Pipeline Battle Moves to Courts

Dear Friends,

Keith Puntenney

Good news in the battle to stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline! Landowners and attorneys have formed the Private Property Rights Coalition (PPRC) to take the fight to the courts. PPRC’s lawsuit maintains that “the Iowa Utilities Board has no legal authority to grant eminent domain to Dakota Access,” and that “the Legislature did not intend for a nonresident interstate crude oil pipeline to be able to use our eminent domain laws to take farmland from Iowans and then not be subject to Iowa’s pipeline safety regulations.”

It’s a strong argument, as seen by the recent court decision in Kentucky, where the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that “Bluegrass Pipeline LLC does not have the power of eminent domain.”

One of the attorneys representing Iowa landowners, Richard Cook of Cherokee County, said “Our clients are rightfully upset. This is their land, and a Texas company just gets to come here and take it? That is not what the Legislature had in mind.”

Landowners also have engaged the services of the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines. Bill Hannigan of Davis Brown noted, “Out-of-state companies shouldn’t be allowed to use Iowa law to take farmland from Iowans and install a hazardous pipeline and then not be subject to our laws about safety.”

When one looks at the map of the proposed pipeline through Iowa, it is evident that Dakota Access worked hard to weave its way around Iowa cities and towns. What Dakota Access failed to weave around were lots of landowners determined to fight back. Two are involved in the lawsuit and are themselves attorneys, John Murray of Buena Vista County and Keith Puntenney of Boone County. Keith and John formed PPRC specifically to fund the lawsuit. They’re asking for tax-deductible membership contributions of $1,000 per landowner and for donations of any amount from other supporters.

Two weeks ago, I attended the press conference where landowners and their attorneys announced the lawsuit. It made my day. When it comes to stopping the pipeline, I truly feel this is one of the strongest angles yet. But the cost of the lawsuit will not be cheap. I’ve made a contribution to PPRC, and encourage everyone to do so. Here’s the link on how to donate.

Now, just because we’ve got a promising lawsuit happening doesn’t mean we can sit back and let the attorneys take it from here. We need to continue to engage Dakota Access on every front possible, including:

– Lobbying our lawmakers (yes, they’ll reconvene in January and it’s important for them to hear from you now) and other elected officials;

– Bird-dogging presidential candidates (so far, not a single one has come out against the Bakken pipeline);

– Educating ourselves and others about all the nuances of the issue:

– Speaking-up in public forums and in the media, including letters to the editor and ad campaigns;

– Intervening in the Iowa Utilities Board process; and

– Potentially engaging in non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, in the vein of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.


Dr. Charles Goldman co-hosts today’s Fallon Forum. Here’s our line-up:

1. Paul Chappell with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was in Iowa this weekend to talk about diplomacy as an effective alternative to war. Paul graduated from West Point in 2002 and served as a captain in Iraq. He is the author of the Road to Peace series.

2. In the Republican presidential campaign version of Battle of the Sexes, who won the debate within the debate: Donald Trump or Megyn Kelly?

3. One punching bag Republican presidential candidates can unite behind is Planned Parenthood. What does Dr. Goldman make of the basis for their frenzy to defund the organization?

4. Besides Fox News’ advertising clients (clear winners), who were the winners and losers in both the varsity and junior varsity debates?

5. Gulf Dead Zone: How much blame to we place on lawns and golf courses vs. agriculture?

Join us live every Monday from 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Call (515) 528-8122 to add your voice to the conversation. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. Podcasts available, too.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon