Oil Pipeline Could be Disastrous for Lake Superior

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Andre Smith-Hill - Student Journalist -
Photo credit to newenergyandfuel.com

Photo credit to newenergyandfuel.com

With oil consumption in the world reaching an all time high, the desperation for the fossil fuel was proven to be so great that Lake Superior is being put in harms way. Although federal approval is still needed, Duluth's Mayor Don Ness and Superior's Mayor Bruce Hagen both agreed to allow the expansion of an Enbridge Pipeline that would run through Lake Superior.

The positive outlook on this expansion is that it will create jobs in the Duluth and Superior area, but that seems to be about it. The "Sandpiper," as it is being called by Enbridge, will be taking tar sands in Canada and converting it into usable oil. It is estimated that $62 million will be added to the local economy each year, but the tar sand oil is not easily extracted. It takes more energy thus creating more carbon dioxide pollution, something the world doesn't need right now.

"In my mind, pipelines are the most responsible and safest way to transport oil," said Mayor Don Ness in a press conference, according to www.minnpost.com.

Pipelines have the track record of being the safest way to transport oil so if we do need oil to run through Lake Superior it would make sense that pipeline would be the way to go. But do we need oil to be transported through the lake that provides water to our city? Don Ness would seem to believe so.

"Pipeline reduces the energy consumption and risk of accident to transport," said Ness. "Our decision is not whether crude will come from Canada or North Dakota, the question is whether it's coming on rail or pipeline. In my mind, pipeline transport is the much better option."

So Don Ness' opinion is clearly stated, but for those who are against the Sandpiper, what is it that they're saying? Drew Mannetter, a philosophy and ethics professor at The College of St. Scholastica expressed his emotions about the disregard for the environment.

"It is the politician's job to just create jobs," said Mannetter. "Or at least what they think is their only job, catering to a special market, where I'm thinking long term. I'm thinking about my children's health, my children's future."

Creating jobs is an essential part of Mayor Ness' duties. He has a very good track record here in Duluth and the citizens have shown a high level of respect for him, which is why this pipeline was so surprising. It doesn't coincide with what he has generally stood for when it comes to our environment.

"There's no point in demonizing Ness," said Mannetter, sympathizing with Ness' decision. "He's just doing what he thinks is right, it's just his sense of right in this situation is just skewed. Sometimes that's what leadership is, is standing up and saying for the short term this may really seem attractive, but in the long term we have to weigh the effects that will come from it."

In these types of situations, there is no one person to blame for the decisions being made. One decision helps the economy and one helps the environment; you don't get it both ways. However, it lately seems as though the environment is always taking a back seat. There is a reason why global warming happens and there's a reason why we are now extracting tar sands, something that 10 years ago was never even a thought; we are desperate and dependent on oil.

This could have been a great opportunity for the city of Duluth to take a stand and do what is right for the world, rather than our wallets. In time, we may see that allowing this pipeline to run through Lake Superior was a traumatic decision, but then again, $60 million a year...