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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Illinois Supreme Court gets it right on eminent domain

Dear Friends,

As the battle against the Dakota Access pipeline moves from countryside to courtroom, from protest to litigation, pipeline opponents in Iowa have yet another reason to be optimistic.

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) — the Texas company proposing a 500-mile wind transmission line across Iowa and Illinois. The Court ruled unanimously that RICL is not a public utility and does not have the right to use eminent domain. Click here to read the entire ruling.

Regardless of your opinion on wind transmission lines, the Illionis decsion’s ramifications for Iowa are huge.

Keith Puntenney

To quote directly from the ruling, RICL must “own, control, operate or manage, within this State, directly or indirectly, a plant, equipment, or property used or to be used for or in connection with the production, transmission, sale, etc. of one of the specified commodities or services. Second, it must own, control, operate, or manage the plant, equipment, property, franchise, etc. ‘for public use.’ Rock Island fails to meet the first of these requirements.”

Keith Puntenney — an attorney and Webster County landowner whose property was taken by Dakota Access — points out that: “When it comes to eminent domain, Iowa law is very similar to Illinois law. In the case of the Dakota Access pipeline, no services are provided to the Iowa public. In fact, Dakota Access’ ‘product’ will not come back to Iowans at a lower cost than already exists. The only economic advantage from the pipeline inures to private parties, NOT the Iowa public at large. The Illinois case further strengthens our argument that oil and gas pipelines are not public utilities and should never have the authority to use eminent domain.”

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

And here’s what Iowa State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) had to say about the ruling: “The Illinois court got it right when it sided with landowners. The court made it clear that corporations that aren’t public utilities shouldn’t be given the power of eminent domain, whether the merchant line in question is carrying wind or oil.”

In short, last week’s ruling in Illinois is a big deal! Iowa’s pipeline fight isn’t over! We’ve moved from education to lobbying to protest, and now to the courts. The appeal filed by Iowa landowners and the Sierra Club continues to move forward. Briefs and rebuttals are currently being submitted, and we expect the Iowa Supreme Court to hear the case early next year.

If, over the past three years, you’ve taken action to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline — whether you testified before the Iowa Utilities Board, wrote a letter to the editor, attended a hearing, donated money, marched or engaged in direct action — your voice and your presence are needed now more than ever.

So please: STAY INVOLVED! The Illinois ruling’s relevance to Iowa is significant. Let’s continue to raise our voices against the abuse of eminent domain, against the threat this pipeline poses to our water and land, against the damage this oil is doing to Earth’s climate.

Each week, I’ll ask you to take a specific action. Today, I ask you send a letter to the editor of your local paper, referencing some of the points presented in this blog. If you need additional information or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at ed@boldiowa.com. And send me a copy of the letter you write. Thanks!

Ed

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Pipeline Battle Moves to Courts

Dear Friends,

Keith Puntenney

Good news in the battle to stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline! Landowners and attorneys have formed the Private Property Rights Coalition (PPRC) to take the fight to the courts. PPRC’s lawsuit maintains that “the Iowa Utilities Board has no legal authority to grant eminent domain to Dakota Access,” and that “the Legislature did not intend for a nonresident interstate crude oil pipeline to be able to use our eminent domain laws to take farmland from Iowans and then not be subject to Iowa’s pipeline safety regulations.”

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