Former Iowa State Representative Ed Fallon has a lofty goal for the month of March: to walk 400 miles across the state of Iowa. He is doing so to raise awareness of his concerns about a proposed crude oil pipeline through the state.
Fallon acknowledged that it would be easier for him to hold a news conference or write letters to the editor of major newspapers about the Dakota Access pipeline, which would run from Lyon County in northwest Iowa to Lee County. But he is confident the walk will create a larger platform for his concerns.
"I really believe strongly that you have to connect with people where they are at. An advertisement on TV or a phone call, that's all good, but you (must) get out and meet people in their communities, face to face."
Fallon said his biggest concern about the pipeline is the potential use of eminent domain, which he said has been a big issue for him since he served in the legislature. He said state leaders must do a better job of protecting landowners when eminent domain is used for a public need, mainly by ensuring it is a public need.
"A road, a water line, or a sewer line, those all benefit people living along that infrastructure," said Fallon. "But a pipeline producing oil in North Dakota, refining it in Illinois, and shipping it to China does nothing for the people who live along the pipeline in Iowa, who are in danger of having their land taken from them."
Fallon said he's also concerned about how the project will impact water quality and the climate.
"We need to start shifting to domestic production with wind and solar. There are a lot of jobs to be had in wind, in solar, in bio-diesel, and in geothermal, and there are not a lot of jobs to be had in oil."
Fallon will begin his walk at the Sandusky Cemetery, which is between Keokuk and Montrose, at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, March 2. That is the point where the pipeline is expected to cross the Mississippi River.
He said everyone is welcome to join him. Fallon plans to have lunch in Montrose that day before walking to Donnellson, where he will hold a public meeting on the project at 7:00 p.m. at 2603 Highway 218.
He knows the weather could be difficult, with snow and freezing temperatures likely early next week.
"I have good equipment and a lot of people along the way who are supportive of what I am doing."