April 19, 2021

Oil pipeline protesters meet with local farmers

A local coffee shop turned into a hub where environmentalists and farmers joined together to discuss the proposed Bakkan oil pipeline that could affect a number of landowners in Jasper County and 16 other Iowa counties.

On Thursday, Uncle Nancy’s Coffeehouse served as the venue for an informational rally put together by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Great March for Climate Action.

GMCA is a national group marching from Los Angeles to New York City to inform Americans on climate issues, and ICCI focuses on grassroots community action against certain public policies.

The rally was held in response to a Texas oil conglomerate’s plans to build an oil pipeline that would travel through Iowa.  ICCI and GMCA arranged for Jane Kleeb — the founder of Bold Nebraska, a group that has been battling against the Keystone Pipeline in that state the last five years — to speak to the crowd via video conference.

Kleeb said that Nebraska has strongly aligned itself with other states fighting to keep the Keystone Pipeline out, and that they call themselves “Pipeline Fighters.” She said that she and other Nebraskans are willing to help Iowans fight against the proposed Bakkan oil pipeline.

A Dallas company, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., are the supporters of the pipeline and have said the 1,100 mile structure would produce 320,000 gallons of crude a day. ETP is claiming the 30-inch in diameter pipeline will develop the areas around it and supply refineries on the east and Gulf coasts.

“The issue that we see is that this pipeline enables our addiction to oil and we need to get beyond that. We can do better” said Wally Taylor, a member of the Sierra Club.

Taylor claimed that Bakkan oil fields in North Dakota, where the pipeline would begin, use fracking techniques and that the peak, or easy to access oil, had already been depleted. He also cited the danger of leaks coming from the potential pipeline, and pointed out that North Dakota had more than 300 small oil leaks since 2011, which was verified in a 2013 story by the Associated Press.

There were about 30 people in the audience, nine of whom indicated they were landowners in Jasper County that had been approached by ETP. All the owners said they had received multiple notifications via phone and mail, however, none had signed agreements.

Marilyn Ventler, one of the owners who has been contacted,  said she was angry about this matter and was deeply concerned how a spill would ruin not only land values but the environment.

After nearly two hours of discussion and several speakers, GMCA director Jimmy Betts, an Iowa native, called the meeting to an end. Betts and the other GMCA marchers plan to reach New York in November. He said once that’s complete, he plans on returning to Iowa to continue to inform citizens about the possible dangers of the pipeline.

There are rallies scheduled to take place in Iowa City and Davenport later this month, and the first was held in Des Moines on Monday.

ETP previously stated the pipeline not only supports the continued growth and production in the Bakken area, but does so in a cost effective and environmentally responsible manner by reducing the current utilization of rail and truck transportation as the predominant alternative to moving Bakken crude oil volumes to major U.S. markets.

The company said it plans on holding public meetings in the communities that would be affected as soon as next month.

Contact Senior Staff Writer Ty Rushing at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6532 or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.