Minnesota Sandpiper Project

Two things in recent StarTribune articles sent mini-shock waves through my thoughts: first that Enbridge Energy in Calgary wants to add another pipeline to carry oil from the North Dakota tar sands under and near iconic Minnesota bogs and lakes and parks — think Lake Itasca. The pipeline already there skirts Lake Itasca by what looks like only a few miles.

The second item of note, from the same area, came in today’s paper – Fargo, N. Dakota, and Moorhead, MN, on either side of the Red River of the North, could soon be in the middle of a huge flood-control project that would flood hundreds if not thousands of farm land acres, especially to the west of Fargo. Flooding spreads pesticide residue and disrupts all kinds of life systems. No surprise: farmers in the area are up in arms.

Oil and water do not mix.

Flooding along the Red River suggests flooding further east in the bogs and wetlands where thousands of already endangered waterfowl nest, or rest, to and from summer and winter grounds. Many prairie and water birds once swarming through western MN and eastern ND in the hundreds of thousands have already been reduced due to draining of land for farming, pesticide damage and other predation.

Every time I hear the “Big Oil” wants to put down probes in a watery environment, I think the British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only did this kill thousands of dolphins, fish and water birds, but many more have been dying slow deaths, damaged by oil residue. Most recently, the StarTribune published an article about tuna in the Gulf whose eggs now show malformations. This means that for decades to come, tuna fisheries will find slim pickings. No doubt all kinds of other creatures are likely damaged “in the egg.”

Oil damage does not go away. It is very difficult to reverse.

Of course, the bottom line is our own inordinate appetite for fuel. Yes, President Obama has set higher standards for retiring coal plants, for reducing electrical energy use. But this oil from North Dakota will probably fuel cars/trucks/planes.

We are going so fast we forget to notice the consequences until “But Oil” does a nasty and we’re all shocked and appalled.

Here’s something we can do: The Minnesota Public Utilities Comission is the ultimate permitting authority for PROJECT SANDPIPER. (Innocuous name for such a nasty business, especially when we consider that a big oil leak would no doubt kill many many sandpipers.)

I just called Tracy Smetana at the Public Utilities Commission who kindly told me that there are two ways to be involved:

1st: email sanpiperdocketing.puc@state.mn.us and ask to be put on their email list for updating on the project.

2nd: Once the assessment is completed–by the MN PUblic Utilities Commission, the MN Commerce Dept, and US Army Corps of Engineers–there will be A PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD.

3rd. Go on line and let the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission know that you oppose the additional pipeline and why.

Help keep Oil and precious wetlands and water going their separate ways.

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