Bakken oil flows through Iowa to China

Dear Friends,

First, to folks living close to Davenport, Iowa City, or Cedar Rapids, I’ll discuss my just-released book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim at three separate events in eastern Iowa this weekend. Please come, and visit the Bold Iowa website for details about the book and tour schedule.

Rural Iowa can’t catch a break with President Trump. The trade tariffs threatened to inflict a $2.2 billion hit to Iowa’s economy. Farmers dodged that bullet, only to learn this week that China wants to resume importing US crude oil.

That’s bad news for landowners living along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) wants to expand capacity along the route. With expanded capacity comes greater risk to Iowa’s soil and water — and to Earth’s climate.

That fact was driven home emphatically last week by the National Climate Assessment, which warned of catastrophic impacts to our health and economy as the climate crisis worsens. Maybe President Trump considers the thirteen federal agencies that put together the Climate Assessment purveyors of fake news. They’re not, of course, and here’s a related, irrefutable slice of non-fake news:

ETP lied when it told Iowans DAPL was for domestic consumption!

Farmers and landowners remember that lie. Native communities along the route remember. The rest of us who fought against the pipeline remember. We presume the Iowa Utilities Board remembers, too.

Corroboration of ETP’s deception is abundant, as indicated in this story from September 1, 2016, by The Intercept: “The company claimed in a presentation in Iowa, a state that granted approval for the project this year, that the pipeline will feature ‘100% domestic produced crude’ that ‘supports 100% domestic consumption.’”

Over 200 march in Des Moines in frigid conditions on December 14, 2016, in support of the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit.

The Intercept’s story goes on to say, “The domestic energy claim, which has been touted by company brochures and a pro-pipeline website, has also been used to criticize hundreds of demonstrators in North Dakota who say the Dakota Access endangers drinking water and threatens sites that are sacred to a number of Native American nations and tribes.”

It’s crystal clear that ETP all along intended DAPL to serve its private interests, not the public good. The claim that DAPL is “critical infrastructure” is, like ETP’s domestic consumption pledge, a bald-faced lie.

Keith Puntenney and Carolyn Raffensperger speak at a rally after the Iowa Supreme Court hearing on DAPL, September 12, 2018.

It’s time for Governor Reynolds, Iowa lawmakers, and especially the Iowa Utilities Board to call out ETP for its destructive, costly ruse. Hopefully, too, the Iowa Supreme Court understands that DAPL’s permit was granted under false pretenses. The Court’s ruling on the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit against the misuse of eminent domain to build DAPL could be issued soon. Stay tuned.

— Ed Fallon

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Fire relief fund update

Dear Friends,

Ed’s perch on top a stack of 300 hardcover books.

I’ve got a new piece of furniture: A pile of boxes containing 300 copies of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. Sure, it looks right handsome in the corner of our living room, but I’d be happy to sell you a piece or two. Click here for details, or come to the launch of my yearlong book tour this Sunday in Des Moines, 2:00 p.m. at 500 E. Locust Street. We’ve also got readings coming up in Davenport on December 7 and in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids on December 8. Here’s the schedule for these and other readings.

And yeah, the book is very readable. Even my cat Mika is getting into it.

Cat Mika is captivated by Ed’s new book.

 

In other news, California’s deadliest fire ever reminds us that, while we have to move beyond fossil fuels as quickly as possible, we also have to help the victims of global warming’s wrath. And no, President Trump, we don’t all need to grab rakes and fan out across the forest floor. Often, the best thing we can is to send money or supplies directly to the victims.

April Jones invited friends and neighbors over for dinner and respiratory masks.

 

 

 

While the fire was still raging, I got a call from April Jones describing the dangerous air quality in Chico, where she lives. Chico is about 14 miles from Paradise, the town of 26,000 that the Camp Fire incinerated — the town President Trump called “Pleasure.” Twice.

After talking with some of our Bold Iowa team members, I offered to help. High-quality respiratory masks were badly needed and in such high demand there were none left on store shelves in Chico. I checked stores in the Des Moines area and found a few that had masks. Kathy Byrnes and I bought as many as we could manage and Shari Hrdina figured out how to ship them.

April added a word of thanks to her mask.

Thanks to many of you, Bold Iowa raised enough money to send 380 masks to April and her neighbors. Besides that shipment of masks, I want to thank Mika’s veterinarian, Dr. Kim Houlding, for providing an additional 250 masks. Because of the rain this past week and the tireless effort of nearly 10,000 firefighters, we’re holding those masks in reserve as there will, unfortunately, certainly be other fires where these masks are needed.

Last week, April wrote to say, “I had people over for dinner today and handed out about half of the masks. Some people in Magalia are getting to go home and begin the clean up process. These masks will help. I really appreciate all your efforts to help us!”

Given all that’s going on just in our own country, it’s hard to imagine there’s a climate denier still out there:
— Fires in California,
— UN report last month saying we have twelve years to figure out climate change or else,
— This month’s National Climate Assessment laying out the catastrophic impact of climate change on the US economy and public health, and
— What might be the coldest November in Iowa on record (following the coldest April on record).

Even President Trump has moved beyond calling climate change a Chinese hoax, though he refuses to hear what scientists are saying about the clear, verifiable cause of our problem.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we all must do everything we can at this unprecedented moment in human history. One small thing you can do is buy my book — all proceeds support the work of Climate March. Beyond the intriguing story of an amazing and exhausting adventure, the book might inspire you to find ways to deepen your own commitment to help mobilize America to fight climate change, before it’s too late.

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An amazing group of people

Dear Friends,

As greedy fossil-fuel tycoons escalate their abuse of eminent domain to steal our land, foul our water, and destroy our planet, we must push back with all the strength and commitment we can muster. Standing Rock became a visual manifestation of our commitment to not back down, and we who were empowered through Standing Rock continue to fight for our future.

In the face of such an enormous crisis as climate change, we must think big and act big. One huge opportunity to make a difference is the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. On Saturday, September 1 following a 9:00 a.m. press conference at the Iowa Utilities Board building at 1375 E. Court Ave in Des Moines, marchers will set out from Birdland Park at 10:00 a.m., tracking the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline for nearly 100 miles. The March finishes in Fort Dodge on Saturday, September 8 in conjunction with the international Rise for Climate day of action with a Celebration of March at 1:30 p.m. at City Square Park.

The March is organized by Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa. It offers an important opportunity to come together and show the world that we won’t back down, that we’re not going away, that we’re in this fight until we achieve justice for all people and sustainability for our Earth.

We march in support of the nine Iowa farmers and Sierra Club who filed a lawsuit against DAPL for abusing eminent domain to build the pipeline. If we win this lawsuit, it could stop the flow of oil from north of Standing Rock all the way to central Illinois!

We also march as a living, moving example of how people can find common ground and create a sustainable future, and to recognize what happened in the past to the Indigenous peoples of this land. The March is, in part, a statement as to why it’s essential that we recognize the sovereignty of Indigenous people today.

We’ll march 10 – 15 miles a day. We’ll camp at farms and in parks. Our power source is a solar collector. We’ll use a trailer designed with environmentally-friendly commodes and solar showers. We’ll eat lots of fresh, locally-grown food from farms that are part of the new vision for agriculture. Farmers, environmentalists, and Indigenous leaders will have deep conversations on a level that, if not unprecedented, is certainly unusual — and critically important.

The people participating in this March are truly an amazing group of individuals, including:

  • Manape LaMere, one of the seven headsmen from Standing Rock;
  • David Thoreson, the first American to sail both directions through the northwest passage while documenting climate change’s impact on the Arctic;
  • Donnielle Wanatee, a Meskwaki woman who stood up against the Dakota Access Pipeline over four years ago — before most people had even heard of the pipeline;
  • Fred Kirschenmann, an organic farmer known internationally for his work on sustainable farm policy;
  • Christine Nobiss, a Plains Cree-Salteaux woman who has earned national recognition as the founder of Indigenous Iowa, and who also works with Seeding Sovereignty;
  • Debbie Griffin, an urban minister whose church in downtown Des Moines is focused on social justice and environmental stewardship.

That’s the short list. The Indigenous, farm, and environmental leaders who’ve come together to make this powerful statement have much to offer.

If you can join the March for a day, please do. Come to our kick-off on September 1, our rally at the end of the March on September 8, and for dinner and conversation in our camp every evening at 5:30 p.m.

Better yet, if you’re able and willing to march, grab a good pair of walking shoes and come march with us.

If you can’t be with us in the flesh, please support us with a donation. A grassroots effort like this needs all the financial help it can get. And yes: spread the word! Like Standing Rock and the many endeavors that have sprung from it, this march has the potential to ignite a prairie fire, one that spreads a message of strength and healing for ourselves and our planet.

— Ed Fallon

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Why march?

Dear Friends,

Truly, it is not possible to overstate the importance of the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit! Oral arguments will be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court on September 12 at 9:00 a.m. If the plaintiffs win, not only could we stop the oil from flowing through Iowa but we could change the conversation on whether the rule of law has fallen victim to the fossil-fuel giants’ use of eminent domain to expand their private infrastructure.

It’s also not possible to overstate the importance of the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March in raising awareness about the lawsuit. Long marches that demand sacrifice and commitment from the participants galvanize public interest in a way that press releases and forums sometimes can’t.

Shari Hrdina tracing the logo onto our solar shower / ecocommode trailer.

Thirty-five people have committed to joining the March each day. We have capacity for another fifteen. An action such as this is not something everyone can do — and many of you are already doing important work to address climate change and related issues. But if you’re at all able, this March is a solid opportunity to make a difference in the life-and-death struggle to secure a viable future for all.

So, here are the top 10 reasons why you should join the March, if not for the entire week, then for a day or more:

1. As Bill McKibben said regarding climate action, “Very few people on earth ever get to say: ‘I am doing, right now, the most important thing I could possibly be doing.’ If you’ll join this fight that’s what you’ll get to say.”

2. Because of the excellent partnership between Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa, many Native leaders have agreed to participate in the March. These leaders bring deep wisdom to the conversation about land, water and climate. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to meet and learn from them on the March.

3. All the folks who’ve signed up to march are truly remarkable individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. Visit Bold Iowa’s Marcher Profile page to learn a bit about them — then come meet them in real life on the March.

4. Walking is great therapy. In these troubled and troubling times, the simple, primal activity of walking can be invigorating and healing.

5. Camping is a blast — and even more fun when you’re doing it with a cool group of people committed to working together for a better world. That said, bring comfortable gear and a set of ear plugs.

Lyssa Wade with Veggie Thumper will be doing the cooking on the March.

6. The food will be awesome. Lyssa Wade’s Veggie Thumper bus is our mobile kitchen. If you haven’t thumped Lyssa’s yummables, you’ll be in for a treat. A lot of the produce will come from the Meskwaki Settlement’s Red Earth Farm and other local farmers.

7. Each evening after dinner, we’ll host an informal conversation facilitated by a Native leader and an Iowa farmer. Besides raising awareness about the lawsuit, the March can be a catalyst for discovering common ground between farmers, Indigenous people, and environmentalists. These forums are a good opportunity to do that.

8. Beyond the importance of influencing the public dialogue on climate, water, and land, this March is an opportunity for spiritual growth. Each day will begin with a prayer and blessing, sometimes led by Native drummers, sometimes by others who bring their spiritual perspective to bear on the important work we are called to embrace.

9. After the day’s work is accomplished, there will be music. Well, I’m bringing my guitar, at least. I know of one other marcher bringing an instrument, and I feel fairly confident there’ll be other instruments and musicians who want to round out the day with an informal “jam.”

10. Beyond the many, many people who’ve helped pull this March together, our core organizing team of Christine Nobiss, Shari Hrdina, Sarah Spain, and I have worked our tails off to make this a powerful and successful experience. You really don’t want all that well-harnessed energy to be squandered without being part of it, do you?

We’re just over a week from the start of the March. It’s not too late to sign up. Read on for more detail about things you need to know. We hope you’ll participate!

APPLICATION
If you’re marching and haven’t sent in an application, please take five minutes to do so. We’ve made it simple and straight forward. Our cooks need to know your food preferences, and there’s lots of other important info in there. Click here to fill it out.

CAMPSITES
Aug 31 – Birdland Park, 2100 Saylor Rd, Des Moines
Sept 1 – Griffieon Farm, 11655 NE 6th St, Ankeny
Sept 2 – Memorial Park, 114 S. Main Ave, Huxley
Sept 3 – City Church of Ames-Des Moines, 2400 Oakwood Rd, Ames
Sept 4 – Boone County Fairgrounds, 1601 Industrial Park Rd, Boone
Sept 5 – Pilot Mound Community Center
Sept 6 – Oak Park Golf and Rec Center, 105 Oak Park Rd, Dayton
Sept 7 – Maria and Don Nelson’s acreage, 2271 290th Street, Fort Dodge

FUNDRAISING
We’ve received several grants, support from five non-profit organizations, and a number of individual donations. But we need more folks to step forward to finish pulling together the financial pieces necessary for a successful event.

Take a little time to reach out to friends, family, and others. Ask them to sponsor a marcher for $20 a day — or $160 for the entire March. Check out the Marcher Profile page for details.

GEAR
Marchers, you’ll need to cram all your gear into two large bags, plus a day pack or satchel. For guidance on what you’ll need and how to pack, check out our packing list and video.

All marchers will have a designated spot for their bags on the gear truck. If there’s a piece of equipment you don’t own, can’t afford, and would like to borrow (e.g., tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, etc.), let us know ASAP and we’ll try to track something down for you.

MARCHER PROFILE
These are an essential part of how we’ve been able to encourage people to join the March and support it financially. So, if you haven’t yet, send us:

  • Your photo,
  • A few sentences about why you’re marching,
  • A little bit about who you are and where you’re from, and
  • How people can follow your experience on the March.

MEDIA OUTREACH
We’re eager to let folks along the route know that we’re good people and have our collective best interest in mind. Please share the short promotional video, produced by Fintan Mason.

Also, view the film Ralph King put together, called “Crossing the Divide,” from last year’s Climate Justice Unity March, to see what we’re eager to avoid this year.

Take 5 seconds to click “going” on the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March Facebook Event.

SEPTEMBER 1: START OF THE MARCH
We’re arranging car pools to bring marchers from our campsite at Water Works Park to the Iowa Utilities Board, 1375 E. Court Ave, Des Moines, for a press conference at 9:00 a.m. After that, we’ll car pool to Birdland Marina where we’ll begin the March following the Des Moines River for the first couple miles of a 13.2-mile day. Click here for Facebook event.

SEPTEMBER 8: RALLY IN FORT DODGE
At the end of our final day’s march, we’ll hold a celebratory rally at City Square Park, 424 Central Ave in downtown Fort Dodge from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. Native drummers will welcome marchers as we arrive. Food will be available from the Veggie Thumper bus, and a popular local band, Brutal Republic, will perform. We’ll have a few speeches from marchers, too. This connects with the International “Rise for Climate” mobilization, and we hope folks from across the state will join us in Fort Dodge. Click here for Facebook event.

VEHICLES
Consistent with our commitment to minimizing our carbon footprint, we’re trying to keep the number of vehicles on the March to a minimum.

Here’s our fleet:

  • A 26’ gear truck
  • Our Commode/Shower trailer (which is 3,000+ pounds and comes with a 2” ball hitch)
  • The pickup truck needed to haul the Commode/Shower trailer
  • A 2000 Ford Ranger — our Logistics-Mobile — which will pull our solar collector
  • The Veggie Thumper food bus
  • A sag wagon (perhaps a full-size sedan) to pick up marchers when needed
  • A back-up sag wagon

Most of our vehicle needs are coming together. But we still need:

  1. The sag wagon,
  2. A full-size pickup truck to haul the commode/shower trailer, and
  3. A driver for that pickup truck.

If you’re planning to bring a vehicle to Des Moines at the start of the March, let us know ASAP if you’ll need a place to park it. And if you do, let us know what type of vehicle you have so we can figure out how large a parking spot will be needed.

If you need a place to park in Des Moines, if you have a vehicle that would serve as our sag wagon or trailer hauler, or if you’d be willing to help with driving, get back to Sarah Spain ASAP at sarah@climatemarch.org or (530) 289-6683.

Thanks from Christine, Ed, Sarah and Shari — the Bold Iowa/Indigenous Iowa March Team!

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Fort Dodge in the spotlight on September 8

Dear Friends,

Can you help get this press release out? There’s nothing like a call from a local person to their newspaper, tv station, radio station, or key social media contact to generate interest in a story. And if landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club win their lawsuit against DAPL and stop the flow of oil, this will indeed be a story heard ’round the world!

The First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March can play a key role in helping build public interest in the lawsuit. But Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa NEED YOUR HELP!

We’ve still got capacity for more people to join the March. If you’re interested in marching for a day, two days, or (best of all!) the entire week, sign up right away. Here’s the link to the application.

If you can’t march but would like to donate to support the march (or a specific marcher), visit our donation page.

And here’s some big news: September 8 has been designated an international day of action called Rise for Climate. Our planned arrival and rally in Fort Dodge at 2:00 p.m. that day is generating interest across the country!

So, please plan to join us in Fort Dodge on September 8. The day’s march will be around 12 miles. Our closing rally at 2:00 p.m. will feature food, music, and inspiring words from some of the marchers. Come for one or both — and if you’re heading to Des Moines and you’ve got room in your vehicle for a tired marcher or two, we could use some carpooling options.

Back to that press release. Whatever you can do to get it into the hands of anyone and everyone who can help spread the word would be appreciated. Thanks! – Ed

*******

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 9:00 a.m. CT

Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.com
Contact: Christine Nobiss at (319) 499-8039 or cnobiss@gmail.com

Groups announce First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March
Natives, farmers, environmentalists to walk 90 miles following DAPL route

Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa today announced that thirty opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline will march ninety miles from Des Moines to Fort Dodge to raise awareness about the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit, which will be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court on September 12.

The March kicks off on Saturday, September 1 at 9:00 a.m. with a press conference at the Iowa Utilities Board (1375 E. Court Ave, Des Moines). Marchers will then trek thirteen miles to camp at the Griffieon Family Farm (11655 NE 6th St, Ankeny). The March will finish in Fort Dodge on Saturday, September 8 with a rally and celebration at City Square Park, 424 Central Ave, at 2:00 p.m.

“The First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March was initiated to support the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Through this huge challenge of walking ninety miles, we hope to raise awareness about how this historic lawsuit potentially impacts all of us regarding our land, water, climate, and property rights. If landowners prevail, it could stop the oil from flowing through Iowa. If they lose, it could blow eminent domain wide open for all sorts of private purposes.”

The March will be a self-contained community, with participants camping on farms or in parks each night. The March has its own “bathroom trailer,” complete with environmentally-friendly commodes and solar showers. Marchers will use a solar collector for much of their power needs. The “Veggie Thumper” bus will provide food, much of it purchased from Red Earth Farms at the Meskwaki settlement. Each evening, there will be a community dialogue facilitated by a Native American leader and an Iowa farmer.

People interested in marching are encouraged to sign up on Bold Iowa’s website. The application, profiles of marchers, and more information can be found here.

Indigenous Iowa was founded by Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux from the Gordon First Nation. She is a decolonizer and also works with Seeding Sovereignty. One of the main goals of Indigenous Iowa is to raise 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, promote non-industrial renewable energy, and protect Iowa’s soil, air and water.

# # #

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Raising awareness for effective action

Dear Friends,

I’m a big believer in pacing oneself. We’ve got to take time to smell the roses even in the midst of intense struggle. Yet sometimes — often, in all honesty — the demands of fighting for justice require some pretty exhausting days.

Josie Ironshield

The First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March will be a string of such days. But the importance of this march — raising awareness about the historic lawsuit that could stop the flow of oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline — can’t be understated.

Last Tuesday’s investigative trip to Lyon County to dig into the recent tar sands oil spill was such a day. Well, two days actually, one of them involving numerous meetings and nine hours in a car. Check out the culmination of that trip with this excellent article in the N’West Iowa Review.

Regina Tsosie

Efforts by residents and advocacy groups to monitor the oil clean up will continue, regrettably, as the effort may take over a year. And in a new development that has residents near Iowa’s Great Lakes fuming, soil and plant debris contaminated with tar sands oil is being dumped in their county. Check out this article in the Dickinson County News.

ACTION ALERT: CALL GOV. REYNOLDS AT (515) 281-5211 AND ASK HER TO PUT A STOP TO DUMPING TAR SANDS OIL IN DICKINSON COUNTY.

Christine Nobiss and Dara Jefferson

Sunday was another long day. It started at 5:00 a.m. and landed Kathy and me back in Des Moines after 10:00 p.m. The highlight of the day was the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women rally in Rock Island, Illinois. Check out the livestream, which is both powerful and instructional. I’ve included with this blog a few photos of the inspiring Native leaders who spoke at the event.

Sunday’s trip concluded with a sunset tour of tornado damage in Marshalltown. I was blown away (yeah, bad pun, I know) at how severely the tornado had torn up that community. I’ve been in communication with Chief of Police Mike Tupper and State Rep. Mark Smith. Help will certainly be needed, especially for the low-income families hit hard in northeast Marshalltown. Stay tuned.

Dawson Davenport and Ed Fallon

In other news, a Des Moines Register article reminded us of the one-year anniversary of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya announcing that they’d repeatedly vandalized equipment along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). I caught flack for my quote in the Register story, where I describe Jessica and Ruby’s action as “misguided” because “it alienated a lot of people who we need on our side. So while I respect and admire their passion, I don’t think it was a wise decision.”

Narcissa Trujillo-Nolen, Regina Tsosie, Larry Lockwood, and Dan Eads

For an injustice to end (and DAPL is unjust on so many levels), you have to continually build more and more popular opposition. Fact-finding, community forums, press releases, protests, nonviolent civil disobedience, lawsuits, speaking out at official meetings — all turned public opinion against DAPL. Torching bulldozers and vandalizing valves didn’t. In fact, it gave pro-pipeline forces an excuse to pass legislation this year classifying DAPL as “critical infrastructure” and creating criminal penalties that could scare people away from exercising their First Amendment rights in the future.

Some have cited Gandhi in defense of Jessica and Ruby’s action. But Gandhi never destroyed property and was always open about everything he did. Most significantly, Gandhi was about effective action. Even his symbolic acts were orchestrated with an eye toward moving Indian and global opinion toward supporting India’s independence from Britain.

Gandhi wasn’t just about civil disobedience, which constituted a very small portion of his work. Much of his effort was behind the scenes, creating new structures to replace failed models that only perpetuated injustice. Gandhi was also about political reform, remaking the Indian Congress Party and raising funds to assure that the Party could operate effectively year round, not just during a showy annual convention.

In the DAPL fight, our most effective action is yet to come: the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit over the misuse of eminent domain. That case will probably be decided by the Iowa Supreme Court in September or October. In the meantime, whatever we can do to continue to move public opinion our direction will be helpful. I’ve been dismayed, but not surprised, that the mainstream media have mostly ignored the lawsuit.

Let’s change that. Visit Bold Iowa’s Stop DAPL 2.0 page for ideas on how to get the word out through your local or regional newspaper. Thanks!

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Investigating the Doon tar sands oil spill

Dear Friends,

Nearly one month after the spill, oil still sits by the Little Rock River near Doon, Iowa (Photo Credit: David Thoreson Image)

Christine Nobiss, David Thoreson, and I traveled to northwest Iowa this week to investigate the June 22 tar sands oil spill near Doon (check out our livestream). We spoke with Iowa DNR and Lyon County officials, a landowner, an engineer working at the site, a reporter with the N’West Iowa REVIEW, and KSFY TV (check out KSFY’s story here).

David Thoreson: Water quality advocate, sailor, photo-journalist

We learned a lot!

— Lyon County officials did an excellent job as first responders during the hours and days immediately following the spill. Kudos to them.

Christine Nobiss with Seeding Sovereignty and Indigenous Iowa

— Similarly, the DNR (which has replaced the EPA as the point agency for clean-up) has done a fine job — so far. But there are red flags in terms of the DNR’s ongoing ability to assure adequate clean-up and protection of the public health. As with any big corporation these days, holding BNSF and Conoco/Phillips accountable for full restoration of the damage they caused will require tenacity and persistence — by government officials, the media, and most important, the public.

We have three main concern about state government’s role in the clean up:

(1) The DNR’s lack of clarity on how long it will take,

(2) Uncertainty about the DNR’s role in ongoing water testing, and

(3) State officials’ unfamiliarity with tar sands oil — which presents a unique, complex, and dangerous set of threats and challenges.

Damaged oil trains. (Photo credit: David Thoreson Image)

— While BNSF seems to have acted quickly (unlike the thoroughly botched response of Enbridge after the 2010 tar sands spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River), it remains to be seen whether they’ll follow through. As with two previous major tar sands spills, many observers question whether it’s even possible to fully restore impacted land and waterways. Given the nature of tar sands oil, we would, unfortunately, not be surprised to see irreparable long-term damage.

— Finally, we’re concerned that climate change continues to be ignored. The bottom line is, we must move beyond further exploitation, transport, and consumption of fossil fuels. If we fail, local harm to land, water, and property will be a mere footnote to the existential damage inflicted upon people and planet by a rapidly changing climate on fossil-fuel steroids.

Oil sits on farm ground. (Photo credit: David Thoreson Image)

One further note: We didn’t have time to contact EPA officials, and a call by Christine to BNSF has not yet been returned.

To conclude, we’ve just begun our work regarding this spill. While Bold Iowa’s current focus is to support the Sierra Club and landowners along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline in their lawsuit against the Iowa Utilities Board, we must continue to provide on-the-ground support to the families, water, and land immediately affected by this spill.

We also have to hold government and corporate officials accountable. These days, that’s often not an easy assignment.

PLEASE CONSIDER A DONATION TO SUPPORT BOLD IOWA’S WORK ON THE DOON OIL SPILL!  We couldn’t accomplish our work without you. Stay tuned for further updates, and thanks for reading.

Ed Fallon

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Meet the Marchers

Dear Friends,

Climate March mobile “bathrooms” — complete with showers and commodes

Just like planet Earth, preparations for the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March are heating up. This past weekend, Sarah Spain and Chap Myers scouted the route between Des Moines and Fort Dodge. We’re now closing in on locating the seven campsites we’ll need for the September 1 – 8 march.

Also, Sarah and her brother, Sean, are working on improvements to our “Mobile Bathroom” unit — a trailer that hauls both environmentally friendly commodes and solar showers. Besides the trailer’s functional importance, it showcases the technologies that will lead us beyond climate chaos into a sustainable future.

We’re thrilled that Lyssa Wade — a.k.a., Veggie Thumper — will provide food for our hungry marchers and guests each night of the March. Lyssa needs someone to repair her bus’s refrigerator. If you’ve got expertise in that area, or know of someone who does, please get in touch with me.

Lyssa Wade and the “Veggie Thumper” bus

As if to underscore the urgency of the March, BNSF Railway recently spilled upwards of 230,000 gallons of tar sands oil (the worst of the worst) into the Little Rock River, just a few miles from where Bakken oil flows through the Dakota Access Pipeline in Lyon County, Iowa. Mahmud Fitil shot some excellent video of the oil spill. That inspired Krystle Craig to take water samples at seven locations — from just upstream of the spill to Omaha. Here’s video footage of Krystle’s work. From everything we’ve seen, the spill appears to be worse than railway officials are willing to admit. Stay tuned for more.

David Houston with Homes4MyPeeps

Back to the March. I’m excited about the commitment, passion, and diversity of those stepping forward to join the March. David Houston of Des Moines understands the connection between climate change, food, and the challenges facing low-income communities. He writes, “I’ve never done a march, but this seems like a good way to get connected. I run Homes4MyPeeps to restore homes for low-income people. Part of what I do involves growing and eating good, healthy food. People need to start thinking about what they eat, because when we eat better and put the right fuel into our systems, we feel better, too.”

Trisha Etringer

Trisha Etringer is a Hochunk woman from Cedar Falls. She writes, “I’m marching for Indigenous rights, landowner rights, and clean water for my children. They and other children deserve clean water and a healthy way of living. I’m majoring in psychology and minoring in mental health at UNI. My experience at Standing Rock was eye opening. My time there woke me up to the importance of fighting to protect Mother Earth. I had never done anything like that in my life and was pregnant at the time. If I’d not gone to Standing Rock I’m not sure where I’d be today.”

Fred Kirschenmann is a life-long farmer who’s joining the March for the first four days. He writes, “I grew up on a farm in North Dakota under the tutelage of a father who developed a passion, as a result of the dust bowl in the 1930s, about how important it was to ‘take care of land.’ He instilled that value in me, so it has also become a passion of mine. During my life-time its importance has only increased in me.”

Fred Kirschenmann

This March is important for so many reasons, especially with the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit coming before the Iowa Supreme Court in September. We can accommodate fifty marchers each day. If you’d like to join us, please visit the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March where you’ll find an application, a FAQ sheet, our Code of Nonviolence, a link to the marcher profile page, and more.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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Whether by pipe or rail, fossil-fuel transport unsafe

Dear Friends,

The oil spill in northwest Iowa has been “contained,” according to authorities. I’ve yet to see the price tag on how much taxpayer money has been spent cleaning up the mess. It also remains to be seen whether the spill will contaminate water supplies downstream in Sioux City and Omaha.

Oil spill in NW Iowa last week. Photo by Des Moines Register. Click for more images.

Since the BNSF Railway train wreck last Friday that caused the discharge of 230,000 gallons of Canadian tar sands oil into the Little Rock River, Florida and Rotterdam have seen their own oil spills. Perhaps I’ve missed others. The bottom line is, whether by train or pipe or cargo ship, oil and gas spills happen all the time! Check out the astounding record in Wikipedia’s “List of pipeline accidents in the U.S. in the 21st century.”

Ironically, just one day before the spill in northwest Iowa, President Trump again did the bidding of the oil and gas industry by dumping President Obama’s initiative to prevent oil spills.

Pushing back against the insanity of these spills, leaks, and presidential executive orders that violate both science and common sense, we must continue to do everything we can to turn hearts and minds away from fossil fuels and toward decentralized, sustainable energy alternatives.

Here are three simple things you can do to help:

1. Share the press release (below) with your friends, co-workers, family members and media contacts.

2. Spread the word about the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March, which will raise awareness about the all-important landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit against the misuse of eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.

3. Come march with us, September 1 – 8! Ok, that’s not a simple ask. But if you’re able, we’d love to have you apply to join us.

Here’s the release on the BNSF spill. Scroll down further for detail on this week’s Fallon Forum. Thanks! – Ed

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, June 23, 2018 — 1:00 p.m. CDT

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

Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa issue joint statement on oil spill
Two organizations deride fossil-fuel transport as unsafe — whether by pipe or rail

Leaders of Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa today expressed deep concern for the families, communities, land and water impacted by yesterday’s oil spill in Lyon County, Iowa. At the same time, the organizations’ leaders reminded people that these disasters are inevitable as long as policymakers give preferential treatment to fossil-fuel giants.

“All forms of transport for this deadly substance will fail,” said Christine Nobiss, founder of Indigenous Iowa. “The poison will be delivered into our systems through the water, food and air we ingest. This cycle will continue until we simply stop extracting fossil fuels from the ground. It took millions and millions of years for the Earth to create these substances and, frankly, there’s a reason most of it is buried deep within her. Let’s just leave it there and demand better, renewable and sustainable energy infrastructure.”

“Whether these big corporations move their product by pipe or train, there are going to be leaks and spills,” said Ed Fallon, a former lawmaker who directs Bold Iowa and hosts The Fallon Forum. “This time it was a train, transporting foreign oil through our state. Next time it could be the Dakota Access Pipeline, which we’re fighting in the courts.”

Nine landowners along the pipeline route have joined with the Iowa Sierra Club to sue the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) over illegally authorizing the use of eminent domain to take their land. The case is expected to be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court this fall. If the ruling is favorable, it could stop the flow of oil.

To raise awareness about the importance of the lawsuit, Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa are organizing the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. The march begins on September 1 with a press conference at the IUB’s office in Des Moines. Following the pipeline route through Story, Boone and Webster counties, it concludes with an action in Fort Dodge on September 8. Fifty participants representing farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous nations are preparing to walk the entire 90-mile route, averaging roughly 11-12 miles per day.

In April of 2015, Fallon finished a 400-mile walk along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline, from Lee County in the southeast corner of the state to Lyon County in the northwest. “I spoke with a couple dozen landowners and farmers in Lyon County during that walk,” recalls Fallon. “Very few of them supported an oil pipeline running through their land and across their rivers. After what happened yesterday, I bet they’re equally unhappy with oil trains.”

Indigenous Iowa was founded by Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux from the Gordon First Nation. Indigenous Iowa raises awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas and coal have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy.

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

# # #

On this week’s Fallon Forum:

  • NW Iowa oil spill: neither trains nor pipes are “safe”
  • Dear Louisiana, Sorry about the dead zone. Please sue us. Love, Iowa
  • The end is near . . . not again!
  • Trump exits UN Human Rights Council
  • Failed US immigration policy splitting families
  • Methane emissions far worse than previously believed
  • Restaurants give up plastic straws
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Fossil-fuel transport unsafe, whether by pipe or rail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, June 23, 2018 — 1:00 p.m. CDT

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

Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa issue joint statement on oil spill
Two organizations deride fossil-fuel transport as unsafe — whether by pipe or rail

Leaders of Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa today expressed deep concern for the families, communities, land and water impacted by yesterday’s oil spill in Lyon County, Iowa. At the same time, the organizations’ leaders reminded people that these disasters are inevitable as long as policymakers give preferential treatment to fossil-fuel giants.

“All forms of transport for this deadly substance will fail,” said Christine Nobiss, founder of Indigenous Iowa. “The poison will be delivered into our systems through the water, food and air we ingest. This cycle will continue until we simply stop extracting fossil fuels from the ground. It took millions and millions of years for the Earth to create these substances and, frankly, there’s a reason most of it is buried deep within her. Let’s just leave it there and demand better, renewable and sustainable energy infrastructure.”

“Whether these big corporations move their product by pipe or train, there are going to be leaks and spills,” said Ed Fallon, a former lawmaker who directs Bold Iowa and hosts The Fallon Forum. “This time it was a train, transporting foreign oil through our state. Next time it could be the Dakota Access Pipeline, which we’re fighting in the courts.”

Nine landowners along the pipeline route have joined with the Iowa Sierra Club to sue the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) over illegally authorizing the use of eminent domain to take their land. The case is expected to be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court this fall. If the ruling is favorable, it could stop the flow of oil.

To raise awareness about the importance of the lawsuit, Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa are organizing the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. The march begins on September 1 with a press conference at the IUB’s office in Des Moines. Following the pipeline route through Story, Boone and Webster counties, it concludes with an action in Fort Dodge on September 8. Fifty participants representing farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous nations are preparing to walk the entire 90-mile route, averaging roughly 11-12 miles per day.

In April of 2015, Fallon finished a 400-mile walk along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline, from Lee County in the southeast corner of the state to Lyon County in the northwest. “I spoke with a couple dozen landowners and farmers in Lyon County during that walk,” recalls Fallon. “Very few of them supported an oil pipeline running through their land and across their rivers. After what happened yesterday, I bet they’re equally unhappy with oil trains.”

Indigenous Iowa was founded by Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux from the Gordon First Nation. Indigenous Iowa raises awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas and coal have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy.

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

# # #

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