Letter to the President on Bakken

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Bold letterhead

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear President Obama,

Your rejection of the Keystone Pipeline was truly historic, and we again commend you for that bold act of foresight and leadership. Your decision sent a strong statement about the importance of protecting land, water and property rights. It also conveyed the message that climate change is a clear and present danger demanding America’s full commitment to ending our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Again, we thank you.

With that frame of reference, we ask you in the strongest possible terms to exert the same clarion leadership with regards to the proposed Bakken Pipeline. Over the past twenty months farmers, ranchers, landowners, tribal leaders, property-rights advocates, environmentalists, attorneys, local elected officials and climate activists in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois have done everything possible to stop Dakota Access from building the pipeline.

In Iowa on March 10, despite overwhelming public opposition to the use of eminent domain for a private company (74% in a poll last year), and despite eroding public support for the pipeline itself (support dropped from 57% in 2015 to 47% in a recent poll), the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued Dakota Access a permit to build the pipeline, granting it the authority to use eminent domain. But that permit came with six conditions that Dakota Access had to meet before it could begin construction.

On April 9, the IUB determined that those conditions had been met, but made it clear that Dakota Access could not begin construction until the Army Corps of Engineers completes work on “issues that include endangered species, environmental issues, cultural resources and historical preservation.”

Two critical items are missing from the Corps’ intended course of action:

(1) Failure to properly consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on the pipeline’s impacts; and

(2) A comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that includes the pipeline’s impact on climate change. [Bakken pipeline set to get a green light, Des Moines Register, April 9, 2016]

Regarding the failure to properly consult, as mandated by section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), revised regulations 36 CFR Part 800, the Corps is mandated to initiate consultation with tribes whose historic properties may be affected by the pipeline route. This includes consulting and coordinating with the aforementioned tribes on the identification of historic and tribal properties that may be adversely affected by pipeline construction and route. This entire process has not occurred properly.

Regarding the Environmental Impact Statement, letters to the Corps from the Environmental Protection Agency on March 11, Department of Interior on March 29, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on March 15, all make it clear that the Corps’ efforts have fallen short.

Specifically, the Department of Interior’s letter to the Corps requests an “EIS to fully evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.” We concur.

A full Environmental Impact Statement, that is comprehensive to include climate change and cultural resources, is warranted for the entire 1134-mile pipeline route. We respectfully request that you and your Administration make clear to the Corps that nothing less than a full EIS is demanded and expected.

Again, thank you for your strong leadership on renewable energy, climate change and a range of pressing environmental concerns. We are confident that your voice in this matter will further define your legacy as a President who acted with great foresight not just on the Keystone XL Pipeline but on the Bakken Pipeline as well.


Ed Fallon, Director, Bold Iowa
735 19th Street, Des Moines, IA 50314

Jane Kleeb, Director, Bold Nebraska and Bold Alliance
1010 North Denver Ave, Hastings, NE 68901

Dallas Goldtooth, Coordinator, Indigenous Environmental Network
PO Box 485, Bemidji, MN 56619

Frank James, Director, Dakota Rural Action
P.O. Box 549, Brookings, SD 57006

29 Replies to “Letter to the President on Bakken”

  1. Eileen Kenyon

    Thank you for this letter. The issue is an A-1 priority , and was so complete and clear in it’s message.

  2. LaDonna Allard

    Please Mr Obama help us stop this pipeline, you honored us by coming to my home in Cannon Ball North Dakota. I ask you to look our way again as the closest land owner on the Cannon Ball River, I love my land and the river i grew up on, Dont let them build something that will damage our world we are only trying to live. I ask for my grandchildren stop this pipeline.
    LaDonna Brave Bull Allard

  3. Charles K. Burrows

    Aloha President Obama,

    As a keiki o ka aina (child of the land in Hawaii) and your legacy as President of the US to prevent Climate Change from impacting future generations, I implore you to reject this proposed Bakken Pipeline.
    Chuck Burrows

  4. Pingback: Tell the Corps to do its job! | The Fallon Forum

  5. Anonymous

    I am a citizen of Iowa and I myself have helped in Boone I think this pipeline will poison our waters and they lead to our oceans So please Obama help us

  6. Mary Beth Versgrove

    I shook your hand Mr. President, on the lawn of the Old Capitol in Iowa City when you ran for your first term. You promised us HOPE in return for our support. Now, I implore you to save our beautiful state from what feels like impending rape by Dakota Access. The governor has abandoned the people for corporate interests. The citizens of Iowa have constitutional rights to clean water, clean air, health and happiness all of which are compromised forever more if the pipeline is built. “Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong” (O’Connell) Do the morally right thing for Iowa.

    1. Wiliam H. Alexande

      I have been involved with this pipeline fight for the past two years. We have property that is being faced with eminent domain. How much crude oil do we need? Isn’t t about time that we consider about the future generation and the quality of air and life that they will burden with for many years?

      Please make sure that the Corps of Engineers do their duties and responsibilities to make sure that our waters are safe. One leak and this could be a serious problem for many citizens of Iowa and surrounding states. Oil in the fields will put many famers out of work and these are not temporary jobs. This is their source of income. Stand beside us .

      Thank you.

  7. Richard Pint

    Very opposed to this pipeline coming across Iowa. Lower the yield of the crops, leaks will happen, causing major problems. Disrupting the land while building. AND crossing the Mississippi river. Eminent domain is wrong, in my opinion, for the farmers that don’t want it. Believe they are violating the Constitution doing this. I’d like to fire that utilities board.. I’ve e-mailed, telephoned various senators, representatives, and the governor of Iowa, telling them this is wrong. I continue to support those that are fighting this project.

  8. Mary Knox

    I grew up in Keokuk, Iowa on the Mississippi River. This pipeline will go under the water on this rapid part of the river. Just 5 miles south of the proposed crossing is one of the first hydroelectric power plants in Iowa. It is on the list of Historic Places in Iowa. It was built in 1913. There is a total river dam. The Keokuk water plant operator has informed the IUB that a spill in this area would require a complete shutdown of the water plant within 8 hours. They altered the document, so I cannot copy and paste any part of it. Does that sound like the IUB has Iowa’s well being in mind? Iowa is leading in investing in renewable energy sources. This is wrong for Iowa.

  9. monica

    Please stop the pipeline going through Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois.
    ” A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble”. Charles Spurgeon
    Stopping the pipeline will carve your name on our hearts forever.

  10. Carole Holmes

    It seems with all the wonderful technology we now depend on we seem to still be totally unable to rid ourselves from something as destructive as oil. Oil actually comes from dead things. In so many cases oil is found in areas of our world where there is nothing growing and the land is totally unproductive. Why in the world would we think of bringing this old destructive product accross fruitful productive farm ground that helps to feed the world. Not to mention the polution that is created from the burning of oil in our vehicles. It is time to use our inteligence and our money to further protecton of our environment. The goal should be to eliminate oil from the equasion and use natural clean wind sun etc. for our energy.

  11. Hazel Zimmerman

    For all of the reasons stated in Ed Fallon’s (and three others’)
    letter, I strongly oppose construction of the Bakken pipeline to transport toxic crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois across South Dakota and Iowa. No comprehensive environmental impact statement has been made, and the violation of Native American lands has not been considered as required by law. Please show your leadership by stopping this pipeline as you did for the Keystone XL pipeline. Thank you.

  12. Ariane Parkes-Perret

    I too am strongly opposed to this pipeline. With agricultural runoff, Iowa is already notorious for having some of the most polluted waterways in the country. Building this pipeline will only add to the burden. A leak would not only devastate watersheds, but would create a huge economic burden for farmers as well as taxpayers. Simply stated, the Bakken Pipeline is NOT good for Iowa. Please put a stop to it.

    1. Nancy Olson

      We don’t need it.. those who think it will benefit them should be aware it won’t in the long run except for Bakken.

  13. Sarah Elliott

    Your immediate response on this is tantamount!
    Our future is at stake.
    What do we have to pay to find someone who cares???
    How much will it cost us?
    We cannot continue to pollute the planet.
    It is a finite entity.
    When it’s gone, so are we.

  14. Briget

    Thank you for this great letter. Here in PA peoples land is being taken through eminent domain for the “Constitution Pipeline”

    The most unconstitutional series of events, I have been witness to. One family who has a maple tree farm which they produce maple syrup from had their trees felled while the taps for syrup were still in the trees. It’s a disgrace to democracy how the pipeline companies are treating people. Believe it or not, this was done before the permits were in place.

    It’s imperative we stop this assault on the American people for profits for corporations that are destroying our environment and our democracy.

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  16. Matt Remle

    I strongly oppose the Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline its proposed route violates the 1868 Ft. Laramie treaty. Our Standing Rock Sioux tribe tribal government released the following:

    “the Dakota Access Pipeline violates Article 2 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty which guarantees that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe shall enjoy the “undisturbed use and occupation” of our permanent homeland, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.”

    Additionally, the pipeline will cross the Missouri river, source of drinking water for thousands, our tribal council stated this:

    “the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe relies on the waters of the life-giving Missouri River for our continued existence, and the Dakota Access Pipeline poses a serious risk to Mni Sose and to the very survival of our Tribe.”

    Stop violating treaties! Reject the Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline.

    Matt Remle

  17. Susie Petra

    It is critical that we become leaders in transitioning away from fossil fuels, replacing these with clean energy….Increment, will not the solution. I urge you, Mr. President, to tell the Army Corps of Engineers to do due diligence in its assessment of the Dakota Access/Bakken Pipeline. The future of our land, water and property rights are at stake.

  18. Liz Krebill Fox

    As Ed and others wrote above, this pipeline would be a disaster – environmentally and economically, and would put the lives/livelihoods of millions of people living in America’s heartland at risk. Please do all you can in your power to stop this debacle.

  19. Pingback: Fallon Forum: Keep Fighting Bakken Pipeline | Blog for Iowa

  20. Glen Umbaugh

    Dear Mr. Obama: I very much appreciate your bold steps to combat climate change. Please consider executive action that would permanently close the Bakken oil field. Those fossil fuels are not needed today, would eliminate the need for the pipeline, and are the greatest source of ethane pollution on our planet.

    Glen R. Umbaugh


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