On this year’s Earth Day, April 22, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put a stop to the Constitution pipeline, a project to ship fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New York, intersecting almost 300 bodies of water.
In Georgia, the legislature has blocked easements for the Sabal Trail Pipeline. and Governor Nathan Deal approved a moratorium prohibiting eminent domain for pipeline through July 2017.
In Oregon, the Jordan Cove Energy pipeline project was denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because the company had not demonstrated need for the project, and benefits from the project would not outweigh the harm done to individual landowners to justify the use of eminent domain. The Jordan Cove pipeline would have crossed nearly 400 water bodies.
Energy giant Kinder Morgan Inc. has pulled the plug on its proposed 188-mile natural gas pipeline through parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire largely because of public pressure.
But in Iowa, what do we have? A governor and utilities board in bed with the fossil fuel industry. Big Oil pipelines pollute our air and water. They blight farmland. They destroy historical sites and recreational areas. They trample Native American rights. All for what?
For corporate profit and more profit.
The Bakken shale oilfield in North Dakota, starting point of the pipeline proposed to cross Iowa, is largely responsible for most of a global rise in atmospheric ethane—a pollutant that can harm human health and heat the atmosphere further—according to a recently published peer-reviewed paper.
Why should we care? For starters, within the past 12 months, some 143,000 gallons of crude oil spilled on a beach near Santa Barbara, California. Nearly 90,000 gallons leaked into the Gulf of Mexico in May. More than 20,000 gallons in the San Joaquin Valley a few weeks later were added to the 21,000 gallons spilled from the same pipeline last year. And just a few weeks ago, nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil gushed from a ruptured pipeline near a beach in Ventura, Calif., according to the Sierra Club.
Can we afford this kind of thing in Iowa? Are we prepared to handle the inevitable spill?
The flurry of victories over pipeline projects across the country this year is testimony to the power of the growing bottom-up movement for change, proving yet again that grassroots democracy is the best safeguard for our water, air and land – the very foundations of life.
It’s time that we Iowans exercise our democratic rights to stop the Bakken pipeline.
At noon Wednesday, members of Iowa City’s 100Grannies.org for a Fossil Fuel-Free Future will be in Des Moines to stage a street theatre event, holding Gov. Branstad and his handpicked three-person Iowa Utilities Board accountable for approving the permit for the Bakken pipeline.
The governor, his bedfellows and their illegitimate pipeline offspring will be portrayed and denounced.
This light-hearted event about a deadly serious subject will take place at the Iowa Utilities Board office, 1375 E. Court Ave., and will be followed by a media conference. All who care about our state are invited to join us.
We have entered a new era, a time when the people demand a safer, healthier future by exerting our democratic rights. We are invoking the power expressly granted in both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and in the Iowa Constitution.
It is this grassroots movement that is driving our energy future away from dirty fossil fuel and toward clean renewables, a shift that is imperative if we are to save our planet from the destructive impacts of a fossil-fuel carbon overload.
Do join us in being part of the solution.
Ann Christenson of Iowa City is a member of 100Grannies.org for a Fossil Fuel-Free Future.