August 5, 2014

As lifetime family farmers and rural property owners, we strongly urge Iowa land owners in the path of the proposed Bakken oil pipeline to refuse signing agreements with Transfer Energy Partners or Dakota Energy, LLC giving them access to your property for land assessments and surveys.

This project has not yet been approved by Governor Branstad or the Iowa Utilities Board and there is no reason to grant survey requests while there are still crops in the field.  Survey equipment could cause soil compaction and crop damage.  The consent forms provided by the big oil corporation do not explicitly guarantee adequate compensation for any crop or soil damage caused during land surveys.

We recommend that land owners who do approve the company’s survey request consider demanding revisions to the consent forms to limit the scope and timing of surveying and allow for fair compensation to damaged crops or soil.

Informational meetings held by the big oil corporation may be held in late September, potentially during peak harvest season.  This may make it difficult for some impacted property owners to attend the meetings.  A 30-day notice is required to be posted before the meetings can begin.  After the meetings are completed, the company may apply for a permit petition.

Public hearings and a formal input process will start after a permit petition is filed.  If the project is approved by Governor Branstad and the Iowa Utilities Board, land owners who do not agree to sell permanent 50-foot easements and allow for a 150-foot right-a-way for construction on their land could have their property confiscated under eminent domain laws.  Construction could also compact soil, interfere with planting and harvest, and may cause additional damage to crops and drainage tiles.

We are very skeptical that this project could ever be in the public interest, as it does not appear that it will create permanent jobs and poses a significant risk to Iowa’s air, soil, and water quality.

For more information, please contact Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement at 515.282.0484 or


Larry Ginter, Rhodes

Keith and Marian Kuper, Ackley

Jim and Barb Kalbach, Dexter

George Naylor and Patti Edwardson, Churdan

Jeff and Misti Craig, Panora

Curt Burger and Brenda Brink, Huxley

Mike and Ginny Meyer, Lone Tree

Lori Nelson, Bayard

Elizabeth Partridge Blessington, Breda

Rosemary Partridge, Breda

Lynn Gallagher, Solon

Suzan Erem, West Branch

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.   

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 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