Dakota Access in Trouble

Dear Friends,


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

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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

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Pipeline Wrinkle

Dear Friends,

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) meets again tomorrow, and while it’s impossible to say for sure, this could be their final public meeting before ruling on whether to grant Dakota Access a permit to build the Bakken pipeline. Along with that permit would come the authority of eminent domain – it would be unprecedented for a private, for-profit corporation to receive the Government’s blessing to take land from rural Iowans against their will.

But there’s a wrinkle in the pipeline company’s plans. Awhile back, I challenged all of you to become “intervenors” in the process. Some did right away. Some waited, including Kriss Wells. Kriss came all the way to Des Moines from Davenport last week to attend one of the IUB meetings. When the IUB’s Nick Wagner said he didn’t want to take a stand on climate change because it might ruin his political future, Kriss thought that was appalling – and possible grounds for a conflict of interest.

So, Kriss filed a “Motion to Recuse” Mr. Wagner from the vote on the pipeline, arguing that:

“The issue of Climate Change has been raised by multiple parties in this hearing process. It was designated as an issue by the board in their outline for hearing briefs. It is a critical issue for the future of our environment.

“Public officials are expected to be fair and impartial in their decisions regarding the public trust. Mr. Wagner has indicated that he cannot meet this standard.”

In support of Kriss’ motion, Wally Taylor of the Iowa Sierra Club filed an additional motion providing still more clarity as to why Mr. Wagner should be recused from voting. Writes Wally:

“If Board Member Nick Wagner is going to base his decision on his future political career, he is violating his duty to base his decision on the facts and the law.”

Wally then goes on to point out how strongly the Iowa Supreme Court has spoken out against conflicts of interest, specifically referencing Wilson v. Iowa City, 165 N.W.2d 813, 822 (Iowa 1969).

It’s hard to say what will come of this new wrinkle, just as it’s hard to say whether the IUB will make a decision on the pipeline tomorrow, or push the matter further down the road. At any rate, come if you can: February 19 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at 1375 E Court Ave in Des Moines. You also can live stream the proceedings online. And I’ll live tweet and “face-tweet” commentary on my Facebook Page as well. Thanks,


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Make Every Caucus Goer Count

Dear Friends,

Every problem has a solution. I truly believe that. Whether it’s climate change or something as comparably mundane as fixing the Caucuses, there’s a fix waiting to be tackled.

Since it’s Monday and I’m just warming up (pun intended), let’s hold off on climate change and start by repairing the Iowa Democratic Caucuses. Party Chair Andy McGuire has said she’ll convene a committee to look into the process. Let’s hope so. Lots of good ideas are percolating out there, and if Iowa truly wants to hang on to its first-in-the-nation status, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) better heed the clamor for reform — as the Republican Party of Iowa did four years ago.

To further jump-start a conversation many have already weighed-in on, here are my two suggestions:

(1) Apportion delegates based on the total number of attendees at each caucus. In other words, in a caucus that elects 4 delegates where 150 people show up, here’s one hypothetical result:

Candidate 1 – 77 votes = 2.05 precinct delegates
Candidate 2 – 53 votes = 1.41 precinct delegates
Candidate 3 – 20 votes = 0.53 precinct delegates

Add up precinct delegate numbers from across the state and the Party reports the usual “state delegate equivalent.” Voila! You now report numbers that much more accurately reflect each candidate’s popular support while preserving the essence of a caucus. Partial delegates from each precinct can still be seated at county conventions, as there are always open seats available due to delegates who don’t show up.

(2) In precincts with huge turnouts this year, break those precincts into smaller caucuses. This eliminates long lines of shivering people waiting to get into the building, makes it easier to find a building where we don’t break fire code, prevents people from having to caucus in ice-covered parking lots, and moves the whole process along a lot faster.

Will the Party consider these and some of the many other good ideas being offered? We’ll see. I’ve offered to serve on the IDP’s committee, and will keep you posted.

On today’s Fallon Forum, we also talk with attorney Joseph Glazebrook about constitutional questions relevant to the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. We’ll talk with Paul Cienfuegos about the Community Rights movement. And we’ll try to sort out the finally-concluded stand-off at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

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

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Pipeline Opponents Will Continue Fight

3:00 p.m. CST – Thursday, February 11, 2016

Contact:  Ed Fallon, 515-238-6404 or fallonforum@gmail.com
Kathy Holdefer, 515-491-8468 or kholdefer@hotmail.com
State Rep. Dan Kelley, (641) 521-9260 or dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov
Pam & Bill Alexander, (641) 682-5905 or wha-lex55@hotmail.com

Pipeline Opponents Will Continue Fight
Vow to remain vigilant, active, engaged

DES MOINES — Iowa pipeline fighters commended the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for taking further time to deliberate on Dakota Access’ request for a permit to build a crude oil pipeline across 350 miles of prime Iowa farmland. It is uncertain how the process will continue to unfold, but after a week of IUB meetings, pipeline opponents made it clear they will continue to be involved, vigilant and outspoken.

“I continue to be proud of how far we have come in resisting this attack on Iowa landowner rights as well as on our soil and water,” said Kathy Holdefer, a Jasper County landowner whose land is just a few hundred yards from where the pipeline is proposed to run. “I think Dakota Access thought it would bulldoze us through this process, similar to how they want to bulldoze our land. We will continue to fight this until we drive this out-of-state, private company out of Iowa.”

“I commend the board members for taking further time to address this unprecedented and extremely damaging proposal,” said Ed Fallon, a former lawmaker who walked the length of the proposed pipeline in 2015. “Some board members’ comments concern me. But much of their inquiry is spot-on. And staff have done a decent job at presenting not just Dakota Access’ view point but the perspective of opponents as well. The fact that board members are willing to further slow down the process is encouraging.”

“I’ve opposed this project on behalf of Jasper County farmers and landowners from the beginning,” said State Representative Dan Kelley (D-Newton), who attended the IUB meeting today. “Our environment must be protected from spills – both catastrophic and chronic. Our addiction to oil may be fatal, and our focus must be on clean renewables.” Kelley wouldn’t speculate on the IUB’s eventual decision, saying it could go either way.

“Our whole family is affected by this,” said Pam Alexander, whose family owns land in Mahaska County that would be compromised by the pipeline. “It’s been nerve-wracking, not knowing what’s going on from one step to the next. It seems like we landowners are almost second-class citizens when it comes to our role in this pipeline. But I am at least glad the Board is taking time making a decision.”

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Bakken Pipeline Alert!

ATTENTION! Pipeline fighters. Climate patriots. Defenders of land, water and personal liberty.

The Iowa Utilities Board could make a decision TODAY on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. Come if you can at 1:00 p.m. at 1375 E Court Ave in Des Moines.IUB meeting security

If you can’t make it, watch the live stream here. The Utilities Board, Gov. Branstad and our state lawmakers need to know we’re watching, engaged and ready to act regardless of today’s outcome.

I’ll live tweeting the proceedings here, and “Face-tweet” (Ha! Did I just invent a new social media term?) on this Facebook page and this Facebook page.

Also, check out Bakken Pipeline Resistance for regular updates and information you’ll never find in the corporate media.

Thank you, and in the words of Bob Marley, “Don’t give up the fight!” – Ed Fallon

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Pipeline meetings could be decisive

Pipeline fighters!

The Iowa Utilities Board meets this week, and while it’s unclear what will happen, the Board could make a decision on whether to approve or reject Dakota Access’ request for the power of eminent domain.

In defense of Iowa farmers, landowners, water and our climate, we should be there in force! The Board, state officials and the media need to know that we’re vigilant – and that we’re going to respond if any kind of decision is made. The meetings are this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:00-4:00 at 1375 E Court Ave in Des Moines. Let me know if you can be there for even an hour. Every body and every voice matters.

And yes, I see we have a little weather event going on today as well. If this prairie blizzard keeps you tucked away, you can still monitor the IUB meetings by live-streaming at https://iowautilitiesboard.eduvision.tv/LiveSched.aspx. The Board will know that public interest is high whether you’re in the meeting room itself or watching remotely.


On today’s Fallon Forum, Dr. Charles Goldman and I debrief the Iowa Caucuses – both Democratic and Republican – and we welcome your input. Have you got a crazy caucus story to share? (Who doesn’t, right?) Is it time to ditch the Caucuses in exchange for something different, say . . . actually voting? Whatever post-caucus crud is stuck in your craw, give us a call while we’re live on the air, and get it out of your system. The number to call is (515) 528-8122.

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

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Big Day Is Here

Dear Friends,

I’ll keep it crisp, and ask you to do three things:

1. CAUCUS!  I hope everyone goes to their caucus tonight. It’s important! And I hope you’ll support Bernie Sanders. (Check out My Endorsement for President.)

2. It’s also a good idea to present a resolution (or two) at your caucus on an issue you feel strongly about. Resolutions on fighting climate change, stopping the Bakken Pipeline and related matters can be found here: Climate Caucus Resolutions.

3. Call-in to today’s Fallon Forum at (515) 528-8122 and let me know who you’re caucusing for and why. We’re live from 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online.

And an optional “ask,” if you’re inclined . . . This morning (Monday) at 7:00 a.m. CT, you can catch me chatting with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! If you miss it, I’ll post a podcast later. Feedback welcome.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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