URGENT PIPELINE UPDATE!

Dear Friends –

I spoke with State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann today on my talk show and he announced big news on the Eminent Domain Bill:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 noon in Room 22 of the Iowa State Capitol, a joint House-Senate sub-committee will meet to debate and possibly vote on SSB 1276!

There are three things you can do:

1. COME!! Sub-committee meetings provide one of the few opportunities for average Iowans to speak on and influence legislation directly. I will be there and would love to have a slew of pipeline fighters join me.

2. Share this message and the Facebook Event invite with as many people as possible.

3. Write or call sub-committee members. If you write, carbon copy your own Representative and Senator. To figure out who your Representative and Senator are, and get contact information for them, click Find Your Legislator.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 40 (Earth Day)

EARTH DAY: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – Inwood, Iowa

Today’s weather is a carbon copy of the first day of the walk – 7 1/2 weeks ago. The temperature is in the mid 20s. There is no wind. The sky is mostly clear. I am wearing gloves, a hat and a scarf.

I set out from Crazy Bob’s in Inwood at 6:41 – my earliest start yet. The sun rises behind me in the east, gradually shortening the lanky, stick-touting silhouette that continues to lead me westward.

The final mile

Open gate as I enter the final mile

As I near the Big Sioux River and Iowa’s western edge, the land rolls with greater texture and determination. Pastureland replaces crop ground and feedlots. For me, the walker, it is a welcome change of pace from previous days, where endless flat fields and high winds ruled. Another side of me, the lover of fertile soil and renewable energy, remains grateful for the rich, flat fields and brisk, turbine-turning breezes that I now leave behind.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 39

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – Doon, Iowa
{REMINDER!!: Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk with an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, TODAY, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines.}
Crazy Bob's

Recovering over an excellent dinner at Crazy Bob’s in Inwood.

I have always been optimistic about our prospects for stopping the Bakken Oil Pipeline. Today, thanks to the work of one Nebraskan pipeline fighter, my optimism deepened still further.

Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska has helped lead the charge against the Keystone Pipeline in her state. Though Jane is beyond busy, she spent an entire day in northwest Iowa, walking 9.2 miles with me to Inwood, talking with folks along the way, and joining me in an interview with KDLT TV out of Sioux Falls this evening.

 

Between farmsteads, Jane and I had plenty of time to talk as we battled our way through another blustery day. I shared with her concerns raised by landowners and farmers, many who feel hopeless against the power and money of Dakota Access.

lyon co. greenhouse

At a commercial greenhouse on the route through Lyon County

She explained that, in Nebraska, efforts to stop the Keystone Pipeline didn’t start in earnest until two years after TransCanada (the company that wanted to build Keystone) had been working aggressively to convince landowners to sign easements. By the time Jane and Bold Nebraska got involved, 50% had already signed.

Jane and others got to work and organized a solid coalition of farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and environmentalists. They held meetings, compiled research, lobbied government officials, and educated the public and the media. They also engaged in creative, catchy actions that caught national attention. Two brilliant examples: Building a solar-powered barn in the path of the pipeline and assembling the Cowboy-Indian Alliance.

Bold Nebraska has been able to hold Keystone at bay with just 10% of landowners refusing to sell to TransCanada. In Iowa, by comparison, the best estimate is that 75% of landowners have yet to sell an easement to the company!

In other words, we are comparatively well-positioned to stop Dakota Access.

I ask Jane what she would say to people who still feel we can’t stop the pipeline. She says, “You can stop any pipeline, unless its already in the ground. But you need a solid farmer-landowner group. That has to get started, both to develop a sense of community and to better reach out to the press. All voices are important, but landowners are the backbone of the movement.”

With one day to go on this 400-mile walk, that’s my conclusion as well. This is a fight that must center around landowners. They are the lead roles in this pipeline drama. The rest of us must do our best to be a strong cast of supporting actors.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 38

Monday, April 20, 2015 – Hull, Iowa

{Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk with an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines. For the latest route and schedule detail, click here.}

Only 30 miles to go and three days to do it,” I thought. “Piece of cake.”

pipeline marker

Pipeline marker at CRP land

But the elements have something other than cake in mind. During the entire 13.4-mile walk, the wind roars straight at me out of the northwest. A sustained velocity of 25 – 35 miles per hour is punctuated with gusts up to 45. The wind is determined to humble me, reducing my usual brisk pace to a relative crawl. A distance that normally would take less than five hours today takes seven. I watch the sun set over South Dakota and finish the day under a thin crescent moon.

Walking into a strong headwind is akin to walking into an invisible wall. The wind pushes back as I push forward, and my walking stick must be employed to its fullest. Every four steps, I roll it forward in my palm, plant it firmly in front of me, and dig the tip into the gravel. I push so hard my arms get as much of a workout as my legs.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 37

Friday, April 17, 2015 – Newkirk, Iowa

{Tune-in Monday, April 20 to hear the latest developments about the Iowa Pipeline Walk on the Fallon Forum at 11:00 a.m. on KDLF 1260 AM La Reina (Des Moines) and online. State Rep. Dan Kelley hosts the program and is joined by Gary Harms, Director of Iowa Special Olympics, and Gary Steinke, a Special Olympics parent and activist.}

Dakota Access is growing more and more aggressive, playing hardball with landowners who do not want the company coming on their land to survey for a pipeline.

And landowners are fighting back.

Randy Sieren, who farms in Keokuk County, called me today saying he found four surveyors trespassing yesterday. “I just caught them out in the field,” said Randy. “I told them they didn’t have any permission from me to be there, so they’d better hit the road.”

They left, but a pipeline staffer went to Randy’s home. “He told my wife they’d be back in the morning, and they didn’t want any confrontation. Well, to make sure there was no confrontation, I had the Keokuk County Sheriff stop by.”

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 36

Thursday, April 16, 2015 – Granville, Iowa

{Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk with an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines. For the latest route and schedule detail, click here.}

Sioux Co rest stop

Sioux Co rest stop

BANG! The crack of a gun less than 30 yards away stopped me dead in my tracks. Startled, I yelled with a mix of seriousness and levity, “Hello! Don’t shoot!”

A middle-aged woman holding a shotgun appeared from behind a stand of spruce trees. She yelled back to me, “You’re that guy I saw on the news.”

“Yes, probably, maybe. Why? A lot of guys look like me, don’t ya think?” I responded. “Are you going to shoot me?” I continued, with greater emphasis on levity than seriousness, hoping a touch of humor might influence the best possible outcome.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 35

Mountain Dave

Mountain Dave

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 – Paullina, Iowa

{Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk with an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines. For the latest route and schedule detail, click here.}

Of all the interesting, inspiring people I’ve met on the Walk, Mountain Dave may qualify as the most colorful. Dave lives in an 8′ x 10′ hut that he built entirely from recycled materials. Much of his time is spent clearing out the thick stands of invasive cedar trees that have taken over the prairie hills along the Little Sioux River Valley.

The pipeline would come within 300 feet of his home, a possibility that Dave “imagines would be as much fun as living in Omaha.” I was moved by some of the difficult stories Dave shared from his past, and by his words of wisdom about America’s obsession with materialism. Check out this brief video capturing a bit of our conversation . . . which closes with Dave extending an invitation to folks to “Stop by, have a beer.”

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 34

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 – Larrabee, Iowa

Mill Creek

Mill Creek as it flows toward the Little Sioux River

{Help celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk with an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline on Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at E. Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines.}
{For the latest Iowa Pipeline Walk route and schedule, click here.}

“Not all of Iowa is flat,” announces a popular Des Moines t-shirt in the ongoing effort to instruct Americans about the undulating nature of much of Iowa’s topography.

“Not all of northwest Iowa is flat,” would read the t-shirt I’d design to instruct Des Moines residents on the undulating nature of Cherokee County’s topography.

Covered wagon dents still visible in native prairie

Covered wagon dents still visible in native prairie

I have seen so many beautiful places along the Pipeline Walk. But today’s stroll through the rolling Little Sioux River Valley was the most beautiful yet. It was also the first time I have walked the actual proposed pipeline path, courtesy of owner Jack Montgomery guiding me through his property, which includes a large stretch of virgin prairie that has never seen a plow.

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 33

Monday, April 13, 2015 – Truesdale, Iowa

{Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk: Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines. For the latest route and schedule detail, click here.}

David Fordyce

David Fordyce

I have plenty of company today. Five people living along the pipeline route join me for stretches of the walk, including David Fordyce, Buena Vista County’s only remaining dairy farmer.

We walk by David’s alfalfa field. The pipeline would cut through the middle of it, and David is concerned that the pipeline would have significant and long-term negative impacts on his soil and crop production.

“Any time you drive over alfalfa it kills it for that cutting,” explains David, who gets four crops per year. “When the pipeline company comes through with their equipment, they’ll run over the crop and compact the soil. And if you try to replant alfalfa after that, it doesn’t do well in land that’s been compacted.”

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Iowa Pipeline Walk: Day 32

Thursday, April 9, 2015 – Storm Lake, Iowa

{Celebrate the completion of the Iowa Pipeline Walk: Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline, Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Locust and E. 7th in Des Moines. For the latest route and schedule detail, click here.}

Ed at windfarm under 200kbSo much news to share! Most of it good. But first, a brief recap from last week’s final day of walking:

The weather whooped me good last week. Thursday’s trek was a fitting conclusion to four water-logged days. During the final mile, I relied on the full force of my walking stick to drag me through a headwind laden with rain, changing to sleet.

Windmill, real old under 200kbThe end point of that final mile provided some encouragement, as the blades of the mid-size turbines of Iowa’s oldest wind farm seemed to cheer me on. Sitting on Buffalo Ridge north of Alta, these turbines are the older variety. Ok, not this old.

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