Blog for Iowa caught up with Ed Fallon in Iowa City at a March 11 fundraiser for his Iowa Pipeline Walk along the proposed route of the Dakota Access oil pipeline from the Bakken shale formation through Iowa to Illinois.
Fallon presented a slide show of his experiences on last year’s Great March for Climate Action across the U.S., and answered questions during an event attended by about 35 supporters.
Discussions ranged over a variety of related topics. Two seemed most important: eminent domain and an environmental study of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) is leading a bipartisan effort to restrict use of eminent domain by private companies like Dakota Access in Iowa.
“I intend to introduce legislation in the Government Oversight Committee,” Kaufmann said in an email to constituents. “My committee is funnel proof and next week I will introduce an Eminent Domain Omnibus bill that will attempt to address the numerous eminent domain abuses going on throughout the state.”
When asked about the legislation, Fallon acknowledged the several bills filed regarding eminent domain had not yet been finalized into one.
“My biggest hope is it defines public use so clearly that you can’t come in and build a pipeline across Iowa and use eminent domain to build that,” Fallon said. “Because it’s not oil that’s being used here, it’s not being produced here, it’s being refined in Texas and shipped for the most part overseas.”
A bipartisan group of legislators sent a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board asking the regulatory body commission an environmental impact study of the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline.
According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the letter raised eight concerns:
1. Safety risks and hazards associated with the product(s) to be transported through the pipeline;
2. Potential damage to water, land, soil, water, air and wildlife/wildlife habitat during construction;
3. Threats to the environment, farmland, wildlife and public health as a result of spills or explosions;
4. Spill prevention and clean up provisions;
5. Liability for damages to both public and private property and sufficiency of resources to cover such liability;
6. Adequacy of inspection/monitoring/enforcement mechanisms and resources;
7. Responsibility for planning, training, and equipping for emergency response;
8. Indirect impacts of the oil extraction process facilitated by the pipeline that may affect public health and safety as well as environmental security.
“If studying the environmental impact is something we do before we decide to move forward on this, then that has value,” Fallon said. “But if it’s something we do after the fact, after the damage is done, after the decision is made, then it’s kind of a moot point.”
During the question and answer session, Jack Knight of the Allamakee County Protectors indicated that delaying the IUB approval process through an environmental study was a valuable tactic in preventing the oil pipeline from being built.
Opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline have a bigger issue and Fallon touched upon that during our interview.
“Based on what the entire scientific community is telling us, that oil needs to remain in the ground,” he said. “Really this conversation about the pipeline is a sidebar, but a really important one.”