Iowa can’t take chances with a pipeline

Letter to the Editor from Eric Johnson, Des Moines Register, Dec 13.

Pipeline-ConstructionWe Iowans are the guardians of some of the best farmland in the entire world. The entire world! We host the World Food Prize right here. Maintaining and improving our ability to grow food to feed the world is our No. 1 priority. Building an crude oil pipeline across Iowa is like building a six-lane highway through the center of Rome. There’s only one Iowa; we can’t afford to take any chances with a pipeline.

Take Action on the Bakken Pipeline

image001The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline would move up to 570,000 barrels of oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fracked oil fields to Patonka, Ill, north east of St Louis. From there it would be shipped by another pipeline or rail to a refinery on the gulf coast. This crude oil is extremely volatile. There is no guarantee that it will be used domestically. The pipeline will most likely not replace truck or rail transport of Bakken crude, it will simply allow them to double their extraction.

Dakota Access, an affiliate of Energy Transfer Partners, claims the pipeline will bring significant economic benefit to Iowa, but analysis by ISU economist David Swenson shows that their numbers of jobs and tax benefits are grossly exaggerated. There would only be 15 permanent jobs.

This pipeline would cross 8 of Iowa’s major rivers, as well as the Missouri and Mississippi and a major aquifer. The company’s safety plan is: “We won’t have any leaks,” even though over the past 20 years there have been over 10,000 pipeline incidents resulting in 384 deaths, costing over $5 billion in property damages, and leaving spills of hazardous liquids of more than 100 million gallons. There is no possible way to clean up Bakken crude, and it is highly inflammable.
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Open Letter to Dave Loebsack


Dear Dave,

I am deeply disappointed by your vote for the Keystone XL pipeline. This vote comes as a slap in the face for someone who has been your long-time supporter.

You have voted to seize land from American farmers who have protected it for generations with their sweat and blood and to give control of this land to a foreign corporation. You have voted to allow this corporation to run roughshod over land sacred to indigenous peoples of the United States and to endanger the Sand Hills and the Ogallala aquifer. By promoting tar sands extraction, you voted to silence the songbirds that bring beauty to my backyard, and you voted for mining practices that poison the waters that First Nations Peoples of Canada depend on for their survival. Your vote condemns your own children and mine to rising oceans, extreme weather events, and paying the immense costs that these will engender. You have voted in favor of air quality that will lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths for people whose only crime is to be born after your vote.

These are not the wild-eyed claims of a radical environmentalist, for each can be backed up with sobering empirical evidence.

So Dave, you gave away the farm. What did you get in return? Looks to me as if you got some inflated promises for a few temporary jobs. In balance, I can’t say that I am impressed by your negotiating skills.

If you want to talk about real economic growth and protecting the world for future generations, I can give you an alternative— it is called a revenue neutral carbon tax (or “fee and dividend”).

According to a study from the nonpartisan Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), we can place a steadily-rising fee on the CO2 content of fuels, and if we give the revenue back to households in equal shares, two things happen: 1) Carbon emissions are reduced by 50 percent in 20 years and 2) there will be 2.8 million jobs added to the U.S. economy.

So here is my friendly advice: try to weigh your options a little more carefully in the future, and don’t take your friends for granted.

Mark NeuCollins

New York Times: The Missing Campus Climate Debate

This opinion piece appeared in the Sunday Review | Opinion Section of the New York Times on November 1. It is particularly relevant for a community whose economy is based upon a large state University.

02DIVESTMENT-superJumboCLIMATE CHANGE is our era’s defining challenge, but most of America’s universities are planning to sit this one out. Though students and faculty members at more than 400 colleges have called for administrators to divest from fossil-fuel energy companies, fewer than 20 have committed to doing so. Stanford recently divested from coal, but none of the other schools had endowments within the 150 largest in 2013.
The principal justification schools offer is that endowments should be reserved to advance an academic mission. As Cornell’s president, David J. Skorton, put it, “We must resist, in almost all cases, the temptation to manage these precious funds to further social or political causes, no matter how worthy.” Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president, said, “The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

Continue Reading at the New York Times website.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, “Dear Matafele Peinem”

On 23 September 2014, 26 year old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. Kathy was selected from among over 500 civil society candidates in an open, global nomination process conducted by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service.

Kathy performed a new poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem”, written to her daughter. The poem received a standing ovation. Kathy is also a teacher, journalist and founder of the environmental NGO, Jo-jikum.

Join the Peoples Climate March – Iowa City on Sept 21


The People’s Climate March – Iowa City. Sunday, Sept 21, 2PM

As thousands gather in New York City for the Peoples Climate March, you can join the movement here in Iowa City. In solidarity with the national marchers in NYC, we will march to government offices in Iowa City: Congressman Loebsacks office, the Johnson County Government offices, President Sally Mason’s University office, and Iowa City Hall. We will post a list of demands for climate action at each stop.

We will gather at the fountain on the Ped Mall at 2PM for the start of the march, and it will end back at the starting point as we join the Campaign Nonviolence rally on the City Center Plaza at 4PM.

PDF-IconClick on this icon to see our list of our demands, and click here to see the march route.

Come join us and invite all of your friends!…here are some easy ways to do that

Special Bonus for Marchers, a signmaking party!

NextGen Climate is hosting a signmaking party on Saturday. If you are not familiar with this organization already, you really need to be. They are an organization targeting college-age citizens, working to avert climate disaster and preserve American prosperity through political action. Organizers are in Iowa City right now and you can meet them at the party. Here are some details:

Signmaking Party:

  • 6-7:30pm on Saturday evening
  • Kennedy Plaza – 702 S Gilbert St, unit 102b (under the orange and black signs).
  • Bring blank posters and anything you’d like to draw with, we have markers and butcher paper (and snacks!) at the office.

Forward on Climate!

Des Moines Register “Iowa View: Climate change is not something to be ignored”

By Fred Abels Published 11:15 p.m. CDT April 26, 2014. Link to article here

des.o0427.fred1Rural and small town Iowans are not ignoring the challenges posed by climate change. Recently, 75 Iowans from the agriculture and faith communities gathered for a discussion in Ames.

They weren’t there to just talk about the problem; they were focused on finding solutions — on-farm conservation for soil improvement and carbon sequestration, increasing biodiversity to bolster food security, and pairing a thriving clean-energy economy with limiting harmful pollution from old power plants.
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For climate change, ‘see something, say something’ — Op-ed in the Press-Citizen

Jenna Hammerich
Published in the Iowa City Press Citizen, April 24, 2014
Climate change isn’t an environmental issue. It’s an economic issue, a social issue, a public health issue and an environmental issue.

“Save the planet” is not just a call to save the rivers, the trees, and the whales. It’s an appeal to save ourselves.

Extreme weather caused by runaway carbon pollution won’t spare the cities we’ve built any more than it will the natural world. It’s already disrupting our way of life, destroying infrastructure, advancing disease, and escalating food prices. Think how many homes, museums, churches, factories and schools sit along U.S. coasts, where sea levels are rising, or in desert ecosystems where water is becoming scarcer and wildfires are becoming a year-round occurrence. We’re no safer inland, with droughts, floods and tornadoes happening more frequently.

We’re dealing with a crisis that requires large-scale political action, legislation that heavily subsidizes renewable energy, repeals subsidies for fossil fuels, and taxes the biggest CO2 polluters — and yet our political representatives continue to ignore the problem. Why? We can speculate that it’s because they’re paid off or lazy, but the most likely answer is that they’re not hearing from constituents about it. Eighty-three percent of Americans want Congress to take action on climate change, but the only time most of us voice our opinions on the issue is when a pollster asks for them. We aren’t in the habit of communicating with the people we’ve elected.

We need to get into the habit, all of us. Our representatives will take action only if they hear us telling them to, whether it’s by phone, on Twitter or Facebook, at a meeting or in an email.
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