No Party” voters have solidified their spot as the largest voting block.
– Five of Iowa’s six congressional representatives are Republican.
– The Iowa House is solidly Republican.
– The Democratic majority in the Iowa Senate is razor thin.
– Four of six statewide elected offices are held by Republicans.
– Even my chickens have switched their affiliation to “No Party.”

If Party officials think they can woo back disgruntled former Dems with platitudes and rhetoric, they should think again. Want examples of what’s actually working?

Bernie Sanders. Look at the enthusiasm and political revolution his candidacy has sparked! Though it makes the corporate element of the Democratic Party quake in its gucci boots, THIS — not your phony caucus review panel — is the future of politics in Iowa and America.

– Speak-truth-to-power grassroots organizations like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. These folks have a solid string of victories for the people Democrats say they represent, but too often don’t.

– New grassroots efforts like the Bold Alliance, which is building rural-urban coalitions to oppose Big Oil and the abuse of eminent domain while working for clean energy solutions.

On June 7th, I’ll vote in the Democratic Primary for Rob Hogg for U.S. Senate and Desmund Adams for Congress. On June 8th, I’ll switch my voter registration back to “No Party” . . . unless Party officials demonstrate that they’re prepared to change their ways.

I’m not holding my breath.

Listen to the Fallon Forum Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

If Birds Could Vote

Dear Friends,

As Native Americans ramp up their opposition to the Bakken Pipeline, Alexey Yaroshevsky with The Ed Schultz Show reported this story last week, which includes footage of Jane Kleeb and I on the last legs of the Iowa Pipeline Walk. Check it out hereScreen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.32.44 PM

In what might go down in history as the “St. Francis moment” of the 2016 presidential campaign, a yellow finch settled on the podium during Bernie Sanders’ speech last week in Portland, Oregon. Sanders’ surprised reaction is sweet. But the audience response is an overwhelming outburst of unbridled joy! I have never seen a political moment quite so powerful and moving. Check it out here.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.36.20 PM

Sanders saw symbolism in the bird’s arrival (how could he not?). When he announced that the finch was “actually a dove, asking us for world peace,” the crowd went even wilder.

I’ve had my own experiences with birds whose activity seemed to portend an event of significance. When I lived with the Ojibwe in the 1980s, my Indian friends would frequently subscribe meaning to any unusual behavior of a passing bird — often with remarkable accuracy.

In the mid-1990s, I organized a series of marches and rallies with members of the United Steelworkers, who were on strike from Bridgestone-Firestone and in danger of losing their jobs because of weak worker-protection statutes. I had authored strike-breaker protection legislation, and was introducing Senator Harkin at a rally in support of the proposed law change. In the middle of Harkin’s speech, an eagle circled overhead. I nudged Harkin’s elbow, pointed out the eagle, and the Senator worked it into his remarks as a sign of the righteousness of the workers’ cause.

To credit birds with providing guidance to the course of human activities is a matter of personal opinion. But that birds are a deep source of inspiration is undeniable. And I suspect that, if birds could vote, we’d see an entirely different conversation this election.

Listen to the Fallon Forum Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Spring: Time for Democracy

Dear Friends,

One way to tell if you’re having an impact is the level of push back against you. I experienced this in my Congressional campaign in 2008, when my opponent hired a stalker who filmed me at every public appearance — even at a talk I gave on religion to residents of a senior housing complex.

We witnessed it during Occupy Wall Street in 2011, when two federal agents infiltrated the movement in Des Moines.

More recently, pipeline fighters are aware of two cases where spies, presumably paid for by Big Oil, have infiltrated efforts to stop fossil-fuel infrastructure expansion.

Sure, it sucks to be stalked, infiltrated or spied on, whether by Big Government or Big Business. But it’s also a compliment, indicating that the opposition recognizes you’re making progress toward shaking up their comfortable status quo.

So, when I read over the weekend comments posted on the Democracy Spring website, I thought, “Congratulations, folks. You’ve arrived!” Sure, the posts could simply be the work of cyber trolls. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the same ilk who funded “scientists” to deny climate change — or “doctors” to assure us tobacco isn’t harmful.

Democracy Spring is an ambitious, well-organized undertaking, with real potential to make the status quo squirm.

In the organizers’ own words: “It’s time to take mass nonviolent action on a historic scale to save our democracy. This April, in Washington, D.C., we will demand a Congress that will take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in our politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.

“The campaign will begin on April 2nd with a march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. where thousands will gather to reclaim the US Capitol in a powerful, peaceful, and massive sit-in that no one can ignore. Over 2,000 people have already pledged to risk arrest between April 11th-18th in what will be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation.”

Here’s one of the more amusing derogatory comments posted on the Democracy Spring website: “I want to bring my dog. Will gluten free dog food be provided? Im (sic) EXCITED to take a trip on someone elses (sic) dime and meet other freaks and any foreigners who hate men, USA and want to help Hillary take out the USA as we knew (sic) it.”

Bring on the trolls or spies . . . although one would hope that Big Guv or Big Biz would hire infiltrators with a better command of the English language. Whatever. It’s all good. As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

When it comes to social and political change, if we are to win, I’m a firm believer in using every non-violent tool available: Elections, lobbying, the courts, education, direct action. In fact, no societal transformation — whether it’s the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage or civil rights — occurred without the effective deployment of all these tactics.

When it comes to the struggle against America’s descent into oligarchy, the time is ripe for mass civil disobedience, and Democracy Spring may be the spark. Stay tuned.

*******

Speaking of staying tuned, listen to the Fallon Forum today as we discuss Democracy Spring. Also:

– Jessica Reznicek joins me as she prepares to go to court, and probably prison, for an action against the military-industrial complex in Omaha.

– We’ll analyze today’s Des Moines Register editorial on Donald Trump, which is excellent but misses the seething economic abandonment that, I believe, lies at the heart of Trump’s appeal.

– On the cultural side of talk radio, we’ll visit with Karla Kash of Repertory Theater of Iowa about the troupe’s current production: Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon