Pipe Dream$: How Much Is Your Life Worth? Part II


Part I of “How Much Is Your Life Worth?” was pretty dismal. The issue is that greedy corporations are willing to poison the life on earth in order to make a quick dollar. Our government is in bed with the corporations, and the whole thing is destroying animal life, plant life, and soon human life. It’s important to stop these developments before the sky and water are poisoned.

So I’m one little person, and this problem is really really big. How can I help?
That’s something I had a hard time getting past at first. How does one person try to take on such a big problem?

The answer is that there’s a lot of us. So if we make an effort to live sustainably, and make an effort to tell Big Oil “no”, then we have a chance — together.

  1. Join a Protest

    Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota
    Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen – RTX2OVHS


Current construction of The Dakota Access Pipeline is ongoing. The Standing Rock Tribe has made huge strides in halting the construction. Energy Transfer Partners spearheading the pipeline has hired security with attack dogs, and the security has allowed for the dogs to bite peaceful protestors, including a pregnant protestor.

Energy Transfer Partners is based out of Dallas (3738 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219; (214) 981-0700) and has a LLC in San Antonio (800 E Sonterra Blvd #400, San Antonio, TX 78258; (210) 403-7300).

As a resident of Texas, I have seen the protests occurring outside of ETP’s buildings. I hope soon to see protests against Bank of America, and Citi because they are funding the project. Foam boards cost $1, paint is inexpensive, and your time is yours. The only thing you have to lose is the future of the planet.

Energy Transfer Partners has also begun construction on the Trans-Pecos Pipeline from Ft. Worth through Big Bend National Park into Mexico. I am personally looking for a group of people to take to the construction at Big Bend. 

Generally, any pipeline that is under construction… there are contractors, and banks that fund those contractors. Find out those businesses, organize, and protest! Another form of protest is boycotting, and that information can be found in #3.

  1.    Send support to ongoing protests

There are specific donation campaigns for almost every large protest. Some people cannot go out to protest, but they can offer aid to the people on the front lines. If there’s a protest happening that you want to help with but cannot attend, look to see if they have a wishlist on Amazon.com®

Sacredstonecamp.org has a list of needed items for the winter. Supplies, cash, or check donations can be sent to:

Sacred Stone Camp

P.O. Box 1011

Fort Yates, ND 58358

Additionally, sharing facebook posts or articles is a way of supporting the protestors. Education and supporting protests go hand-in-hand.

  1. Boycott oil to the best of your ability

This is a big one, because oil is in just about everything. However, there are thousands of things that you can do to at least cut back on oil consumption. I’ll list just a few that over time can make a huge positive impact (and not just on the oil industry, but other environmental violations too)

  •      Reduce plastics

Purchasing a few reusable water bottles and getting a water filter is probably the easiest fix for most American households. Bottled water is extremely inefficient for energy, and petroleum is a huge part of water bottle expense.

In your household it is pretty easy to replace those convenient disposable items for reusable items. It’s friendly to your pocket, and to the environment. In my household we have replaced paper towels with washcloths from Norwex, we also buy eco-friendly laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, hand soap, dish soap, etc from that company because they are legitimately amazing. I’ve also taken the plunge to stop using disposable maxi pads. There are a couple of options for reusable feminine products – Namely the diva cup and luna panties. 

  •      Looking for a job?

Give consideration to places within biking/walking distance. Carpool to distant jobs. Avoid consuming gasoline unnecessarily.

Go Pokemon hunting with friends to save on gasoline, walk to hatch your eggs instead of driving 10mph shaking your phone with your knee. I know you do it, I did it.

  •      Stop banking with businesses that fund pipelines. Better yet, do your shopping and banking locally. Chances are, if there’s money to be made, a corporation is going to sacrifice people, health, and the environment to make a buck. Your dollar is your vote, so use it wisely!
  •      Avoid meat – I watited to put this one last, because nobody wants to give up their delicious meat. However, meat production is extremely inefficient when it comes to energy. I’ll belabor that point in other posts, but cutting down on meat consumption sends a big message to several different industries that need a big message sent.

Figure 4: The energy (in kilowatt hours) to produce foods


Table 1: Energy efficiency of foods


In order to boycott oil, you don’t have to give up meat entirely. If you know a hunter, offer to buy your meat through them. There are some online companies that sell meat, and they guarentee that it’s grass-fed and/or organic – contact them to see how much energy they use per pound of your desired meat. The prices will probably be more expensive, and you’ll need to put more thought into it than buying a bag of Tyson® from Wal-Mart®. However, it’s worth the expense when you take a hard look at what Big Oil is doing to this planet. Keep your eye on the prize, that your water is more important than convenience.

4. Call government officials that have pipeline construction under consideration


We elected these officials to act as our voice. Make sure that they know what our voice really wants to say!


“I am a resident of __State__. I am concerned about the pipeline that has been approved in __Official’s State__. I understand that the crude oil has components that when leaked into water sources, contaminate the bed, surface, and the air in the area. Pipelines are an unsafe practice, as evidenced by The Gulf Coast spills, the Keystone pipeline, and the spill at the Kalamazoo River, with multiple other occurrences throughout the United States.

I would like to request that the pipeline construction be denied or halted so that the community’s safety in the surrounding areas, and your jurisdiction can be ensured. Thank you.”

Additionally, some former Texas Mayors *cough, Rick Perry, cough* sit on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for the DAPL and Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

5. Help the movement for alternative energy sources



We have made some amazing technological advances in the last twenty years. Should our energy still be coming from fossil fuels? The problem isn’t as dismal as it looks. The oil companies have been buying patents from inventors for a long time, and stashing the plans away so that our oil dependency continues. If the oil companies want to stay in business, then lets urge them to break out those patents. They have the money to make it happen, so vote with your dollar (boycott). That’s the only language these companies speak, and it’s a language that we need to learn how to use better.

Additionally, personally looking into oil and energy alternatives (hemp, algae, ethanol, solar, wind, etc) and finding out about the good and the bad that comes with them can help you with the final suggestion for how to change our nation’s dependence on oil.

  •       Hemp – can be used to replace petroleum plastics. It’s biodegradable, and easily renewable. Hemp plants have a growing cycle of 12-14 weeks, and the plants take in 4x the amount of carbon dioxide that trees do!

The downside is that:

  1. It’s illegal
  2. Biodegradable plastics don’t work for liquid containers
  •       Solar – Solar panels convert light (photons) into electricity. There are no harmful emissions, and the excess energy can be stored in batteries.

The downside is that:

  1. Solar energy cannot be created at night
  2. Even the most efficient solar cells convert around 20% of the sun’s rays to electricity
  3. Expense
  •       Wind – Wind power is another renewable source of energy that has the potential to produce 20 times more energy that what the entire human population needs. The wind turbines are space-efficient, and the operational costs are low.

The downside is that:

  1. Wind fluctuates
  2. Wind turbines can hurt wildlife (flying critters die in turbines frequently)
  3. Noise
  •       Ethanol – Most automobiles available in the U.S. are flex-fuel capable, which means that a switch from Oil to Ethanol could take place at relatively low individual cost. With corn-based ethanol the biproducts (CO2 and DDGS) can be used for agriculture. I’m not a fan of this form of alternative energy for a few reasons, so my con’s list is biased.

The downside is that:

  1. Energy for our bodies should be prioritized over energy for our cars
  2. Monsanto (the corporation that has basically monopolized corn) would gain control not only over our food, but over the energy sector too. Monsanto is evil, we don’t like them.
  3. Ethanol absorbs water, which contaminates it as fuel, and makes it difficult to ship through the pre-existing oil pipelines. And while ethanol spills are innocuous in comparison to oil, I’m still wary.
  •       Algae – Algae have fats and carbohydrates in varying amounts. A fast growing, hardy algae that produces a substantial amount of fat can be selected, grown quickly (using CO2 and producing O2), and then the algae oil can be converted into biodiesel using lye, vegetable oil, and methanol.

·       Nuclear – Nuclear energy deserves its own article. It’s such a hotly contested energy source. I’ve done a lot of personal research on the subject, and it seems like if handled properly, it can be relatively safe. However, since 80% of the country’s energy is owned by the private sector (notorious for greed and colossal screw-ups), I’d dare say that the power of nuclear would not be handled properly.

  1. Educate

Educate yourself, your friends, your representatives, and strangers! Education is the only way to really make a permanent change. I like to wear T-shirts or pins that start up conversations with strangers. Why talk about the weather, when you can change the world one person at a time?


Do you have any additions? Comments? Questions? Just want to say hi? Post a comment below!

Kate Minola


2 thoughts on “Pipe Dream$: How Much Is Your Life Worth? Part II

  1. This’s is a very informative article to read. Many people pass up reading interesting information even when it’s in front of them. So howcan we get more people to really see this is worth their time to read on Facebook and become concerned about the environment.


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