Elizabeth and the Pipeline Patriot

Imagine your name is Elizabeth. You’re 64 years old. Your grandparents have left you and your sister an inheritance – farm land – in Storm Lake, Iowa. You and your sister grew up next door to Iowa in Nebraska and, though you now live in another state, you’ve looked on with pride as Nebraska put the screws to the Keystone XL pipeline.

You’re sitting at home. The phone rings. You answer. The voice on the other end represents an oil company from North Dakota.

After you finish talking with the man on the phone, you email your Nebraska high school girlfriends describing the conversation. It reads like this:

Another oil company – Dakota Access, LLC – is planning to run a pipeline from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. They wanted to pay us $16,000 plus three years of crop damage for easement on our Iowa land.

I had a rather funny conversation with the young representative from Texas who was sitting in Storm Lake, Iowa contacting land owners and farmers. When I asked him if it was voluntary, he said, “We are told not to discuss that.” What? (I already knew it was, just wanted to see what he would say.)

So they are telling people that a pipeline is coming and not that they don’t have to do it. I asked him why landowners would want to do this and he said, “Well, for the compensation involved and…for the nation.” I laughed out loud.

Then we talked about the environment and Nebraska and the recent pipeline spill in western North Dakota, and how I thought our leaders better get it together or we were going to destroy the planet. At which time he said, “Maybe we should have a woman president.” He had me for a moment until he said, “21 days a month, my wife is the nicest person on earth.” Seriously. He is from Texas.

We ended the conversation with me suggesting a nice young man like himself should get into the windmill business and then give me a call back. He said he would take me OFF the list, with a note – don’t bother trying to talk to this lady again. Amen brother. (until it turns into eminent domain 😦

Happy Valentine’s day to all you women who used to be nice 21 days a month but now….skies the limit.

The conversation is real. It happened to Elizabeth while sitting at home in Princeton, New Jersey. Do I hear a vote for another Elizabeth for President?

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 12, 2015. Elizabeth’s email, sent originally to her dear friend Kay Stewart, is reprinted here with Elizabeth’s permission. The coloration of the text and the links have been added to the original.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth and the Pipeline Patriot

  1. Reading through this letter, I am making an assumption that Kay’s friend does not depend on the farm income for her retirement income,. Just from the little I noted from her letter.

    Since I come from oil country in ND, you know of my love/hate relationship with the oil industry. Why a farmer/landowner would allow them to place a pipeline on their property (an easement) is quite simple. Farmers are stretched very thin by the cost of raising a crop from seed, fertilizer, fuel for their machinery (which is provided by oil). the rapidly escalating cost of said machinery, and taxes, etc. When grain markets fall, as they have done this last season, there is no way they can break even.. This is cyclical, and is how we went from neatly half our population on farms (which they too often lose through foreclosure),when I was a child, to less than half a percent of our population today. This happened in the thirties, again in the sixties, the eighties, and is going on again now. In our day and age, and in the last thirty plus years, It was behind the Farm Aid program featuring singer Willie Nelson. In the eighties we had a grain market here in MN with a fair number of grain companies. We are now down to basically one and a few coops. Cargill. We depend on oil for so many things, from heat, fuel for our vehicles, etc. Wine power has hidden costs, including the mining costs of copper for transmission lines etc., and you have seen the destructive leavings of copper mines.

    Just one more question: How many people can afford an electric car?

    And solar panels, which now our local electric company complains are cutting into their profits. (on the radio yesterday)…

    Oil royalty payments were the only thing that kept my dad in farming in the late fifties and early sixties.

    This is not s simple ideology..


    • Karin, It’s always good to hear your thoughts. Few readers have hour experience with the family farm, the struggles of a family farm family to keep its financial head above water in corporate farming America, or the ND oil royalty payments. Thank you for sharing. I hope the story in this piece is not simple ideology. I don’t know Elizabeth personally. What attracted me to the story was the pipeline employee’s response “…and for the nation.” I think you agree that we need to pour our resources into renewal sources of energy that are friendlier to the Earth. As a beneficiary of royalty payments, I know for a fact that you have been a good steward of those resources and salute your stewardship. As usual, you’ve offered a seasoned and thoughtful reflection beyond ideology. Kay and I went to the auto show this morning at the Convention Center. Interesting that Tesla wasn’t exhibited there. I read that Toyota has now committed to focusing its research on hydrogen technology, another route, but also one that has its own questions re: energy efficiency.

      Anyway, I got a kick out of Elizabeth’s conversation and might have been more abrupt than she, had the call come to me. In a follow up message to Kay after part of her email was published on Views from the Edge, she described another part of the conversation in which the guy raved about what a great town Storm Lake was. It was no neat, he said, that he would love to relocate his family there. Elizabeth like the guy, and asked whether he’d like it as much if a pipeline goes in -:))

      Liked by 1 person

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