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.)

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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

Shame on the IUB!

Dear Friends,

Governor Branstad’s appointees to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) — Geri Huser, Nick Wagner and Libby Jacobs — should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, it was clear all along that Branstad had stacked the deck in favor of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the Texas company wanting to build the pipeline. But in previous meetings Huser, who chairs the IUB, at least seemed to want to take adequate time to air the range of concerns raised by landowners, environmentalists, Native Americans and defenders of property rights.

But any good-will Huser may have generated over the last month was squandered last Thursday when the IUB took all of seven minutes to summarize its rationale for a unanimous vote in favor of granting eminent domain to ETP.

I don’t use the words “travesty of justice” too often. But that’s the best way to describe the cavalier manner in which the IUB bulldozed its way through a discussion that should have been thoughtful, informative and respectful of public opinion.

Iowans deserve better. Sure, what we really deserved was a “no” vote. But even anticipating the probability of a “yes” vote, the public should have heard a serious, measured discussion before the final vote.

We didn’t get that. And the IUB, DNR, Governor, and Iowa House and Senate lackeys of Big Oil should brace themselves for the next round of popular resistance. Prepare to see us in the Courts, at the Statehouse, and in the “Town Square,” as I call it, where we’ll continue to bring our case before the people of Iowa, whose opposition to the pipeline dropped by 10% over the past year. (In the most recent poll, less than half of all Iowans now support the pipeline.)

And if you want to know who specifically are some of the elected lackeys supporting the pipeline, click HERE to find out which Iowa politicians received donations from ETP. (Kudos to Gavin Aronsen for an excellent piece of investigative journalism.)

Today on the Fallon Forum, Dr. Charles Goldman and I will talk about the ruling. We’ll also prognosticate on the possible outcome of Super Tuesday 2. We’ll hear from Katy Heggen with the Iowa Environmental Council, and State Rep. Dan Kelley discusses his proposal to divest state funds from Exxon because of that corporation’s decades-long deceit, now coming under increased public scrutiny.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call 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

Judge Not

Dear Friends,

{The Iowa Utilities Board meets March 9th and 10th beginning at 9:00 a.m. at 1375 E. Court Ave in Des Moines. The IUB could make a decision this week on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. Come if you can, otherwise livestream the meetings, and I’ll be live-tweeting and “Face tweeting” as well.}

What a relief! Wall Street now has an Iowa Democrat it can get behind for U.S. Senate.

Patty Judge’s entry into the race last week was greeted with extensive coverage by Corporate Media, who largely have blown-off the other three Democrats in the race. The Des Moines Register’s headline, “Patty Judge challenges Chuck Grassley,” says it all, ignoring the reality that Judge is running not against Grassley but against Rob Hogg, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen in the Democratic Primary. The winner of that race gets to face Grassley in the general election this fall.

And it shouldn’t be Judge.

Her long history of support for Corporate Ag’s agenda has hurt and continues to hurt Iowa farmers, our environment, our rural communities. I served with Judge at the Statehouse. I fought her anti family farm agenda when she was Secretary of Agriculture. I ran against her in what was then a five-person primary for Governor in 2006. Patty Judge and I go way back. Her allegiance lies with Big Money, and that reality will become clear as this race heats up.

For now, don’t let Corporate Media fool you into believing Judge is the defacto nominee, the only one who can beat Grassley. It is, alas, easy to be fooled, as I discovered running into a friend of mine yesterday. He’s bright, progressive, very active in Democratic politics. Yet he told me he was supporting Judge. When I pointed out that Judge was horrible on issues he and I cared about, he agreed, but said he would vote for her because she was the most “electable.”

How many more times will we fooled on the question of “electability?” Barack Hussein Obama — by virtue of his name and skin color — was initially deemed to be thoroughly unelectable. A few shoe-in, absolutely-the-most-electable candidates in recent Iowa history? Jim Ross-Lightfoot, Governor. Jim Nussle, Governor. Bruce Braley, U.S. Senate. Staci Appel, U.S. Congress. Yup. All were presented by Corporate Media and their Party Establishment as so “electable” they didn’t even get primary opponents. All got their clocks cleaned in the general election.

What voters want is someone with a solid track record to assure us they will challenge the status quo and stand with people against special interests. Among the four Democrats running for the U.S. Senate nomination, there’s no-one more tightly bound to the status quo than Patty Judge.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call 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

Dakota Access in Trouble

Dear Friends,

Picture2

John Grizzly guzzles Valvoline in “Over the Top.”

I’ve always believed we could stop the Bakken Pipeline. I still believe that. As they say in the world of opera, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings — or in a more apt metaphor, til the crazy guy drinks motor oil.

Pipeline fighters are understandably anxious. The Iowa Utilities Board seems inclined to grant Dakota Access and its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, a permit and the power of eminent domain. Yet even if that happens, we’ve got legal angles, legislative angles, and the compelling moral authority of standing with landowners to block the bulldozers.

But there’s another ally lurking in the dark shadows of Wall Street: The Market. Yes, capitalism itself might save Iowa from the scourge of an oil pipeline. Consider the following:

– The stock of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has seen a steady decline from 65.65 on January 2, 2015 to 26.47 today.

– ETP’s merger with Williams Companies last year has not gone well, with some indication that ETP wishes it could find a way out of the deal. The fact that ETP’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, says “we’re not going to talk about the Williams transaction,” only further confirms that the merger was a bad idea. (Provided by TheStreet)

– The sudden firing earlier this month of the company’s CFO, Jamie Welch, is another sign that things are not well in the ETP empire.

– There are also growing doubts as to whether ETP is on track with the capital it needs to launch the Bakken Pipeline:  “ETP is evaluating project financing of the Bakken Pipeline. This measure would materially reduce the direct spending required for this project.” (See NY Times Business Day Markets.)

– Some of us have been saying all along that ETP’s claim that the Bakken pipeline is important for U.S. energy independence is bunk. Now Warren seems to agree, saying, “the amount of volume we are going to be moving to Mexico within — by 2018 is huge.” (Provided by TheStreet)

– Noted industry analyst, Jim Cramer, writes: “We have way too many oil pipelines in the country and the master limited partnership woes must stop and the bleeding be staunched among the independent oil and gas companies.” (See #5 of My Checklist for the Market to Start Making Money, Part 2.)

– Finally, with Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi saying last week that he doesn’t see his country cutting output, don’t expect crude oil prices to rise any time soon.

And if the Courts, the Legislature, and the Market fail us, we still have . . . BATS! That’s right. Bats. The northern long-eared bat is on the federal endangered species list, and from June 1 – July 31, you can’t down trees within 150 feet of where bats may be roosting. ETP denies Iowa is home to long-eared bats, but the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club insists ETP has not done a credible survey. And there are bats in the pathway of the pipeline in Lyon County, and quite possibly elsewhere in Iowa as well.

I once helped rural residents of Linn County stop a landfill that would have destroyed a beautiful bluff along the Cedar River. We fought that battle on every front we could. In the end, we won because of . . . SEAGULLS! Yup. Turns out the FAA won’t allow a dump within a certain distance of an airport because the gulls dining at the dump could find their way into an airplane’s engine at just the wrong moment.

So, we need to keep fighting to stop the Bakken pipeline. Regardless of what the IUB does next week, it ain’t over til John Grizzly guzzles himself senseless.

 

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call 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

Cars Matter More Than Kids

Dear Friends,

My birthday is next week, and in the great tradition of Hobbits – who instead of receiving gifts on their birthdays give them – I’m offering four of you a $50 gift card to either Gateway Market and Cafe, Ritual Cafe, HoQ Restaurant or Cinco de Mayo Restaurant. Just leave a comment on my website – HERE (scroll down to the end of the post) — and tell me what you think of my take on Des Moines’ “Cars Matter More Than Kids” day-care policy. I’ll randomly pick four names out of a hat. You can tell me how wrong I am and still win a gift card. Is this a great country, or what?

“So, cars matter more than kids,” you ask? Yes, I’m afraid so. Like soylent green, governments are made of people. And people not only taste bad, they make mistakes.

Like West Des Moines banning air B & B.

Like Aurelia vanquishing a Vietnam Vet’s service dog.

Like Ankeny outlawing chickens. (Note: Ankeny reports an average of 35-45 dog bites per year, yet zero chicken bites.)

This year’s Local Government Run Amuck Award (yes, the year is young, so this could change) goes to the City of Des Moines for limiting in-home day-care providers to six children. Why? Because one south-side curmudgeon complained about parking.

And the city has taken the curmudgeon’s side, possibly because he votes and kids don’t. One city official quoted in The Des Moines Register story claimed the restriction was needed to prevent “unintended consequences for neighbors, like too much parking, too many people on the streets, overcrowding.”

Seriously?? So, are these toddlers driving themselves to day care and hogging all the on-street parking? Or is even the act of dropping off and picking up one’s child deemed to be “too much parking?”

And since when is “people on the streets” a bad thing? A vibrant neighborhood has people on the streets. A dead, dying or decayed neighborhood has empty streets — streets that are less safe, I might add.

And “overcrowding?” In Des Moines? Give me a break . . . although this is likely to change when climate change forces refugees from submerged coastal communities to flee to the American Heartland.

This is a serious problem, folks. If the City Council refuses to budge, the number of in-home child-care slots in Des Moines would drop by around 2,000. That affects not only those kids and their families, but the employers those parents work for, too. It also affects in-home day-care providers like Tonja Boggs (featured in The Register story), whose income would be cut in half.

Finally, if none of that matters to City officials, they should care because this makes Des Moines look dumb and backward. How does the City expect that fancy new hotel it subsidized to achieve optimal occupancy rates if prospective visitors say, “Wow! Why hold our HUGE convention where they value cars more than kids when we can go to Minneapolis – America’s most bike-friendly city?”

Bike-friendly. Kid-friendly. Progressive. High quality of life. These things kinda go together. I thought the City of Des Moines would have figured it out by now.

*******

Check out podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum:
– Rampage in Kalamazoo
– Cars Matter More Than Kids|
– Chet Culver on Medicaid
– The Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, with Hattie Nestel
– Restaurant Renaissance, with Paul Rottenberg

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call 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