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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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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