People over Pipelines, Pt. 2

by Sandra Kaptain,

At the People over Pipelines conference many other landowners spoke and I think their stories were among the most important parts of the weekend.

As one Native American, Paul DeMain, told us: “Food is a gift of creation”, and this is noted in the Bible also. When the soil is toxic, food grown, if at all, picks up the toxins too. We can learn so much from the Native Americans regarding care of the land.  As a child growing up near my grandfather’s farm, even though the soil in Michigan was not the great black dirt we have in Illinois, he grew fruits and vegetables needed by people everywhere. It sounds so simple: dirt plus water plus seeds and you have food! But this all depends on the basic rules of growing things. Too many toxins, it doesn’t work. Not enough water, it’s a ‘no go’!

Another landowner told of the trees that were cut down on her property for Line 61. They removed 65 trees, but gave her $100 for ‘seven trees only’.

Another landowner story: after a spill by Enbridge pipeline 61 they had to have monitoring wells that were checked for 3 years.

Another landowner couple talked about the uncertainty of the pipelines coming through. Enbridge (or others) can come in and survey your property at will. One landowner lady said some lie to landowners telling them “all their neighbors agreed to this except you.” And after asking her neighbors, they hadn’t been spoken to!

Ronni Monroe, a landowner activist in Wisconsin told of learning on her own about the toxic volatile chemicals that will be let out if there is a leak or spill. And she said that the tar sands lines involve so much dilution in pumping the thick tar sands, that 28-30% of the diluents are toxic. And if there is a spill, you must move upwind because these toxic components are heavier than air. And do not use your cell phone, or turn on any ignition, as this can spark an explosion. Part of the gas is hydrogen sulfide that can be fatal in only 15 minutes, depending on the concentration. She added that we need to educate local officials when a pipeline is proposed. She adds that 1000’ feet on either side of a pipeline is in actuality termed the “incineration zone”, since many of the diluents used to help move thick tar sands are flammable.

Since Enbridge and others come into an area promising jobs, large property rebates for the pipeline areas, and offering to help communities buy trucks, and giving food supplies for local food pantries, they seem like ‘nice’ guys. But their reputation goes before them. We need to be aware of much more than the gifts they offer or the compensations that sound large.

Working together with your neighbors, other organizations, environmental lawyers, and local officials is important. No one can do this alone!

Better yet—keep fossil fuels in the ground. This oil is mostly for export, and also is the most expensive oil to refine, and the most toxic to produce because of the water used up. We need to work together and protect our soil and farmland and water. It’s up to us! I’m in this fight for sure!


© Thom Ayres

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