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Governor Dayton’s Sandpiper comments lack common sense foresight
Friday, October 02 2015
 
Written by Frank Bibeau,
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It is apparent from Governor Dayton’s recent announcement (in reaction to the Minnesota House Speaker’s allegations of appellate court meddling) that he supports the Sandpiper crude oil pipeline and that the Governor does not understand climate change, pipelines or the associated, compounded, environmental risks for Minnesota.

Sandpiper, if approved, will be the first domino in the next, big, toxic chain reaction set of future pollution dominos. What Governor Dayton fails to understand is that when you support Sandpiper, you are in support of fracking Bakken crude in North Dakota and the highly volatile, toxic gases that are being released and/or burned off. The fact is fracking Bakken crude is not profitable currently or in the foreseeable future.

When Governor Dayton supports Sandpiper fracking, then by extension the Governor supports Enbridge’s other PUC pipeline application for Line 3 co-alignment (in the same new, Enbridge preferred, pipeline corridor from Park Rapids, Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin) which transports Canadian tar sands, the dirtiest crude oil extraction and one of the single, biggest global environmental hazards and climate change contributors, just upwind from Minnesota.

Worse, when Governor Dayton supports Sandpiper Bakken fracking and Line 3 Tar sands, then he is also supporting old Line 3 pipeline abandonment along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor to Lake Superior. A corridor where other aging pipelines need replacement in the foreseeable future. (FYI, I live within a half mile of U.S. Highway 2 and the 8 pipelines in the corridor where Enbridge’s pipeline abandonment is planned.)

Therefore, Governor Dayton really supports a series of future abandoned pipelines (for free?) across northern Minnesota along U.S. Hwy 2, for what sounds like 22 permanent new Enbridge jobs from Sandpiper? Kalamazoo should be the lesson learned not to sacrifice more of Mother Earth’s gifts and treasurers of nature and water to create a new, crude oil pipeline corridor through virgin lakes, rivers and wild rice country. We need to protect the environment for what will become the next, future, old pipelines to be abandoned, which are easily foreseeable environmental hazards for grandchildren and great-grandchildren to cope with 50-60 years from now.

Apparently Governor Dayton cannot see what the rest of us are able to see and understand. For Governor Dayton and other politicians, campaign contributions are at risk, whether from labor unions or big oil. Fortunately, the third branch of government, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, was also able to see an environmental impact statement (EIS) is necessary before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) makes long term, important decisions about granting eminent domain for a major pipeline project. Unfortunately, the citizen, environmental intervenors had to appeal the state PUC decision to avoid an EIS, to get the review that was argued for at the PUC Sandpiper proceedings nearly a year ago.

Sandpiper pipeline involves extremely hazardous and ultra-risky activity running crude oil pipelines across the ultrasensitive aquifers, lakes and rivers fresh water sources of ecosystems and environments for three of the four North American continental watersheds (N, E and S) all beginning in northern Minnesota. Sure big oil says it can be done with 99.9999% safety, but lest we forget, before Kalamazoo the largest pipeline oil spill in the U.S. was in Grand Rapids, Minnesota right by the Mississippi River, or the Cohasset oil spill and burn-off in 2003 within a mile of the Mississippi and the big, Clearbrook fire in 2007.

We, the people, have a better chance to protect the environment with an EIS being required, but the desire for big money keeps some people trying to rush through the bureaucratic maze to get to today’s cheese with too little concern for everyone’s tomorrow.

Stop the Sandpiper and you stop the lead domino to a lot of pipeline domino insanity, incredible contributors of climate change impacts and save a lot more of the fresh water environment for those to come. Of course, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will not be born soon enough to vote for Governor Dayton and give campaign contributions to today’s politicians. They must rely on us, citizen environmental groups and the Chippewa to be the protectors of their environment.

As Winona LaDuke often says “”Let’s make a graceful transition from a fossil fuel economy now and work towards the many, long-term, good paying jobs of environmental protection, solar energy and wind for cleaner air and water.”

Instead of pipeline abandonment, the old, badly corrupted Line 3 should be removed first! This is the best opportunity to prevent inevitable environmental risks that will happen over the next couple of centuries when Enbridge no longer exists. Then the same U.S. Hwy 2 corridor, which is already established, can be re-used for the new Line 3 if there is actually a market demand. This way Enbridge, the company that wants to benefit for decades to come, will actually bear some of the environmental clean-up costs to make our environment safer now.

This kind of Line 3 replacement project will probably create 2-3 times as many jobs, all across northern Minnesota for probably a couple extra years, and no new land owners would be impacted within the existing right-of-way corridors, where Enbridge already has leased that parallel U.S. Highway 2. This would eliminate the need for new water crossings and eminent domain across new, untouched aquatic territories and private property.

It makes no good sense to give away our best gifts and treasures from Mother Earth (the nature and water) to only make certain, future, environmental destruction which will require even higher clean-up costs. It’s all foreseeable.

Love Water, Not Oil!

Frank Bibeau is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Pillager Band. He is an attorney for Honor the Earth at the Minnesota PUC for the Sandpiper pipeline proceedings.


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