The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance will continue to provide updates in newsletters, postcards, letters and on our website. If you have any questions that you cannot find the answer for feel free to call (712-262-5229) or contact us by by email.
April 8, 2017
The Alliance continues to work with legislators and our lobbyists to find a path in the Senate for HB 603.
Contact your Senator and ask for support of this bill. Click here for information on how to contact your senator.
March 28, 2017
HF 603 passed by the House 93-0. This bill addresses eminent domain laws in the state of Iowa. The language in Division 1 would restrict the ability of merchant lines to condemn private property. This means that Clean Line (RICL) cannot use eminent domain to take any agricultural private property to erect an above ground high voltage transmission line.
Click Here to read this bill.
The Alliance hired Carney Appleby Law Firm to represent us at the Capital this legislative session. We accomplished a good deal last session and it is our goal to continue to strengthen Iowa's eminent domain laws to protect private property from eminent domain abuse.
Order from IUB accepting withdrawal of Clean Line Petitions posted in electronic filing system.
Click to read that order.
December 22, 2016 - A Day to Celebrate!
Today Clean Line officially filed WITHDRAWAL for the proposed RICL high voltage transmission line with the Iowa Utilities Board.
Click here to read our Newsletter with all the information.
August 8, 2016
The Iowa Utilities Board issued their ORDER ESTABLISHING MASTER DOCKET, GRANTING PETITIONS TO INTERVENE, AND ESTABLISHING PROCEDURAL SCHEDULE. Click here to read the entire order.
This order establishes what RICL must by certain dates over the next 21 months to continue the franchise petition process. This includes when exhibit E's must be filed for counties along the route.
This order also describes how landowners will be notified of actions by RICL and the IUB.
The Alliance legal team is reviewing this order and will respond to the IUB as needed to protect private property rights related to this project. We will also continue to communicate critical changes and motions with you by newsletter and email.
NOTE: All documents related to RICL will now be placed in a MASTER FILE Docket in the IUB electronic filing system. This docket number is Docket No. E-22248 Read their order for more details regarding why they made this change.
July 15, 2016
We submitted our response to proposed schedules. Click here to read our response.
RICL also submitted their response to proposed schedules. Click here to read this response.
July 1, 2016
Alliance board members and legal representation attended the Order Setting Scheduling Conference meeting. We expressed our concerns with a schedule presented by RICL and one presented by the IUB. All parties were asked to submit concerns and suggestions by Friday July 15th.
June 24, 2016
The Alliance board of director members and legal representation will be at the July 11th IUB meeting in Des Moines. We have the ability to present information since our organization filed a petition to intervene on behalf of landowners in 2013.
June 23, 2016
The Iowa Utilities Board set an Order Setting Scheduling Conference and setting Intervention Date.
In this order the IUB stated the following:
" The Board has recent experience with lengthy infrastructure projects affecting numerous Iowa landowners. Such proceedings can require significant time to conduct. The Board would like to hear from the parties regarding the likely time requirements for this proceeding and will therefore set a date for a scheduling conference.
The conference will begin at 2 p.m. on July 11, 2016, in the Board’s hearing room. The scheduling conference will be for those parties who have been granted intervention or who have filed for intervention as of July 6, 2016.
The final outcome of 2016 legislative efforts came to a conclusion today:
The Governor did not line-item veto any of the language in either bill. The net impact is:
1- Now there is a definition of Merchant Utility Line.
2- Now there is a timeline written into code.
These are very significant wins and give us finality for the RICL project which is 2 years from today.
Many legislators had their eyes opened this year on the issue and now we have a place in the code to keep working on restrictions for merchant lines.
May 18, 2016
We were able to get most of our language incorporated into the HF 2459 which was passed by both chambers. The language in HF 2459 does the following:
defines a merchant utility line,
places restriction on the sale of a merchant line,
limits merchant lines to 3 years (2 years from effective date of bill for RICL) from petition filing date to approval by IUB,
And limits the definition of "public" for merchant lines to being just Iowa consumers.
The language is in Division VII on page 15 of the HF 2459.
Unfortunately, just before the legislature adjourned for the year an amendment was place on SF 2109 removing two of the items we had included in HF 2459.
Division V on page 4 of SF 2109 removes the language placing restrictions on the sale of a merchant line
And also removes the change in the definition of "public".
We are in a critical time frame where we still have the ability to have a successful outcome by working with Governor Branstad.
March 2016 - working closely with legislators and lobbyists on legislative actions.
July 15, 2015 IOWA PRESS RELEASE
Keeping Iowans Updated through the Media. Feel free to
SHARE this press release with your local news sources.
"This ruling is an important step in maintaining the rights of property owners across the state of Iowa. As Justin LaVan, attorney for The Preservation of Rural Alliances, states: “Specifically, the Commission found that the electric transmission line was not needed in Missouri, that it was not economically feasible, and that the project failed to promote the public interest. These are some of the same issues Clean Line will face with the proposed project in Iowa.” Carolyn Sheridan agrees, and notes; “Iowans are now in a similar situation. Therefore, landowners and members of the community need to continue to remain strong in their fight for private property rights. If the Rock Island Clean Line project were to be approved, the use of eminent domain to take private property would be the largest unjustified taking of private property in Iowa’s history.”
July 12th artricle in Cedar Rapids publication- The Gazette
Despite no decision on eminent domain bills, sponsor calls 2015 ‘successful' session - Oil pipeline, high-voltage ectricity projects at center of debate.
Quote from article:
Legislation to limit the use of eminent domain and make it more difficult for private companies to get state permission to build overhead electric transmission lines and underground pipelines across private property didn’t win the legislative support, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, believes the cause of property rights was advanced.
“We had a very successful year educating the public and shifting public opinion in our favor,” Kaufmann said. “We were successful in raising public awareness. As long as we bring attention to that project, I don’t think landowners will sign easements and if they don’t sign voluntarily I don’t see Iowa Utilities Board granting eminent domain.”
Despite the lack of approval for House Study Bill 249, and Senate File 506, Kaufmann thinks “momentum for property rights reform is definitely on the upswing.”
The power of landowners in Missouri. Iowans have this same power. Read more in the Kansas City Star article.
Excerpt from article:
"For more than two years, Clean Line employees had driven blacktops and gravel roads trying to reach easement agreements with farmers. But of 500 or so tracts of land between Buchanan County on the west and Ralls County on the east, the company came to terms with fewer than 50 owners.
Lawlor had likened the conflict to the 1930s, when electric power came to rural America and many farmers didn’t want the intrusion.
“We will always have opposition,” Lawlor said before Wednesday’s vote. “But people opposed to this now turned on their lights this morning and that power came across somebody’s land.”
Private Property Rights won a MAJOR VICTORY today in Missouri providing an example of how landowners can be successful as a large group of people with a common goal
The Missouri Public Service Commission’s 3-2 vote to deny the Grain Belt Express project’s route could derail the entire line, which already won approval from Kansas and Indiana. In their vote to deny the project, the PSC majority cited opposition from a vocal group of farmers and rural landowners opposed to eminent domain.
“You had to come down to the property rights,” PSC Commissioner Scott Rupp said, explaining his vote to deny the project. “The fact is this did not come from a planning organization. ... This was a business model of a private company.”
“This is democracy in action,” said Jennifer Gatrel, Block GBE-MO Vice President, who has spent the past several years speaking out against the project and keeping others informed. “You can stand up to corporate interests and protect your property rights,” she added.
June 20th - Voluntary Easement numbersremain flat with less than 15% signed across the state. Formal Objections filed with the IUB continue to rise at 1347 objections. Click here for latest numbers in each county.
The Last Resort by David Kruse, The CommStock Report published in Farm News June 26th.
Excerpt from this report:
" Eminent domain should be the last resort. While the "process" that politicians claim exists and that they profess to support is not specific as to when use of eminent domain is deemed appropriate, it would be extremely unsavory and costly for private companies to gain access to or have use of eminent domain power to acquire a majority of the easements that they need.
As of June 1, RICL had only gotten just 15 percent of the needed easements voluntarily. This means that up until when private companies gain a majority of needed easements, the landowners are still in control. The concept that commercial easements are worth only the value of farmland is also being challenged " .
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance continues to focus on maintaining our strong opposition to RICL and advocating on behalf of landowners. During the legislative session many legislators stated they did not believe the IUB would approve this project with the overwhelming opposition by landowners and the low number of voluntary easements. We are a strong and powerful group that can be successful in stopping RICL even without legislative action. It is critical that landowners not sign voluntary easements and to continue to file objections with the Iowa Utilities Board. The Alliance continues to monitor all activities of RICL and the IUB as the process continues.
Iowa Legislative action was not successful this session. Despite extensive efforts by Iowans which garnered much support for bills to protect private property rights - House and Senate Leadership refused to bring these bills to the floor for debate and vote.
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance will continue discussions with key legislators and we encourage people to maintain pressure on legislators for support of private property rights. During the legislative break it is important to continue to discuss this critical issue with your legislators. Remember - legislative action is just one strategy in our mission to stop RICL.
Important bills advanced to the full House and Senate Oversight Committees. HSB 249 and SSB were both rewritten with major amendments. To protect landowners, the House and Senate bills would require companies to get 75 percent of the needed land by voluntary easement.
NOTE: Bill content and numbers will change when they come out of committee - check here for more information as these bills move out of committe.
Read more: Iowa Public Radio coverage
Des Moines Register article Iowa bills place hurdles for Bakken pipeline, powerline
House Bills - Refer specifically to HSB 249 which is currenting in the Goverment Oversight committee.
Senate Bills - Refer specifically to SSB 1276 that is iin the Goverment Oversight Committte.
Iowa Utilities Board Ruling issued an order today denying Rock Island Clean Line’s December 8, 2014 “Motion to Consider Eminent Domain Issue in a Separate Hearing”
Attorney for The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance, Justin LaVan states; “Thousands of Iowa landowners appreciate the IUB’s extensive review of such motions and ruling issued today. This ruling was significant. If the hearing was bifurcated and the Board issued the franchises and determined the route following the first hearing, RICL’s negotiating leverage over the landowners would have been prejudicially powerful.”
The IUB ruling states: The constitutional due process concerns alone are sufficient to justify denial of the motion. Even if it is assumed that those concerns could be addressed by clear notices, splitting the hearing would still improve the convenience of a few parties while detrimentally affecting the convenience of many others, particularly the affected landowners. The Board will deny the motion to consider eminent domain issues in a separate proceeding.
The IUB staff Gold Memo states: Clean Line has not demonstrated that the convenience of the parties will be improved by bifurcation. It has, at best, shown that Clean Line’s convenience (and costs) would be benefited, but at the same time landowner interests would be detrimentally affected.
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance and key Legislators made a big impact in our fight to protect private property rights in Iowa. Read this Des Moines Register article discussing the day at the capitol and comments from Governor Branstads office.
The Alliance Legal Team filed our RESISTANCE motion to the Rock Island Clean Line Motion to Consider Eminent Domain Issue in Separate Hearing.
Community Meetings scheduled - The Alliance is hosting community meetings across the state to provide updates and answer questions. Click for meeting information.
Don's Pub, 101 Main St, Donahue at 2:00 PM
US Bank, 102 E 5th St, Tipton at 530 PM
Dike Memorial Building, 540 Main St, Dike, Iowa
Mark Truesdell, one of the Alliance's attorneys retired from Beving, Swanson & Forrest, P.C. Attorneys at Law. Justin LaVan and the firm's attorneys will continue to represent the Alliance in all legal matters. See more information on our Legal Team tab.
RICL files a 2nd MOTION TO CONSIDER EMINENT DOMAIN ISSUE IN SEPARATE
HEARING. A similar bifurcation moiton was denied in October 2013 by the IUB.
The Alliance legal team is preparing a resistance motion to this motion to be filed in support of landowners.
December 2, 2014
PRIA and Block RICL from Illinois collaborate on 2 Press Releases.
These press releases focus on the Illinois Commerece Commission Ruling and the hurdles for RICL.
The best explaination of the Illinois Commerce Commission ruling is by Laura Harmon, Sr. Counsel for Illinois Farm Bureau.
Click to read the entire article from FarmWeekNow.com.
The Illinois Commerece Commission The Illinois Commerce Commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to grant approval for the construction and operation of a 121-mile power line in the state but a spokesperson for the Illinois Commerce Commission said no powers of eminent domain was given by the decision and the company must secure the funds to cover all the project costs before it can begin construction. It also said Rock Island Clean Line must take action to address landowner concerns about the impact of the lines.
November 6, 2014
RICL filed its petition for franchise in the 16 impacted counties. Important: THIS IS NOT AN APPROVAL!
To read those petitions go to the Maps Tab or Objections Tab. Then click on the county you are interested in. Click here for an example (Grundy County) of this petition which is the same in each county except for the number of voluntary easements obtained to date and the number needed.
September - October 2014
Rock Island Clean Line filed a Request for Clarification Concerning Service of Franchise Petitions.
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance then responded with follow up comments and clarification.Our responses and work is to protect the rights of landowners across the state.
This resulted in an Order Addressing Motion for Clarification issued by The Iowa Utilities Board issued on October 31, 2014. This order did pay attention to the comments addressed by our legal team to protect landowners during the franchise petition process. Click to read The Gold Memo issued by IUB staff provides a concise easier to read explanation.
What to expect next:
Click to read a recent Report from PRIA Lawyers regarding the petition filing.
This is the first step in the petition filing process which has a lot of detail and takes a significant amount of time. Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) Engineers will review each of the 16 initial petitions with a fine-tooth comb for deficiencies.
Rock Island must demonstrate that all of its plans will meet the applicable codes. These reviews will more than likely result in deficiency letters written by the IUB Engineers, which will in turn generate revised petitions from Rock Island Clean Line. In major transmission line cases, this process can take months.
Click to read "What Happens Next" Prepared by PRIA Lawyers explaining what happens AFTER RICL filed their petition. This information is relevant still since the process is the same no matter when RICL files their petition.