Minnesota Mandate for Manitoba Hydro
Friday 18 May @ 13:24:07
by SUSAN LAGO Photo by Thomas Fricke
Manitoba Hydro’s advertisements on TPT Channel 2 claim that, for 30 years, the company has supplied Minnesota with clean, renewable hydro-electricity.
However, there is a different version about that electricity exported to Xcel Energy. It comes from the Manitobans whose land was appropriated to generate it. They have testified in the Twin Cities to state government officials and to sympathetic residents about the devastating effects the dams have wrought on their livelihoods. The first to bring the story of environmental disruption and its subsequent impoverishment of their community were the Pimicikamak Cree Indians from Cross Lake, Manitoba, in 1998.
Although federal Canadian authorities created The Northern Flood Agreement in 1977 as a remedy to offset the damages the hydro-electrical dams imposed on several Cree Nations, it failed to fulfill the Agreement. The Cross Lake activists made liaisons with activists in the Twin Cities to seek redress of their grievances. FreshEnergy of St. Paul (fresh-energy.org/about/focus/energy_justice.htm) was instrumental in getting legislation passed in Minnesota this month to aid the Cree Nations in their struggle to get fair compensation for damages to their livelihoods and to public health caused by hydro-electric dam operations.
Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law an energy bill containing a mandate for Manitoba Hydro to annually disclose statistics to the Minnesota legislature about the impact on Cree communities. Also this month, Pimicikamak Cree Nation held a vigil for several weeks and demonstrated at the site of the Manitoba Hydro dam on their Reserve. They announced the new law in Minnesota, and again called upon federal and provincial authorities to furnish the remedies promised in the Northern Flood Agreement.