Do You Hear?

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It’s in the dark, cold, lonely stillness of the predawn hours that I find myself pondering, and tonight, it is the upcoming year that is swirling about my neurons. 2015 held a few victories, and KXL wasn’t minor, but for those of us in Minnesota and Wisconsin, it was a year of foreboding. It was a year of realization of what we, as a people face. Perhaps, it doesn’t affect many of the people in the urban centers of our state directly, and so it gets shelved along with so many worthy causes, because as a people we have so much to deal with, so many social ills to battle. Perhaps, people don’t comprehend the magnitude of this oil corridor infrastructure, because it’s hidden underground. Hidden until there is an immediate problem. It’s going to affect us all eventually, even if it isn’t in your backyard, like it once was in mine, literally. To stop climate change, we must stop Enbridge here. It has to happen here. It has to happen now, if we want a tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.

Minnesota and Wisconsin, always thought of as two of the most environmentally progressive states are under assault. We are fighting a battle unlike any other here. We are allied in one cause. It’s not just one pipeline, it’s many, and it’s an infrastructure that is intended to support the fossil fuel industry for a century. The fools building this, seem to be short on facts, or else they have found a habitable planet and have the means to get there in the next 100 years, leaving our offspring here to die.

I often wonder how it must feel to work for Enbridge. It’s a job I couldn’t do. Yes, we need energy, but at the expense of the human race? Yes, it has come down to that. There are alternatives. Unfortunately, our laws have made us slaves to a fossil fuel economy, but this can change. We HAVE the technology, and do not be fooled to think otherwise. Yes, there will be some sacrifices, but, not much given the pay off. We can do this. We can save our future generations. We can save the multitude of species that share this beautiful orb with us, but only if we crumble the structure of the fossil fuel industry while building a new alternative energy economy, and yes that can be done!

I watched the pro pipeline people seated at the last Dane County, many of them Enbridge employees, the rest trades people. The trades people were watching sports on their phones and declined except for one, to speak publicly about ‘jobs’. The rest stayed focused on their cell phones, I forget, but I think it was a Packer game. I could see the ESPN logo on their phones. The Enbridge entourage looked like statues from a wax museum, devoid of all emotion. I felt compelled to poke them to see if they were real. I had to restrain myself. I despised them and pitied them all at the same time. I know they have to earn living in a time of shrinking opportunity. I do understand, but there comes a time, when, as a member of this species, as a person of this planet, one must simply look into one’s own heart and ask, “Am I doing the right thing?” My greatest wish, is for those people who sat stone faced while we, the people, fought for our local democracy, for the survival of our planet, to suddenly become human. I hoped that an epiphany would wash across their faces, that the burden that they carry, would crack and fall to the floor. I can’t in my heart believe that these are bad people, but they are people who either live in the dark or have some vacancy of morals in their hearts. Surely, they don’t lack intellect. Maybe they are all vying for that seat on at spaceship to that habitable planet.

Shortly after the Dane County Board Meeting, on the 3rd of December, Enbridge donated a used truck from their fleet to the Waterloo Fire Department. Kind of a puny consolation prize, like when you spend all your money at some carnival game and fail to hit your target. The sad thing is, the mayor called it a ‘godsend’. I wonder how much this godsend will do for the people of his town, when hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic gas come downwind on air and via the Maunesha River as it corkscrews through town.

It’s not just the impending Line 66, or the better known Line 61, or the diluent line 13 and the future diluent line, which will act as a circulatory system for this monster, bringing back blood to be oxygenated by what was once beautiful boreal forest and is now black slime. Line 6a is a tar sands line, that is 49 years old. It’s just a tad smaller than KXL. It runs in tandem with Line 61 in the same 80 foot easement. It was the first line put in, and it is so hot, that snow is melting on it in the winter, and in the late winter, it is growing grass on it when the fields are still ragged shades of beige and brown. Yet, Enbridge pushes on using this pipeline despite the obvious risk. I have contacted the Wisconsin DNR, PHMSA, the federal DOT, and the EPA. I have yet to get an answer. I guess the mayor figures we can mop up any mess with that pick up truck.

I do have nights when I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, but yet, tonight isn’t one of them. As frustrating at 2015 was for me at times, I think 2016 is going to be a lot bolder and a lot braver, because our times demand it.

Tonight, I hear a chorus, and it’s a tune I can carry.

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