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Powerline

The First Battle of America’s Energy War

2003
Authors:

Paul Wellstone and Barry M. Casper
Foreword by Senator Tom Harkin

Powerline

The inspiring story of a grassroots rebellion

Powerline describes the farmer-led revolt against the building of a high voltage powerline from central North Dakota to the Twin Cities. Through pulse-quickening personal interviews and big-picture analysis, Powerline lays bare the latent and unexpected power of the people of rural America—and resonates strongly with today’s energy debates.

If you believe in democracy and want to build a new grassroots movement, learn what the grassroots master, Paul Wellstone, has to teach us in this powerful book.

Jim Hightower

Powerline describes the opposition of rural Minnesotans to the building of a high voltage powerline across 430 miles of farmland from central North Dakota to the Twin Cities suburbs. Convinced that the safety of their families and the health of their land was disregarded in favor of the gluttonous energy consumption of cities, the farmer-led revolt began as questioning and escalated to rampant civil disobedience, peaking in 1978 when nearly half of Minnesota’s state highway patrol was engaged in stopping sabotage of the project.

After construction was completed, the powerline proved difficult to defend and unprecedented guerrilla warfare brought many towers to the ground (due to “bolt weevils”). Through pulse-quickening personal interviews and big-picture analysis, Powerline lays bare the latent and unexpected power of the people of rural America—and resonates strongly with today’s energy debates.

Powerline

Paul Wellstone (1944–2002) was professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and worked as a political organizer before being elected to the Senate in 1990. His untimely death in a plane crash during the 2002 election galvanized public interest in his vision for progressive politics. His work, ideas, and beliefs are described in The Conscience of a Liberal, available in paperback from the University of Minnesota Press.

Barry M. Casper is a professor of physics at Carleton College and the author of Lost in Washington: Finding the Way Back to Democracy in America (2000).

Powerline

If you believe in democracy and want to build a new grassroots movement, learn what the grassroots master, Paul Wellstone, has to teach us in this powerful book.

Jim Hightower

A valuable addition to Minnesota historical writing. Read it.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Powerline helps us to appreciate the radical potential in our social and cultural traditions.

The Progressive

A classic chronicle of populist protest.

Minnesota History