We’re excited to launch CCI’s clean energy and climate change justice organizing work and we’re coming to a town near you!

Next week we’re hitting the road to share what we’ve been learning about the clean energy landscape in Iowa and learn why you care about this issue. And, we’ll share our ideas for how we can — at the local level — organize to transition our communities to 100% clean, renewable energy that benefits 100% of the people.

And, we’re bringing along a special guest.

Ben Ishibashi is the Climate Organizer for the People’s Action network. He’ll share how communities across the country are fighting for and winning climate and clean energy solutions that put people first.

Click below to RSVP to the event nearest you:

Cedar Falls: Tuesday, August 22nd at 7pm at the Hearst Center for the Arts

Webster City: Wednesday, August 23rd at 6pm at the Kendall Young Library

Des Moines: Thursday, August 24th at 11:30am at the Central Library

Iowa City: Thursday, August 24th at 7pm at the Iowa City Public Library

Join us and learn how we can win!

P.S. Have you signed our petition? We’re calling on the Iowa Department of Transportation to use Iowa’s $21 million from the VW emissions scandal settlement to go to clean energy projects and not to investment in more fossil fuels. Sign here.


Are you looking for a way to make change in your community? We’re acting on a range of campaigns. Take a look at five ways to get involved in our people-powered grassroots movement.

 

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Bakken Oil Pipeline “Raises Red Flags”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members discover July 17 IRFA memo after filing a public information request with Governor Branstad’s office

IRFA memo says pipeline proposal raises red flags because Big Oil enjoys unfair taxpayer subsidies and could use eminent domain to confiscate valuable Iowa farmland and turn it over to a private, out-of-state, for-profit corporation

To view an original copy of the IRFA memo as provided to the governor’s office, click here

MEMO

TO:                  Iowa elected leaders

FROM: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

DATE:  July 17, 2014

RE:       Iowa Oil Pipeline Proposal Raises Red Flags

On July 10, 2014, The Des Moines Register reported Texas-based energy company Energy Transfer Partners L.P. is proposing “to build an 1,100 mile underground pipeline to transport a highly volatile type of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields through 17 Iowa counties en route to Illinois.”

Since then, a number of other articles have been written on the topic, and several Iowa leaders have weighed-in indicating they need to learn more about the proposal before taking a position on it.

While IRFA has not taken a position on the oil pipeline proposal, the initial reporting on this issue has raised several red flags that need to be carefully considered in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Much of the print has focused on whether it would be appropriate for the builder—a private, out-of-state energy company—to use eminent domain to acquire easements to construct the pipeline through valuable Iowa farmland.  This is certainly a very important and delicate point to consider.

Another important question to contemplate is whether it is good policy for Iowa to allow a private, out-of-state energy company to exploit the petroleum industry’s significant industry-specific federal policy benefits in order to help provide a marketplace distribution and cost advantage to Bakken crude oil over higher blends of renewable fuels.

In fact, this pipeline proposal highlights two specific ways in which the federal policy deck is stacked in favor of petroleum:

  • Federal pipeline loan guarantee program—As a petroleum pipeline, the Energy Transfer Partners L.P. project would be eligible for a federal pipeline loan guarantee.  A similar ethanol pipeline project would not be eligible for a federal pipeline loan guarantee. Case in point: plans for an 1,800 mile ethanol pipeline from Sioux Falls, SD, to New York Harbor were shelved in 2010 due to the fact that a federal loan guarantee could not be secured for a pipeline that was shipping something other than oil and gas.
  • Master limited partnership eligibility—The Texas-based company proposing to build the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners L.P., is a master limited partnership (MLP).  According to U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), author of the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, “an MLP is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership, but whose ownership interests are traded on a market like corporate stock.  By statute, MLPs have only been available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.  These projects get access to capital at a lower cost and are more liquid than traditional financing approaches to energy projects, making them highly effective at attracting private investment.  Investors in renewable energy projects, however, have been explicitly prevented from forming MLPs, starving a growing portion of America’s domestic energy sector of the capital it needs to build and grow.”

Federal pipeline loan guarantees and master limited partnerships are two ways in which this Iowa oil pipeline proposal would be significantly advantaged over a similar renewable fuel pipeline project.  These advantages, coupled with the oil industry’s century of subsidies, federal petroleum mandate and fuel distribution monopoly, demonstrate definitively that the federal policy playing field is tilted heavily in favor of oil.

IRFA is not opposed to the construction of oil pipelines or other efforts to lower the price of domestic oil.  However, we do object to the use of oil-specific federal policy benefits to provide cost relief and other marketplace advantages exclusively to the petroleum industry, further disadvantaging Iowa’s homegrown renewable fuels.

As you develop your position on this Iowa oil pipeline proposal, IRFA would ask you consider using this unique opportunity to demand equal status for a renewable fuel pipeline in terms of eligibility for federal loan guarantees and MLPs, and to shine additional sunlight on the significant federal policy advantages enjoyed exclusively by the oil industry.  These points need to be front and center as Iowans consider whether to support this Iowa oil pipeline proposal.

If you have any questions regarding this memo, please call the IRFA office at 515-252-6249.  Thank you for your consideration.

Grant Menke

Policy Director

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

(515) 252-6249

(515) 321-6290 cell

gmenke@iowarfa.org

Governor Branstad Met In Private With TX-Based Big Oil Corporation On July 22

 

While Branstad publicly claims he hasn’t made up his mind yet, his administration appears to be working behind closed doors to grease the wheels for Transfer Energy Partners and Dakota Energy, LLC to build a Bakken oil pipeline across the state that could threaten everyday Iowan’s water quality and property rights

 

Governor Terry Branstad held a private meeting with Greg Brazaitis, chief compliance officer with Texas-based Transfer Energy Partners on Tuesday, July 22, to discuss a proposed Iowa Bakken Oil Pipeline, his administration confirmed yesterday.

“Governor Branstad says he hasn’t made up his mind about the bakken oil pipeline yet, but his fingerprints are all over this project,” said Ross Grooters, an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member from Pleasant Hill.

“Branstad’s already met privately with Big Oil once, his utilities board met with them again behind closed doors a week later, and it appears his board staff even recommended a corporate PR firm to help them navigate the permitting process, a corporate PR firm whose leadership just so happens to include Branstad’s former chief of staff and other former campaign workers.”

Yesterday, Iowa CCI members broke the news that Susan Fenton, LS2Group’s Director of Government Affairs, who worked for four years as a legislative liason for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, joined Energy Transfer Partners, the Iowa Utilities Board, the Attorney General’s office, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on July 29 for an “informal meeting” on the proposed bakken oil pipeline “to discuss the informational meeting and permit petition processes and requirements,” meeting notes show.

Fenton has also worked for Iowa House Republicans, including the speaker of the house and majority leader, as well as on re-election campaigns for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley.

Email records also indicate that the Iowa Utilities Board may have actually referred LS2Group to Transfer Energy Partners for assistance navigating the state’s permitting process.  On July 11, Stephen Veatch, Senior Director of Certificates and Tariffs at Transfer Energy Partners, sent an email to Don Stursma, Manager, Safety and Engineering Section at the Iowa Utilities Board, which reads, “Don – can you provide me the firms that are familiar with the IUB permitting process that you would recommend?”

“What the Iowa Utilities Board calls an informal meeting we would call a classic case of the revolving door greasing the wheels,” said Ross Grooters, an Iowa CCI member from Pleasant Hill.  “State agencies should be working to serve the public interest, not bending over backwards to help Big Oil.”

LS2Group is a corporate gun-for-hire whose senior leadership team includes vice president Jeff Boeyink, former chief of staff for Governor Branstad.  Last April, LS2Group was contracted by the American Petroleum Institute and an API front group called the Iowa Energy Forum to bring General James Jones to Drake University campus to promote the Keystone XL pipeline.  LS2Group also worked for Tim Pawlenty’s campaign during the 2012 Iowa Caucus season.

The proposed Iowa Bakken oil pipeline, if built, would transport crude, hydrofracked bakken oil from North Dakota through Iowa and eventually down into the Gulf of Mexico.  Transfer Energy Partners, a Texas-based Fortune 500 company, says they can transport as much as 420,000 barrels per day, but that the project will probably average about 320,000 barrels of crude per day.

In July, the corporation sent letters to property owners along their preferred route cutting through 17 Iowa counties asking permission to survey land.  The next step will be informational hearings in those counties, preceded by a 30-day notice, after which the Texas-based corporation may formally file a pipeline permit with the state, kicking off a public input process.  Transfer Energy Partners told the Iowa Utilities Board they hope to formally apply for a permit by the fourth quarter of this year.  The corporation cannot negotiate easements with landholders until after the 17 informational meetings are held.

According to Iowa Code 479B.8, to grant a permit the Iowa Utilities Board must determine that “the proposed services will promote the public convenience and necessity” and may impose “terms, conditions, and restrictions as to location and route.”

Iowa Utilities Board members are appointed by the Iowa governor, and the agency is part of the state’s executive branch.  Iowa CCI members this week launched a petition and Facebook page calling on Governor Branstad to use his administration’s authority under Iowa Code 479B.8 to stop the pipeline from being built.

The petition reads:  “Governor Branstad, the Iowa Bakken Oil Pipeline will be a climate disaster.  Building it could harm Iowa’s water quality, contribute to catastrophic climate change, and threaten the property rights of everyday Iowans across the state.  You must find that this pipeline is not in the public interest and reject it.”

Governor Branstad’s office was briefed on the issue in early July.  Ben Hammes, Branstad’s Director of Boards and Commissions, sent an email in early July to the Iowa Utilities Board asking for information on the proposal.

Iowa CCI members have been contacted by some property owners along the proposed oil pipeline route and copies of the letters sent to them by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Transfer Energy Partners, is included in the attached document cache.

Iowa CCI is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.   

REVOLVING DOOR GREASES THE WHEELS:  Corporate PR Firm LS2Group With Deep Ties To The Branstad Administration Joins Energy Transfer Partners, Three State Agencies, For “Informal Meeting” On Bakken Oil Pipeline Proposal 

Email communication between Transfer Energy Partners and Iowa Utilities Board shows state agency may have referred the Fortune 500 oil corporation to the notorious public relations firm for assistance navigating permitting process

 

A former lobbyist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship who now works for a corporate public relations firm with significant ties to the Branstad Administration joined an oil corporation and three state agencies at an “informal meeting” on a proposed Iowa Bakken Oil Pipeline, records provided to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement by the Iowa Utilities Board show.

Susan Fenton, LS2Group’s Director of Government Affairs, who worked for four years as a legislative liason for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, joined Energy Transfer Partners, the Iowa Utilities Board, the Attorney General’s office, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on July 29 for an “informal meeting” on the proposed bakken oil pipeline “to discuss the informational meeting and permit petition processes and requirements,” meeting notes show.

Fenton has also worked for Iowa House Republicans, including the speaker of the house and majority leader, as well as on re-election campaigns for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley.

Email records also indicate that the Iowa Utilities Board may have actually referred LS2Group to Transfer Energy Partners for assistance navigating the state’s permitting process.  On July 11, Stephen Veatch, Senior Director of Certificates and Tariffs at Transfer Energy Partners, sent an email to Don Stursma, Manager, Safety and Engineering Section at the Iowa Utilities Board, which reads, “Don – can you provide me the firms that are familiar with the IUB permitting process that you would recommend?”

“What the Iowa Utilities Board calls an informal meeting we would call a classic case of the revolving door greasing the wheels,” said Ross Grooters, an Iowa CCI member from Pleasant Hill.  “State agencies should be working to serve the public interest, not bending over backwards to help Big Oil.”

LS2Group is a corporate gun-for-hire whose senior leadership team includes vice president Jeff Boyeink, former chief of staff for Governor Branstad.  Last April, LS2Group was contracted by the American Petroleum Institute and an API front group called the Iowa Energy Forum to bring General James Jones to Drake University campus to promote the Keystone XL pipeline.  LS2Group also worked for Tim Pawlenty’s campaign during the 2012 Iowa Caucus season.

The proposed Iowa Bakken oil pipeline, if built, would transport crude, hydrofracked bakken oil from North Dakota through Iowa and eventually down into the Gulf of Mexico.  Transfer Energy Partners, a Texas-based Fortune 500 company, says they can transport as much as 420,000 barrels per day, but that the project will probably average about 320,000 barrels of crude per day.

In July, the corporation sent letters to property owners along their preferred route cutting through 17 Iowa counties asking permission to survey land.  The next step will be informational hearings in those counties, preceded by a 30-day notice, after which the Texas-based corporation may formally file a pipeline permit with the state, kicking off a public input process.  Transfer Energy Partners told the Iowa Utilities Board they hope to formally apply for a permit by the fourth quarter of this year.  The corporation cannot negotiate easements with landholders until after the 17 informational meetings are held.

According to Iowa Code 479B.8, to grant a permit the Iowa Utilities Board must determine that “the proposed services will promote the public convenience and necessity” and may impose “terms, conditions, and restrictions as to location and route.”

Iowa Utilities Board members are appointed by the Iowa governor, and the agency is part of the state’s executive branch.  Iowa CCI members this week launched a petition and Facebook page calling on Governor Branstad to use his administration’s authority under Iowa Code 479B.8 to stop the pipeline from being built.

The petition reads:  “Governor Branstad, the Iowa Bakken Oil Pipeline will be a climate disaster.  Building it could harm Iowa’s water quality, contribute to catastrophic climate change, and threaten the property rights of everyday Iowans across the state.  You must find that this pipeline is not in the public interest and reject it.”

Governor Branstad’s office has been briefed on the issue.  Ben Hammes, Branstad’s Director of Boards and Commissions, sent an email in July to the Iowa Utilities Board asking for information on the proposal.

Iowa CCI members have been contacted by some property owners along the proposed oil pipeline route and copies of the letters sent to them by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Transfer Energy Partners, is included in the document cache.

Iowa CCI is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.   

Oil Pipeline Will Be Met With Resistance

 

Iowa CCI members pledge to fight corporate plan to build another environmentally dangerous oil and gas pipeline in Iowa

 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members say everyday Iowans will fight back and resist any attempt to build a corporate oil and gas pipeline in Iowa that could threaten air and water quality and contribute to catastrophic climate change.

“Any attempt to build an oil and natural gas pipeline in Iowa will be met with resistance,” said Gary Larsen, an independent family farmer and Iowa CCI member with a wind turbine on his farm outside of Exira in Audubon county.  “Catastrophic climate change is already impacting Iowa and we have to start keeping fossil fuels in the ground where they belong instead of threatening the air, water, and land of thousands of everyday Iowans just so a few energy corporations can profit.”

“We need to start conserving energy and taxing these big corporations for the pollution they cause so we can reinvest in alternative energy like wind and solar power.”

Iowa CCI is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.   

Oil pipeline across Iowa proposed, Des Moines Register, July 10, 2014