It was about a year ago, the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, that my wife and I took a trip up to North Dakota with our friend Josh. We hauled canned food, bottled water, and firewood up to donate to them. I wrote a special report about my experience up there explaining what it was like. They had advice on how to peacefully protest, which was extremely helpful in staying safe as well.

They were welcoming, but on edge (and for good reason). Everyone close to us expressed their worry for us going up there because it wasn’t too long ago from then (about Nov. 22) that Sophia Wilansky, 21 years old at the time – her arm was blown up.

Before that, there were peaceful protesters who had a water cannon sprayed on them in freezing temperatures. Don’t take my word for it, though. A quick google search will provide a list of sources (NBC News, New York Times, and even Bismarck Tribune), so it’s not like I’m pulling this stuff out of thin air.

Roughly 400 miles east of the protests was an oil spill that went undetected. That wasn’t enough to convince those in power to shut it down.

For those not in the know, Nebraska is facing the dilemma of the Keystone Pipeline, commonly known as the KXL Pipeline. While there are some who are in favor of allowing this pipeline (three out of five commissioners on the Nebraska Public Service Commission), I’m not.

This is simple. It seems like a lot of the things that we’re seeing in America (and in Nebraska) that’s controversial has to do with something so fundamental and basic for me and many others. Keep your hands to yourself, ask for permission, be kind, wash your hands, don’t litter; manners are synonymous with these rules (though I’ve only named just a few).

We also learned about ecosystems and the environment, which also ties in with the rules above like “don’t litter.” We hold value to these things because the importance was explained to us, but we weren’t afraid to ask questions either. The internet now gives us a plethora of resources to further our knowledge and a slew of documentaries to choose from. In elementary school, we had National Geographic to learn from.

We also had Captain Planet. I admit to making fun of it (even to this day), but I never disagreed with what it was the show taught. I thought it would be fairly cool to have one of those rings … until Spider-Man showed me how much cooler it would be to be him instead.

Last week, news of an oil spill in South Dakota exploded in the media. Roughly 210,000 gallons of oil, which is about 5,000 barrels, according to multiple sources (Omaha World-Herald, NPR, Washington Post, pick one), spilled for an unknown reason. “TransCanada crews detected a drop in pressure at about 6 a.m. CT Thursday morning and shut down the pipeline, which runs from Hardesty, Alberta, to Cushing, Okla., and Wood River/Patoka, Ill,” according to NPR.

It took over 210,000 gallons of oil spilling for the company to detect a drop in pressure. That’s a problem. For context: an average hot tub for four people holds roughly 190 gallons of water — the oil spill would fill 1,105 hot tubs (rounded down). I’ll say it again. That’s a problem.

This pipeline isn’t going to create new jobs. It’s not going to help our economy. It’s not going to do more harm than good for us and in the long run, this is only going to make a few rich people much more rich. This is a recurring problem in our country, the wealthy having too much power. What does somebody need $1 billion for, their third Lamborghini? Maybe for a yacht big enough to store another yacht inside of it? How about to pay off politicians and commissioners to pass laws and rules that would allow them to make more profit (like the recent tax proposal)?

I can’t believe that too many people are in favor of this, either — I can’t believe that more people feel the opposite from how I feel. That goes the same for climate change. The argument that our actions don’t have consequences or don’t affect our planet, ecosystem, or environment is ridiculous and hypocritical (believe it or not, there are people who believe this to be true).

Our actions absolutely affect the world around us. Every word we speak and every action we take has a profound effect. It’s a ripple that expands endlessly. This argument applies to our actions as a whole race and how it affects our planet. So that oil spill? That’s a big deal. What if that had happened in Nebraska instead?

We shouldn’t have to learn the hard way on this. We should empathize with our neighbors in the Dakotas and learn from their lessons. How will you grow your crops when there is oil contaminating the ground? The question here isn’t “if” it’s “when.”

While the reason for the S.D. spill is important, it doesn’t matter so much when you consider that it took 210,000 gallons of oil spilling before anything was detected. Whatever reason, there have been enough oil spills throughout the years that we should learn this lesson by now.

If companies were smart, they would work on converting to cleaner energy themselves. They would be producing jobs thanks to new technology requiring new work. It’s a whole new market to tap into. If you hate to pay taxes, then you should be in favor of clean energy. Germany harvested so much energy that they had to pay its citizens (not even a joke). That’s hard to say no to.

Oil is not our future. New technologies are coming out on almost a daily basis. People in the 1970s couldn’t wait to see flying cars in 2000. People in the 1980s also thought the 2000s were going to have flying cars. There was a time that they dreamt of clean energy as well; understandably, considering when the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was formed and why.

Here we are in 2017. Still no flying cars. We do have clean energy, however. Solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal energy; there are so many ways for us to harvest and convert energy to our needs these days, but they haven’t been utilized.

Oil companies are (of course) threatened by this because it means they don’t make money. Another thing millennials are ruining, I suppose, but at least it won’t be our planet.

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