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Cobenais to Speak on Keystone XL Dangers Thursday, Sioux Falls Public Library

Hey, don't take my word for it that Keystone XL is bad for South Dakota. Come this Thursday, September 22, 7 p.m. CDT, to the downtown public library in Sioux Falls to hear Cobenais explain why we should surrender our prairie to Canadian tar sands profiteers. Bemidji native Cobenais is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Ojibwe tribe. He'll tell you that the environmental harm of the oil Keystone XL transports will outweigh any of meager benefits TransCanada inflates in its propaganda (and which too many South Dakotans are falling for).

Cobenais's concerns about oil pipelines are understandable. An oil pipeline spilled 40,000 gallons of oil two miles from his home in northern Minnesota in 1979. 10,000 gallons of that oil remain in the ground.

If you can't make Thursday night's presentation, you can see a short version of Cobenais's pitch against the pipeline in this 2010 presentation:

Here's the press release from the Sierra Club on Thursday's event:

Free program about Canadian tar sands crude oil & South Dakota
What: Canadian tar sands crude oil & South Dakota
When: Thursday, Sept 22nd, 7 pm
Where: Sioux Falls' Downtown Public Library
Who: Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network

Tar sands oil mining is the largest, dirtiest industrial development in the history of the world, and South Dakota figures prominently in tar sands oil development, with controversial pipelines and refinery proposals. Marty Cobenais has worked extensively on tar sands issues for many years, including with people who live near mining operations in Canada.

Tar sands crude oil projects cause problems not only in Canada, where ecological devastation and pollution and public health impacts are escalating, but also in South Dakota. South Dakota already hosts the accident-prone Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline. Other tar sands proposals pose additional concerns. The U.S. State Department has scheduled a public hearing on the XL pipeline for Pierre, SD for later this month, and the Hyperion oil refinery, proposed for Union County, remains controversial and questionable. Hyperion would refine only Canadian tar sands crude oil.

This program is sponsored by the South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club.


  1. Charlie Hoffman 2011.09.20

    If we really want to look at large scale industrial pollution one only has to look at the cities of Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburg, Houston etc. in order to find not only air pollution but water, land, and environmental disasters occuring on a scale off the charts no one wants to talk about. For Cobenais's statement to hold any value we need to know what kind of work he actually did in the tar sand region besides stir up anti-petroleum energy public outrage; which the Sierra Club is noted for.

    One can only assume that the Sierra Club and Mr. Cobanais would rather see us pump American dollars into radical Middle Eastern countries who would rather see America burn to Hell instead of prosper! ? !

    On the other side of the coin we must insist upon a penny or nickle per barrel of oil pumped through our state charged for the unlikely event of a major oil spill should one occur.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.09.20

    Hey, Rep. Hoffman! Did you just announce you'll co-sponsor another swing at the pipeline tax during the 2012 session? That's good news! I say go for 50 cents a barrel. Transcanada won't even notice, and the state budget crunch disappears.

    Now, Charlie, as for LA, NY, Philly, etc.: I certainly don't mind discussing urban pollution and other havoc wrought by irresponsible resource use. But pollution in the places you mention doesn't change the magnitude of the negative impacts Keystone XL will have on our prairie environment, our land rights, and our gasoline prices.

    I won't presume to speak for the Sierra Club, but I would advocate stopping Keystone XL and reducing the amount of oil we import from the Middle East. Through conservation and alternative energy, we can do both.

  3. Charlie Hoffman 2011.09.20

    Corey I am all over putting legislation together making sure SD does not have to go to court to obtain dollars needed in the event of an oil spill from a pipeline should the oil company not provide full compensation for clean up. It is on my list of things to do! :)

    Onto your negative view of tar sand oil and the impending "Armadagon" of oil covering our land from pipeline bursts though we stand on different shores. Lets gather the number of acres of tillable land buried under concrete and asphalt and compare it to the total number of tillable acres ever ruined by oil spills caused by pipeline bursts. Show me a list of aquifers ruined by oil spills in America. Show me a list of prairie animals or fauna the pipeline is going to displace. Running through the middle of my ranch is a Northern Border natural gas pipeline with a five foot diameter pipe and they have been very good to work with.

    What green energy should we turn to in running our 200 horsepower tractors? When the wind does not blow and our electricity stops what should we use as backup. We all need to eat. We all need clean water to drink, and if we want to continue living in northern climates we need heat in the winter months to stay above terminal temperatures. For heating homes we should mandate electricity and keep the oil pumping for running those 200 HP machines which grow our food.

    WE are really very close but also far away on a few issues friend.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.09.21

    "five foot diameter pipe"—dang, that's a big pipe! Curious: did Northern Border use eminent domain to take the right-of-way across your land?

    Charlie, I do hope our disagreement on certain issues won't prevent you from accepting my support on others, like a pipeline tax. More importantly, I hope that spirit will prevail among all legislators this winter.

    How do we keep the tractors running? You identify part of the solution: Use alternatives for other energy demands. Save oil by heating homes with electricity... and geothermal (how's that for a source that's always on?). Continue the policies and technological innovations that have caused American oil demand to decrease.

    We are already turning to alternatives and conservation. We don't need Keystone XL to keep our tractors running. TransCanada isn't planning to sell us any of that oil. We are fly-under country for that oil, which is headed for the lucrative global export market. And Keystone XL will raise our gasoline prices by reducing Midwest supply. That means fewer local benefits to balance the costs Cobenais is discussing at tomorrow's event in Sioux Falls.

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