Leech Lake members protesting proposed power lineby Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
Bemidji, Minn. — A group of Leech Lake tribal members is protesting a proposed 230 kilovolt power transmission line that will run from Bemidji to Grand Rapids.
Tribal leaders are negotiating with a power company consortium to allow the 70-mile line to cross a portion of the Leech Lake Reservation. Members of a group called Loving Mother Earth say they will protest all this week near tribal headquarters in Cass Lake.
Group spokesperson Sandy Nichols said tribal members are concerned about potential health hazards caused by exposure to electro-magnetic fields emitted from the power line.
"It's going to cause brain cancer and brain tumors and birth defects and abortions," Nichols said. "It's going to cause havoc to our animals ... and when you affect the animals you affect us. We are all related."
Protester Elizabeth Sherman said she's concerned about the potential health impacts of exposure to the line, which would run adjacent to U.S. Highway 2.
"We're defending Mother Earth. We're defending our nation," Sherman said. "We're defending our children's children's children, and we're also defending our eagles and all of our natural habitat along Highway 2."
The consortium includes Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power and Minnkota Power Cooperative.
The companies say the power line poses no health risk and they want to complete the project by 2013.