Let them in!

Dear Friends,

I woke up this morning ready to tell you about my new book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. But news accounts of the huge migrant caravan of Central American refugees heading northward through Mexico has touched my heart deeply. I know some of you won’t like what I’m going to say, but I feel compelled to say it anyway.

Let them in! It’s a tough truth to accept, but U.S. policy in Central America has been a major contributing factor to the destabilization and corruption driving Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadorans from their homes. As this excellent article in the Independent points out, the U.S. is long overdue for a reckoning.

Over 7,000 migrants march through southern Mexico, heading north toward the U.S. border. (John Moore, Getty Images)

From the article: “America must acknowledge the role we played in creating this crisis over the past half-century and find a way to solve it. It isn’t only our raison d’être, it’s our moral responsibility. There is a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard, one we helped cause, and we must be willing to do our bit and help these desperate people any way we can.”

I know what it’s like to walk a long way. But I don’t know what it’s like to live in a country where human rights abuses are so horrific that you have no option but to flee, often with your children and few possessions. Here’s one news account that offers some additional insight.

I know I’m doing my part to help create a better world, but I wish I could do more. If I had another eight hours in the day, I’d organize a caravan from Iowa, walking south to the Mexican border, to welcome and offer help to the migrants. If anyone else thinks that’s a good idea, let’s meet at 10:00 this Saturday morning at Ritual Cafe to discuss it. I can’t lead the charge on it, but I’m happy to brainstorm ways in which we can help the caravan. I’m concerned what might happen to the migrants when they arrive at our border.

So, about Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim — this is the book I’ve been working on for four years. I’m excited to have it accomplished, and hope you’ll come to the book launch on Sunday, December 2 at 2:00 at 500 E Locust Street in Des Moines. I hope you’ll buy a book, or two, or three, too. (Think stocking stuffer . . . better than coal.) All proceeds support the work of Climate March.

Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim is my memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. The book’s cover reads: “On the 3,100-mile, 8-month walk from LA to DC in 2014, dozens of marchers became a mobile village — weathering harsh conditions, sharing joys and sorrows, and intensifying their commitment to the cause as they sounded the alarm about the climate crisis. Through humor and candid introspection, Ed shares his experience on the March and how it brought into focus his lifelong search for love and meaning — even as intense, interpersonal dramas threatened to tear the March community apart.”

At the launch on December 2, I’ll talk about the book, read selections, and take questions. Hardcover and paperback books will be available for purchase and, sure, if you like, I’ll sign your copy. We’ll have beverages and light homemade snacks, because I don’t believe in parties without snacks. Thanks to Downtown Disciples for providing the space.

Thanks! – Ed

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Utilities Board rules against DAPL!

Dear Friends,

First a quick reminder about two events happening in Des Moines today and tomorrow (and check out our conversation about them on the second half of this week’s Fallon Forum):

— Wednesday, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Thoreau Center (3500 Kingman Blvd in Des Moines), the Middle East Peace Education Coalition is sponsoring a talk by Rabbi Brant Rosen titled “Anti-Semitism: the Reality and the Myth.”

— Thursday, 5:00-7:00 p.m. on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol, Iowa CCI is organizing a rally and concert to raise concerns about the World Food Prize’s focus on GMO crops and industrial agriculture vs organic production and family farms.

So, just when you think there’s been enough big news on DAPL, along comes more. Yesterday, in a decision favoring petitions filed by the Northwest Iowa Landowners Association (NILA) and the Iowa Sierra Club, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) ruled: “Dakota Access, LLC, shall file information describing how it will comply with the Utilities Board’s requirement that it maintain $25,000,000 in general liability insurance coverage for the benefit of affected parties in Iowa.”

This is significant! Dakota Access tried to weasel out of the liability commitment it made when it received a permit two years ago, and the IUB said, ‘NO’! (Kudos to Board members Geri Huser and Nick Wagner for voting in favor of the ruling.) Dakota Access argues that its commitment of $25 million is for an oil spill in any of the four states DAPL passes through (Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and North Dakota). The IUB’s ruling makes it clear that the $25 million commitment must be specifically for Iowa.

I spoke with John Murray of NILA this morning. John’s a Storm Lake attorney who has been active in defending landowners along the pipeline route since the beginning. John says, “If you look at what happened in Kalamazoo Michigan, where an oil spill reached a major water body, if we had something like that happen in Iowa, $25 million isn’t going come close to covering it. The $25 million requirement was an outgrowth of criticism that NILA and the Iowa Sierra Club raised regarding the risk of an oil spill. If Dakota Access fails to provide this coverage for Iowa the next logical step is for the IUB to revoke the permit.”

So, yeah, this ruling is a big deal. But it’s important to keep it in perspective. In a joint press release put out today by Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa, Christine Nobiss, director of Indigenous Iowa, said, “Twenty-five million dollars is nothing. Clean up of the 2010 oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan cost over a billion dollars. People who live there are still getting sick and dying. No amount of insurance can cover the full damage of a major oil spill. We need to assure the IUB continues to stand up to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).”

The IUB has given Dakota Access 21 days to comply with its insurance requirement. But really, we’ve been playing Russian Roulette. For sixteen months, DAPL has run close to half a million barrels of oil a day across our land and waterways without having even the minimum amount of insurance the IUB required. Dakota Access and its parent company, ETP, argue that the risk of a spill is minimal. Well, just this week, an ETP pipeline in Texas leaked into Button Willow Creek and Canyon Rock Lake. This one was a relatively small spill.

Next time, it could be worse. Next time, it could be Iowa.

Ed Fallon

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ALERT! Another oil pipeline is in the works!

Dear Friends,

In a world where it seems that most news is bad news, I’m sorry to have to pile on. But it’s better to know the truth than to live in denial — and if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it at least let’s you know what you’re up against and gives you a fighting chance to push back.

So, here’s the bad news: Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is planning to lay a second pipeline across Iowa!

Last week, I received an anonymous call from a long-time professional in the oil industry. I’m by nature cautious and not inclined to believe claims that aren’t well founded. So, I spent close to three hours on the phone with the caller. I also did a whole lot of additional research to corroborate what they told me.

Sorry to say, but their claim adds up. Just as ETP was quiet about DAPL #1 in 2014 — not letting the public know until it had bought off Iowa’s political establishment and had its ducks in a row — ETP wants to keep this new pipeline under wraps as long as possible.

We can’t let that happen! If we are to defeat this new pipeline, we have to start organizing NOW. One of Bold Iowa’s next steps is to determine what exactly ETP has to do to site the new pipeline, since it’s not immediately clear what existing easements allow.

Beyond that, there are three things YOU can do to help. Here’s our call to action:

1. Ask state and federal candidates running for office in Iowa if they support or oppose a second Dakota Access pipeline running diagonally across Iowa. We especially need to know where the candidates for governor and US Congress stand, but also candidates for the state legislature. Ask them (documented with a video if possible), let us know what they say, and we’ll spread the word so voters know.

2. Donate to Bold Iowa. We need your financial support to keep this fight going. Please consider a monthly donation as that gives us the solid base we need to focus on our work. We already spend way less time fundraising than most non-profits, and our monthly donors make that possible.

3. Share this press release through your social media connections and with any member of the mainstream media you have a connection with. Here’s a link to the release and the full text:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 11:00 a.m. CT

Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 and ed@boldiowa.com or Christine Nobiss at (319) 331-8034 and cnobiss@gmail.com.

Inside source indicates second oil pipeline planned for Iowa
Credible source within oil industry says twinning of DAPL in the works

Des Moines, Iowa —  Bold Iowa’s director, Ed Fallon, revealed today that, over the past week, he has had extensive contact with a highly credible source within the oil industry who informed him that Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) intends to build a second pipeline along the existing easement through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

“I’m by nature cautious and not inclined to believe claims that aren’t well founded,” said Fallon. “So, I spent close to three hours on the phone with the caller. I then did my own research and their claim adds up. Just as ETP was quiet about the first DAPL in 2014 — not letting the public know until it had bought off Iowa’s political establishment and had its other ducks in a row — ETP wants to keep this new line under wraps as long as possible so farmers, landowners, Indigenous communities, and other opponents have less time to respond and fight back.”

Fallon says his source’s information is supported by recent developments. A Jamestown Sun story two weeks ago indicated that the “Bakken Formation has reserves of 30 billion to 40 billion barrels of recoverable oil, or roughly four to five times more than the government’s latest estimate.”

On top of that, according to a Dallas News story out this week, “Growth in the Permian {Basin in West Texas} has, in fact, been shrinking, down almost every month this year, while declines in older wells are trending higher, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

“From ETP’s point of view, if you couple the economic realities that favor Bakken oil with the political reality that a change in leadership in Washington, DC is inevitable, it makes sense that ETP would want to move quickly and aggressively to expand its capacity significantly,” Fallon said.

Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa have worked as partners in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline for over two years. “As we push back against the abuse of eminent domain, the acceleration of climate change, and the threat oil pipelines pose to our land and water, it’s essential that the voices of Iowa’s Indigenous leaders are heard and taken seriously,” concluded Fallon.

Indigenous Iowa raises awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas, and coal have on the environment, particularly on Indigenous lands where government-backed corporate conglomerates practice predatory economics and exploit communities. Indigenous Iowa promotes the development and implementation of renewable energy through the worldview of Indigenous ideologies.

Bold Iowa builds rural-urban coalitions to fight climate change, prevent the abuse of eminent domain, protect Iowa’s soil, air and water, and promote non-industrial renewable energy.

# # #

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Iowa’s Suffering Senator

Dear Friends,

I’ve had it with Iowa’s welfare queens. Wells Fargo. Rockwell Collins. Pioneer Dupont. Chuck Grassley.

Senator Charles Grassley

Yes, Grassley. The Senator announced this week that he’ll apply for federal farm bailout money. Despite being worth $3.3 million. Despite working full-time as a US Senator since 1981. Despite his criticism of government assistance for the poor.

In an October 4 Des Moines Register story, Grassley said, “I would brag to you, actually, that this experience of mine — not being an absentee landlord but suffering what farmers suffer and being joyful when they are joyful — is a good experience for a senator from an agricultural state to have.”

I have no doubt that actual farmers — those who work the land day in and day out — suffer plenty, especially given Trump’s trade tariffs and the extreme weather of the New Climate Era. I’m sure there are plenty of ways a US senator suffers, too. But I’m also certain that — given such a powerful position that comes with incomparable prestige and privilege — the joys far outweigh the suffering.

So, just as Senator Grassley earned a reality check when he announced last December that the poor “are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” it’s time for another — drum roll please — Grassley reality check!

Once and for all, Senator, please put to rest the myth that you’re a farmer. You might have been a farmer many decades ago, but you’re now a career politician. You don’t tout that fact because voters don’t like career politicians. But if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it’s at least refreshing. So I’d like to suggest this slogan for your 2022 re-election campaign: “Vote Grassley, Iowa’s Leading Career Politician.”

No doubt, there are plenty of farmers hurting due to the tariffs, farmers who could use a shot in the arm. Grassley’s not one of them. His justification for taking bailout money as “equal treatment for everybody” rings as hollow as an empty grain bin. Everyone’s not equal, Senator. To pretend that you, as a US Senator worth $3.3 million, share much in common with the average Iowa farmer is creative accounting at best.

Here’s the box of garden produce we brought to Iowa’s suffering Senator.

Ironically, as more consumers localize their food sources, potential beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs are small farmers raising so-called “non-traditional” crops. (I use quotation marks because, face it, heirloom fruits and vegetables are a heckuva lot more traditional than GMO corn and beans.) That includes farmers like . . . me!

The official definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” Yeah, the Birds and Bees Urban Farm that Kathy Byrnes and I operate in Sherman Hill is officially a farm. I would wager a hefty sum of produce that Kathy and I do a lot more hands-on farm work than Senator Grassley has done in a long, long time.

Grassley’s “equal treatment for everybody” got me thinking, “Where’s our bailout?” So I called the USDA Farm Service Agency to enquire. I learned, alas, that the bailout only applies to farmers raising corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy, almonds, and cherries — some of the same crops that already receive hefty taxpayer subsidies.

I’m not opposed to some system of price support for agriculture. Food production is too unreliable — and too important — to not provide a back-up plan to assure farmers don’t lose everything when there’s a bad year, or two, or three. But the only explanation for farm subsidies targeted to just a handful of commodity crops is the political and monetary clout of Big Ag. No Iowa farmer ever got crazy rich growing garlic — and no garlic farmer is rich enough to sway federal farm policy.

It’s time to revisit government support for agriculture. If we must have subsidies, let’s target them to farmers who actually need them, and not merely to those raising crops primarily destined for export. And to be clear, Birds and Bees Urban Farm will never ask for nor accept government handouts. There is strength in diversity, and with over three dozen products, we always have plenty of products that do well even as some fail. We don’t want or need the government’s help.

I want to encourage Senator Grassley to boldly go where few big farmers have gone before and say “No!” to taxpayer handouts. Taking him at his word — that as a farmer, he has suffered — Kathy and I today brought Senator Grassley some of the bounty of our harvest. Here’s the livestream from that effort, which one could say was marginally successful. The Senator’s staff was, as always, gracious and accommodating, and agreed to forward our request for a meeting to discuss farming and climate change to the Senator.

I’ll keep you posted as to whether that meeting transpires.

Ed

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