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It’s time for a safer energy economy

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Last month’s 383,000-gallon spill of the Keystone Pipeline in Edinburgh, N.D. is the deal with the devil.

For those of us who live in the land of lakes, just imagine what 383,000 gallons of oil would do to the Hay Creek, Portage Lake, Island Lake, Whitefish Lake watersheds, and what “clean up” would look like. There’s no way to clean up or protect that aquatic ecosystem. There are no fish, wild rice or life after an oil spill.

That’s what a deal with the devil looks like. While Enbridge talks about the need for a new safe pipe, the fact is that the Keystone pipe, now with its second catastrophic leak, is only l0 years old.

The 2017 Keystone pipeline rupture sent 407,000 gallons spewing into South Dakota groundwater. This year’s spill contaminated 209,000 square feet of land. That’s a big mess. Where does that stuff go? A special toxic dump site? This is a new pipe, less than 10 years old, and what we know from this is that new pipes break, not just old pipes.

"We've been doing this for 10 years, and we've watched spills along the way for 10 years, so it's no surprise to us," Nebraskan Jeanne Crumly, who is an affected landowner for the Keystone XL proposed path, told NPR. "So, the question isn't if it will spill, the question is where? And when it does, are we protected?"

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We really don’t need a new Line 3; Enbridge needs that pipe. What we need is to have Enbridge clean up old pipes, decommission and begin to move towards renewable energy – be a good neighbor and all. That’s long-term jobs, good ones.

Instead, what we have is a corporation who desperately needs this pipeline, pumping toxic money into advertising in Minnesota, promoting division in our communities, kindling racism and hatred, and it’s all about them. It’s not really about us.

Enbridge, in fact, has had two pipeline projects fail: The Enbridge Northern Gateway (a heavily opposed tar sands project to Pacific Ocean, intended for Chinese markets) and the Sandpiper, which they just withdrew, “their absolutely essential” project, so the company could move its interests to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Investors don’t like companies who cannot carry out projects, and Line 3 is their biggest project to date. “Investor confidence” is a growing problem for fossil fuels companies, including Enbridge, as billions of dollars are divested from the tar sands and from fossil fuels. That’s what happens when the idea is no longer a good one. Investors move on.

I don’t really care about Enbridge’s financial stress. Nor should Minnesota. There’s no need for a tar sands pipeline to bolster ailing sales in the Canadian tar sands. I don’t even care about Canada’s bad choices.

Two years ago, Enbridge sold most of its renewable energy portfolio to buy more pipelines. That was a poor decision. Now is the time to move into a safer energy economy. Our water and our future are best with renewable energy and conservation. 383,000 gallons of oil spilling would not help the wild rice and lakes of our wonderful Akiing, yet we all want energy. Let’s make it safe and not full of racism or deals with the devil.

Winona LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth, an Ojibwe writer and economist on Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation.

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