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The New World We're Building

 

On January 5th MNIPL Board Member Cathy Velasquez Eberhart submitted testimony against the Sandpiper Pipeline to the MN Public Utilities Commission. Here is her poweful testimony:

 

My name is Cathy Velasquez Eberhart. I’m the mother of three. I’m a small business owner. And I’m on the board of directors of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.

As a person of faith, it seems to me the key question at hand is one of vision. Can we see the new world that is possible, that is right now being born all around us or are we blinded by old assumptions, limited by old systems?

I have lived my entire life in a fossil fuel driven society. At times it seems impossible to escape, impossible to imagine a future beyond this one. As the devastating impacts of fossil fuel induced Climate Change accelerate, I fear for the future, not some distant future, but for the immediate futures of my three children - for my future. The scary truth echoed in climate report after climate report, is that if we don’t make the transition away from fossil fuels in the next decade, it will be too late.

At times I despair that our government is unresponsive, we citizens are apathetic, the system too corrupt to respond. And yet here we are in this odd, wonderful moment where on the surface we are debating the merits of a specific pipeline in a particular location but really from a larger context all of us here today are adding our voices to a growing global conversation about the vision we have for our future.

Can we envision a place and time where pipelines, and oil trains, and gas stations, and refineries - all of this fossil fuel infrastructure that seems so obvious and essential - is no longer needed? Increasingly, I have been privileged to see glimpses of transformation everywhere. I have good news to share. Not only can we imagine this new world, it is already being built.

Churches and businesses and homeowners around the state are installing solar panels. Neighbors are exploring Community Solar gardens. New kinds of wind generated power are being invented. Just up the street from where I live in St. Paul a small business owner has installed small wind turbines and he is experimenting with street lights powered by a small solar panel and a small wind turbine. Every time I get on Facebook, I see other cool inventions in the works. But it isn’t just these isolated experiments. Renewable energy is now cost competitive and scalable. Countries like Germany and cities like Portland are now getting a large percentage of their energy needs met by renewables. We can too.

At the same time, homes and cars are becoming more energy efficient. We are actually using less energy here in Minnesota and throughout the United States. This oil that would flow through this new pipeline isn’t even needed here. It would be shipped overseas. In the meantime, we would bear all of the risk and all of the likely environmental impacts.

I would argue this revisioning, this reimagining is the most important work we can be doing at this moment in human history. Will we choose resignation and despair or hope and transformation.

Many of us are here today to argue that this pipeline is not needed. We come both out of fear and out of hope. We fear the impacts of climate change, the likely damage of oil spills and pipeline leaks, of water contamination and wildlife habitat destruction. But mostly we come out of hope - with the certainty that another world is possible. Not only is is possible but it is already being built all around us.

 

To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Ursula Le Guin, “

We live in [a fossil fuel dependent world] capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Ursula Le Guin

"If everyone who’s passionate about climate change, who gets that we’re living in a moment in which the fate of the Earth and of humanity is actually being decided, found their place in the movement, amazing things could happen. What’s happening now is already remarkable enough, just not yet adequate to the crisis." Rebeca Solnit