Marybeth Lorbiecki Testimony 4-14-14

Marybeth Lorbiecki Testimony

Sent to Judge Lipman 4/14/2014

I am Marybeth Lorbiecki (Mataya) from Hudson, WI, raised in St. Cloud, MN, with our extended-family's simple cabin on Crow Wing II near Park Rapids. I am also the director of the Interfaith Ocean Ethics Campaign, a interreligious group dedicated to alerting people of faith of the present destruction of the ocean systems, species, and island peoples because of ocean acidification from carbon in the atmosphere and water pollution flowing from the rivers, especially the Mighty Mississippi. Finally, I am compiler and author of the only known collection of the soon to be canonized Saint John Paul II's teachings on the environment. I mention this, because he and the popes to follow and the major religious teachers of the world are stating that as we did not create this planet, and it was put into our care, we are bound by faith and morals to care for it, and for the poor, who are most harmed by pollution and climate disruption.

I respectfully wish to make these points about the Enbridge application.
1)When accessing needs, we are called to ask ourselves, what is the difference between need and want? In Enbridge's description of need, it states that regional refineries need more oil. That is not a statement of real citizen need, but rather of a single industry's and its vendors desire to expand its prosperity, put against the larger public health of Minnesotans, Midwesterners, and humans in general. We have reserves of oil to last for us to make the shift to alternative fuels if we decide to do so.

2) The exceptional workers who came to testify in favor of the pipeline were honorable men, dedicated to doing good work for a living wage while caring for the environment by working on the pipelines. They noted that there are many spills on barges, trucks, and trains, which none of us want. And it was also mentioned that the present pipelines are 65 years old and that was the reason for the Kalamazoo spill. These pipelines, enduring the expansions and contractions of heat and freezing in Midwest weather, leak. Evidence was produced that small leaks along the pipelines are an ongoing, normal, and accepted part of the business, though the percentage of oil lost compared to what is transported in small. But that is only because of the enormity of volume pumping through. Though the pipes don't always offer huge spills like the one in Kalamazoo (though these will become more common as the pipes age), they all leak and damage watersheds and people's and livestock drinking water.  For that reason, Enbridge is morally and hopefully legally bound to engage these same workers and others with them in good work of repairing, replacing, and maintaining these 65 year old pipelines until they can eventually in a new kind of future be shut them down. The state should NOT be pressured into approving of an expansion in order to get them to handle their business responsiblity to take care of their infrastructure to avoid spills like Kalamazoo.

3)Technology and economics are showing that in a recession, we need new industries to drive us into sustainable economies for the future. History shows that those who pioneer and shift to future thinking technologies instead of holding onto ones of the past are the communities, states, and nations that thrive for the long term. Places such as Appalachia, driven by extractive industries, have been left in the background of prosperity, bearing the brunt of the public health disasters from them, such as black lung, birth defects, doubly high cancer rates, etc. Communities with leaking pipelines suffer the same fate.  Oil is a pollutant, and every stage involved multiplies the pollutants and ripples of damage, from extraction and its devastation of large amounts of fresh water and air, to its refining with more extravagant water use and toxic emissions and waste bi-products, to its transportation with its leaks or spills, to combustion with air pollution and climate disruption. The economic profits then go to the oil and refinery executives, with multiple million dollar salaries and bonuses, while average Minnesotan pays the public health and environmental costs. As Minnesota and the Midwest are watching all its lakes decline in health and water level, we do not need expansion to the sources of water pollution and exorbitant use.

4) 84% of Americans self claim a religious affiliation. Minnesota is a particularly faith-based state, as is the Midwest as a while. Yet as noted above, all religions and science acknowledge that we did not create this world and do not know fully how it operates. Science is everyday finding new ecological connections and repercussions from our human acts. And all pollution harms those with the least economic means and political voice first. Environmental racism and injustice are rampant with this pipeline, cutting across Indian reservations and through poor rural areas where their voices are dismissed in political arenas for lack of money and power. The jobs these areas need can be in repairing the present line to keep it from large-scale leaks. In this way, Enbridge can stay as a solid employer and be a good corporate citizen without expanding their capacity.

As judges and commissioners, you are commissioned with the responsibility of seeing the big picture and through your decisions, protecting the poor and voiceless, and protecting the common good, and protecting the health of the watersheds, and protecting the future for our children. You are asked to do not what is economically feasible in the short term but what is economically necessary and invigorating for the long term. You are called to do what is morally right for the whole community now and to come.

You are doing Enbridge an economic favor by directing them through a refusal of their plea of need to shift their company into other energy sources that fit Minnesota and the Midwest -- solar combined with wind and geothermal, algae oils and other options.

Back in 1990, Blessed John Paul II stated over and over "The ecological crisis is a moral crisis!" He named the greenhouse effect and cited the burning of fossil fuels as one of the sources. "It is necessary that the entire human community -- individuals, states, and international bodies -- take seriously the responsibility that is theirs."  He  called this an "ecological emergency" and warned of an "ecological holocaust". For the 27 years of his papacy, he continued this same call for conversion of heart, habits, products, and energy sources to care for "beautiful endangered world."  He stated also "The worker and surrounding populations must not be put at risk."  He explained that "The state should also actively endeavor within its own territory to prevent destruction of the atmosphere and biosphere..." Additionally, he noted that all humans, especially all Christians, have an "ecological vocation" to care for the earth that has been lent to us for use during our lifetimes. "Before the wonder of divine providence manifested in creation and in history, the human creature feels very small. At the same time, the human creature recognizes that he is the one who receives the message of love inviting him to responsibility. Human beings are appointed by God as stewards of the earth to cultivate and protect it. From this fact, there comes what we might call their 'ecological vocation.' which in our time has become more urgent than ever."

As judges and commissioners, you have the moral responsibility to consider the power you have and use it for good, which we know is what you hope to do. I urge you to look to the big picture and to the immediate problems of water use and pollution and the public health problems and environmental racism entailed, but also the economic opportunities in giving up a dependence on oil in favor of other technologies. This "no" to this certificate of "need" would be an acknowledgement that embedded in his "no" is a "yes" to the future and to what is morally right, spurring Enbridge to shift it emphasis to become a more well rounded energy company for a sustainable long term Minnesota, Midwest, and world.

As Pope Francis said,"Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and our brothers and sisters, the way is opened up to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history, there are 'Herods' who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.   

"Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all mean and women of goodwill: let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment."


Marybeth Lorbiecki

Director, Interfaith Ocean Ethics Campaign

Author, Following St. Francis: John Paul II's Call for Ecological Action