Yup: YOU. ARE. AMAZING!
Over the past two weeks, your calls, emails and meetings with lawmakers have made a huge difference in the debate about SF 2235 — the pipeline bill backed by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). SF 2235 passed the Senate in February but has stalled in the House. Now some Senators who supported it are having second thoughts. We’re making progress!
ETP hopes SF 2235 will legitimize the Dakota Access Pipeline as “critical infrastructure” because, if the bill passes, ETP’s chances of defeating Iowa landowners in the lawsuit before the Iowa Supreme Court improve.
Even more far-reaching, the bill could open the door for future abuses of eminent domain for all kinds of private purposes. As a farmer along the pipeline route said to me in 2015, “If ETP can call itself a public utility because some of this oil finds its way into my gas tank, what’s to stop mall developers from using eminent domain because I might shop there someday?”
ACTION: Call, write, or visit your state representative and senator this week or this weekend!
Here are four key talking points:
1. Iowans don’t want this bill — 74% of all Iowans polled in 2015 opposed using eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline!
2. ETP wants this bill because landowners suing over the abuse of eminent domain have a strong case. Most Iowans agree that the Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t “critical infrastructure.” It’s not at all in the same category as lines carrying water, electricity and gas. We access these services directly and, when they fail, we notice immediately.
3. If ETP gets this bill passed and Iowa landowners lose their lawsuit, it throws open the doors to eminent domain in the future — not just for oil pipelines but for all kinds of private development.
4. The bill would potentially impose extreme penalties for non-violent protest protected under the First Amendment.
So, where does former (as of Monday) Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix fit into all this?
Dix’s departure from the Iowa Senate this week could help defeat SF 2235. Dix was in the back pocket of a host of corporate interests, including ETP. Years ago, he was a staunch opponent of eminent domain for private gain. Dix even floor managed the 2006 legislation that toughened Iowa law to protect landowners from private development. Yet when ETP’s money began to flow into his coffers, Dix switched sides.
Over the past two years, Republicans at the Iowa Statehouse have championed lots of legislation unpopular with voters. As a result, they’ve got a huge political problem on their hands — so huge that there’s more and more talk of Republicans losing control of both the House and Senate next fall. Republicans desperately need some legislative “wins” to show they haven’t completely abandoned Iowans in favor of special interests.
With Dix gone, Republicans now have that opportunity. With most Iowans opposing the abuse of eminent domain and supporting the right to protest under the First Amendment, ditching SF 2235 presents one possibility to do that.
Another bill the new Republican leadership could jettison to show it hasn’t forsaken the average voter is SF 2311. That’s the bill the big utility companies want that would kill energy-efficiency programs. These programs have been around for nearly thirty years, are immensely popular, and save ratepayers money and energy.
ACTION: Call members of the House Commerce Committee as soon as possible.
Thanks for doing your part to hold our elected officials accountable to do what’s fair and just for all Iowans. I’m eager to hear what responses you get when you contact your lawmakers. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!