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Georgianne Nienaber Headshot

Honor the Earth: Love Water, Not Oil

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"The Creator is the only one who is going to relocate me."

Maybe. Maybe not.

Honor the Earth has organized a music benefit to fund their pipeline information campaign. The message about forced relocation is one of many on a slideshow running above the stage. Another slide depicts Three Affiliated Tribes council chair, George Gillette, as he was coerced into signing off on the takings of the Garrison Dam Project, which flooded reservation villages at Fort Berthold in the 1950s. Gillette is weeping.

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Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke is circulating through the crowd gathered at Clyde's Iron Works event center in Duluth, Minn., and spreading the message. Get over to the table and comment on the Canadian company, Enbridge, and plans to build, expand and replace four oil pipelines in northern Minnesota. While national media is focused on the Keystone XL pipeline debate, Enbridge has quietly proposed four pipeline projects through the North Country. If all are permitted, 4 million barrels a day will be swishing over and under and around Minnesota's still pristine lakes and rivers. Where is it going? To refineries in Superior, Wisc.

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Annie Humphrey performs for the benefit crowd

Enbridge is responsible for the biggest land oil spill in United States history. The 2010 Kalamazoo disaster dumped from 840,000 to 1.5 million gallons of heavy crude from Canada's Athabasca tar sands into the river system. It still has not been cleaned up.

The proposed Alberta Clipper (Line 67) expansion traverses the Red Lake, Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Reservations. The original Clipper line was built in 2009, despite First Nation opposition. The expansion would increase capacity by 40 percent to 25 million gallons per day. It has the potential to ship more tar sands oil than the Keystone XL, LaDuke says.

The proposed Sandpiper Route crosses eight state forests, three state wildlife management areas, and thirteen trout streams. It is designed to carry crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota. The company is estimating a carrying capacity of 375,000 barrels per day, but the 'ultimate" design capacity for the 30 inch pipe is 711,000 barrels per day, according to literature prepared by Honor the Earth.

The devil is in the details.

Lots of oil and a shaky or non-existent infrastructure is cause for lots of worry in the North Country. Enbridge still needs a certificate of need from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and a route permit. The window for public comment closes on May 30.

Trains carrying Enbridge oil from the Bakken fields have been exploding all over the place. The Lac Megantic derailment in 2013 vaporized the center of town. Wiped it off the map. Hopefully those memories will drive comments.

LaDuke works her way to the microphone and introduces the Little Horse Drum group for a ceremonial prayer. Native artist Annie Humphrey, Charlie Parr and Rising Appalachia are scheduled to follow. Meanwhile, LaDuke changes from her dress into more comfortable jeans and a black T-shirt.

The back of the shirt reads, "I've got this sinking feeling about Enbridge."

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