Time for a Green New Deal

Dear Friends,

Protesters line the hall outside of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC.

If you ever feel hopeless about the climate crisis, yesterday was a real shot in the arm. Nearly a thousand young people occupied the offices of US Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Jim McGovern, demanding action on the Green New Deal.

Over 150 participants were arrested at Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s offices. In an affirmation of the power of nonviolent direct action, Rep. McGovern came out of his office to talk with protesters and agreed to sign on to the Green New Deal!

The action was organized by the Sunrise MovementClick here to watch the livestream.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The Green New Deal is an ambitious, comprehensive, and realistic proposal to move America to an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy within ten years. It’s already supported by 22 members of Congress.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leading the charge. In a recent broadcast, she said, “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.”

And not a moment too soon. The recent United Nations report on the alarming severity of the climate crisis indicates we have 12 years to figure this out — or pay consequences so dire we’re looking at the possibility of humanity’s last hurrah. Check out the UN report here.

What these impassioned young climate warriors are doing is inspiring. More members of Congress need to sign on to the Green New Deal. To date, no member of Iowa’s congressional delegation is on board.

Let’s change that!

Who’s ready to tell Abby Finkenauer to sign on? Dave Loebsack? Cindy Axne? And yeah, why not — Steve King?

Let us know if you’re willing to help convince your representative to get behind “the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.” Incrementalism is no longer an option. The existential threat of climate chaos demands an all-out, full-scale mobilization.

Time is running out on humanity’s game of climate roulette. We need our elected leaders to step forward NOW and support the Green New Deal. Remind them it’s not just the right thing to do politically, it’s essential to our continued survival.

Thank you!

The Bold Iowa Team

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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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Iowa’s Suffering Senator

Dear Friends,

I’ve had it with Iowa’s welfare queens. Wells Fargo. Rockwell Collins. Pioneer Dupont. Chuck Grassley.

Senator Charles Grassley

Yes, Grassley. The Senator announced this week that he’ll apply for federal farm bailout money. Despite being worth $3.3 million. Despite working full-time as a US Senator since 1981. Despite his criticism of government assistance for the poor.

In an October 4 Des Moines Register story, Grassley said, “I would brag to you, actually, that this experience of mine — not being an absentee landlord but suffering what farmers suffer and being joyful when they are joyful — is a good experience for a senator from an agricultural state to have.”

I have no doubt that actual farmers — those who work the land day in and day out — suffer plenty, especially given Trump’s trade tariffs and the extreme weather of the New Climate Era. I’m sure there are plenty of ways a US senator suffers, too. But I’m also certain that — given such a powerful position that comes with incomparable prestige and privilege — the joys far outweigh the suffering.

So, just as Senator Grassley earned a reality check when he announced last December that the poor “are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” it’s time for another — drum roll please — Grassley reality check!

Once and for all, Senator, please put to rest the myth that you’re a farmer. You might have been a farmer many decades ago, but you’re now a career politician. You don’t tout that fact because voters don’t like career politicians. But if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it’s at least refreshing. So I’d like to suggest this slogan for your 2022 re-election campaign: “Vote Grassley, Iowa’s Leading Career Politician.”

No doubt, there are plenty of farmers hurting due to the tariffs, farmers who could use a shot in the arm. Grassley’s not one of them. His justification for taking bailout money as “equal treatment for everybody” rings as hollow as an empty grain bin. Everyone’s not equal, Senator. To pretend that you, as a US Senator worth $3.3 million, share much in common with the average Iowa farmer is creative accounting at best.

Here’s the box of garden produce we brought to Iowa’s suffering Senator.

Ironically, as more consumers localize their food sources, potential beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs are small farmers raising so-called “non-traditional” crops. (I use quotation marks because, face it, heirloom fruits and vegetables are a heckuva lot more traditional than GMO corn and beans.) That includes farmers like . . . me!

The official definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” Yeah, the Birds and Bees Urban Farm that Kathy Byrnes and I operate in Sherman Hill is officially a farm. I would wager a hefty sum of produce that Kathy and I do a lot more hands-on farm work than Senator Grassley has done in a long, long time.

Grassley’s “equal treatment for everybody” got me thinking, “Where’s our bailout?” So I called the USDA Farm Service Agency to enquire. I learned, alas, that the bailout only applies to farmers raising corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy, almonds, and cherries — some of the same crops that already receive hefty taxpayer subsidies.

I’m not opposed to some system of price support for agriculture. Food production is too unreliable — and too important — to not provide a back-up plan to assure farmers don’t lose everything when there’s a bad year, or two, or three. But the only explanation for farm subsidies targeted to just a handful of commodity crops is the political and monetary clout of Big Ag. No Iowa farmer ever got crazy rich growing garlic — and no garlic farmer is rich enough to sway federal farm policy.

It’s time to revisit government support for agriculture. If we must have subsidies, let’s target them to farmers who actually need them, and not merely to those raising crops primarily destined for export. And to be clear, Birds and Bees Urban Farm will never ask for nor accept government handouts. There is strength in diversity, and with over three dozen products, we always have plenty of products that do well even as some fail. We don’t want or need the government’s help.

I want to encourage Senator Grassley to boldly go where few big farmers have gone before and say “No!” to taxpayer handouts. Taking him at his word — that as a farmer, he has suffered — Kathy and I today brought Senator Grassley some of the bounty of our harvest. Here’s the livestream from that effort, which one could say was marginally successful. The Senator’s staff was, as always, gracious and accommodating, and agreed to forward our request for a meeting to discuss farming and climate change to the Senator.

I’ll keep you posted as to whether that meeting transpires.

Ed

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Plant a fall garden in the New Climate Era

Dear Friends,

Some of the more undesirable features of life on Earth have already gotten worse in the New Climate Era: stronger storms, hungrier mosquitoes, more virulent ticks, a historically embarrassing president.

Our fall bed of lettuce, arugula, and radishes has been going strong since late August.

Ok, we can’t blame the ascendency of Donald Trump on climate change. But he is exacerbating the problem with such moves as deleting references to climate change from the White House website, withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, and supporting fossil fuel expansion with the Dakota Access pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, and fracking.

As climate change progresses (read “worsens”), the list of undesirable creatures and features is only going to grow.

Our heirloom tomatoes look determined to produce through early November. This variety — Siciliana Rosa — is still going strong.

I have, however, noticed a few positives to climate change — most notably an extended fall garden season. As both carbon and methane emissions further concentrate in Earth’s atmosphere, growing some (or much) of one’s own food is likely to become not merely a pastime but an essential element of life. So, with an eye toward both great dining today and survival in the future, I’d like to recommend to you the virtues of a robust fall garden.

Sweet Garden Sunshine peppers promise an abundant fall harvest.

 

 

 

 

And I’d like to remind you that you’re welcome to come tour our urban farm during the event Kathy and I are hosting for Rob Sand and Deidre DeJear this Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines. We’ll serve a light breakfast (much of it from our garden), and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will be here. Merkley’s on the list of Dems potentially interested in running for President in 2020.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the urban farm collage below, or check out the guided video tour on my Facebook page.

There ain’t no stopping these greens: Swiss chard, kale (two varieties), and collards.

Squmpkin! This accidental cross has proven hardy and resistant to pests and powdery mildew.

We don’t have a lot of land to work with. But the sky’s the limit (sort of), so we rigged this vertical sweet potato spider trellis.

Our second planting of green beans (in the raised bed where we grew cauliflower this spring) has done really well.

Our two hot pepper plants are nearly seven feet tall! I’m not a huge fan of scorching my palate, but when a crop does this well, you learn to love it.

We left these pods of okra to ripen to have seed for next year. Seed saving in the New Climate Era is likely to become a standard household activity.

Leeks are another crop that keep on giving — and they’re so hardy they’ll likely continue to produce into November.

We’ve still got some eggplant, though the plants are fading fast. Gotta figure out to control the flea beetles next year.

We won’t harvest these young carrots til November. Behind them, fall zucchini is a new experiment. No flowers yet, but we’re hoping.

Turnip bulbs are starting to flesh out. We planted more turnips than normal people should be allowed to plant. Enough said.

Our adopted gnome Trumpski guards the herb bed.

One hive failed, but the other just gave us over two gallons of honey!

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My Endorsements in Iowa’s Democratic Primary

Dear Friends,

First, it should come as no surprise that Gov. Reynolds signed SF 2235 — the bill pushed by the pipeline company. Years ago as an elected official in Clarke County, Reynolds stood with big developers against farmers and landowners who were fighting to protect their land from eminent domain for a lake. By signing SF 2235, the Governor made it clear that her loyalty is to Big Oil — not farmers, landowners and our environment.

Thus, Bold Iowa’s work moves from lobbying to education, building awareness about the Landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit. Click these two links to learn what you can do to get involved:

Stop Eminent Domain Abuse Roadshow

2018 Climate Justice Unity March

And if you’re unclear about the urgency of the climate crisis check out this article and this article about the crazy warm temperatures in the Arctic and how that’s connected to the Upper Midwest’s coldest spring ever. SERIOUSLY! If you have any doubt about how important is this moment in history, please read at least one of these articles.

(These two screen shots were taken at the same moment last week. That’s North Pole, Alaska, not THE North Pole. But you get the point.)

Climate change isn’t the only factor I consider in deciding which political candidates to support, but it’s the most important. I’m encouraged to see so many good candidates running for office and talking about climate change. On a host of issues, we’re desperate for new blood, bold ideas, and progressive leadership.

With that in mind, here are the folks I’m endorsing in the June 5 Democratic Primary Election:

Cathy Glasson

GOVERNOR: In a crowded field, Cathy Glasson stands out. She’s worked in the trenches for years, standing up for everyday folks and fighting tirelessly for the best interest of working Iowans. I’m confident we’ll see the same kind of leadership from Cathy as governor.

I’m also confident Cathy can win. Establishment Democrats want you to believe we’ve got to nominate a “moderate” backed by big money. Really? Because that worked so well with Hillary Clinton, Bruce Braley, John Kerry, Staci Appel, etc, etc. As Bernie Sanders demonstrated in 2016, voters are hungry for leadership that puts people ahead of corporate interests and the entrenched forces of political stagnation.

Cathy’s got the right stuff going on in spades. And yeah, she’s got a solid statement on climate change, too. I hope you’ll join me in supporting her and getting involved in her campaign.

Deidre DeJear

SECRETARY OF STATE: Deidre DeJear is a breath of fresh air and will make a fantastic Secretary of State. She’s got a strong background in small business ownership and knows the importance of making sure the Secretary of State’s office is a welcoming place for people hoping to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.

On the elections side, in 2012 Deidre “developed and implemented a program to educate, motivate, and mobilize low-propensity voters, which resulted in over 5,000 new registrants and more than doubled African American turnout.” That’s from her website. And in terms of being accessible, Deidre has always responded to my calls and inquiries with enthusiasm.

Thomas Heckroth

CONGRESS (IA-1): Thomas Heckroth‘s opponent in the Democratic Primary, Abby Finkenauer, is a big supporter of the Dakota Access Pipeline, so this endorsement is easy. Heckroth’s stand on climate is solid. He writes, “Climate Change is also a threat to global security and must be a factor in United States foreign policy. Whether it is forced migration due to rising sea levels or whole cities running out of water, global security challenges will continue to crop up due to climate change.”

Thomas also writes, “As we transition away from fossil fuels, we must finally end the unnecessary and unaffordable subsidies that we provide to major fossil fuel companies. There is no reason why we should continue to incentivize coal, gas, and oil companies when we have the tools to move forward with clean, renewable sources of energy.”

Eddie Mauro

CONGRESS (IA-3): Eddie Mauro received my endorsement early this year and I’m doing everything I can to help him win the nomination. Eddie and I go way back, meeting at a homeless camp where he was providing food and supplies.

Besides his deep compassion for those in need, Eddie has one of the strongest positions on climate change of any congressional candidate in the country. He writes, “Decades of delay have allowed global warming to become a global emergency. Climate is impacting all our continents. Time is now of the absolute essence, and we have a small window to revolutionize the global economy before our basic life-support systems collapse.”

Not only is Eddie solid on climate change, but he’s got the best chance of beating David Young. We can’t risk another two years of a Republican Congress, nor two years of a do-nothing Democratic Congress. Eddie will work hard and for the right stuff.

JD Scholten

CONGRESS (IA-4): JD Scholten is vocal on issues that matter and his campaign is resonating beyond Democratic voters. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s raised more money than incumbent Congressman Steve King.

On climate change, JD writes, “The burning of fossil fuels is creating more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere can handle. This is scary stuff. I wish this was an issue we could deal with in 20 years, but it’s not. There are a number of things we need to do to combat climate change. Carbon farming is one that hasn’t been talked about enough, and Iowa is uniquely positioned to lead the way. This takes excess carbon out of the air and puts it into our soil. In each acre of land, there’s about an elephant-sized amount of organisms that use this carbon. This benefits and strengthens the soil by creating organic matter. Carbon farming is a win-win.”

Connie Ryan

IOWA SENATE (DISTRICT 21): Through her work with the Iowa Interfaith Alliance, Connie Ryan has been a leader in advancing LGBT equality, religious tolerance, and the fight against racism. Connie also helped create Justice Not Politics to protect our courts. Her advocacy hasn’t focused much on climate, but we’ve talked and she understands the urgent nature of the crisis.

Beyond that, her opponent, Claire Celsi, is difficult to work with. I offer that based on experience spanning nearly twenty years. Connie might have a learning curve on climate and environmental issues, but I’m confident that as a lawmaker she’ll be accessible and responsive.

John Mauro

POLK COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS (DISTRICT 5): John Mauro is a quiet, behind-the-scenes guy. He’s done a heck of a lot as a Supervisor to make Polk County government a leader in providing critical services to people in need. John’s opponent, Matt McCoy, is running an aggressive campaign to unseat Mauro. But my experience with Matt over the years has not been favorable. In fact, just two weeks ago, Matt promised he would offer an amendment to SF 2235 to remove the Dakota Access Pipeline from the definition of “critical infrastructure.” He drafted the amendment, then mysteriously withdrew it. I twice asked for an explanation and didn’t get a response.

That’s been my experience with Matt over the years: cordial when you run into him, but unresponsive when the rubber meets the road. I’ve heard that from others, too. With John Mauro, I know I’ll always get my phone calls returned and questions answered. That counts for a lot.

*******

And now, a mea culpa: In my blog last week, I referenced a story about the Standing Rock court ruling. I thought it had just happened, yet it was from last year. Ouch. Note to self: check sources more carefully, even when they appear to be reliable.

*******

This week’s Fallon Forum was hosted by Charles Goldman and Ed Fallon, with special guest David Houston of Homes 4 My Peeps. Here are the segment titles:

– When I grow up, I want to be compost
– It’s not “if,” but “when” will Trump be impeached
– What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic
– Kansas’s failed tax-cut scam catches fire in Iowa
– Latest U.S. bombing in Syria gets mixed reviews
– Pushing back against banks that finance pipelines

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For US Congress . . . Eddie Mauro!

Dear Friends,

Eddie Mauro

Iowans living in the Third Congressional District are fortunate to have a talented field of candidates running in the Democratic Primary. But Eddie Mauro stands out as a genuine, authentic, caring person — the complete opposite of the bought-and-paid-for politicians running, and ruining, our state and our country.

I first met Eddie twenty years ago when I was bringing food, clothing, and other supplies to homeless men and women living along the Raccoon River. Eddie wasn’t there for a photo op. I learned that day that he spends a lot of time serving our most disenfranchised population.

Eddie’s commitment to help the homeless, the poor, and the downtrodden has persisted all these years. In fact, at two recent events for the homeless, Eddie was the only congressional candidate in attendance.

Three Eds are better than two: Mauro, Bloomer and Fallon

I’m passionate about a lot of issues, but none more than the urgent climate crisis. Eddie’s position on climate change is not only the strongest among candidates running in the Third District, it’s one of the strongest of any congressional candidate in the country! Check out Eddie’s white paper on The Climate Crisis.

Eddie truly understands the urgent need for bold action on climate change and the importance of creating clean energy jobs as climate mitigation becomes a driver of economic development. His message on climate is one that resonates with both urban and rural Iowans.

Beyond the specific issues that Eddie champions (learn more here), I’m impressed with his authenticity and leadership skills. I’m impressed, too, with the campaign he’s running. Frankly, Eddie is Iowa’s best prospect to beat David Young in the fall.

That means a lot. Winning a tough primary in June means nothing if you can’t win the general election in November. With the Third District listed as one of the pivotal congressional seats in the country, it’s tremendously important that Democrats put forth their strongest champion.

With Eddie Mauro, we’re fortunate that the strongest candidate to win is also the strongest candidate on the issues. Please join me in supporting Eddie. Let me know how you’d like to be involved. A grassroots campaign such as this requires ALL our voices and a whole lot of effort. Let’s make it happen!

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The Ends Are Near

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, Lars Pearson and I were discussing the state of our country. Lars bemoaned the prospect of 3 1/2 more years of Donald Trump as president while I prognosticated that, within a year, the Tweeter in Chief will no longer occupy the White House. Our conversation ended with a friendly wager, one that Lars hopes I win.

Given the President’s response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I’m inclined to move up the date of his premature departure. Most business and political leaders, even those in his own party, condemned the President’s remarks. Exceptions included Iowa congressmen Rod Blum and Steve King, who offered nuanced statements that belie their sympathy with the alt-right crazies. (See Kathie Obradovich’s column for details.)

So much quality commentary has been shared about Charlottesville, it’s hard to know which to recommend. If you’ve got just a couple minutes, I’d suggest this brief but powerful statement by my cousin, Jimmy Fallon. (Yeah, all Fallons are related, having crawled out of the same bog in southern Roscommon County, Ireland.)

A man or woman can’t serve effectively as president if he or she loses the trust of the American people. America’s confidence in Donald Trump was shaky to begin with. With each new offensive statement, tweet and proposal, that confidence erodes even further.

Yes, the end of the Trump presidency is near. For that, a growing majority of us are increasingly grateful.

But wait! Another end is near, relevant to climate change. This end is so delicately poised it could go one of two ways:

(1) Our rapidly-warming Earth arrives at that tipping point long predicted by scientists, where cataclysmic disruptions severely alter life on our planet. Many people will die, especially front-line communities least responsible for causing the problem. Those who survive will have no choice but to adapt. The pain will be prolonged, but humanity will be dragged kicking and screaming into a challenging but sustainable future.

(2) A different historic tipping point is achieved. Americans wake-up to the reality that we face an existential crisis like no other. The nations of the world launch the all-hands-on-deck, full-scale mobilization advocated by The Climate Mobilization. We mitigate the damage and destruction through preparedness, innovation and cooperation, arriving at that sustainable future with a lot less pain and suffering.

Ed talks with Dave Price on TV 13’s “The Insiders” this week. Click image to view video.

I’m opting for the second tipping point, and my life for the past decade has been committed to helping birth that reality. (Here’s my recent appearance on The Insiders with David Price.) Honestly, I’m surprised we aren’t there yet, given the growing number of climate indicators:

* Nearly every year sets a new record for warmest ever.

* Ice and snow in the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland are melting at alarming rates.

* Storms are measurably stronger.

Yes, this end is near too. Just as we’ll survive Trump’s presidency, abbreviated or otherwise, we’ll survive climate change. But the longer we wait to mobilize, the uglier it’s going to get. That’s a reality none of us want to see.

So let’s kick it into high gear! Mobilize! Make those personal changes that allow you to live lighter on the Earth — and allow you to live more sustainably.

Especially, let’s convince our leaders to act NOW. School board and municipal elections are coming up. Next year’s midterm primary election is just over nine months away. Act now. Act boldly — in the streets, in the fields and in the voting booth.

Ed Fallon

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Climate Emergency justification in Pearson’s trial

Dear Friends,

Here’s the release Bold Iowa sent out on Friday about this Wednesday’s press conference, organized jointly with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. Heather Pearson’s jury trial for her arrest last fall as part of Bold Iowa’s “Farmers Defense Camp” is significant. Read the details below, and join us on Wednesday in Rockwell City for the trial and press conference.

Heather Pearson

Please share this release with your local news outlets and circulate it through your online networks. And since a Judge sometimes postpones a trial with short notice, check this Facebook Page on Tuesday to make sure the Wednesday trial and press conference are still on.

Heather’s trial has the potential to impact pipeline fights, eminent domain law and climate change in a big way. Let’s support her and the other fighters who have taken brave stands against this unprecedented attack on our land, water and property rights!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2017

Contact:
Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404ed@boldiowa.org
Jessica Fears, Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, 515-450-9627fearsj@gmail.com

Iowa Woman Arrested Stopping Dakota Access Construction on Iowa Landowner’s Property Taken by Eminent Domain to Plead “Not Guilty,” Citing “Climate Emergency” Justification for Trespassing

Bold Iowa’s “Farmer Defense Camp” was established with permission on eminent domain holdout landowner Shirley Gerjets’ property, a first of its kind in Dakota Access pipeline fight

Rockwell City, IA — Heather Pearson, a resident of Logan, Iowa and Water Protector who was arrested in October 2016 during a nonviolent direct action to stop construction on the Dakota Access pipeline on Iowa farmer Shirley Gerjets’ property, will plead “not guilty” to charges of trespassing in Calhoun County court on May 24.

Pearson will argue in court that a “climate emergency,” outlined in a document signed by 188 Iowa climate science faculty from 39 institutions from all over the state, justified her action to stop construction on the pipeline that is abusing eminent domain for private gain and threatening our land, water and climate.

• WHAT: Trial of Dakota Access Direct Action Participant Pleading “Not Guilty”
• WHERE: Calhoun County Courthouse, 400 Main St., Rockwell City, IA
• WHEN: Wednesday, May 24
◦ 9:00 a.m: Trial start time
◦ 12:00 p.m. / lunch break: Press conference (Note: If the trial ends before noon, participants will also be immediately available for comment.)

(Check out the video of the action where Heather was arrested, and scroll down on that page to view the “Climate Emergency” document and affidavit signinghttp://boldiowa.org/2016/11/07/climateemergency)

Under Iowa state law, “justification” is a valid defense to charges of trespassing.

All of the Water Protectors arrested on Oct. 29 were invited on Shirley Gerjets’ property with express permission, in the form of a written affidavit from Shirley. In addition to Pearson, two other Water Protectors intend to plead “not guilty” to trespassing charges stemming from the Oct. 29 action and have pending court dates in Calhoun County (Emma Stewart, of Rockwell City, IA and Mahmud Fitil, of Omaha, NE).

Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline workers and private security personnel were on Shirley’s property only by power of eminent domain, which Shirley strongly opposed. Shirley also had “No Trespassing” signs posted on her property that expressly forbade Dakota Access on her land.

The court will be tasked with determining who is the victim of “trespassing,” when a landowner is actively challenging eminent domain authority granted for a pipeline easement, and yet her expressly invited guests are arrested and charged with “trespassing” on the same land where eminent domain authority is still under judicial review.

Several of those who were arrested appeared to have been physically detained not by Iowa State Patrol, Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies, or other law enforcement, but rather by men wearing yellow jackets believed to be private security hired by Dakota Access Pipeline.

Were these private security “deputized” by Calhoun County law enforcement, the state of Iowa, or some other authority to detain citizens? The court must determine on what authority these security personnel were acting, and whether their actions constituted false imprisonment.

“In Iowa, eminent domain has always been intended strictly for public purposes,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “And in 2006, during my last session as a state lawmaker, House and Senate members voted overwhelmingly to further strengthen eminent domain law in response to the ‘Kelo’ U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Given that amended law, this lawsuit makes a powerful case that Dakota Access violated the law. Those of us invited onto the land by the property owner had every right to be there.”

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