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.”

“The following morning, they showed up again but never had a chance to get out of the car,” explained Randy. “They argued that the certified letter sent to me was all they needed. The Sheriff said it wasn’t, and told them to leave.”

Surveyors have yet to force their way onto Weslie & Teresa Phipps’ farm. Perhaps that’s because Weslie is the farmer who told the pipeline official, “They’d have to carry me out in a pine box before I’d let any oil pipeline people on my property.”

Weslie raises an excellent point: “I question the jurisdiction of the Iowa Utilities Board over an interstate oil pipeline of a private company. They are not a utility. The power of eminent domain was not given for private use. Any and all powers not delegated to government by the people remain with the people. Our rights are simply not for sale.”

A woman wrote to me, saying, “I totally understand the message about the aggressive and nasty reps of the pipeline company. Tell people to keep resisting, even if it means not being polite and nice, because the company reps don’t understand polite. They also don’t understand ‘no.’  I, too, received their packet and an offer. Mine came by mail because I wouldn’t let them come to my home when they called. I still get a call about once a week telling me they will be on my property to do some surveying and I say not by a long shot, stay off private property. (Sometimes my language might get a little more harsh, shall we say.)”

The woman went on to tell me, “One example of how nasty these people are was when they went into a nursing home and harassed an older lady to let them survey. The staff had to ask them to leave! True to form for ‘big oil’ and their money.”

Wow! I am hearing more and more such stories. All I can say to landowners is, stand strong – and to the rest of us, let’s continue to show our support for them.

Want one more example of why that’s important? On my Facebook page, one of my friends, Deborah Marlin, shared a news clip of my walk. Kim Luetkeman responded: “I don’t know you but thank you for sharing this. My family’s century farm is being affected by the pipeline. All the support we can get is greatly appreciated. It seriously means so much to have complete strangers help in our fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We aren’t about to give in and will fight for this as long as it takes.

{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.}