Thursday, May 8, 2014

Minnesota's indigenous environmental activists

Yesterday's edition of the Star Tribune had a story about Indian rights activists say treaties give them a say on pipeline route. Let me say that I hope Honor the Earth is successful in front of the PUD or in court in their efforts to affect the Sandpiper project.

Stillwater on the St. Croix RIver
Stillwater on the St. Croix RIver   © harrington

If you pay attention to these things, corporations are too often less than responsive to our demands that they clean up the messes they make of our earth. Enbridge, which wants the new pipeline, had a 2010 pipeline burst in Michigan. They opposed completing the cleanup EPA mandated. We've learned the hard way that, twenty -five years later, the Exxon Valdez spill still isn't cleaned up. The executive at BP who was in charge during their Gulf of Mexico oil blowout has moved on but is still being paid nicely. It's all too often the rest of us who end up holding the bag, or mop, or sponge and paying the bill. It would be nice to see some productive efforts to increase corporate responsibility, even at the expense of excessive profits and executive salaries. How about if a pipeline that leaked or burst had to be taken out of service permanently? It could never be used again. I think that might enhance maintenance efforts, don't you? 
Less than five years after BP's environmental debacle in the Gulf, they're back in business there. If corporations really are "persons," shouldn't they be subject to a death penalty, or something like it, as are many real people in this world? We have to start getting serious about protecting resources we need and care about. Clean air and clean water and food must trump fossil fuels and corporate profits, if we have any common sense. Is our environment, that we depend on for clean air and water and food, worth protecting? We might start showing we really care by acting on Merwin's concerns and learning the names of some of our fellow inhabitants of earth, the trees.

wetlands, water, clean air
worth protecting?              © harrington

Native Trees

By W. S. Merwin

Neither my father nor my mother knew   
the names of the trees   
where I was born
what is that
I asked and my
father and mother did not
hear they did not look where I pointed   
surfaces of furniture held   
the attention of their fingers   
and across the room they could watch
walls they had forgotten   
where there were no questions   
no voices and no shade

Were there trees
where they were children   
where I had not been   
I asked
were there trees in those places
where my father and my mother were born   
and in that time did
my father and my mother see them
and when they said yes it meant
they did not remember
What were they I asked what were they   
but both my father and my mother
said they never knew

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