The Standing Rock Sioux tribe of Native Americans are still leading the way against the cancerous fossil fuel industry. It was announced yesterday that they will be building the largest solar farm in North Dakota a short walk from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Located just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's solar project is meant as a first step toward clean energy independence and a way to power all 12 of the reservation communities in North Dakota and South Dakota. It also shows that the protests that began in 2016 and ended in 2017 weren't for naught, even though the pipeline began carrying oil more than two years ago, said Cody Two Bears, the project leader and executive director of Indigenized Energy, which promotes energy within the Sioux Nation.
North Dakota is at the heart of the carbon industry. A feudal extraction economy leaves nothing but empty towns, scarred land and sad stories but it is the only engine moving the economies in states like this and Wyoming and West Virginia. Whether you make it from coal or natural gas or solar cells the end product is electricity. All utilities and consumers care about is cost and the cost curve is bending towards the sun. By providing inexpensive electicity to their community from photons the Sioux are subtracting carbon from the market. They are leading by creating their own grid.
Friday’s kick-off sounds like a hella party complete with celebrities on horse-back!
A night of Native American dancing, music indigenous foods and gift giving was kicked off by actress Shailene Woodley, a loyal protester who was returning to the reservation for the first time in two years.
Presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard rode into the farm on horseback.
Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, an executive with the economic development entity of Nebraska's Winnebago Tribe, which began dabbling in solar energy a decade ago, said the national interest around the protests should translate into promotion of renewable energy.
"Tribes have always been strong advocates and set the marker to where we need to be on," Bledsoe Downes said. "If there's any good from what happened at the DAPL protest, I hope that it was a catalyst to that."
Numerous tribes have turned to solar power and other forms of green energy in the last decade as a way of creating jobs and cutting down on energy costs without harming the environment. Bledsoe Downes said the Winnebago Tribe is saving $100,000 a year, money that "goes back into housing or down payment assistance or tribal roads or infrastructure costs or youth programming."
Several non-profits including San Francisco-based GivePower Foundation are financing the $470,000 project. 1000 solar panels will permanently change the balance of electrical power in this remote but symbolic hub of two nations.
Maybe you could look into changing that balance in your home by switching to a renewable energy supplier OR better yet put some solar panels on your top of your “Reservation” and take one more customer away from the cancerous carbon industry that is baking our planet.