Winona LaDuke: Tribes won't see benefits from Keystone XL

Activist Winona LaDuke says the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline won't bring long-term benefits to Indian Country:
Henry Red Cloud has gone home to Pine Ridge, S.D., where he’s preparing solar training for the White Earth Indian Reservation. In the meantime, the Cowboys and Indians Alliance Earth Day rally will be held today in Washington, D.C. They will ride their horses against the Keystone XL pipeline. Henry Red Cloud sees solar energy as a way to “honor the old ways in the new times,” and address some of the fuel poverty that is rampant in Northern Plains and north woods First Nations, in an era of petroleum replacing natural fuels. Annually, tribes are forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in propane bills to keep houses warm, and fuel poverty is when tribal members have to choose between heating or eating.

Solar thermal heat not only keeps people warm, reducing the hemorrhage of fuel bills, but it circulates money into a local economy. The solar panels are made on the reservation, and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy center near Oglala on the reservation employs nine full-time workers and several part-time workers in the busy season. That is money helping a community and rebuilding infrastructure in that community. That, according to Henry Red Cloud and many others, is what we need to do. After all, about 14 percent of reservation households are without electricity, 10 times the national rate. Energy distribution systems on rural reservations are extremely vulnerable to extended power outages during winter storms, threatening the lives of reservation residents.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will put in infrastructure as well. As Henry and others point out, that infrastructure will not change the conditions for most people in the Northern Plains, whom the pipeline will pass. Employment will not be local or long term.

Get the Story:
Winona LaDuke: Tale of two Earth Days (The Fargo Forum 4/22)

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Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline foes headed to DC (4/21)
State Department needs more time to review Keystone XL (4/21)

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