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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Industry’s New Colonial Outpost: Rural Iowa

Dear Friends,

Two things before I explain why Iowa is becoming a colonial outpost:

First, I’m sad to say that the pro-DAPL bill (SF 2235) passed this week despite hundreds of Iowans contacting their lawmakers. Visit the Fallon Forum and Bold Iowa websites for news coverage and to learn how your senator and representative voted. The silver lining is that Bold Iowa’s coalition of environmentalists, landowners, farmers and Native allies worked with labor unions on a common cause. Let’s build on that!

Second, check out this week’s Fallon Forum. Among other topics, we talk with two of the five climate warriors who shut down the flow of tar sands oil in 2016. If you missed the previous week’s program, check out our conversation about gun violence, sustainable farming, and why the job of Secretary of State is important.

Janna Swanson with Ed Fallon at the Blue Daisy Cafe in Ruthven.

Colonization never goes well for the colonized. It went badly for the Indigenous peoples of this continent. It’s gone badly for people in “third world” countries we’ve pillaged. And it’s going badly for rural Iowa.

Yup. A new wave of colonization is in full swing. Perhaps in the twittering storm of political scandals and legislative hubris you haven’t noticed. But rural Iowans can’t help but notice as the forces of colonization steamroll their farms and communities.

Here are the most egregious examples (and yeah, the acronym spells “PLOW,” for what that’s worth):

PORK. There are 15,000 hog confinements (CAFOs) in Iowa. Given the soaring foreign demand for pork, state officials say that number could jump to 45,000! America’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, is now owned by a Chinese corporation. Smithfield will get rich exporting pork to China while rural Iowans are stuck with foul air, lower property values, contaminated water, a decline in quality of life, and continued depopulation.

LAND. Foreign ownership of farmland in the US is rising. Foreign entities now control an area larger than Tennessee! Fortunately for Iowa, our law prevents foreign ownership of farmland — but powerful forces want to change that.

Some new turbines are as tall as two football fields.

OIL. The Dakota Access Pipeline carved a 350-mile scar across Iowa, damaging topsoil and threatening our water for a Texas corporation’s export crude oil pipeline. As I’ve warned, don’t be surprised if Big Oil tries to build a second pipeline through Iowa.

WIND. Industrial Wind Installations (IWIs) are meeting greater and greater local resistance. More are in the works and problems associated with the turbines are fomenting extensive and impassioned local resistance.

Perhaps that last item took you by surprise, coming from someone who cites climate change as the gravest threat to life on Earth. I’ve always been disturbed by any concentration of economic power, though in the past I’ve grudgingly given wind energy a pass because of the urgency of the climate crisis.

Janna Swanson with the Coalition for Rural Property Rights

To be clear, we absolutely need to move beyond fossil-fuel consumption as quickly as possible. Energy conservation, reducing consumption, and sequestering carbon are three of the most important actions we can take.

We also need a robust and rapidly expanding renewable energy portfolio. The backbone of that portfolio must be solar — and solar must be controlled by individuals, communities, family farmers, and small business owners. There’s room in that portfolio for wind, too, but not the centralized industrial model that increasingly dominates more and more Iowa counties.

While a handful of landowners are making money leasing their land for turbines, monopoly control of wind is wreaking havoc on rural landscapes and the people who live and farm there. In February, I traveled to Palo Alto County to visit Janna Swanson, a leader with the Coalition for Rural Property Rights. Palo Alto residents are suing MidAmerican Energy and Invenergy over a massive 340-megawatt project near Emmetsburg. There are 268 residences in the target area — yet only 24 have signed a contract to allow turbines on their land!

IWI opponents cite visual blight, shadow flicker, noise, flashing lights, pressure, turbulence, the impact on farming, and the risk to bats and birds. A separate blog could be written about each of these concerns.

While the scientific and medical impacts of IWI’s continue to be hotly debated, one thing is clear: the vast majority of people who live nearby don’t want them. That needs to be respected. When proposing an IWI, decision makers must give far greater consideration to local concerns than they do at present.

“Some people live next to a turbine and don’t have a problem,” Janna told me. “For others, there’s a cumulative effect. Take the intense pressure and turbulence. You can feel it when you’re standing nearby, almost like it’s grabbing at your heart.”

Janna says many Iowans complain that they can hear the turbines inside their home at night, even with a white-noise machine cranking away. It’s affecting their health. In some places, long-time residents have had to sell their home and move because of health problems attributed to the turbines.

A group of Palo Alto residents is suing to have the Palo County wind project stopped. Plaintiffs are preparing for an April 27 court date. The case is likely to end up before the Iowa Supreme Court.

Right now, 37% of Iowa’s electrical generation comes from wind. From the perspective of reducing fossil fuel consumption, that’s encouraging. But it comes at a heavy price for rural Iowa. It’s a price we shouldn’t have to pay given the more sustainable and less invasive options available.

As I said earlier, with Iowa’s land protected from foreign ownership, we effectively have a moratorium on that element of colonization. Perhaps it’s time for moratoriums on CAFOs, IWIs, and crude oil pipelines, too. That would carve out some space for us to have a deep, democratic conversation about what Iowa should look like in 50, 100 or even 500 years. Perhaps the original victims of this land’s colonization, Native Americans, could lead and direct that conversation.

One thing is emphatically clear to me: eminent domain should NEVER be used to condemn land for transmission lines to ship Iowa’s wind to Chicago or the East coast. An effort to use eminent domain by the Rock Island Clean Line (another Texas corporation) was defeated last year. Given the money and political power behind IWI, don’t be surprised if another proposal surfaces.

Regardless of where one stands on pork, oil, or wind, we should all agree that it’s wrong to ignore the voices of rural Iowans in order to export our resources to distant ports — whether those ports lie on Lake Michigan, the Atlantic Ocean, or the China Sea.

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Cars Matter More Than Kids

Dear Friends,

My birthday is next week, and in the great tradition of Hobbits – who instead of receiving gifts on their birthdays give them – I’m offering four of you a $50 gift card to either Gateway Market and Cafe, Ritual Cafe, HoQ Restaurant or Cinco de Mayo Restaurant. Just leave a comment on my website – HERE (scroll down to the end of the post) — and tell me what you think of my take on Des Moines’ “Cars Matter More Than Kids” day-care policy. I’ll randomly pick four names out of a hat. You can tell me how wrong I am and still win a gift card. Is this a great country, or what?

“So, cars matter more than kids,” you ask? Yes, I’m afraid so. Like soylent green, governments are made of people. And people not only taste bad, they make mistakes.

Like West Des Moines banning air B & B.

Like Aurelia vanquishing a Vietnam Vet’s service dog.

Like Ankeny outlawing chickens. (Note: Ankeny reports an average of 35-45 dog bites per year, yet zero chicken bites.)

This year’s Local Government Run Amuck Award (yes, the year is young, so this could change) goes to the City of Des Moines for limiting in-home day-care providers to six children. Why? Because one south-side curmudgeon complained about parking.

And the city has taken the curmudgeon’s side, possibly because he votes and kids don’t. One city official quoted in The Des Moines Register story claimed the restriction was needed to prevent “unintended consequences for neighbors, like too much parking, too many people on the streets, overcrowding.”

Seriously?? So, are these toddlers driving themselves to day care and hogging all the on-street parking? Or is even the act of dropping off and picking up one’s child deemed to be “too much parking?”

And since when is “people on the streets” a bad thing? A vibrant neighborhood has people on the streets. A dead, dying or decayed neighborhood has empty streets — streets that are less safe, I might add.

And “overcrowding?” In Des Moines? Give me a break . . . although this is likely to change when climate change forces refugees from submerged coastal communities to flee to the American Heartland.

This is a serious problem, folks. If the City Council refuses to budge, the number of in-home child-care slots in Des Moines would drop by around 2,000. That affects not only those kids and their families, but the employers those parents work for, too. It also affects in-home day-care providers like Tonja Boggs (featured in The Register story), whose income would be cut in half.

Finally, if none of that matters to City officials, they should care because this makes Des Moines look dumb and backward. How does the City expect that fancy new hotel it subsidized to achieve optimal occupancy rates if prospective visitors say, “Wow! Why hold our HUGE convention where they value cars more than kids when we can go to Minneapolis – America’s most bike-friendly city?”

Bike-friendly. Kid-friendly. Progressive. High quality of life. These things kinda go together. I thought the City of Des Moines would have figured it out by now.

*******

Check out podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum:
– Rampage in Kalamazoo
– Cars Matter More Than Kids|
– Chet Culver on Medicaid
– The Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, with Hattie Nestel
– Restaurant Renaissance, with Paul Rottenberg

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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