My phone rings. It’s a number I don’t recognize. I’m gardening, and my hands are happily adorned with rich, black soil. Bad time for a phone call, but I answer anyway.
“Hello, this is Frank Durgin,” a voice says. “I’m with CTG Pipeline Services and I’m looking for Kelcy Warren.”
Warren is the head of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company that wants to build the Bakken Oil Pipeline. Warren is my nemesis. If I’m Batman, he’s my Joker. Surely this is a prank. I play along.
“Hi Frank. This is Kelcy,” I respond.
Frank goes on to tell me how he loves my vision of this pipeline, how much he admired the article about me in Bloomberg Business, that he wants to sub-contract with me on laying the pipeline through Iowa.
Still smelling prank, I say “Sure. Just contact my P.R. guy. His name’s Ed Fallon. Work through him.”
I give Frank my email address, waiting for the “Haha!” moment when the prankster identifies himself, invites me to a cookout, offers to help weed my garden.
Instead, the next day I get an email from Frank with his bio and company information. Then I get two more phone calls and two text messages.
The guy is persistent. I do a little research. He seems legit.
At some point, probably today, do I have a moral obligation to tell Frank the truth?
Or do I continue the unintended deception, perhaps learn something of value that might help those of us fighting to stop the pipeline?
Tempting. But I’ll opt for the high road, though I’ll at least ask Frank how he got my number. And while I’m at it, I’ll ask how he feels about climate change, eminent domain, and the moral integrity of owning giraffes, javelinas and a gaur in a nation plagued by growing income inequality (see below).
In the meantime, I check out the Bloomberg article. I know Warren lives in Dallas, Texas. I know he’s one of the 60 wealthiest guys in America. But I did not know that:
Warren’s six-bedroom, 13-bathroom home has a chip-and-putt green, a pole-vault pit, a four-lane bowling alley, and a 200-seat theater where the billionaire’s musician pals play private concerts. A polished 12-foot section of an oak tree gives his 12-year-old son Klyde’s bedroom the feel of a treehouse. “Isn’t that cool?” Warren asks as he shows a visitor around.
But wait! Bloomberg has just glanced the surface of Warren’s astounding opulence:
Giraffes, javelinas, and a hulking, ill-tempered species of Asian oxen called a gaur roam Warren’s 11,000-acre ranch northwest of Austin. He also has ranches in eastern Texas and southwest Colorado, a house on Lake Tahoe, and an island off the coast of Honduras.
Wow. An oil-soaked version of Michael Jackson. And the obscenely rich wonder why Americans are more and more discontent, ill-tempered . . . gaur-like even.
I also learn that Warren’s company pays no income tax. Surprise, surprise.
And in defense of his right to lay pipeline through thousands of miles of farmland, Warren shares his feelings about my ilk:
“I don’t think it’s fair for a few activists to decide what the American people want.”
Right. That’s us. A few activists: the 74% of Iowans opposed to condemning private property for Warren’s pipeline. On top of recently being designated the most American state, perhaps Iowa can now claim to be the most activist state as well.
Wait till I break the news to Frank.
Reminder: FILE A PETITION TO INTERVENE ON THE PIPELINE!! You have until July 27 to get the full volume of your voice heard in Iowa Utilities Board deliberations on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. Click here for a copy of the petition.
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Ed Fallon, a.k.a.,