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.

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.   

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

July 8, 2014

 

FACTORY FARM DEVELOPER IS NO-SHOW AT MEETING – NEIGHBORS BRING MEETING TO HIS HOUSE

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

Woodward –

Fifty Boone County CCI members took their meeting to Brodie Brelsford’s house, developer of a giant hog confinement that would house 2,480 corporate hogs and produce over 630,000 gallons of toxic liquid manure annually, after he failed to show up at a community meeting.

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.

Many of the neighbors were upset that Brodie didn’t show up for the meeting.  They feel that he doesn’t care about their concerns about quality of life, health and environmental impacts.

A caravan of over 20 cars traveled from the meeting near the Des Moines River to a golf course community in Perry where Brodie Brelsford lives.  After knocking on the door with no answer, neighbors of the proposed confinement posted their letter to his door demanding he cease construction immediately.

Jan Danilson, 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 place, like it is now, in 20 years when I can give it to my children and grandchildren. We don’t want his factory farm.”

Danielle Wirth, 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.”

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.”

2 years ago CCI members in Dallas County stopped Brodie’s dad, Mike Brelsford, from building a 5,000 head factory farm near Minburn.  Mike Brelsford said community concerns were the reason he withdrew his application.  Boone County neighbors are upset because Brodie Brelsford didn’t ask for neighbors concerns or even tell them he was starting construction.

The Brelsfords are utilizing a loophole in DNR factory farm permitting that allows construction of a factory farm under 2,500 head of hogs without notification of neighbors or a public hearing with the county.  If built, Brodie’s factory farm would house 2,480 hogs – just 20 hogs under the permit threshold.

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

 

VIDEO:  Factory Farm Outside of Riceville With History of Pollution Problems Discharges Manure Into Impaired Wapsipinicon River Again

 

Iowa CCI members say the DNR failed to issue permits and penalties to the facility after a similar discharge into the Wapsi last year, raising questions about the DNR’s implementation of a Clean Water Act work plan as public hearings on draft new rules begin today in Mason City

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members released a video May 6 documenting an ongoing manure discharge into the Wapsipinicon River from Oak Grove Cattle, LLC outside of Riceville in Mitchell County.  The incident has been verified by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) field staff Trent Lambert, although the DNR failed to notify the public, and follows a similar discharge into the Wapsi River last year from the same facility.

The most recent discharge was first documented on April 8 and was ongoing at least through May 1, when the video was recorded by a next-door neighbor and Iowa CCI member.  Federal law states that operations may be fined as much as $30,000 per day for illegal manure discharges into waters of the United States.

Oak Grove Cattle, LLC is a mixed feedlot/confinement operation with approximately 1,000-head of cattle owned by David Eastman.  The manure discharge first occurred on or about April 8 after an earthen berm failed to contain manure on-site.  The DNR allowed Eastman to construct the berm after last year’s discharges and in February told Iowa CCI members the facility did not need a Clean Water Act permit because the engineering change would permanently remedy the problem.

Last year the DNR issued two Notices of Violation for discharging manure into a water of the state through a manmade conveyance, as well as for housing more than 500 cattle in confinement without having a Manure Management Plan, but failed to assess any kind of fine or monetary penalty.  The 2013 discharges began no later than April 2, 2013 and ended no earlier than May 5, 2013.

A previous discharge incident in 2009 at Oak Grove Cattle resulted in an Administrative Consent Order and a monetary fine.

Iowa CCI member and rural property owner Rita Dvorak, who raises a small herd of sheep outside of Riceville with her husband Lee, has been battling manure runoff from Oak Grove Cattle for years, and has spent thousands of dollars to clean up factory farm manure out of her family’s farm pond and adjacent property.

“This is all foam, this is the runoff,” Dvorak says at the beginning of the May 1 video, which begins at the bank of the Wapsi River before moving upstream to the source of the runoff.

“You can see in the background there where it’s coming out of the berm…that’s the beginning of the breach, you can see where it’s blown out,” Dvorak continues in the video as she records a mix of water and manure running off the factory farm property and into a gully that runs into the Wapsi River.  The feedlot and confinement buildings are both visible in the background near the end of the video clip.

DNR public hearings on draft new Clean Water Act permitting rules that Iowa CCI members have criticized as weak begin May 6 in Mason City and continue every day, minus the weekends, through May 13 in Spencer, Carroll, Des Moines, Calmar, and Ainsworth.  Rita Dvorak will testify at the May 12 hearing in Calmar.

There have been more than 728 documented manure spills since 1996, including at least five in April of this year. Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways.

Factory farm expansion is also up, with more than 900 of the state’s 8,500 factory farms being built since January 1, 2012.   Iowa’s factory farms produce nearly 10 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.   

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.