Iowans Make U-Turn against Trump in Dakota Access Pipeline Fight*
Besides suing to prevent the pipeline from deteriorating their land, Iowa farmers are challenging eminent domain law at-large to protect all lands from for-profit seizure
Dakota Access pipeline protesters march from the Polk County Courthouse to a public meeting space to hold a rally Dec. 15, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The protests came after a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by several Iowa landowners who challenge forceful taking of their land for the pipeline and challenge the state’s permit process. (AP Photo/David Pitt)
Iowans who voted for Donald Trump will soon be fighting against him, as anti-establishment Iowans come to see his “true colours” on property rights, climate change and native sovereignty, environmentalist Ed Fallon, who has been leading the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa, told teleSUR.
Trump’s Cabinet appointments so far represent “the antithesis” of what a coalition of anti-pipeline activists have been rallying for, Fallon said after a march and rally on Thursday brought in over 200 protesters.
“The amount of heat generated at this very cold rally was amazing,” he said, pointing out the weather was at 7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fallon’s group, Bold Iowa, joined a coalition to show their opposition to the pipeline company’s seizure of rancher and farmer land at a court hearing in Polk County. The case has 14 plaintiffs, including landowners and environmentalists like the local chapter of the Sierra Club, and could be “historically significant” to eminent domain law across the state, said Fallon. The judge has a month to reach a decision.
Besides suing to prevent the pipeline from deteriorating their land, the farmers are challenging eminent domain law at-large to protect all lands from for-profit seizure, arguing against the claim that the pipeline is a public utility.
The pipeline, whose construction is near completed, runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois and would transport over half a million barrels of crude oil a day.
The Army Corps of Engineers denied easements earlier this month that would allow the company, Energy Transfer Partners, to drill below Lake Oahe, where thousands of Native Americans and allies from around the world camp to resist environmental and cultural damage. A more comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted in North Dakota, but not in Iowa — though Fallon pointed out that the Missouri River does not end at the state border.
Native Americans have participated in the actions in Iowa, but it has mostly been led by landowners who felt coerced into settling for easements and insist that having oil run through their land, to be refined in Texas and shipped back to Iowa for possible consumption, is not a public service. Many also expect the oil to be shipped overseas and not even be sold in-state.
Many of them voted for Trump, said Fallon, but he expects them to be disenchanted soon, if not already, considering his nominee for energy secretary is on the board of Energy Transfer Partners. Iowa, a major battleground state, favoured Trump by a 10-point margin, and the counties in which the pipeline runs voted for Trump far above the state average, some voting up to 70 percent red.
I think it gets worse before it gets better,” said Fallon, adding that he saw “a lot of new faces” at the courthouse and in the streets and expects to see more incited by Trump’s “cavalier attitude” against land and water rights.