It was a great honor to be invited to speak in Omaha last week at the conclusion of “Run For Your Life,” a 500-mile relay organized by tribal youth in opposition to the Bakken Pipeline. I was deeply inspired by the commitment and passion of these young people.
Please take six minutes to watch this video — Run for Your Life Relay Against Dakota Access — produced by my coworker, Shari Hrdina. I hope you’ll take an additional minute to share it with others.
Here’s an abridged version of the speech I gave:
“Iowan pipeline fighters have come here today to stand with you in opposition to the Bakken Pipeline. We are from many groups, including Bold Iowa, the Bakken Resistance Coalition and the Meskwaki People.
“We represent farmers, landowners, tribes, environmentalists. Many of us have been in this fight for almost two years. In Iowa, we continue to stand strong against the Bakken Pipeline. And we honor the strong men and women who have accomplished something great — this run of 500 miles.
“Thirty years ago, I came here with another group of Iowans to greet 600 people with the Great Peace March, who had walked from Los Angeles on their way to Washington, DC. Two years ago, I came to Omaha from the other direction, on foot myself this time, walking from Los Angeles with 35 others on the Great March for Climate Action.
“It seems that every time I come to Omaha it has something to do with walking or running. This run you have done is truly a great thing. You sent a message to the Corps and to the President. You sent a message that was heard across the Missouri River and beyond.
“Last year, when I walked the Iowa portion of the pipeline route, I got to meet the people who live and work directly in its path. I talked with hundreds of farmers, landowners and residents of nearby towns. Very few of them want this pipeline. Even most landowners who signed an easement don’t want this pipeline.
“I heard story after story of people who were lied to by Dakota Access, who felt cajoled, pressured, even harassed. The company reps would say that the oil was going to stay in the U.S. They would lie about the safety of pipelines, and about how landowners would get very little compensation if the company had to come after them using eminent domain.
“There was even one farmer in southeast Iowa who refused to grant the company an easement. Well, they offered him teenage prostitutes if he would sign their papers. This company has no moral compass.
“That southeast Iowa farmer is still standing strong. And many others continue to stand strong. In Iowa, over 150 landowners refuse to sign away their land to Dakota Access. Nine landowners are part of a lawsuit that makes a very, very strong case that eminent domain cannot be used by a private, for-profit company.
“In Iowa, we continue to fight. Every week, there are multiple actions happening across the state, including a vigil last week in Des Moines in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. And soon, I will send a letter to President Obama signed by over 20 Iowa organizations, the same letter we delivered to the White House two weeks ago and signed by Jane Kleeb, Dallas Goldtooth, Frank James and me, a letter asking the President to tell the Corps to do its job.
“Yes, we remain strong. But this great thing you have done, this run of 500 miles, makes us stronger. It inspires us to continue to fight the Bakken Pipeline in court, through pressure on the Corps of Engineers, through the media — and if it comes to it, through standing in front of the bulldozers when they come to tear up our land. Farmers who’ve never even had a speeding ticket tell me they’ll stand with us to block the bulldozers.
“The writing is on the wall. Pipeline companies are losing. Just in the past month, people standing together stopped the Constitution Pipeline in New York, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in New England, and the Palmetto Pipeline in Georgia.
“So, rest, tired runners. But only for a day or two. Because we need you. We need your strength, your vision, your minds to win.
“And we win when we stand side by side.
“We win when we are broad, diverse, and united.
“We win when farmers, ranchers, tribes, city folk, environmentalists and climate activists work together, walk together, run together, and if necessary, get arrested together.
“So again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done. Thanks to all who helped organize this run and this rally. And thank you for gifting me the honor of speaking here on behalf of Iowa’s thousands of pipeline fighters.”
Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)
Thanks! – Ed Fallon