Des Moines River bottom near Madrid, Iowa

Des Moines River bottom near Madrid, Iowa

Our great-great grandfather, George, was born in Alvira, Pennsylvania. The family farm was large, beautiful and very productive. George’s father, Isaac, also operated a grist mill. The mill was sturdily built of brick and operated into the 20th century even after most other wood-built mills were destroyed by fire.  Suddenly, in 1942 a tragedy struck Alvira and surrounding communities. The government confiscated the town and the beautiful farms. They were told the land was going to be used for factories producing TNT for the war effort. 


The sacrifices were their patriotic duty they were told and that they could reclaim their land and homes after the war. Of course that did not happen. The landowners were not told the real facts. Very little TNT was produced on the land confiscated under Eminent Domain. The government spent a whopping 5 million dollars (76 million today) on 8,500 acres. Cement bunkers were built to stockpile ordnance or so the story went. In recent years, local researchers were shocked to learn that barrels of radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project in New Mexico was shipped to Alvira for storage. Bye-bye productive farmland and communities.

Des Moines River in Van Buren County

Des Moines River- morning in Van Buren County


Iowa farmers are staring down the barrel of Eminent Domain. Many would say it is actually the misuse of Eminent Domain in that Iowa’s Laws stipulate Eminent Domain confiscation is to be used only for the benefit of the local area. The Eminent Domain confiscation has loosely been used by Energy Transport Crude Company, LLC for pipelines carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois refineries. The oil will then be transported to Texas and exported, mainly to Asia. This is taken from the information Energy Transport provided to its investors but not the information provided by the Iowa Utilities Board. 


Huge swaths of Iowa’s best farmland has be confiscated and effectively destroyed for any future production or at least until the next Ice Age leaves fertile deposits. Farmers who non-violently protested this misuse were arrested, despite standing on their own land. The Iowa Utility Board who gave the green light to big crude oil is responsible for regulating utilities. This is not a utility. It is a commodity which in no way benefits the farmers or the people using the Des Moines River and other impacted water bodies for drinking. It takes very little investigation to follow the money, but just knowing how we got to this sorry point will not stop the travesty. 


There are things you can do. Learn all you can and act upon it. You may think this is a one-time deal and if you are not directly impacted, it may be easy to look the other way. Be very assured that if this pipeline is not stopped, a precedent will be set and the next pipeline may be through your land or water source.  


If you are a farmer, know a farmer or want to drink water which doesn’t give you, your children and animals any number of very nasty illnesses, then please show your concern by calling your representatives. If you are able, attend the next Iowa Utility Board meeting on December 15th in Des Moines, Iowa at which the case against the misuse of Eminent Domain will be presented.


Further Information: 

Iowa Utility Board hearing regarding farmland/Eminent Domain issue will be held at 9:00 a.m. on December 15th at the Polk County Courthouse, 500 Mulberry St., Des Moines,  IA

Background on Iowa Farmers’ case against Eminent Domain

Radioactive Waste

Robert Kennedy Jr. (Water Keeper Alliance) addresses DAPL

How to contact your legislator
Iowa farmer arrested for protecting her farm