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The following text is distributed by Ann Stewart (USDOJ FARA #5313) on behalf of Pimicikamak Cree Nation. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington DC.
Ann Stewart
(Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation)
121 West Grant Street/Suite 116
Minneapolis MN 55403-2340 USA
p: 612.871.8404
f: 612.871.7922

Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999
Subject: Pimicikamak Cree Nation statement to MN PUC 19 Nov 99

Tansi! Good morning! My name is Kenny Miswaggon. With me is Cathy Merrick. We are members of the Executive Council of Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Cross Lake in northern Manitoba. Our people are the Cree Indians of the boreal forests and lakes of northern Manitoba. We live among the power projects that generate electricity in northern Manitoba. After Manitoba Hydro built these projects in the 1970s, 3.3 million acres of our traditional lands were flooded and destroyed, or made inaccessible to us. This has been a disaster for our people and the environment. But we also believe it hurts you.

More than one third of the electricity generated in our lands is exported to Minnesota. We have been told that some of Minnesota's utilities want to buy much more electricity from Manitoba Hydro. Will this hurt us? Yes, as it will cause more environmental destruction and human suffering. The mega-hydroproject, and the continuing use of the power it generates, has virtually destroyed our economy and culture, which is based on the environment. It has destroyed vast areas of forests, polluted the waters, generated large amounts of greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane, and it has reversed the seasonal state of nature. It has killed or poisoned the fish with methylmercury, killed animals, birds and their habitats. Over the years, some of our people have lost their lives from drowning in hazardous water and ice conditions, and through a suicide epidemic, brought on b yhopelessness, mass poverty and deprivation of fundamental human rights.

But what is more important to talk about is the impact of buying Manitoba Hydro's power for Minnesota. Will it hurt you? We believe it will.

We know that the price of this power from Manitoba Hydro is cheap. We know that this seems quite good for Minnesotans. But we also know that Americans do not necessarily always buy items with the cheapest price tag, because they may end up costing the buyer much more. They can break down sooner. They can be unsafe or unreliable, and cause harm to the buyer - harm that has to be paid for.

Minnesota's energy use is predicted to increase by 44 percent between 1994 and 2020. By 2005, Minnesota will be 2600 MW short of capacity. So how is Minnesota to meet the increasing rate of energy consumption?

We believe you have at least four options. You could increase local generation from non-renewables like coal. Or you could increase your reliance on imports. You could increase local generation of renewables and increase local efficiencies. You can also emphasize conservation to a greater degree.

As we understand it, Minnesota does not want to rely upon reviving its old coal or nuclear plants in the state. And we also understand that you do not want to be net importers of energy. Importing a lot of energy may not meet reliability needs. We know that Americans are concerned about dependence, especially on a foreign power source.

Importing energy means loss of local jobs. Use of imported non-renewable energy, like coal and large-scale hydro, means exclusion or displacement of jobs and industries in Minnesota's renewables sector. And we have been told that Minnesota offers great potential as a leader in localized generation and fuel cell technologies, especially in non-urban areas.

But as long as you let Manitoba Hydro supply power that is cheaper than Minnesota's available renewables, these energy sources will not become significant contributors to your diverse fuel mix. If you let it, Manitoba Hydro will always offer its power to Minnesota at a price that prevents genuine renewables from getting off the ground.

We also believe that more and more states and countries will be mandated to increase their reliance on renewables and improved efficiencies. There are mandates now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and to reduce carbon-based fuels by 20 percent by the year 2005. But Manitoba Hydro's power is displacing renewables. It is preventing Minnesota's local energy sources from becoming established enough to meet these mandates in time.

You do have a choice. Minnesota could take the lead now, in its electricity restructuring, by increasing the renewables standards for all power suppliers, and by increasing efficiencies. We believe this will avoid a lot of very costly environmental impacts - it costs more to fix a serious, large-scale problem than to prevent it. If we do not prevent more damage from Manitoba Hydro's megaprojects, the costs of cleanup and catchup will probably ultimately be borne by the consumers, many of whom are now Minnesotans.

We believe making this choice will help you increase jobs and decrease costs. Conservation efforts may well cost the same or less than Manitoba Hydro's electricity, and renewable energy industries will help create new employment in Minnesota where it is needed.

Minnesota, with its very healthy economy, low energy costs, and a commitment to environmental protection, can afford to pay a little more today for power that will provide more benefits tomorrow. We ask you to consider your future and your needs, not just ours. We ask you to request and assess the full social and environmental costs of your hydro imports in order to make the most informed choices on behalf of your citizens.

We ask you to look at Manitoba Hydro's power as something that comes into and therefore directly affects Minnesota's homes and businesses. This power may start in our back yard, but it ends up in yours. We ask you to find out what it really costs you.

Ekosani! Thank you!