Scott Jackson Testimony 4-3-14

Scott Jackson Testimony

Public Utilities Commission 4/3/2014

We live in a world shaped by stories. Stories are the threads of our lives and the fabric of human cultures. A story can unite or divide people, obscure issues or highlight new perspectives. A story can inform or deceive, enlighten or entertain, enervate or energize!

Just as we tell ourselves stories about the world in which we live, stories tell us how to live. We use stories to process information we encounter from our families and friends, our schools, our cultural and religious institutions, our communities, and the media.

We remember our lived experiences by converting them to narratives and integrating them into our personal and collective web of stories. Just as our bodies are made of blood and flesh, our identities are made of narrative!

As Salman Rushdie reminds us, “Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”

Today we confront and challenge a story that Enbridge Energy is trying to fob off on us, the story of the expansion of the Alberta Clipper pipeline, the story of transporting ever more tar sands oil across northern Minnesota, the story of burning more and more fossil fuels in the face of unquestioned scientific fact that this tough new planet on which we live is tipping perilously towards cataclysm.

The Alberta Clipper story is just one of several that Enbridge seeks to weave into a profitable fabric. There is also the Sandpiper story; the Line 3 story; and, as I just read, the emerging story of a tar sands oil pipeline stretching all the way from Hardesty, Alberta, to St. John, Nova Scotia.

What is this failed narrative which dominates these men of Enbridge, so that they are powerless and cannot think new thoughts? It is the narrative of a high energy industrial growth society driven by fossil fuels, of endless growth on a finite planet. It is the narrative of business as usual, of burying their heads in the tar sands, of claiming to be agnostic on the question of global warming and climate disruption!

But we who have gathered here today to confront and challenge them are not powerless, for we can think new thoughts, tell new stories, and weave these stories into a powerful new narrative. How can we do this? Antoine de St. Exupery advises us, “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Today we are engaged in building a new and seaworthy ship, a ship capable of traversing sudden squalls, rough waters, times when the sun burns and there is no food or potable water, times when the heavens open and we are inundated, of traversing an ocean that grows more and more acidic and beats down our coastlines. There are no passengers on this ship, for we are all crew.
Today we are filled with a deep longing for the endless immensity and beauty of a truly sustainable world, a just and equitable world, a world of hope and opportunity, a world that takes our breath away and mirrors our overwhelming love for it.
On the last day of 2013, your honor, you issued an order recommending Geronimo Energy’s solar project as the best deal for generating more power in 2017-2019. That tells me that you too are filled with a deep longing, that you too are able to think new thoughts and to act on them. That order reflects your careful and thoughtful examination of competing projects, of course. But it was also an act of great love, for Minnesota and its people, for Mother Earth and all her multitudinous lifeforms.

Once again you have the opportunity to commit an act of great love. For saying no to Enbridge Energy and its business-as-usual story of the expansion of the Alberta Clipper tar sands oil pipeline is exactly what love looks like.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the smartMeme collective for their inspiring book Re:Imagining Change. And I would like to thank you, Judge Lipman, for allowing me to tell you what you need to know.