Pipelines ‘pipe in’ hot debate in Minnesota

Minnesota politicsWe’ve spent a lot of time here at the blog talking about mining as it relates to Minnesota politics, but I haven’t spent as much time on another environmental/devlopment issue that will be at least as contentious in upcoming debates, if not more so: pipelines.

As evidenced by the recent dustup between labor DFLers and GOP Senate nominee Mike McFadden over whether foreign steel should be used in the Keystone XL pipeline, we know that pipelines are in the political news. But it’s not just Keystone, it’s the Embridge Sandpiper and other pipelines, along with the Great Northern electrical transmission line right here in my neighborhood.

On these issues, we see a mix of “Not-in-my-back-yard” sentiments, energy policy concerns, Ojibwe treaty rights, fossil fuel costs, the old “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra, and the general sentiment that Northern Minnesota is at risk of being overtaken by risky pollution-oriented development. I expect that readers here have a multitude of opinions on these matters.

Earlier this year I asked readers to support the Local Journalism Project by Northern Community Radio. One of the issues NCR was hoping to explore with some depth was proposed pipelines in Northern Minnesota. Britt Aamodt was brought in to do the reporting and she’s filed a number of reports from different sides of the issue. I’d encourage you to give them a listen.

Pipeline opponents are busily organizing demonstrations, while Embridge and other pipeline builders are trying to forge ahead before serious opposition takes root. I’m told by people in central Minnesota that pipelines are one of the biggest issues coming up in the day-to-day gas station debates in communities near the route of such proposals.

Famed Ojibwe and environmental leader Winona LaDuke has organized a caravan of music and demonstration in opposition of the Sandpiper line. This endeavor is already underway, as evidenced by the poster at the bottom of this post.

The bottom line is that there’s something big happening in Minnesota, regardless of your opinion. Rails are positively choked with oil tankers coming out of North Dakota. There is a huge demand for Canadian natural gas and propane coming from the North. Refineries throughout the Midwest want crude oil. Heating costs have skyrocketed and most of us don’t need to be told about that. Meantime, rail and pipeline accidents remain possible and have happened elsewhere in the country. We have a delicate issue on our hands, and it will be a factor in local and statewide races this November in Minnesota.

From Honor the Earth:

"Love Water Not Oil" poster


  1. David Gray says

    Pipelines are far safer than rail. People opposing pipelines in general are promoting a lack of safety.

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