The Sandpiper Pipeline is a hot topic in Minnesota, and on Friday CFACT engaged 350 in this important debate. 350 decided to have a protest on Friday against the pipeline at the Minneapolis Club in Downtown Minneapolis, and when the University of Minnesota CFACT students heard about it, they decided to counter protest and raise awareness about the importance of pipelines.
Many people do not know that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. In recent years increased oil production in the Bakken Oil Fields and other locations has outpaced the development of pipelines, and as a result more and more oil is being transported by train. This has several consequences for both the environment and the economy. First, as more oil is being transported on trains the number of train related spills is drastically increasing, as is the size of train related spills. Second, rail capacity is increasingly being taken up by oil cars and other industries, such as agriculture and taconite mining, have to pay significantly more to bring their products to market.
As the students demonstrated, they had several interesting conversations with people from 350, and one of the overarching themes of these conversations was their strong dislike of all fossil fuels. For some of the members of 350, stopping the pipeline was not only about protecting the environment, but it was also about stopping the use of fossil fuels altogether. When one student pointed out if we are using fossil fuels it is important to use them responsibly, one 350 protester said “but you are still using fossil fuels, we have to switch to wind and solar.” Another 350 protester when asked about the prospect of clean coal, like the Kemper Energy Facility in Mississippi that converts coal into clean burning natural gas, said “it doesn’t matter, coal is still coming out of the earth, and that has got to stop.”