I travel, that I do. Recently, I was in Canada. Saskatchewan reminds me of North Dakota. I guess it should. Turns out you can take a right in Minot and end up there. Thing is, I think Canada does some dumb stuff; that's what I found out this trip. So, in the "darnest things you see" category: Estevan, Saskatchewan, is the sunniest place in Canada. Now that says a lot for Canada, being northern and all. Instead of a solar power facility in Estevan, they have a big stinky old coal plant.
As the Minnesota Twins prepared to play the Cleveland Indians two weeks ago in Puerto Rico, the island went dark. Actually, after seven months and $2.5 billion spent by the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority, things seemed better in America's largest power outage. The Power Authority had restored power to l.5 million customers. Then the power went out. Only pockets generated by microgrids were spared from the latest power loss. Most of those were solar powered.
Recently, Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world. This ranking joins a long list of other -ests for the country. It has also been ranked the most stable, the safest and best governed country in the world. It is also among the least corrupt and the most socially progressive. Its police are the world's most trusted and its banks the soundest. That's the word from the United Nations. Wow. I am really impressed.
My ancestors and those to the west used to keep track of historic events on winter count records inked on buffalo and elk robes. They would document the winters when the snow was higher than the tipis, when the small pox came, and when the people were victorious in a battle. They would remember important events. Today, I am not sure how I keep track of these moments. Maybe Facebook or perhaps in my journals. Sometimes change come fast. Then, we slumber for, it seems, years of solitude. We come to take a moment for permanent, a person for permanent.
A few weeks ago, the Trump administration announced a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. Trump's intent is to bolster a dying fossils fuels industry, and (possibly) to promote U.S. products. The solar industry is predicting some significant declines in the market, especially in utility scale. The tariffs may reduce the projected pipeline of new solar construction in the U.S. by 7.6 gigawatts over the next five years, according to GTM Research.
This isn't about "I told you so." It is moreso the question of "Have we normalized pipeline spills?" This past week, Nebraska state regulators voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline extension, five days after that pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to give the project the go ahead, but rejected TransCanada's preferred route.
There is this magical made-up time between Columbus Day (or Indigenous People's Day for the enlightened) and Thanksgiving where white Americans think about native people. That's sort of our window. November is Native American Heritage month. Before that, of course, is Halloween. Until about three years ago, one of the most popular Halloween costumes was Pocahontas. People know nothing about us, but they like to dress up like us or have us as a mascot.
What does Puerto Rico's catastrophic hurricane teach us about ourselves, how we treat each other, and the future? Crisis brings opportunity. It's important we make Puerto Rico an example of what we want and need for the future. Soon after Hurricane Maria, Tesla's Elon Musk recommended Puerto Rico should go solar. Many Puerto Ricans and organizations such as Resilient Power Puerto Rico are supporting this effort.
North Dakota remains in the international spotlight since last year's battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The North Dakota Supreme Court is currently reconsidering the allowance of pro hac vice, i.e. allowing out-of-state attorneys to defend water protectors. What the court decides, and how justice and the rule of law is carried out here, will be viewed by many. As of this spring, there were over 800 water protectors charged in North Dakota. These people were clergy members, teachers, veterans, mothers, fathers and children.
I recently took to flight, the first plane I've been on for a bit. I had to ask my daughter if Dallas was still there. She told me Dallas was good, it was Houston that had 50 inches of rainfall. Glad I'm not flying to Florida. Despite advances in technology, the wizards of weather reporting, and, of course, the president, we are entering a world where everything which was predictable is no longer so. What's apparent is that Mother Nature is actually in charge, not President Trump.