So there I am, minding my own beeswax in a pandemic, growing some cool vegetables and a fiber hemp field. Hemp, the non-psychoactive relative of marijuana, is a big industry in the world, and the U.S. imports $66 million in hemp products annually. I think we should grow it here. Minnesota used to have 11 hemp mills; we want them back.
Meanwhile, the Red Lake Nation is putting up a new big solar project, with more on the way – hoping for a 20-megawatt solar farm soon – but with Solar Bear and the tribe, they are making a renewable energy future.
And on the White Earth Reservation, the tribal government, in collaboration with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, is putting up 200 kW of solar to serve five villages.
In Ponsford, 8th Fire Solar is manufacturing solar thermal panels which can reduce a heating bill by 20% in a Minnesota winter. After all, staying warm is a good thing, not Democratic or Republican.
In the midst of the pandemic, we’ve reduced fossil fuels consumption by about 9%. Out west, Google and Amazon are now the highest valued corporations in the world. Exxon/Mobil isn’t even in the top ten. Each of those corporations is out to buy 10,000 electric cars, and make a renewable economy to change the world. It’s happening. That’s the future, and I plan to be there.
Then there’s the Deep North. Rep. Steve Green is still promoting nuclear energy and more coal. The last time anyone was really talking about nuclear energy was the Nixon era. There hasn’t been a new nuclear power plant built in this country for 30 years.
Meanwhile, temporary workers for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline are already coming into northern Minnesota during a pandemic, with 4,200 expected eventually.
Line 3 is a huge liability for Minnesota. The fossil fuel era is ending, the tar sands is bankrupt, and we’re being sold a bad deal, just so a Canadian corporation can make more profits. Enbridge has already shut down 400,000 barrels a day because of the market, and has moved oil into other lines – 67 and 2, according to a new lawsuit filed by Honor the Earth. In other words, Enbridge doesn’t even need the new line.
Here’s my suggestion: solar, renewables and the legalization of cannabis for a just transition. Now, that may sound wacky, but Canada is doing pretty well with a green economy worth $2.5 billion. Here in Minnesota, tens of thousands of permanent – non-oil-related – jobs would be created with a legalized cannabis industry and a full-scale fiber and food hemp economy. Taxes could fund the schools to be safe for our children, and make sure we have good internet service and health care. We all need it.
Let’s do this together. There’s more than enough hate in the world. Let’s create the New Green Revolution, and make America beautiful again.
Winona LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth, an Ojibwe writer and economist on Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation.