Renewable energy development urged

Renewable energy development urged

Environmentalist Winona LaDuke on Wednesday urged Montana’s Indian tribes to develop renewable energy such as wind power rather than mining coal or drilling for coalbed methane.

LaDuke, an Ojibwe from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, is the executive director of Honor the Earth, a national American Indian foundation working on renewable energy issues and the transition to a sustainable economy.

She ran with Ralph Nader on the Green Party presidential ticket in 1996 and 2000.

LaDuke spoke at a press conference at Rocky Mountain College and met with students from Rocky and from Montana State University-Billings.

LaDuke will speak about renewable energy options and energy development in Lame Deer at 6 p.m. today.

The meeting at the Allen Rowland Gym is open to the public.

Tribes in general are told they have to trade their ecosystem for an economy, LaDuke said.

But she rejects that notion, saying tribes should develop sustainable energy plans. “We believe in energy sovereignty,” she said.

If tribes move toward sustainable energy development, “all of us and our generations ahead will be in much better shape,” she said.

Questions about development of coal and coalbed methane resources on the reservation are ballot issues Northern Cheyenne tribal members will be deciding on in the Nov. 7 general election.

Montana’s coal development and power plants contribute to global warming through carbon dioxide emissions and other pollution, which blows downwind to her state and reservation, LaDuke said.

Drillings for coalbed methane in the Powder River Basin produces 1.85 billion gallons of saline water a day and leads to declines in aquifers, she said.

“Once you lose your water, you can’t make more water,” she said.

Montana and its tribes could be harnessing wind and producing biofuels and “growing energy in this generation” rather than relying on fossil fuels, LaDuke said.

A wind turbine is “homeland security,” she said. “And you don’t have to invade anybody to get it.”

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