New pipeline, no new solution

A 300 mile oil pipeline isn’t a good start to providing for the state’s energy needs.

Last week, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to build a $300 million oil pipeline stretching from Clearbrook in northern Minnesota to the metro area. Estimates from both the state and the Minnesota Pipeline Co., the company that will construct the pipeline, project Minnesota’s consumption of oil will rise with the state’s growing population. While this pipeline might seem like a logical solution to our increasing need for oil, it highlights an approach that has become as much a part of the energy problem as the resources themselves.

During the 1970s, a series of oil shortages that created high prices and long lines at gas pumps should have been a wake-up call to legislators around the country to get moving on the issue of renewable energy. When supplies were low, as they were then, people were clamoring for changes. Eventually, oil production stabilized, prices went down and people were lulled back to sleep on the issue. It has taken 30 years and another period of high energy prices for us to get moving on the issue again. This time we must follow through and find some solutions.

The state Senate passed legislation this session to require at least 25 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable resources by the year 2020, but instead of feeling proud of ourselves for setting this goal, we should be lamenting that we haven’t done enough in the last 30 years.

Because of our lack of foresight, less-than-ideal projects such as this pipeline become necessary for the state’s growth and well-being. The Minnesota Pipeline Co. has run roughshod over area farmers who don’t want to sell 100-foot wide stretches of land for the line.

Nobody wants an oil pipeline in their backyard, but when your backyard is farmland that you depend on for your livelihood an oil spill would be much more jeopardizing. Minnesota already imports more electricity than any other state in the country, and if we’re serious about meeting the goal of having 25 percent renewable energy by 2020, this isn’t a good way to start.