Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 23

Friday, March 27, 2015 – Boone, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

In terms of opposition to the pipeline, my walk through Boone County is on fertile ground. I’ve talked with at least 60 people and have yet to meet a single one who supports the pipeline.

Keith Puntenney

Keith Puntenney

But I was saddened today to meet an elderly woman who signed with the pipeline company despite her strong opposition. She hadn’t intended to sign until her lawyer advised her to get it over with. Argh! I wanted to tell her that, just as with a big medical decision, a second opinion is always advisable.

Yesterday’s meeting in Boone drew around 40 people, including Keith Puntenney, a farmer and an attorney.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 22

Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Ames, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

{Ed talks about the Pipeline Walk with State Rep. Dan Kelley on Monday, March 30 at 11:00 a.m. on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Also, Jess Mazour with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement joins Dan to discuss clean-water legislation. The program will re-broadcast Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m.}

My route skirts the south and west side of Ames today. I am fortunate to have an engaged and enthusiastic walking companion – Dave Brotherson – for the duration of the trek. Dave’s been excited about solar lately, telling me that “solar has long been a hobby project, a do-it-yourself deal. But things are finally coming together.”Every time we walk by a barn with a southern exposure, Dave becomes animated. “Look! There’s no reason that farmer couldn’t be making money off his roof right now, even as he’s saving money on electricity.”
Dave Brotherson

Dave Brotherson

The cost of solar panels is plummeting, and more and more entrepreneurs are stepping up to make home installation affordable for the average person.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 21

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Kelley, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Even with much help from so many talented people, it’s a challenge to juggle all my obligations on this walk. I have been falling behind on posting many of the photographs I want to share with you. So, here is a selection from my walk across Polk and Story counties.

Kathy Holdefer and Ed

Kathy Holdefer and Ed in front of a pipeline marker at the Polk-Jasper County line.

The pipeline would pass through ISU’s land, and many Story County residents don’t understand why the University’s leadership is not opposed. Certainly, most of the students and staff Dave and I spoke with are opposed.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 20

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Cambridge, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Today is rainy and cold. I stop at a few homes, but people aren’t thrilled about talking at their door in this weather. My gear isn’t thrilled either. My raincoat fails to keep the goose-down jacket dry. My phone won’t work. The papers are soggy. The pen refuses to write.

So, I focus on walking, on staying warm, on thinking happy thoughts.algore5
My mind wanders to Al Gore, his leadership on climate change, his mince-no-words criticism of the big oil companies. I like Gore. A lot. I would totally have him over for dinner, make him an omelette, even let him hold one of my chickens.

Twenty-eight years ago, it was different. I first met Gore in 1987 when he was campaigning for President. He pointedly staked out positions that were far more pro-corporate than any of the other six Democratic candidates. He dissed the Iowa Caucuses. He seemed to relish offending Iowa Democrats with positions regarded as extreme and ultra-conservative. Continue Reading →

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 19

Monday, March 23, 2015 – Farrar, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Kenneth Larkin

Kenneth Larkin

I’ve seen plenty of “Gas Pipeline” markers during the course of this walk. Today, I saw my first “Oil Pipeline” marker – on the front lawn of a well-kept farm near Cambridge, Iowa. I wondered about that as I knocked on the door. I was greeted by Kenneth Larkin, and after introducing myself said, “I notice you’ve already got a pipeline running across your property.”

“No,” said Kenneth. “I’ve got five! One carries propane. Two that used to transport LP gas now run fiber optic. The fourth one, the one marked ‘Oil Pipeline,’ doesn’t really carry oil. It carries distillates – gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene – and they’re all running through the same pipe with a slug of water in between.”

I had no idea you could transport different fuels through the same pipeline at the same time, merely separated by water. Before Kenneth could tell me about the fifth pipeline, I had to ask:

“So, you’re pretty accustomed to pipelines. I suppose it doesn’t bother you to have one more running across your property?”

“No!,” he said. “I don’t like the pipe I’ve got. They’re dangerous. We had an explosion once.”

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 18

Friday, March 20, 2015 – Maxwell, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

{Ed talks about the Pipeline Walk with State Rep. Dan Kelley today at 11:00 a.m. on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Also, State Reps. Bruce Bearinger and Sally Stutsman discuss the House Rural Caucus – rebroadcast Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m.}

On a daily basis, I am reminded of the importance of home. Many people’s opposition to the pipeline is rooted in a deep, often generational, attachment to the home place – to structures, land and shared memories that transform a tiny segment of Planet Earth into a treasure of incomparable value.

Today, I walk through Polk County, and the path of the proposed pipeline is as close to home as it gets. Along a high point in the road, I make out Des Moines’ skyline in the distance. I harbor no fondness for tall buildings, but as I gaze at them, I imagine nearby my home in Sherman Hill.

One of the toughest things about last year’s cross-country March was being away for nearly nine months. Even though the 40-day duration of the Pipeline Walk is short by comparison, it still weighs on me to be gone for so long – especially with the warmth of spring luring me to till soil, to plant crops.

Velvia 120, 50 ISO. Pentax 55mm. F4 at 1/1000.                 Syncrude Operations..Alberta Oil Sands. Northern Alberta.. These oil reserves are second only to those of Saudi Arabia. Their method of extraction is among the most damaging and their refining creates more greenhouse gases than any other oil refining process..Copyright Garth Lenz. Contact:  lenz@islandnet.com www.garthlenz.com ..Copyright Garth Lenz. Contact: lenz@islandnet.com www.garthlenz.com

Syncrude Operations..Alberta Oil Sands. Northern Alberta.. These oil reserves are second only to those of Saudi Arabia. Their method of extraction is among the most damaging and their refining creates more greenhouse gases than any other oil refining process..Copyright Garth Lenz.

The pipeline runs twenty miles from where I live. I tell folks I meet, “Just as the pipeline threatens your home, it threatens mine.” No matter where one lives on Planet Earth, the “black snake,” as Native Americans call it, threatens home. In Iowa, it threatens the topsoil in a 100-foot-wide swathe across 343 miles of the world’s richest farmland. It threatens Iowa’s water quality, already in poor condition from contaminants running off rural farms and urban lawns. Through the greenhouse gases unleashed into the atmosphere, the black snake threatens to render unlivable this beautiful, diverse fabric of life that connects and sustains us all.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 17

Thursday, March 19, 2015 – Mingo, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Shari Hrdina

Shari Hrdina

Walkin’ the Bakken is proving to be a bigger undertaking than I imagined. My deepest thanks to all of you along the route who have helped with logistics or who have walked with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Peter Clay

Peter Clay hamming it up on last year’s Climate March

I also want to acknowledge three colleagues who are making a huge difference in the success of the Walk. Shari Hrdina, who served as the Administrative Director of the Great March for Climate Action, keeps all the pieces from falling through the cracks. And there are so many pieces! Shari is the glue behind the scenes, and we could not do this without her.

Peter Clay works with our local supporters along the route to organize meetings. Peter joined last year’s Climate March for 700 miles and is now instrumental as a volunteer with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. He continues to keep us networked and supporting each others’ efforts.

David Goodner

David Goodner

Landowners are asking lots of legal, procedural and technical questions that I can’t answer. Managing this critical task is David Goodner of the Des Moines Catholic Worker. David is one of the most promising young organizers I know, and he’s getting back in touch with the hundreds of landowners and rural Iowans I’ve met along the Walk.

Of course, with legal questions, it helps to have . . . a lawyer! Several experienced attorneys are working with landowners and other parties opposed to the pipeline. Wally Taylor with the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and I recently discussed the contracts signed by landowners – many of whom are opposed to the pipeline. Here’s what Wally shared:

“A number of attorneys agree that the easements landowners are signing or being asked to sign by Dakota Access have serious problems that adversely impact landowners. In fact, for landowners who have already signed easements, they could declare the leases null and void. Landowners should not sign anything until they have discussed the easements with an attorney. Review by an attorney would only require a short conference that would not be very expensive but would save the landowners a lot of heartache.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 16

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – Colfax, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

I saw something today that I hadn’t seen since walking across Arizona and New Mexico last year. No, it wasn’t a saguaro cactus, rattlesnake or horny toad.

It was a family living off the grid!off grid 20140423_125043

off grid rattlesnake 20140410_103928

off grid lizard 20140420_115417

David Osterberg

David Osterberg

During last year’s coast-to-coast Climate March, I met dozens of people powering their homes and businesses entirely with solar and wind. (Here’s a picture of one, and for fun, pictures of the rattlesnake that interrupted my lunch and a horny toad I rescued from the highway.)

Today, my good friend and former Iowa lawmaker, David Osterberg, joined me for the ten-mile trek through Jasper County. When we saw the wind turbine and solar panels in front of the small, well-kept home, we knew we were likely to find pipeline opponents.

We were not disappointed. Sherman and Sue greeted us warmly at the door and explained that their wind turbine and two solar panels paid for themselves in seven years.

Ed, Sherman and Sue

Ed, Sherman and Sue

“If I put up just one more solar panel,” explained Sherman, “we should be totally off the grid. The cost factor appeals to us, and we think it’s important to be green.”

Sherman and Sue offered us a place to sit and brought coffee.  As we were about to leave, Sherman let us know that he and his wife were Christians. “The good Lord has asked us to be as thrifty as we can, and to be good stewards of the land. Is this pipeline they want to build just for money and oil? Is that really what God wants us to do? My feeling is he wants us to be good to our neighbors, good to the land.”

My walk across Iowa is planned to take 40 days. The focus is to put the brakes on a bad idea – the proposed pipeline. Yet it’s equally important to lift up the positive investments being made – by goverment, business and individuals like Sherman and Sue – demonstrating that renewable energy is the answer to both our present and future power needs.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 15

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 – Reasnor, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Newton Correctional Facility

Newton Correctional Facility

The path of the pipeline tracks close to the Newton Correctional Facility, and my road leads me to the prison’s front gate. Like a tourist snapping his photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal, I decide this is an opportune moment for a selfie. In the scant minute it takes me to position myself in front of the prison’s bright blue sign, a large security guard in a comparably large SUV races from the prison walls and pulls in front of me.

He demands to know who I am and what I am doing. He mumbles something about officials being nervous when people take pictures in front of the prison, about how those pictures could aid a prisoner plotting an escape. (I learn from a woman living near the prison that the last escape was 1953.) I ask if the pipeline would come through the prison’s grounds. He tells me “no,” his body language making it clear that the conversation is over and that I should move along.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 14

Monday, March 16, 2015 – Galesburg, Iowa
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule detail, click here.}

Photo by Steve Martin

Photo by Steve Martin

What a great start to the day: The Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation) has registered its opposition to the Bakken Oil Pipeline! This is significant. Native American resistance to the Keystone Pipeline has played a prominent role in stopping that project in Nebraska. Across the country, the influence of Native Americans continues to grow as they vocally express their concern for the land, water and planet.

In her letter to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), Tribal Chairwoman Judith Bender writes, “It will only take one mistake and life in Iowa will change for the next thousands of years.” (Read more in Indian Country Today Media Network.) It is encouraging to see such concern for the big picture – both in terms of time and geography. The pipeline does not go through Meskwaki land in Tama County. Yet the Tribe feels an obligation to speak out, not just about the immediate impact, but about the future over “the next thousands of years.”

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