Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Water Is Life at Standing Rock, is it in Minnesota? #CleanWaterWednesday

Lightning, thunder, wind, rain, hail, downed leaves, downed branches, downed trees, power outages -- we had a heck of a storm last night. Summer has reminded us that he's not done with us yet. The township truck and chipper is cruising from debris pile to debris pile today. As we clear and clean the drive, we'll pile the sticks in the same spot as the brush pile we burned back in mid-Summer and start another one to provide shelter this Winter.

Although last night's line of storms covered much of the state, I doubt they had anything to do with Governor Dayton's call today for "... Minnesotans to take a 'stewardship pledge' as part of the state's 'Year of Water Action.'" Of course, demonstrating their usual bipartisan approach, Republicans promptly asked again for a special session to accomplish the clean water funding they failed to enact during the regular session.

St. Croix River, downstream of Line 61
St. Croix River, downstream of Line 61
Photo by J. Harrington

The Governor requests that Minnesotans take a Water Stewardship Pledge. The contents of the pledge strike me as woefully anemic when compared and contrasted with the actions taken by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters to protect "the Missouri River, the Mother River" from Enbridge's Dakota Access Pipeline

Minnesota governmental agencies, especially the Public Utilities Commission, tried to permit Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline in Minnesota to be constructed absent the state's rigorous environmental review process, according to the state's courts.
"The PUC ignored both the plain language and central requirements of the state’s cornerstone statute on environmental review, a three-judge panel found, sending the certificate approval back to the commission for a do-over."
As I read the accounts of the permitting on the two projects, the federal actions on the Dakota Access pipeline seem suspiciously parallel to Minnesota's PUC's Sandpiper Certificate of Need decision (but then, I am not a lawyer).

One of the most moving and understandable explanations of the significance of Standing Rock, and why the pipelines shouldn't be built, can be found in this story WOMEN LEAD THE PRAYER FOR WATER AT STANDING ROCK RESERVATION IN NORTH DAKOTA in Invoke magazine.
Mni wiconi—“Water is life.” It’s so simple, it’s easy to forget. It’s so true, it almost seems silly to drive more than a thousand miles to affirm. And yet, I find myself opening up to what this phrase truly means and realizing how differently we need to live if we honestly believe it.

St. Louis River, downstream of (proposed) PolyMet mine
St. Louis River, downstream of (proposed) PolyMet mine
Photo by J. Harrington

Minnesota legislators have been playing games with the state's water quality standards intended to protect wild rice, the state grain and a food sacred to many Indigenous Minnesotans. That doesn't seem to me to respect the ethic that "Water Is Life" nor the kind of leadership we need if we're to honor the Water Stewardship Pledge. I think the situation calls for something like what Sitting Bull would remind us he said 150 years ago “ Let us put our minds together to see what kind of future we can make for our children….”

Personally, I'd like to see a web page that tracks whether or not each member of the Minnesota legislature has signed the Water Stewardship Pledge. Wouldn't it be nice to use that as a screening tool for the elections this November?

  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to arrive at the nectar feeder today.


Hilda Conkling

The world turns softly
not to spill its lakes and rivers.
The water is held in its arms
and the sky is held in the water.
What is water,
that pours silver,
and can hold the sky?

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