The battle against the Dakota Access pipeline has morphed into a conflict bigger than anyone ever imagined. Sure, it’s a critical element of the growing movement to push back against climate change.
But it also has become a pivotal issue on two related fronts:
(1) The rights of Native communities, and
(2) The rights of farmers and other property owners subject to the eminent domain.
Thursday, December 15 marks a significant event in the struggle to protect Iowa landowner rights. It’s important for those of us who can to be there. Come at 8:00 a.m. to the Polk County Courthouse for the hearing, at 11:00 a.m. to the Courthouse for a march and rally, or ideally to both. Click here for more information.
At the rally we’ll hear from speakers who’ll point out that this court ruling is important to all Iowans, not just those living along the pipeline route.
“This eminent domain case is way bigger than just this pipeline,” says Steve Hickenbottom, a Jefferson County farmer and one of the landowners in the lawsuit.
“It is an abuse of power that will have a lifetime of consequences. If they get away with this, the ride is just starting. Anyone could be next, and I do mean anyone.
“If our legal system and the Army Corps and any other government power can not stop DAPL, then what really is next? How do you wield enough power to get law enforcement to come in against peaceful people and do what they are doing to them. The best thing we have going for us is the tribal people coming together and showing the rest of us what you have to do to get something stopped.”
Jasper County landowner Kathy Holdefer writes, “The outcome of this case will set a precedent for eminent domain use in the future. If this private company, whose product merely flows through our state only to be put on the market for sale to the highest bidder, is considered a ‘public necessity and convenience,’ think of who else could come after YOUR land for a project that they can claim is good for Iowa, when really, it’s just good for their profits.
“Someone could say they want to take several blocks in YOUR residential neighborhood to build a mall because it would provide jobs and generate sales taxes. Then they’d claim ‘Well, you use the kind of stuff we’re selling here, so it provides a needed commodity.’”
Yes, this fight is for all of us. What happens tomorrow at the Polk County Courthouse won’t be the final word. But it’s an important step forward, and all Iowans who care about freedom, justice and our environment should be there if possible.