After reading some recent opinion letters basic points come to mind regarding pipelines.

Pipelines leak. They confiscate somebody’s land.  There is never just one. Permits for pipelines are controlled by politicians.  The demand for oil is falling. Burning oil, gas, or coal creates air we shouldn’t breathe. Many of our lakes are now mercury impaired because of this burning. Big energy companies are investing in renewable energy operations hand over fist, they know what is coming.

Why pump Canadian tar sands oil (which requires massive forest removal) across Northern Minnesota to put it on a tanker and send it overseas, or through a pipe back to Canada? Why doesn’t Canada put it on the boat (remember Exxon Valdez?) on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior, or just refine what they already have in-country?

If America is swimming in domestic oil why do we need Canadian oil at all?  America is now the world’s leading exporter of oil, and guess who the biggest importer of American oil is? Canada! If Line 3 has been so safe why not simply maintain it for now? Why invest more money in infrastructure that we know isn’t good for our health?

 Last century’s old industrial revolution is on its way out so let’s talk about the current revolution.  Why not invest in use of cleaner technologies that are already shrinking the old system’s role in powering America?

Electric motors are about 60 percent more efficient and much lower maintenance than gasoline motors. Electric trucks, buses and service vehicles are much more powerful than their gas counterparts.  Some electric cars today make even the sportiest gasoline cars look like a horse and buggy.

Current studies estimate electric and hybrid vehicles will represent close to 60 percent of the market by 2030. Please remember previous similar studies have consistently under-predicted the speed with which people have adopted emerging innovations.   

Tesla electric vehicles have over 300 million miles driven on auto pilot. Driverless technology means car sharing is going to be BIG. Truly driverless vehicles may be available sooner than you might think, and then you will be able to have a vehicle sent to your home to use for the day, no maintenance, no garage space.

Not too many years from now gas-powered vehicles will be hard to sell, and many pipelines will have to be removed from the ground or abandoned.

According to the Energy Information Administration, electricity produced by renewable energy last April surpassed production by coal-fired power plants for the first time, and renewables will outproduce nuclear power in the year to come.

This is no longer a dream, folks! The rapidly dropping costs of things like wind turbines and solar panels are decentralizing the electric grid. Battery technology advances are making storage of energy at home possible while reducing the need for coal and nuclear generated power during long winter nights.  

Trying to hang on to the mindset of the last industrial revolution will keep us spending money on things that are breaking us; dealing with health effects, environmental effects, energy dependence, machine maintenance, and bureaucracy.

Holding onto the last industrial revolution will keep our next generations from easily developing the efficiency, connectivity and clean, powerful energy we all can use. Looking to the future now will give our next generations a leg up.

Mike Tauber

Northern Water Alliance

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