DAPL lion underestimates Iowa Lambs

Dear Friends,

For those who feel Big Oil always gets its way, think again. In a battle of Lamb vs. Lion (read on and you’ll see what I mean), the little guy and gal just accomplished something impressive.

Judy and Dick Lamb with a photograph of their Boone County farm before the Dakota Access Pipeline came through.

When the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was still under discussion, most Iowa landowners I met as I walked the pipeline route were against it. In the end, many signed voluntary easements — not because they wanted to but because they felt they had no choice.

Dick and Judy Lamb, whose farm in Boone County was bisected by DAPL, opposed the pipeline from the start. They continue to do so, and their steadfastness just paid off. Literally.

Yesterday (Wednesday, January 16), the Lambs achieved an important victory against DAPL. In district court in Boone, Iowa, after a trial that lasted seven days, a jury ruled in favor of the Lambs, ordering DAPL to compensate them for the lost potential of their property due to the pipeline.

In 2016, the Lambs refused to sign an easement with DAPL for access to their land along Highway 30, two miles from the city limits of Ames. While the Lambs had not developed the property themselves, it struck them as grossly unfair for DAPL to take that opportunity away from them and their children, who would inherit the land. They believed that a hot pipeline would render their property unsuitable for many types of potential development. The Lambs had raised this issue with DAPL prior to being forced into condemnation, but the company refused to recognize any developmental potential for their land.

So the Lambs took DAPL to court. “We knew it would be an uphill fight against a highly proficient, specialized legal team,” Dick told me in an interview after the trial. “Their attorneys travel the country doing just this type of litigation, so they’re probably the best in the business. In fact, after they presented their case at the trial, I wondered whether we’d get anything at all.”

In one of many recent David-vs-Goliath lawsuits pitting pipeline opponents against Big Oil, the Lambs prevailed — at least to their satisfaction. “The jury awarded us $250,000,” said Dick. “We’d asked for $900,000, and out of the $250,000 reward comes the $90,000 we received after our condemnation hearing in 2016, and roughly another $50,000 in legal expenses. That doesn’t leave us a lot, but we certainly count it as a victory.”

The Lambs went on to note that, for technical reasons not easily explained, this particular lawsuit addressed the pipeline damage to just half of their land along Highway 30. There likely will be another trial this summer regarding the other half.

Both Judy and Dick said the experience of the trial helped restore their faith in the legal system. They were impressed that the jury remained attentive through hours of highly technical presentations on land-valuation issues, and after six hours of deliberation, issued a fair ruling.

Any day now, the Iowa Supreme Court will issue its ruling in Puntenney v. Iowa Utilities Board — the lawsuit filed by nine landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club over the Board’s decision to grant eminent domain to a private pipeline company. This landmark case isn’t the only legal action pending against DAPL. Other Iowa landowners have filed suits over soil compaction, ruined terraces, tile damage, and uncompensated crop loss.

I asked Dick and Judy how they felt about the threat of either a second pipeline coming through their land or the possibility that DAPL would increase the amount of oil it pumps through the existing pipeline. “Either of those options is a scary thought,” said Judy. “For now, the big picture is we showed that it’s possible to beat DAPL in court. That should give hope to other landowners who have lawsuits pending.”

Indeed, though the Lambs’ trial received little fanfare and almost no mainstream press coverage, their victory is a big deal. It’s further indication that the tide is turning against Big Oil and the politicians who do its bidding. The Lambs’ efforts should inspire all of us to persevere — and to support the landowners, farmers, and Native communities on the front lines of this and other fossil-fuel infrastructure fights.

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Pipeline Trial Sets Precedent

Dear Friends,

The trial for pipeline-fighter Kriss Wells just wrapped up this afternoon. Kriss (pictured below) is a long-time resident of the Quad Cities and a retired social worker. Despite a strong presentation that focused on the climate justifcation for his nonviolent direct action, Kriss received a verdict of “guilty” in a jury trial today at the Boone County Courthouse. He was one of thirty pipeline opponents charged with trespass on August 31, 2016 while blocking vehicles from leaving or entering a staging area along Highway 30 east of Boone, and the only one of the group to plead “not guilty” and to request a jury trial.

Here’s the press release sent out earlier this afternoon as a cooperative effort between the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and Bold Iowa. Please share and let’s get the word out! Thanks, and read on below the release for information about the Fallon Forum. – Ed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 7, 2017
Contact:
Kriss Wells: 563-343-3295, kriss444@aol.com
Carolyn Raffensperger: 515-450-2320, raffensperger@cs.com
Ed Fallon: 515-238-6404, ed@fallonforum.com

Pipeline opponent “guilty,” but trial sets precedent for justification defense

Boone, Iowa — Kriss Wells (pictured below), a long-time resident of the Quad Cities and a retired social worker, received a verdict of “guilty” in a jury trial today at the Boone County Courthouse. Wells was one of thirty pipeline opponents charged with trespass on August 31, 2016 while blocking vehicles from leaving or entering a staging area along Highway 30 east of Boone. Wells was the only one of the group to plead “not guilty” and to request a jury trial. The August 31 action was organized by Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and drew over 100 participants.

“I’m certainly disappointed in the jury’s decision,” said Wells. “Court rulings have been all over the board in this pipeline fight, and I hope for a different outcome with my trial in Calhoun County on June 28. I did this in part for my grandkids and their future, and I’ll continue to speak out and take action.”

The plaintiffs see this case as setting a new precedent in Iowa. The defense explained its justification for trespassing by raising concerns about the urgency to address climate change, water quality and the misuse of eminent domain.

“Today climate change was on trial,” said Carolyn Raffensperger with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. “Kriss Wells was justified in challenging the Iowa Utilities Board’s permit allowing Dakota Access to build this crude oil pipeline, which will do irreparable harm to our climate and planet.”

“That action last summer marked a key point in the escalation of opposition to the pipeline,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa. “It garnered national attention to our struggle. Kriss’ act of nonviolent civil disobedience and his decision to take his arrest to trial are statements of commitment and courage that continue to inspire others.”

Despite the oil beginning to flow last week, efforts to resist the pipeline continue, with a rally planned this Saturday in Des Moines, a flotilla on the Des Moines River in Boone County on June 17, and a protest against the Iowa Utilities Board on July 1.

# # #

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Spies Validate Our Success

Dear Friends,

If you spend 20 minutes reading anything this week, let it be this incredible story by The Intercept. In an age when independent investigative journalism is rare and threats against our liberty are growing, this is a must read.

The story reveals how a “shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures”.

Spying and infiltration focused on pipeline opponents mostly in North Dakota and Iowa. The story exposes how “TigerSwan spearheaded a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters”.

Christine, Ed and Cyndy Coppola approach construction equipment at first BAT action on September 20, 2016.

When The Intercept contacted me I readily agreed to allow my name to be unredacted. Every freedom-loving, pipeline-fighting, land-defending patriot caught in TigerSwan’s web should be proud to be a threat to Big Oil.

Even though Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) says oil will begin to flow on June 1st, there’s no doubt our efforts have been impactful. Here’s an excerpt from one of TigerSwan’s reports describing our mobile Bold Action Teams (BATs):

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment at first BAT action on September 20, 2016.

“Bold Iowa’s BAT tactic was unfortunately successful today. Work was stopped at several sites and used up a lot of our resources…If the lockdown tactics of Mississippi Stand and the BAT tactics of Bold Iowa were to join forces it would severely impact our mission.”

And TigerSwan is still monitoring our activities! Here’s an anonymous tip I received yesterday:

“TigerSwan is definitely deeply imbedded in Iowa. They have upped all of their men between Fort Dodge and Sioux Falls. Hotels in the areas in between are filled with their crews.”

ETP is concerned what we, the People, still might do to resist their illegal pipeline trampling our Constitutional rights and threatening our land, water and climate.

Let’s give ’em something to worry about. Here’s a few upcoming events that I hope you’ll attend:

(Note: Regarding trials, always check the day before to confirm they’re still happening, as the Court often postpones a trial at the last minute.)

TigerSwan, we understand why you lurk in the shadows. But we have nothing to hide. Truth and history are on our side. The selfish motives of greedy men like ETP’s Kelcy Warren will be exposed. Our rights will be restored. Our sacred land and water will be protected. It may take time, but we’re in it for the long haul — persistently, prayerfully, nonviolently and respectfully.

Thanks for watching, TigerSwan. And now you know: We’re watching you, too.

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