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Letter to the editor: Oil critical to food production

I had the privilege of attending the meeting on the environmental impact of the proposed Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline.

While most attendees opposed the pipeline, unfortunately, much of what was said against the project was simply opinion and lacked factual foundation.

Two issues were at the heart of most of the objections to the pipeline:

• The world does not need more oil (because of environmental impact or a belief that other sources of energy can replace oil).

• It is OK to produce and ship oil but, NIMB (not in my backyard).

As one gentleman articulately stated, oil is absolutely critical to the production of our food supply. Whether it is farm machinery used to plant or harvest, transportation equipment used to move products to and from the farm, packaging used for finished food products, or transportation of finished products to U.S. facilities or overseas markets, oil is vital to feeding the world.

While most of the oil-producing countries are reducing production due to perceived diminishing supplies, the U.S. has increased production by nearly 25 percent. The U.S. currently produces 9.1 million barrels a day (nearly equivalent to what the U.S. produced before the oil crisis of 1970). It is this increase of U.S. and Canadian oil that has helped keep the U.S. economy stable over the past four years, as reflected in reasonable food costs and low gasoline prices at the pump. This world needs U.S. oil now and in the future.

There are currently over 7.5 billion people on the planet earth (that's triple the population from when I was born in 1947). UN statistics indicate that 1 in every 7 human beings go to bed each night either hungry or starving. By 2035, there will be nearly 9 billion people on this earth (a 20 percent increase over the present population). Scientists estimate that finite food production will result in 1 in 3 being malnourished or starving by 2035. The demand for increased U.S. and Canadian oil supplies will remain high in order to feed this burgeoning population. It would be nice to go back to an estimated sustainable population of 2.5 billion... but that is simply not going to happen. Clearly, we need both the oil being produced and the Enbridge pipeline that carries that oil to market.

Many attendees recognized this need for oil but simply opposed the pipeline, stating they did not want it in their backyard. They are not willing to take the risk of moving oil safely through northern Minnesota. Make no mistake, there is always a risk. The question is whether or not preventing mass starvation/feeding the world, feeding our own population and fueling our economy are goals worthy of this risk? I personally believe the answer to that question is a resounding YES.

To allow any human being to die or suffer needlessly when we possess the capabilities to help is simply not an option. We are our brothers' keeper, whether we like it or not.