andypearson andypearson, May 26, 2015

By Eric Hansen, Wisconsin-based author and activist

A few years back I walked 1,700 miles while researching Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula books, experiencing firsthand many of the magnificent shorelines, sparkling streams and memorable natural areas the current crude oil invasion threatens.

It is heartbreaking to imagine globs of spilled tar sands crude oil smothering those places — or an oil train explosion decimating one of our communities.

Fortunately, during that research I also learned of the antidote for the crude oil invasion we face: the powerful grassroots citizen conservation campaigns that time and again have protected our region from ill-advised industrial schemes.

Among those inspiring stories:

Ojibwe leader Walter Bresette and the Bad River Train Blockade (look it up and you may be smiling for days).

Wisconsin tribes and citizens blocking Exxon’s plans for a dangerous mine on the headwaters of the Wolf River — and then pivoting to mobilize notably lopsided votes in the legislature for a historic, “prove it is safe first” mining law.

Michiganders, with help from allies such as Aldo Leopold, campaigning to protect that timeless landscape we know today as the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Similar stories are sprinkled throughout our region’s history and they are well worth seeking out.

Stories empower us and illuminate the path ahead.

Write another chapter in this righteous history. Join us June 6 in St. Paul. Click here to RSVP.

Big Oil has big, ugly plans for the Great Lakes Region and they don’t want the public knowing about those schemes.

Tar sands promoters need a route from Alberta to salt water to export to the world market.

Ferocious resistance by the tribes and ranchers of British Columbia and Nebraska has led to plans for a massive expansion of tar sands pipelines here, in the Great Lakes Region.

Enbridge wants to double the flow of tar sands through its Great Lakes pipelines — and the U.S. State Department signed off on a behind closed doors illegal scheme that would hide that decision from public scrutiny.

Those State Department shenanigans are outrageous — and a direct threat to decades of clean water efforts.

Connect the dots. Tar sands pipelines and crude oil trains threaten our water, our communities’ health and our planet’s health.

Now is the time to mobilize citizen action — and insist that elected officials stand up for not only clean water but the clean government procedures that protect clean water.

Scan our regional history; examine the current citizens campaigns in Nebraska and British Columbia and one thing is clear:

We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

Join us in St. Paul June 6.

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Hansen1Author/activist Eric Hansen, an award-winning essayist and environmental campaigner, is a member of 350 Milwaukee. His tar sands op-ed essays have appeared in Common Dreams, Indian Country Today, and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.