Can Clean Energy Deliver Energy Justice to Canada’s First Nations?

A prominent advocate for indigenous rights in Canada sees promise in clean energy.

The Canadian province of Alberta is home to the Oil Sands, a vast subarctic region that is rich in crude oil, and which has been a focus of controversy for decades over the environmental and climate impacts of the fossil fuel mining that takes place there.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a prominent indigenous rights advocate and member of the Lubicon Cree Nation, discusses her community’s ongoing struggle to overcome the impact of environmental, health, and cultural damage from surrounding Oil Sands development, and the potential for clean energy to empower First Nation communities.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo has for more than a decade been an activist on behalf of indigenous communities that have been impacted by the development of fossil fuels. Her television program, Power to the People, explores the role that clean energy is playing in building energy independence among First Nation communities. Melina is the co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action, a Climate Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation, and the founder of Sacred Earth Solar. 

Andy Stone: Welcome to the Energy Policy Now podcast from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m Andy Stone.

The Canadian province of Alberta is home to the oil sands, a vast subarctic region that is rich in crude oil and which has been a focus of controversy for decades over the environmental and climate impacts of the fossil fuel mining that takes place there. Controversy around the oil sands has extended across the border here to the United States, where the now canceled Keystone XL Pipeline was intended to transport the region’s heavy oil, known as bitumen, southward to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Despite the pipeline’s cancellation, oil sands mining continues. On today’s podcast, we’re going to zoom in from a national perspective on oil sands development to one of local community impact. The Community of Little Buffalo is located in a remote section of the westernmost portion of the oil sands in northern Alberta. It is home to the Lubicon Cree, an indigenous nation that has found itself bordered by oil sands development over which it has had little influence, and from which it has derived little benefit. Yet, which has led to environmental damages that have disrupted the community’s traditional way of life and livelihoods. Today’s guest is Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree, who has for more than a decade been an activist on behalf of indigenous communities that have been impacted by the development of fossil fuels. Her television program, Power to the People, explores the power of clean energy to empower First Nation communities. On this podcast, we’re going to discuss the impacts of fossil fuel development on indigenous communities, and efforts to counter those impacts through advocacy and clean energy development. Melina is the co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action, a climate fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation and founder of Sacred Earth Solar. Melina, welcome to the podcast.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo: Thank you for having me.

Stone: So I wonder if you could start us out by describing the community you’re from, Little Buffalo, in northern Alberta.

Laboucan-Massimo: So I’m from a small indigenous community that is in northern Alberta, in Canada. And if anybody that’s listening has been to Calgary, it is about an eight hour drive from there, north. And so I am from what you would call the boreal forest, the northern lungs of mother earth. That is a forest area. It’s a pristine and old growth forest that is right where my family and community lives, and that’s where I was born. And it is actually also surrounded by immense oil, gas, logging, fracking, and tar sands extraction. So it’s a very beautiful area, but it is a very threatened area as well.

Stone: I wonder if you could tell us how has the landscape changed over the time that the oil sands development has been going on, and when did that begin?

Laboucan-Massimo: In our area, so in certain parts… So we’re talking about a huge area when we talk about the Alberta tar sands, we’re talking about 141,000 square kilometers. So as big as the state of Florida. So that’s 23% of the province of Alberta. And within that, there’s multiple communities stretched far and wide, takes hours and hours to drive from different communities. So the community that I live in, they started extraction around the late seventies, early eighties, just before I was born. The change to the landscape is immense in many of the areas where our families could drink water from the rivers and streams and hunt, it was not contaminated. It was a very pristine and very vibrant type, thriving ecosystems. Fast forward till now and across my childhood into my life, it’s drastically changed with a lot of cut lines in heavy industry in and around the areas and communities. So the impact is immense to the area. We’re talking about drain-polluted waterways, contaminated air, fragmentation of the boreal forest, which is one of the last remaining intact forests in the north of the world– really in the world. And there is just a pretty stark contrast of devastation that has happened in the past 30 to 40 years.

Stone: And I understand that the Lubicon Cree community was a traditional community that have lived primarily off of hunting, off of the land, and that has been disrupted; is that right?

Laboucan-Massimo: Yeah. Disrupted. People still tried to do it. My family still tries to do it. My dad’s a hunter, but it’s harder and harder to find moose. And also because the forest has been either devastated by deforestation or fragmented. We have studies that have been shown to by 2040. So within the next number of years, the caribou that many people in the north are dependent upon in these areas will be locally extirpated or locally extinct. So there’s a big impact to the land, to the water and to the animals. So that really affects the people’s ability to have country foods and to live in a sustainable, healthy way, especially if things are being contaminated. My dad, for instance, when he went hunting, he found a moose that was completely yellow inside because of contamination of the moose eating the different conifers and different trees, deciduous trees and all the different types of trees that they eat throughout the year. And because of local industry having pollution that goes into the air and then falls onto the vegetation, we see impact to the animals and also to the humans with elevated rates of cancers.

Stone: So my understanding is that this development of the oil mining pretty much happened without formal input from the Lubicon Cree community. This was basically done without your input. And I want to reference a report from Amnesty International on the Lubicon Cree that appeared a number of years ago. And the report discusses the initial planning of the oil or tar sands development in the 1970s. And it says that at the time, “The provincial government dismissed their objections, calling the Lubicon merely squatters on provincial crown land with no land rights to negotiate.” The UN Human Rights Committee also reported that the Lubicon Cree land was used for logging and oil and gas development without consulting the community and it urged the government to negotiate a settlement with the community, but the government continued to sell leases on Lubicon land again without consulting the community. To what extent has your community and other indigenous communities in the area been recognized and given a seat at the table in this development?

Laboucan-Massimo: Well, it’s challenging because a seat at the table just means an impact benefit agreement. So it’s an IBA that communities sign and essentially says there’s this much destruction that’s going to be happening in your homelands that’s going to have an impact to you. So IBA (Impact Benefit Agreement). So acknowledging that there’s impact and then somehow that there’s a benefit just in the financial doling out of a certain amount of funds, which are, to be quite honest, quite low compared to the amount of revenue that’s actually being extracted out of the land. So the type of engagement and consultation that we’re talking about is incredibly sub par, to say the least. And it’s a very challenging situation to be put in because essentially communities are becoming economic hostages in their own land, where the only industry that is in and around our communities, which is in fact having immense impact to the land, air, water, quality of life locks people into that very industry. So the government likes to say that there’s these IBAs and there’s a benefit, but it’s literally like take it or leave it. That’s the situation that’s happening unfortunately. And you can go back into the history of the NRTA (Natural Resources Transfers Act), which was in the 1930s.

So treaties in Canada were signed, even in our territory. And Treaty 8 is where we’re talking about in the tar sands. But treaties 1 to 11 across the country were signed with Indigenous peoples to ensure that Indigenous peoples had a say and that we still had the ability to fish, hunt and trap and be on our lands and active participants in determining what was happening in our territories. And then the NRTA happened where there was a transfer of subsurface rights from the federal government, which indigenous nations signed federal treaties with, and that it basically negated those treaties to a certain extent, even though treaties are very much referenced and used within federal law and constitutional law here in the country, with many court cases being won by indigenous communities throughout decades of asserting rights in title. And actually Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution shows that’s where indigenous rights and title are enshrined in section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.

So there’s a lot of legal precedents that have happened, but yet still the NRTA transfers these subsurface rights without consultation or consent of indigenous communities who have pre-signed these treaties in the 1800s, early 1900s. Three decades later, the Federal Government decides to give subsurface rights to provinces. And so then you see provinces starting doling out leases to companies without the consent of the communities. And so this is where you have a lot of legal battles happening; and not only legal battles, but then also confrontations between indigenous communities and the state. And this is where we have an eruption, say, what happened in my community in 1988 where there was massive protests and blockades. It became an internationally known issue. They boycotted the Calgary Olympic in ’88. They traveled all around the world– our leadership– and to let the world know that indigenous rights and titles were in fact being violated. So these are the types of issues that we still see happening and playing out today.

Stone: Well, I want to go back to 1988. Interesting you bring it up. I’m no expert on this, but I did some research and I know that 1988 was the date of the Grimshaw Accord under which the Alberta government promised a transfer of 200 square kilometers of land to the Lubicon Cree to establish a reserve with full resource rights. As of a decade ago, which is the most recent information I found on that, that land I don’t think had been transferred and no final settlement had been reached. What’s the current status of that?

Laboucan-Massimo: Yeah, again, a lot of promises and little action and a lot of frustration as you can imagine. But within the past number of years, actually there has been an agreement that’s been reached, but it literally took 70 years. So my dad actually is the chief and they finally concluded, and we do have a land settlement that was signed with the Notley government in Alberta and the federal government, obviously. We were unceded, so we actually never signed a treaty. Much like the West Coast nations in British Columbia that have never signed a treaty and never ceded to any agreement, that’s what the Lubicon were. And so our community, just as of the past number of years, has now signed treaty and has become amended into that treaty. But we are Lubicon and in our territories. So it’s just a recognition of indigenous peoples have always been in our homelands for millennia, for thousands of years. And we have new settlers in our territories now for over 150 years. And these are the types of things that play out with colonial law that now is  being asserted on top of indigenous law.

Stone: So we’ve talked a little bit about the environmental destruction that’s come from the oil development. We’ve talked about some of the damage to the community and the social fabric as well. Now I want to talk about your advocacy work. What is your vision for justice for indigenous communities? And I guess since we’re on an Energy Policy Podcast here, what if you could define energy and environmental justice for your community?

Laboucan-Massimo: I think as you’ll hear from many indigenous peoples that you speak to, it’s about indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. For that reason, because indigenous peoples for 450 years plus in this country and in America for hundreds, hundreds, of years more than that, there has been a constant imposition of how indigenous peoples should live, speak, talk, walk, look, be or not exist at all. And so we’ve seen genocide both in America and in Canada upon indigenous peoples. And there’s a big impact with that, as you mentioned, tearing apart the social fabric of the indigenous governance and structures and systems that were in place. We lived in a very vibrant, healthy community. There was interaction and reciprocity with the land. It wasn’t by coincidence that the land was lush and beautiful and vibrant ecosystems within North America. And yet fast forward to the present day where we have ecosystems literally collapsing. And so for a lot of indigenous peoples, including myself, it is about being able to yet again determine our own ways of understanding and being within our own homelands and how we interact with our own homelands. But there’s been a constant imposition of colonial policy, energy policy, legal colonial rule and law and very detrimental social policy that has really torn apart the fabric of communities. And so it’s it’s a rebuilding at this point in time from that history that is still carrying out present day to address the the wrongs that have been happening, but also to try to build new solutions.

What we’re all dealing with right now across the globe is the climate crisis. And so how do we address the climate crisis within these colonial contexts? And so that’s what we’re doing. So that’s, for me, a visioning of why I would start building solar projects in communities that wouldn’t have accessibility to these. A lot of the times where again, at the end of the line, a majority of the time for these things, even though the revenue has impact on their land from resource extraction. And yet a lot of the revenue that’s generated and pulled out of the land doesn’t go back to those communities. So how do we enact a just transition? How do we transition communities that have been facing the brunt of environmental degradation to be able to transition alongside people that can buy electric cars. All of the things that we see, the electrification of the grid, yet a lot of times it’s still those far to reach areas, the remote communities that are again going to be the last to receive the benefit even though we’re shouldering the brunt of the extractivism that’s happening in our homelands.

Stone: Well, it seems to me like there there are two energy related issues here, right? One, is the opportunity that clean energy, renewable energy provides to the community. The other is the ongoing reality of these tar sands developments going on around Little Buffalo and other communities. On the fossil fuel development side, is the advocacy focus on land rights, focus on stopping fuel development, is it on sharing revenue from that development so that the communities get more benefit? I wonder if you could tell me about that?

Laboucan-Massimo: Well, for my advocacy specifically is very much connected to the climate crisis. So knowing that when we are extracting from our homelands, when we are extracting coal or oil, gas, tar sands, LNG, that there is an impact to the climate. So we can really connect colonialism create a part of creating climate change, just like capitalism and the business model that we are currently existing in is exacerbating the climate crisis. So we definitely need to understand the system as a whole to really address the issues of inequity, but also address the issues of climate justice. And so for me as an indigenous person, it is not necessarily about getting a piece of the pie– it’s definitely about ensuring communities are able to, again, determine how they want to exist within their own homelands. So if they want to transition to having a solar farm within their community or a wind farm, what type of policy needs to exist within those provincial or federal structures to ensure communities can transition. So, for me, it’s about policy and advocating for a robust progressive energy policy, but it’s also ensuring that we are stopping at the source.

We really do need to ensure that not only companies, but banks and governments are not exacerbating the issues of the climate crisis, when in fact they need to be leaders to lead us out of the climate crisis. But by doubling down on extractivism, it’s the opposite direction that we need to be going. And I think we see a lot of my advocacy has brought me into Europe for the past 15 years across Canada, across America. I’ve testified before the U.S. Congress to stop the KXL pipeline which comes from our homelands in Alberta that would feed the tar sands or the tar sands pipeline. So it’s about understanding that there’s human rights violations happening alongside the exacerbation of climate change, alongside the degradation of our homelands,  alongside the human rights and the indigenous rights issues. So it’s all connected in that you can’t really separate one from the other. And so my advocacy has always focused on all of it. It can’t just be one thing. For me, the benefits do not outweigh the impact.

I’m never going to be that person to advocate that we need to have a bigger piece of the pie. It’s more that we need to all bake a different pie and we need to and we need to ensure that we are transitioning. And what does that transition look like? That transition, in my opinion, that’s why we call it just. A just transition because we can transition, but that transition doesn’t necessarily have to be just. And if we’re just perpetuating and redoing the same systems of harm that the previous system did with resource extraction that we do with renewable energy, then we’re no better. It really is about looking at the system as a whole and understanding the structural inequities that play into the energy policies. And so how do we address the energy policies to ensure that they ensure equity, that they ensure collective ownership and participation for communities that have been kept out of these decision making places and spaces for far too long.

Stone: As I understand, you’re working on a Just Transition guide, and I believe it addresses the pros and cons of renewable energy development. Can you tell us a little bit more what would be the bad scenario or the undesired scenario going forward with renewable energy? And a little bit more specifically, how could indigenous communities be more involved in the process, and what would that mean for them? 

Laboucan-Massimo: Well, say for instance, let’s make a hypothetical scenario which they’re not hypothetical like this very real life scenarios in terms of like– so, say, an indigenous community like mine or many others, we even have a stat that Amnesty International helped to do the research on where $14 billion has left our traditional territory in oil and gas revenues.  And this was a stat that is a decade old, so the $14 billion a decade ago. That’s a lot of money, but yet my community still went without running water, without paved roads, without a library. When I moved to the city to go to university, I was like paved roads, swimming pools, libraries, running water, housing that isn’t falling apart and decrepit. So there’s a lot of, again, inequities that exist within the current model. Moving forward, what would we want to see in terms of having a just transition? That means we need to have robust renewable energy policy that actually ensures that communities are benefiting from the type of energy production happening on their homelands, which we haven’t seen with fossil fuel extraction. Although, like I said, an IBA which is not sufficient for the amount of impact communities are shouldering. So when we go towards a renewable energy transition, how do we ensure that communities that are in the far north of the communities that are remote, communities that are Indigenous or non-Indigenous are receiving the benefit of having the production of energy happening on their homelands?

And so what we’ve seen in the past, even with renewable energy policy or lack thereof, is, say, a 1% ownership, even though we have some energy like let’s use wind turbines, for example, I’ve heard of an example here on the West Coast where the community gets 1% revenue stream and ownership from that wind turbine and the energy partner gets 99%. So for me that isn’t a significant benefit. And that’s similar to what we see in the tar sands where it’s literally very, very, abysmal amounts of benefit in financial streams back into the community. And the majority of the revenue leaves the community along with the resource of the extractivism, say, the tar sands and tar sands mine. But when we fast forward to now, what we need to see in a robust renewable energy policy is to ensure that communities have equity and have ownership and participation within those projects that are being proposed and developed on their homelands and or shouldn’t be developed if the community should have the ability to say no. And that’s one thing that we’ve been sorely lacking.

And so that’s why if you look at the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Section 32, Free, Prior and Informed Consent (EPFIC) that talks about communities ability to say no or should have the ability to say no. And that hasn’t happened with Extractivism. When we talk about renewable energy, we need to ensure that communities are consenting to these types of projects and not only consenting, but want to be active participants and owners within that renewable energy system. And that’s what we’re seeing changing here in north of the Madison line and so-called Canada, we are seeing a change over where we have communities being 49% owners of a solar farm or 49 or 51% owners of a wind farm. So we’re actually seeing active participation, we’re seeing consent, and then we’re also seeing revenue generation from a renewable energy system. So, for me, that’s what a just transition needs to look like when communities are being actually involved and that there’s policy that supports communities to have that involvement in a way that is equitable.

Stone: In 2015, you started your own solar company, Sacred Earth Solar. And I believe that company has built a community solar project in Little Buffalo. Could you talk about that project and what it’s brought to the community?

Laboucan-Massimo: Yeah. So this was before  renewable energy policy  was in existence in the province of Alberta where I lived. They did have a microgeneration application that you could connect to grid with small scale renewable energies but not large scale. So what I decided to do as a part of my master’s thesis was to build a solar project that powers our health center in the heart of the tar sands. And that for me was very exploratory because there was very little funding. I had to fundraise outside of–  I didn’t receive or there wasn’t anything to apply for government funding.  I didn’t apply to any corporations especially that offer oil and gas. And so it was a very limited amount to be able to fundraise from. So I was fundraising for a few years just to be able to buy the solar equipment, the panels, to hire all the people that we needed to hire to train community members. It took a few years, but I started my thesis in 2013 and then finished in 2015 and we put up the solar project, the 20.8 kilowatt system, and it is connected to grid and the power of the health center. And it was one of the first larger solar projects, and that’s not even that large comparatively speaking, but it was probably one of the largest in our area. And it was the first time actually people in our community had seen solar panels in real life. So and this is 2015. That was a really exciting project because it spurred on the starting of Sacred Earth Solar, which is indigenous-led organization that allows and supports other Indigenous communities, including my own, to be able to transition and try to learn how to use solar on grid, off grid and get away from diesel if that’s what communities are using. So Sacred Earth Solar is part of a burgeoning indigenous energy transition that’s happening and connection with other organizations that I work with.

Stone: Your TV show in Canada, Power to the People, focuses on the importance of renewable energy and empowering communities. You just mentioned diesel. I looked at a few short clips, all that’s available here in the United States, and I saw that there are many different projects that you take a look at, all involving Indigenous communities and the potential of renewable energy.

Laboucan-Massimo: Yeah, one of the organizations I worked with on the National Executive Steering Committee, it’s called Indigenous Clean Energy, and they’ve done amazing research where there is literally close to 300 different renewable energy projects that are indigenous-led across this country, and probably at least two of the 100 of them being medium to large scale renewable energy. So we’re talking about revenue generating projects. So I was able to visit a number of these. We went to 26 locations across the country and it was amazing. We toured solar farms, wind farms, small scale, large scale, biomass, run of the river, dew exchange, microgrids. We visited communities that had finished the implementation point, so it wasn’t just talking about the solutions but actually implementing the solutions. And it was from coast to coast, from the north to the south, the far reaches of the different parts of the country and different indigenous nations all leading the way towards a clean energy future. And it was a really exciting show to host and to be able to go into communities, be welcomed into communities and learn about what those communities are doing from within. Again, the Just Transition needs to ensure that it is community led. So we have indigenous leaders within the community determining what the problems are and therefore they know intimately what the solutions are. And so the implementation of not only renewable energy but eco housing and also food security systems.

Stone: A few minutes ago, you noted how important it is that there’s meaningful participation from communities and community members in the whole process of planning for the communities, what the future looks like, what’s allowed, what’s not, what the vision is. And I just want to bring up something. This spring, on this podcast, we ran an episode with an activist named Chandra Farley, who is the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee chair in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. And she mentioned how difficult it can be to engage communities, the communities that she works with in the cause of energy justice, because these communities are disadvantaged to begin with and people are frequently already overwhelmed with the job of simply making  ends meet. You’ve noted in past discussions that people from the Indigenous communities that you work with don’t, I guess, say, have the bandwidth to address climate change because they’re already dealing with so much. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about this problem.

Laboucan-Massimo: Well, I think indigenous communities are particular within the context of Turtle Island, what’s  now known as North America, but for us we call it Turtle Island. And we have very intimate, long standing relationship with the land. So we might not have the word climate change in the English language in our communities, but when I go home and talk to my aunty, we translate it for the TV show into our language. In Cree, we speak Nehiyaw.  I explained to her this is what climate change is. How would you translate that into our language, into Cree? And she said, “Protecting mother earth.” So that’s why you see so many indigenous peoples on the front lines, like people saw Standing Rock. We see a lot of Standing Rocks all across Turtle Island and across the world, where you see indigenous peoples literally putting their bodies on the line, on the front lines to be able to protect what is the most sacred to them, which is the land. Because we have this reciprocal relationship where what we do to the land, we do it to ourselves. And these are very innate teachings that we received from a young age that we know that the land is what’s sustains us, what gives us life. So that’s why you see indigenous peoples engaging in different ways. We might not call it the ways in which  maybe settler communities engaging in the climate justice. [Inaudible] It’s indigenous peoples have been  actually raising the alarm bell. Our elders have been saying the climate is changing, the earth is changing, the land is changing, the observation of the ways we know our lands for thousands of years– millennia. These teachings that have been taught down of how we know our medicines, how we know where to fish and to trap, pick berries, all the things these are through millennia of observation, which is science.

So when elders have started signaling 40, 50 years ago saying, the earth is changing, the land is changing, the seasons are changing, something’s happening. And that was raising the alarm bell. That’s why you see a lot of times the climate scientists working so closely with indigenous communities, because indigenous communities have been raising the alarm bell just as much as climate scientists are. So it’s a different type of relationship, I would say, than other structurally oppressed communities because we have a different relationship on the land. We haven’t been taken from, stolen from the land like, unfortunately, our African brothers and sisters were stolen and taken and forced to live in North America; whereas, indigenous peoples have lived here for millennia. So that’s why you see so many people signing up, like I said. And so it’s a different type of relationship. We see climate change in a different way, but we see it as similar  that things are changing and that we need to take care, and that we need to protect, and that we need to steward in a different way.

Because, again, indigenous peoples have stewarded this land for millennia and that’s why it was in such pristine condition. And that’s why we need our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters to really understand that what they do to the land they do to ourselves. And so that’s why we’re having this impact of climate change. Yes, our communities are in crises, to answer your  question, but our communities are in crises because of the colonial policies that have really wreaked havoc on our communities. And we’re still trying to address and deal with those colonial policies that have impact. But yet communities are still addressing the climate crisis. It just looks different and it sounds different. And we might not use the same words, but communities really are when you hear about the revitalization of land or you hear about indigenous land back, say for instance, it’s literally about ensuring that the land is being taken care of and that it’s being managed in ways in which we’re not exacerbating the climate crisis.

Stone: Melina, here’s a final question. This spring you participated in a panel discussion held by the Kleinman Center that featured indigenous leaders from Mexico and Australia. The challenges that were discussed during that panel discussion really highlighted what the indigenous communities in Canada are experiencing is is not uncommon. Through your experience in talking with people from different places, what have you seen? What are the commonalities, the differences? How common is this problem that we’ve been talking about around the globe?

Laboucan-Massimo: It’s very common place. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Australia, to Mexico, to Ecuador, to different parts in Mesoamerica and South America, really across the world. And indigenous peoples have experienced colonialism and the impacts in very similar ways. They’re not going to be the same. There’s very specific differences, but the impact of colonialism has a similar effect in terms of it is always attempting to remove the original peoples of the land off their land. And then it’s also about colonizing the people and the mindset and the language. So it has an impact on just every aspect of somebody’s life. Colonialism has an impact across the world. And what we’ve seen as well is that that also goes hand-in-hand with extractivism, unfortunately. And so what I’ve heard and talked to other indigenous people about both in Australia and Mexico and also the other panelists spoke about the extractivism that was happening in their homelands, but also spoke about the concern of renewable energy potentially perpetuating those same inequities. So that’s why we’re hoping with the Just Transition to ensure that communities, again, are not facing the brunt of the impact of the development, but not receiving the benefits really out of that development. And so that’s what we were discussing around what does progressive and inclusive policy looks like in terms of transitioning to renewable energy.

Stone: Melina, thank you very much for talking.

Laboucan-Massimo: Thank you so much for having me.

Stone: Today’s guest has been Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Just Transition director at Indigenous Climate Action and founder of Sacred Earth Solar. Thanks for listening to this episode of Energy Policy Now. To make sure you get future episodes delivered to you, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And to keep up to date on all the latest research and events from the Kleinman Center, visit our website. Our address is Kleinmanenergy.upen.edu. And a note, this is the final episode of season six of Energy Policy Now. We’ll be taking a break in the month of August and we’ll be back in mid-September with season seven. Thanks again for listening to Energy Policy Now. Have a great summer.


Melina Miyowapan Laboucan-Massimo

Founder, Sacred Earth Solar
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is an internationally renowned advocate for climate justice, Indigenous sovereignty, and women’s rights. She is the Founder of Sacred Earth Solar and a 2021-2022 Kleinman Center Visiting Scholar.

Andy Stone

Energy Policy Now Host and Producer
Andy Stone is producer and host of Energy Policy Now, the Kleinman Center’s podcast series. He previously worked in business planning with PJM Interconnection and was a senior energy reporter at Forbes Magazine.