cathycollentine cathycollentine, June 11, 2015

By Rob Friedman, NRDC

Posted June 11, 2015

Reposted with permission of the author from the original site.

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When you think about fossil fuel infrastructure in this country, you probably picture Texas oil fields or Louisiana refineries or drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico–or increasingly, oil and gas rigs fracking away in shale-rich states like Colorado or Pennsylvania.

You probably don’t picture Minnesota.

And yet, this weekend, there I was in the Twin Cities, joining 5,000 Midwestern pipeline fighters for the Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul to stand up against dirty fossil fuels and for a clean energy future. The march, which was led by indigenous women and members of impacted communities, was an amazing show of resistance from a region that is currently under assault from the fossil fuel industry.

Just one day earlier, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had unanimously approved one of two necessary permits necessary for a Canadian company called Enbridge to build its proposed Sandpiper pipeline, which would transport crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Enbridge – the same company whose ruptured tar sands pipeline polluted Michigan’s Kalamazoo River nearly five years ago, causing $1 billion in cleanup costs and destroying local livelihoods – also wants to double the capacity of a pipeline known as Alberta Clipper, which would bring more dirty tar sands oil from Canada. Tar sands oil is one of the world’s dirtiest and most environmentally destructive sources of fuel and brings full scale industrialization to otherwise pristine waterways and landscapes.

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Enbridge is a competitor of TransCanada, whose own tar sands pipeline project, Keystone XL, has been delayed due to increased scrutiny over its climate and environmental risks. In an attempt to avoid TransCanada’s travails, Enbridge is reportedly attempting to bypass a required presidential permitting process and sidestep public review in order to expand Alberta Clipper’s transport capacity. Dozens of other projects are also proposed across the Midwestern region.

Saturday’s march demonstrated that youth, indigenous peoples, ranchers, scientists and everyone in between, are standing united to say that we will not allow the fossil fuel industry’s continued assault on communities and our climate. Local fights, whether against toxic pet coke piles in Detroit and Chicago, or for landowner rights in the Great Plains, or for treaty rights on tribal lands, are part of a battle against the deadly life cycle of fossil fuels.

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People are beginning to realize that the atrocities that take place in our communities on a seemingly weekly basis, like the pipeline spills that pollute our waterways or the bomb trains that explode near our schools, are manifestations of our painful addiction to fossil fuels.

And perhaps most importantly, as was true of the Tar Sands Resistance March, front line community members who have direct experience and local knowledge are leading this fight. The march was a demonstration of solidarity with those being impacted right now. It gave voice and spirit to their struggle, and served to educate the broader public about how this country’s current energy strategy is sacrificing communities across North America.

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As we marched, 5,000-strong in defense of our climate, our water and our communities, an omen came in the form of a bald eagle and a red-tailed hawk circling overhead. My heart soared with them, surrounded by 5,000 allies united for a cause we cannot lose – building a better future for us all.

Onwards.