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.
(Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation)
121 West Grant Street/Suite 116
Minneapolis MN 55403-2340 USA
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!