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Two Native tribes are helping create an electric vehicle ‘pipeline’ » Yale Climate Connections


Members of the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North and South Dakota have long protested the construction of new oil pipelines in the region.

And now they’re working together to create a pipeline of a different sort.

“We thought … let’s create an electric vehicle charging network pipeline,” Robert Blake says. “We saw this as another way of resisting.”

Blake is executive director of Native Sun Community Power Development, an environmental justice organization based in Minneapolis. And he’s a citizen of the Red Lake Nation.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded his nonprofit more than $6.5 million to help purchase a fleet of electric cars, trucks, and school buses for use by the two tribal governments.

“And so what’s really exciting is that these vehicles are going to be deployed in these areas, working for the community, and providing a service for the residents there,” Blake says.

The money will also go toward installing more than 120 electric vehicle chargers across the region.

“The idea here is to create this network so everybody can use it,” Blake says, “which then will create a ripple effect, in that people start buying electric vehicles because they know they can charge their vehicles when they’re out and about.”

So he says the project will accelerate the transition to clean transportation and help create a future with no more oil pipelines.

Also see: A brief introduction to climate change and transportation

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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