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On December 5, 2016, The Duluth City Council unanimously voted to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its effort to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Bismarck, North Dakota. The resolution was authored jointly, by councillors Gary Anderson and Em Westerlund.
The language of the resolution has been criticized by Enbridge Energy officials and union leaders as being incendiary, and detrimental to the continued growth of the pipeline industry in the Duluth area. Enbridge employs nearly 600 people in the area surrounding the Twin Ports, and open hostility from the City Government may be a factor in future decisions about expansion. Recently, Enbridge and some of their partner companies have laid off hundreds of people, due to a slowdown in pipeline construction and a downturn in the oil industry.
As is frequently the case, the Duluth City Council is on the wrong side of history. The authors of this resolution, and all who voted on it, (the resolution passed unanimously), apparently live in an alternate reality, where everyone rides bikes for transportation, quaffs $7 craft beers all day, and makes their living as either a yoga teacher or a reiki practitioner.
Now they may be forced to snap out of it, and rejoin the world of reality, where the rest of us reside. The world where temperatures drop twenty degrees below zero in the winter months, and snow falls in such volume as to be measured in feet, rather than inches. The world where petroleum and petroleum by-products are used as fuel to facilitate the survival of the human species, as they endeavor to make Northern Minnesota their home.
On January 24, President Donald J. Trump signed orders putting the Keystone pipeline project back on track to be built, as well as reviving the approval process for the DAPL pipeline project. He also signed an order stipulating that American-produced steel be used in the construction. This will certainly buoy the prospects of economic prosperity in the Duluth area, at least in the near term. The State Department estimated that the Keystone project would support 42,000 temporary jobs for two years — about 3,900 of them in construction and the rest in direct support, like food service — but only 35 permanent jobs. Ironically, the government concluded that Keystone’s carbon emissions would equal less than 1 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
The DAPL project may end up being re-routed, to avoid the disputed area where it is currently set to cross the Missouri River, but it probably would have been easier to have struck a compromise with the previous administration of President Obama than with the Trump administration. The Standing Rock tribal elders made a point of not compromising their stand when they had more leverage, and now they are in a position of very little leverage. President Trump, for his part, has indicated that he wants to do what is right for the environment, while maintaining a forward-moving trudge toward prosperity. “I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it,” Mr. Trump said during a recent meeting with auto industry executives. “But it’s out of control, and we’re going to make it a very short process. And we’re going to either give you your permits, or we’re not going to give you your permits. But you’re going to know very quickly. And generally speaking, we’re going to be giving you your permits.” Eat your heart out, Sitting Bull.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” -Hosea 8:7