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.

 

A Fortune 500 oil corporation down in Texas just announced plans to build a dangerous oil pipeline through 17 Iowa counties in order to transport crude, dirty, explosive Bakken oil being hydrofracked in North Dakota down through Iowa and Illinois and on to the Gulf of Mexico.  The proposed route would closely track the Des Moines River watershed across the length of the state, one of the biggest rivers in Iowa that hundreds of thousands of Iowans depend on for clean drinking water.

If this pipeline is built, it could seriously harm Iowa’s already impaired water quality, threaten the property rights of thousands of everyday Iowans, and contribute to the catastrophic climate change that has been causing floods and droughts across Iowa for years now and which, if left unchecked, could eventually destroy all life on this planet as we know it.

Click here to sign the petition now!

Iowa already has enough problems dealing with corporate ag and factory farm manure pollution.  The last thing we need is Big Oil pumping 320,000 gallons of dirty Bakken oil through Iowa every single day.  Because it’s only a matter of time before pipelines break.  It’s happened already in Arkansas, Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota.  We don’t need more oil spills coming to Iowa and further polluting the drinking and recreational water of millions of everyday Iowans.

This project also threatens the property rights of thousands of family farmers and rural Iowans.  The only way Big Oil can build this pipeline is by stealing Iowans property through eminent domain, and that’s just not right.

This plan was hatched in secret, and the first Iowans even knew of the proposal was when the Texas oil corporation, Transfer Energy Partners, sent letters to thousands of property owners asking for permission to come survey their land.

The good news is, we still have time to stop this.  Transfer Energy Partners and their subsidiary corporations haven’t applied for a permit yet, and there will be weeks of public comment where we can stand up and speak out for what’s right.

That’s why now is the time to start organizing, and the first step begins with signing this petition calling on Governor Branstad to put communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and pollutersWe need to send a strong message now that everyday Iowans do not want this project in our state.

Strength lies in unity, hope lies in resistance.

225+ Iowans Picket Terrace Hill, Demand Branstad Sign Clean Water Fight Pledge To Crack Down on Factory Farm Manure Pollution

Iowa CCI members say Iowa needs local control of factory farm siting and stronger Clean Water Act rules to force the industry to play by tougher standards or get shut down

Chanting: “Whose House?  Our House!”  and “Put People First!” – more than 225 everyday Iowans marched up Terrace Hill July 12 to the governor’s mansion to demand Governor Terry Branstad stop kowtowing to corporate ag and start cracking down on factory farm manure pollution.

The crowd, all members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), demanded Branstad support local control of factory farm siting, and stronger Clean Water Act rules to force factory farms to obtain federal permits with tougher environmental standards or get shut down with a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.

The large crowd of family farmers, retired teachers, church pastors, students, and others also built a giant display of cardboard “factory farms”, a “river”, and “manure spills”, along with big signs that read “They Dump It.  You Drink It.  We Won’t Stop Til They Clean It Up.  Governor Branstad, Sign the Pledge.  We Want A Governor Who Will Clean It Up.”

Rosie Partridge, a CCI member from rural Wall Lake in Sac county, said she was there to ask Governor Branstad to sign a giant “Clean Water Fight Pledge” card that read “I pledge to fight for Iowa’s right to clean water and put people before profits, politics, and polluters.”

Partridge testified:  “Governor Branstad, during your long terms in office, you have rolled out the welcome mat for out-of-state corporate factory farms to come in to Iowa and run independent family farmers out of business.  You have vetoed money to clean up our rivers, lakes, and streams, and packed the Iowa DNR’s Environmental Protection Commission with factory farm insiders.  You have fought to put big money corporate ag lobbyists inside Clean Water Act negotiations between government regulators, and consistently put the interests of your political donors ahead of the interests of all Iowans and the environment we depend on.”

The Iowa DNR’s EPC commission will vote on draft Clean Water Act rules in August.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year.  There have been more than 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 630 polluted waterways.

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.   

Iowa CCI members held their annual statewide convention in Des Moines July 12 headlined by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against Farm Bureau In “Viewpoint Bias” Case: EPC Commissioners Under Fire For Conflict of Interest 

Iowa Supreme Court Case Farm Bureau vs Susan Heathcote clarifies “viewpoint bias” but leaves open question of direct and immediate financial interest charge levied at Branstad appointees to EPC by Iowa CCI, Des Moines Water Works

The Iowa Supreme Court’s dismissal of a Farm Bureau lawsuit against a former Environmental Protection Commission member clarifies the meaning of “viewpoint bias” by a public official but still leaves open the question of direct and immediate financial interest that Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and Des Moines Water Works have levied during their Clean Water Act fight against gubernatorial appointees to the EPC like former Pork Producer president Gene Ver Steeg and agribusiness executive and political donor Brent Rastetter.

“We believe EPC commissioners like Brent Rastetter, Gene Ver Steeg, and others must recuse themselves from voting on draft Clean Water Act rules for factory farm manure polluters because the rules will directly and immediately impact their financial bottom-line and therefore lead to the appearance of impropriety and a clear-cut conflict of interest,” said Pat Bowen, an Iowa CCI board member from Iowa City.

“The Supreme Court today ruled on a case surrounding a legal definition of “viewpoint bias”, but the court did not address the issue of direct and immediate financial interest when voting on a proposed environmental rule, as we have alleged against five EPC commissioners.”

Iowa CCI members have criticized Governor Branstad, Department of Natural Resources director Chuck Gipp, and the EPC commissioners for supporting a weak, watered-down Clean Water Act rule that the statewide people’s action group says doesn’t go far enough to crack down on factory farm manure pollution.  The group says the rule should be strengthened to include mandatory permits and tougher environmental standards for every factory farm, as well as a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy for habitual violators and stronger water quality standards such as a prohibition on manure application on nitrogen-fixing crops and snow and frozen-covered ground.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year.  There have been more than 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 630 polluted waterways.

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.   

BOONE COUNTY RESIDENTS DEMAND FREEDOM FROM BRENT RASTETTER’S FACTORY FARM

Factory Farm Proposal By Branstad Donor & EPC Appointtee Would Sit Between Two Creeks That Feed Into The Des Moines River Two Miles Away

Woodward –

As most Iowans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, dozens of Boone county residents are preparing to defend their rights to clean air and clean water from corporate factory farm pollution.

Last Tuesday, over 20 Boone County CCI members met on a farm outside Woodward to plan how to stop a giant hog confinement that would house 2,480 corporate hogs and produce over 630,000 gallons of toxic liquid manure annually in the already impaired Des Moines River watershed that helps provide drinking water for 500,000 Central Iowans.

The factory farm would be operated by Dallas County resident Brodie Brelsford but the facility would actually be built by Brent Rastetter, a top political donor to Governor Terry Branstad and a Branstad-appointee to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).  The submitted Manure Management Plan does not state what corporation will actually own the hogs.

Mark Edwards, retired DNR Trails Coordinator said: “I’m very concerned about the impacts from this factory farm and other factory farms affecting the expanding recreational economy related to the High Trestle Bridge and the master plan to develop other trails along the Des Moines River in Boone County.”

Jan Danielson, another nearby neighbor and CCI member said:  “We live on a century farm that has been in my husband’s family for over 100 years.  It’s our legacy. I want it to be a beautiful pristine place, like it is now, in 20 years when I can give it to my children and grandchildren.

Danielle Wirth, PhD, a CCI member, neighbor, and Environmental Science Professor at Drake University, said:  “One of our biggest concerns if this factory farm builds are the environmental impacts.  This site sits in between Eversol Creek and Catum Branch Creek which meet up with the Des Moines River less than 2 miles away.  This site could have a direct impact on the Des Moines Water Works ability to keep Des Moines residents water safe to drink.”

Boone County CCI members plan to meet with Brodie Brelsford on Monday, July 7 at 6:30 pm in the Cass Township Community Building, 1403 315th Street, Woodward, IA.

Iowa CCI members are in the middle of a seven-year campaign to enforce the Clean Water Act against Iowa factory farms and has called on Environmental Protection Commission member Brent Rastetter to recuse himself from an upcoming vote on new Clean Water Act rules because of a conflict of interest.  Rastetter owns Quality Ag, Inc as well as factory farms housing more than 9,000 hogs.

Local CCI members in several Central Iowa counties have fought new factory farm construction by Rastetter in the last two years.

There have been more than 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways.  Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs produce nearly 10 billion gallons of toxic waste every year.

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.

 Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life — urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans — CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 39 years. 

 For more information, visit www.iowacci.org.

Four Things DNR Can Do Right Now To Strengthen Draft Clean Water Act Rule To Protect Iowa’s Water From Factory Farm Pollution

 

After months of writing new rule proposal with corporate ag industry input, 28-day public comment begins tomorrow, April 16, ends May 13

 

Nearly two dozen members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members attended an Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting April 15 to lay out four concrete steps the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can take to strengthen a draft Clean Water Act rule giving state regulators the authority to permit factory farm polluters so the industry is forced to play by stronger environmental standards.

A 28-day public comment period on the draft rule proposal begins tomorrow, April 16, and ends May 13, and will include six public hearings in Mason City, Spencer, Carroll, Des Moines, Calmar, and Ainsworth.  Iowa CCI members have criticized the process that has led to this point and say both Governor Terry Branstad and DNR Director Chuck Gipp have prioritized the interests of big-moneyed corporate ag lobby groups ahead of everyday people and the environment.

“I’ve raised hogs and farmed all my life and what Governor Branstad’s DNR is allowing these out of state factory farm corporations to do to our water quality is shameful,” said Larry Ginter, a CCI member and independent family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa.  “This rule has to be stronger, because this hands-off, bare minimum approach of the Branstad Administration hasn’t worked in the past and it will not work in the future.”

Iowa CCI members say the draft Clean Water Act rule granting the DNR new permitting powers over factory farm polluters can be strengthened in four major ways:

1)       The rule should clearly state that all factory farm polluters must receive a Clean Water Act permit that forces them to abide by stronger environmental standards or get shut down.  Both Minnesota and Wisconsin require all factory farms to obtain federal operating permits.

2)      The rule should include a “three strikes and you’re out” provision for habitual violators so Iowans can shut down the worst of the worst polluters.

3)      The rule should clearly state that factory farm polluters have a “duty to apply” and that the burden of proof assuring pollution will not happen again lies with the polluter, not the DNR or the people of Iowa.

4)      The rule should require the DNR to build a comprehensive, user-friendly, online database of manure spills, Clean Water Act inspections, and permitting, so that everyday Iowans can audit the DNR’s inspections and permitting decisions and hold them accountable if they continue to kowtow to the factory farm industry.

One CCI member in attendance, Jean Lappe, drove more than three hours from Morning Sun, Iowa near the Louisa and Des Moines county borders to speak out against proposed plans by Cargill to build 13 new factory farms within 2 miles of her home.  In her testimony, she used the acronym CAFO, which stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, another term for factory farm.

“How am I supposed to live with 13 CAFOs within 2 miles of my home?” Lappe asked the EPC commissioners.

There have been at least 728 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways, according to DNR records.  Some researchers have found that manure from factory farm lagoons is leaking at more than twice the rate allowed by law, and it’s anyone’s guess how many times rainwater, floods, or melting snow have run freshly spread liquid manure off of farmland and into rivers, lakes, and streams.

Des Moines Water Works has also reported some ammonia problems already this Spring that the water utility says “often” comes from “livestock operations” and “manure-fertilized fields”.  Last year, Des Moines Water Works spent nearly $1 million removing nitrates from drinking water drawn from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.

Factory farm expansion is also up, with nearly one thousand of the state’s 8,500 factory farms being built since January 1, 2012.   A conservative estimate finds that Iowa’s 21 million hogs produce between five and ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year.

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.

CCI Members Slam Gov. Branstad’s DNR For Undercutting Public Input On Critical New Clean Water Act Rule 

 

After months of closed-door meetings with industry lobby groups and the governor’s office, the Iowa DNR says they will only allow a 28-day public comment period

 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members slammed Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Chuck Gipp April 8 for attempting to limit public comment on new Clean Water Act rules to only 28 days after months of closed-door meetings with the corporate ag lobby.

Iowa CCI members say the attempt to limit public comment is part of a long pattern of anti-transparent behavior by the Branstad Administration to shield big corporations from accountability and public scrutiny.

“Governor Branstad and DNR Director Gipp need to stop working with the industry and start working with everyday people to crack down on factory farm pollution instead of attempting to shut the public out of the decision-making process,” said Lori Nelson, the Iowa CCI board president from Bayard whose rural homestead is surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs.

Iowa DNR legal counsel Randy Clark, available at 515.282.8891 or randy.clark@dnr.iowa.gov, confirmed to Iowa CCI members that public comment on the draft Clean Water Act rule would begin April 16 and end May 13.  Six public hearings in Mason City, Spencer, Carroll, Des Moines, Calmar, and Ainsworth will also be jammed into the space of six back-to-back working days, May 6-13, excluding Mother’s Day weekend May 10-11.

“The Notice of Intended Action [set to be published April 16] will provide that the comment period ends on May 13, 2014.  Thereafter DNR staff will review the comments and summarize them in a responsiveness summary which will be provided to the [Environmental Protection Commission] at the time it considers adopting the proposed amendments.  The DNR will strive to bring this to the August EPC meeting,” DNR legal counsel Randy Clark wrote Iowa CCI members March 31.

Iowa CCI members say DNR rulemaking on similar issues in the past typically ran at least 60 days and often as long as 180 days, and that the 28-day window in this case for citizen input beginning April 16 and ending May 13 will drastically limit the ability of everyday Iowans to learn more about the proposed Clean Water Act permitting rule and participate fully in the public comment process.

A strong Clean Water Act rule has the potential to force some 8,500 factory farms in Iowa to either start playing by tougher environmental standards or get shut down, but the rule as currently written is much weaker and leaves too much discretion to state regulators to look the other way and continue business as usual.

The proposed new rule was mandated by a September 11, 2013 work plan agreement signed by the Iowa DNR and the EPA after years of organizing and litigation by Iowa CCI members and allies the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa Sierra Club.  The work plan negotiations last summer were marked by the political interference of Governor Branstad, who brought key industry lobbyists into the meetings by state and federal regulators.

The DNR’s first post-workplan meeting with the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers, and Iowa Cattleman’s Association was November 15, 2013 and the DNR made at least one change after that to weaken the proposed rule based on industry comment.  The rule was then held up for several weeks in late February and early March by the governor’s office before being forwarded on to the EPC at their March meeting.

There have been at least 728 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways, according to DNR records.  Some researchers have found that manure from factory farm lagoons is leaking at more than twice the rate allowed by law, and it’s anyone’s guess how many times rainwater, floods, or melting snow have run freshly spread liquid manure off of farmland and into rivers, lakes, and streams.

Des Moines Water Works has also reported some ammonia problems already this Spring that the water utility says “often” comes from “livestock operations” and “manure-fertilized fields”.  Last year, Des Moines Water Works spent nearly $1 million removing nitrates from drinking water drawn from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.

Factory farm expansion is also up, with nearly one thousand of the state’s 8,500 factory farms being built since January 1, 2012.   A conservative estimate finds that Iowa’s 21 million hogs produce between five and ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year.