Moral Limits

On January 6th, MNIPL Board Member Bill Mittlefehldt provided the following testimony against the Sandpiper Pipeline:


Your Honor, I appreciate this balanced approach to public policy and appreciate your offer us a chance to disagree, in search of the best policy for our state’s future.

I am Bill Mittlefehldt, and am commenting  from  my position as a Board member of Minnesota Interfaith and Power Team which represents 200 congregations and faith teams.   We stand with our partners  who speak for the earth and our Creation:

Sierra Club,  Izak Walton League,  Water Legacy, along with our Lakota and Objway brothers and sisters, as well as our Jewish partners and Christian brothers and sisters.

We speak from the traditions of Manitou, Yahweh and God.  In all these wonderful and powerful traditions, the Creator has reminded us  that there are MORAL LIMITS TO MARKETS.    We are here today to ask you to acknowledge that fact by choosing not to grant this CERTIFICATE of Need for the Enbridge pipeline.

MNIPL stands with Gov. Dayton,  Pres. Obama, China’s President Xi and Pope Francis who have all made our climate and the health of our Creation a top priority.  These are people of influence who are standing up  to recognize the Moral Limits of our Markets.  We want you to stand with us.

We want you to stand with us for two reasons.  We ask you to deny this Certificate of Need based on the faith that you have in the state’s laws and policies and their capacity to safeguard our kids and communities from  catastrophic impacts from climate warming.

In 1960, the atmosphere’s concentration of CO2  was 350 ppm .  By 2014, that concentration from burning oil, natural gas and coal has been raised to 400 ppm.  You may know that at 450 ppm, we  trigger catastrophic ecosystem impacts, called awakening the Sleeping Giants:  thawing tundra releases methane,  melting Greenland Ice raises sea level,

Melting Antarctic ice causes sea level to rise,  changes in the thermohaline ocean currents, and  the accelerated melting of methane hydrates.  These Giants are sleeping today.  We ask you to voice your moral limits to markets and deny this Certificate of Need.  This oil will increase the carbon dioxide concentration. There are better choices.  As Hippocrates has said, DO NO HARM!  Rather than add technologies that can wake the Sleeping Giants that can terrorize our kids and communities.

The second reason for you to support our faith team with a sound decision is related to a few numbers on the ground.  Enbridge, a Canadian company, has a record which is cause for concern.  In Kalamzoo Michigan, one of their pipelines burst in a creek which was a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.  Although alarms rang in Canada, the local utility did not recognize the impact on the River for 18 hours.  The River was closed for 2 years.  And it has become the most expensive  environmental impact from any  domestic pipeline in the US.   This is food for thought.

Another line of logic comes from the current drop in crude oil prices.  The US used 92 mbd in 2014.  But in 2015 the prices have dropped to under  $50/ barrel.  What is interesting is that

The fracking process in the Bakken must get $70/barrel to remain profitable.  And with the European and Asian markets slowing, the pressure for more fuel is dropping.   OPEC recently decided to put Bakken out of business by producing 1 million more barrels of oil than the market needs, to target  the nonconventional  oil from Bakken.   We see indications that a number of the Bakken oil outfits are going bankrupt.  More will appear in 2015.  OPEC hopes that the boom towns of Bakken will be come ghost towns due to the over supply of crude in global markets.  If  global oil remains at $50/barrel,  there will be no need for this pipeline from a supply side logic.  The producers will leave ND.

In summary, let me restate that we want you to deny this Certificate of Need for the Sandpiper Pipeline.   First we stand with the Governor, President, President of China and the Pope in giving voice to the Climate threats and Sleeping Giants who are directly associated with this pipeline.  Secondly, we stand with the economists who understand that thanks to OPEC’s  marketshare of global oil, they have the capital and political will to put Bakken out of business by keeping  oil below $70/ b.   

For reasons of faith,  and economic analysis, we hope you will not grant this Certificate of Need and wake the sleeping giants.  Some would see that as part of a larger process of Generational Theft.   Granting a Certificate of Need to Enbridge would be like saying, “FRACK You”  to our kids and communities  who hope  for success in the 21st century.

There are moral limits to markets.