The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance 
September 2015  Newsletter 
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Message From The Board of Directors
Harvest will soon be in full swing and the Board of Directors would like you to know that we will continue to monitor all IUB and RICL activities during this busy season. We will contact you with important information as needed to make certain you are aware of any activities that may impact you or our organization. In this newsletter you will see that RICL has not made any further progress since July but we need to continue to monitor the project at a high level. Do not let your guard down! Please contact us if you hear from RICL.

Have a safe harvest! 
Thank you very much for remaining strong in your opposition to stop the abuse of eminent domain and your ongoing support for our grass roots organization. 

Feel free to contact us with questions or concerns. 

Carolyn Sheridan 
Board of Director President 
On Behalf of The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance 
Current Status of RICL  
Based on information we have received it is our understanding that Rock Island Clean Line is "on hold in Iowa.
This is the information that we can share with you: 
  1. We reached out to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to inquire about the current status of RICL.  Since RICL filed their petitions for franchise  in each of the impacted 16 counties in November 2014, the IUB staff have been working to determine what is needed for each petition to be considered "in order."  Our contact, Jim Sundermeyer informed us that RICL contacted them to request no further work  be done on the franchise petitions until further notice.  Keep in mind that RICL is invoiced each month for work being done on this project so RICL determines what work is done on the petitions.  Jim also stated that this is not unusual as companies sometimes do this when they are focusing on obtaining voluntary easements. 
  2. We have continued to monitor voluntary easements in the 16 impacted counties and have not heard of any land agents being active in the state so in this case RICL is not requesting the IUB to stop work for the usual reason of focusing on obtaining easements.                                               
  3. Governor Branstad was quoted as saying the following on while speaking at the Iowa Wind Power Conference on September 2nd
One major obstacle the industry is running into right now is the ability to actually get that electricity to parts of the country that needs it.
"To get this energy out of Iowa and to meet the needs of other parts of the country, we're going to need to have better transmission lines," Branstad said, referring to the Rock Island Clean Line. "Which has unfortunately run into some significant opposition. My understanding is it's kind of been placed on hold right now."
The Governor explained that transmission line's goal is to transfer power from wind farms in Northwest Iowa and send it eastward, out to Chicago and beyond, which could use the cheaper electricity. However, after changing the route of the line, which was originally to follow the Rock Island rail line, it caused more opposition on eminent domain issues.
"I don't know if there's a way to reconfigure that if there's a way to make it less objectionable," Branstad admitted, avoiding coming down on one side of the debate. "That is a very controversial issue and obviously we prefer to have these things resolved between the land owner and whoever the utility might be without the use of eminent domain ... I don't think there's an easy answer to it."

     3.  We also reached out to RICL for comment.  Following that discussion we are able to                    verify the following: 
  • RICL DID ask the IUB to stop work on Petitions for Franchise in May. 
  • RICL is taking a "pause or break" to determine their path.
  • There are NO land agents in Iowa at this time. 
  • RICL has not established a new time line. 
  • RICL has not asked the IUB to resume work. 
  • RICL has not contacting all impacted landowners since they filed their motion to bifurcate the process (which was denied by the IUB) on December 10th, 2014. 
Click to view voluntary easement numbers in each county
Voluntary Easements:  
Less than 15% 
The number of voluntary easements HAS NOT CHANGED with 176 registered at county court houses in all 16 counties. The Alliance still routinely checks each county court house to monitor these numbers. 

We now know there are no Land Agents working in Iowa at this time BUT Low numbers of voluntary easements continues to be a critical part of our strategic plan.  
Contact our organization if you hear from a land agent or if you are contacted by RICL by mail or phone. We cannot let our guard down during this self imposed "pause or break" being taken by RICL. 

Iowa Farm Bureau Website
Iowa Farm Bureau Update

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation held its annual policy conference on September 1st to debate policy resolutions. Protecting landowners' property rights and eminent domain scenarios were discussed in depth, and the voting delegates adopted policy to protect the interests of individual property owners. 
"The intent is to encourage good faith negotiations for the bulk of land acquisitions or easements," said Terry Murray, the voting delegate representing  Buena Vista County.  "The condemnation process was never intended to be the primary method for establishing fair market value or fair treatment.  Ben Hollingshead, representing Boone County, added, "We don't want to stop progress; we just want to promote fair, due process in easement negotiations."

The policy that was adopted reads as follows: 
"For multi-parcel projects, a minimum threshold should be established for voluntary easements obtained by a nongovernmental entity and this minimum threshold should be met before this entity is granted eminent domain authority." could be granted.

The policy resolution will now move to debate during the American Farm Bureau Federation policy discussions which will take place in Orlando, Florida, January 10-13, 2016. Thank you for your efforts in reaching out to the Farm Bureau voting delegates.
Collaboration with other states who have  Clean Line Energy projects is an important aspect of our strategy. All states have different processes but much of the Clean Line information and strategies are the same.
We are working with the leaders of several states for frequent updates and strategies that will be helpful to our projects. 

Expert witnesses and attorneys from different states learn from each other which makes our opposition efforts stronger.  The Grain Belt Express is the project that we are most closely associated with due to many similarities in our projects.  

Missouri- Grain Belt Express applied for and was denied an application for rehearing. They may still file for an appeal at the state level or seek a federal override of the decision. September 10th  is the deadline for Clean Line to appeal in Missouri. If they don't appeal then the county judges may be forced to drop the cases about the franchise until there is further action by Grain Belt Express. 
Illinois Update 
Illinois portion of the proposed RICL route (125 miles) is now in the appeal stage of the process. Testimony is complete from RICL and the Illinois Land Owners Association, Illinois Farm Bureau and ComED (Illinois Landowners Legal team).  At this time the Illinois Commerce Commission has not issued a ruling.  We will continue to monitor what is happening to this portion of the RICL project in Illinois and provide you with updates as we learn more. For more information go to the Block RICL website or follow Block RICL on FaceBook
Over the past 2 years we have found many ways to keep in touch with people across the state. Early in our fight we began using Constant Contact to send electronic newsletters like this one as well as sending newsletters and post cards by mail.  

Our email newsletters are archived on our website with a history of what has happened since our first meeting in Ayrshire in July 2013.  Click here to check out our past newsletters.  Look for newsletters and post cards in the upcoming months as we continue to keep you updated on all important issues. 

Facebook - follow us on Facebook for frequent updates and links to relevant articles and information from other opposition groups. 


Our website continues to be one of the best ways to stay in touch with people regarding important issues.

Check out our website for updates and to find information on the proposed RICL project. 

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