The recovery of the bald eagle: An American success story

The population of the bald eagle, the US national bird that is also much revered by Native Americans, reflects political trends in the US.

In the latter parts of the 1900s, the bald eagle faced extinction, or at least extirpation in the Lower 48, from low reproduction. This was caused by their uptake of DDT from the fish they ate. The DDT caused their egg shells to be so thin they broke when they sat on them. For anyone with chickens, you know how variable eggshell thickness is, how much they vary depending on the birds’ diet and if they are getting enough calcium. Too thin and the eggs break; too thick and the chicks can’t break out.

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Bald Eagle population in the Lower 48 as measured by annual Christmas Bird Counts nationwide.

Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1973 back when the Republican Party considered conservation a conservative idea, the eagles are returning. They now nest in lakes even around downtown Los Angeles. In some highly polluted areas, such as the waters between Los Angeles and the islands off southern California, eggshells are only just now returning to normal. Everywhere, across the Lower 48, the eagles are coming back. The battle is not over. The Republicans today are trying to overhaul the Endangered Species Act, which could again put this great bird at risk.

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The US at the abyss: What did we learn from the child separation policy?

After several weeks of shock, horror, tears, and rage, we are back from the abyss of war crimes and a level of racial terrorism that seemed unimaginable since the Civil Rights Era. Make no mistake, this was a defining moment in modern US history, revealing exactly where we are on that slope between a democratic bastion of human rights and a pariah nation implementing ethnic cleansing.

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The Good

We learned that a massive public outcry can still affect US policy, even Trump, who usually tends to double-down in the face of opposition. This time, fortunately, he caved. The voices of rage poured in from social media, celebrities, faith leaders, and from around the world. This seemed to embolden some key conservative constituents to also raise their voices: some evangelicals, some Republicans, and, importantly, Melonia and Ivanka. Protest worked. We didn’t have to blockade detention centers, burn tires in the streets, rattle the White House fences (or tear them down), or worse. In a week that caused me to evaluate just how much I was willing to sacrifice to fight this battle, the threat of violence in the streets was averted.

The Bad

Obviously, we’re not out of the woods. Trump’s new policy has caveats and there are likely devils in the details. Several thousand children remain separated from their sep4parents, often by thousands of miles, and the government appears unable and unwilling to reunite them. That the policy was implemented with no clear plan to track and eventually reunify the families reveals the Trump Administration’s cavalier attitude toward the lives of people of color. They simply didn’t care. The former head of ICE has stated that, based on his experience, some of these children will simply be lost in the system and never reunited. They will be adopted out to US parents. Thus, some Latino parents, simply asking for asylum, will suffer the ultimate penalty: the loss of their children forever.

Trump’s executive order will put the new families at the front of the line, possibly pushing the current parents with separated children behind them. The current wait for an asylum case to be heard is 670 days, nearly two years. History has shown that abducted children, after just six months, bond with their captors as a survival mechanism. After a year or two, they barely recognize their original parents and forget their native language.

The Ugly

We learned that the Trump Administration is so far out of touch with history, human rights, and basic human decency that they failed to anticipate the public outrage of their policy. In defense of their policy, they assaulted our senses. They tweeted about immigrants “infesting” the land and laughed at a suffering ten-year-old with Down Syndrome separated from his parents. Even Melonia, en route to visit a child concentration camp, work a jacket with bold letters on the back that proclaimed, “I REALLY DON’T CARE.”

sep3We learned how easy it was for the Trump Administration to garner significant public support. Using a combination of absurd legal claims, outright lies, and a willing megaphone in the form of Fox News and other conservative media, 27% of Americans (and 58% of Republicans) embraced the Trump party line. With faith in their leader and news sources, they were unable to think for themselves, unable to reach the obvious moral conclusion that the policy was abhorrent by any moral or historical measure.

It wasn’t just the right wing. Even moderates were ambiguous about the horrors when NPR and other more neutral news sources treated Trump’s concocted justifications with respect and interviewed concentration camp contractors with all the deference of a medial provider.

We no longer wonder how a society can get a large segment of its members to dehumanize others to the point of terrorizing their children and destroying their lives. All those Germans who implemented the Holocaust, all those Rwandans who killed their neighbors, how the Japanese internment happened, are no longer a mystery to us. We heard the justifications; we saw the poll numbers. We stared into a collective heart of darkness.

We also saw companies like General Dynamics, Microsoft Azure, and United Rentals cash in on the concentration camps. (A full list is here and more discussion is here.) It is the ultimate white privilege to turn ethnic cleansing into a business opportunity. Doctors and child care providers were torn between whether to work with the children or not, whether to help the suffering but enable the oppressors, like serving food at Auschwitz. Here is the story of one child care worker who quit.

We were also reminded of our past. While some politicians trotted the hopeful Obama-esque refrain, “This is not us; this is not America,” we were reminded that, time and time again, this has been America. The history of the US is filled with the forced removal of brown children more often than not. Slave auctions and the forced removal of Native children to boarding schools span the years from 1776 thru the 1950s. Even as recently as the 1970s, nearly a third of Native children were in the care of white foster parents, a kind of ethnic genocide. Because of examples like this, the UN definition of genocide includes “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

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The Future

genocide stepsThis battle is ending but the war is not over. The election of Donald Trump was the gravest threat to national unity since the Civil War. That threat is not over. That pot is still on the stove and may keep boiling for years, even after Trump is gone.

Liberals and progressives were caught unprepared, realizing that the usual Facebook debates yielded nothing but an unsatisfying catharsis while little children rocked themselves to sleep, too exhausted to cry. The usual tools of non-violent action in a democratic society rarely work with Trump. He laughs at petitions and protests only seem to galvanize him. Efforts to target complicit contractors and boycott them were only in the planning stages, and it wasn’t clear those would work. There was no well-defined strategy to hurt Trump economically.

Lessons from history, from Indian Removal or “extermination” in the 1800s to boarding schools in the 1900s, from the abolitionist movement in the US, to the ramp up to the Holocaust or Japanese internment, reveal more failures than successes. Most of the time, progressives were too conciliatory for too long until it was too late.

We won this battle, mostly, but the war continues. We are still on our back foot, reacting more than acting.

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Oil companies have researched climate change for 50 years– accurately

Long before climate change was controversial, before Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, before the public was even aware of greenhouse gases and sea level rise, the oil industry knew pretty much what we now know today. They have been studying, researching, and modeling climate change as a result of their greenhouse gas emissions for over 50 years. OaklandtimelineTheir research was in concert with the scientific community and decades ahead of public knowledge of the problem. Their predictions were typically exactly in line with the rest of the scientific world, and actually more aggressive than predictions by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The evidence is all laid out in the First Amended Complaint by the City of Oakland and State of California in their climate change lawsuit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell.

The full document, which also includes a nice summary of climate change and its future impacts on the City of Oakland, is available at this webpage (scroll down to 04/03/2018 Complaint).

Here I re-post from Oakland’s First Amended Complaint the section on Big Oil’s knowledge and research of climate change:

DEFENDANTS HAVE PRODUCED MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF FOSSIL FUELS DESPITE HAVING FULL KNOWLEDGE FROM THEIR IN-HOUSE SCIENTIFIC STAFF, OR FROM API, THAT FOSSIL FUELS WOULD CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING.

For decades, Defendants have known that their fossil fuel products pose risks of “severe” and even “catastrophic” impacts on the global climate through the work and warnings of their own scientists and/or through their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute (“API”). Defendants, large and sophisticated companies devoted to researching significant issues relevant to fossil fuels, also were aware of significant scientific reports on climate change science and impacts at the time they were issued. Yet each Defendant decided to continue its conduct and commit itself to massive fossil fuel production. This was a deliberate decision to place company profits ahead of human safety and well-being and property, and to foist onto the public the costs of abating and adapting to the public nuisance of global warming.

The API is a national trade association that represents the interests of America’s oil and natural gas industry. At all relevant times, Defendants, their corporate predecessors and/or their operating subsidiaries over which they exercise substantial control, have been members of the API. On information and belief, the API has acted as Defendants’ agent with respect to global warming, received funding from Defendants for the API’s global warming initiatives, and shared with Defendants the information on global warming described herein.

Beginning in the 1950s, the API repeatedly warned its members that fossil fuels posed a grave threat to the global climate. These warnings have included, for example, an admission in 1968 in an API report predicting that carbon dioxide emissions were “almost certain” to produce “significant” temperature increases by 2000, and that these emissions were almost certainly attributable to fossil fuels. The report warned of “major changes in the earth’s environment” and a “rise in sea levels,” and concluded: “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.” Similar warnings followed in the ensuing decades, including reports commissioned by the API in the 1980s that there was “scientific consensus” that catastrophic climate change would ensue unless API members changed their business models, and predictions that sea levels would rise considerably, with grave consequences, if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 continued to increase.

The API’s warnings to Defendants included:

  • a) In 1951, the API launched a project to research air pollution from petroleum products, and attributed atmospheric carbon to fossil fuel sources. By 1968, the API’s scientific consultant reported to the API that carbon dioxide emissions were “almost certain” to produce “significant” temperature increases by 2000, and that these emissions were almost certainly attributable to fossil fuels. The report warned of “major changes in the earth’s environment” and a “rise in sea levels,” and concluded: “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.”
  • b) Between 1979 and 1983, the API and Defendants, their predecessors, and/or agents formed a task force to monitor and share climate research, initially called the “CO2 and Climate Task Force” and later renamed the “Climate and Energy Task Force” (“Task Force”). The API kept and distributed meeting minutes to Task Force members. Task Force members included, in addition to API representatives, scientists from Amoco (a predecessor to BP); Standard Oil of California, Texaco, and Gulf Oil Corp. (predecessors to Chevron); Exxon Research and Engineering and Mobil (predecessors to or subsidiaries of current Exxon); Shell; and others. In 1980, the Task Force invited Dr. J.A. Laurman, a “recognized expert in the field of CO2 and climate,” to make a presentation. Attendees to the presentation included scientists and executives from Texaco (a predecessor to Chevron), Exxon, and SOHIO (a predecessor to BP). Dr. Laurman’s written presentation informed the Task Force that there was a “Scientific Consensus on the Potential for Large Future Climatic Response to Increased CO2 Levels.” He further informed the Task Force in his presentation that, though the exact temperature increases were difficult to predict, the “physical facts agree on the probability of large effects 50 years away.” He warned the Task Force of a 2.5 ºC [4.5 ºF] global temperature rise by 2038, which would likely have “MAJOR ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES,” and a 5 ºC [9 ºF] rise by 2067, which would likely produce “GLOBALLY CATASTROPHIC EFFECTS.” He also suggested that, despite uncertainty, “THERE IS NO LEEWAY” in the time for acting. API minutes show that the Task Force discussed topics including “the technical implications of energy source changeover,” “ground rules for energy release of fuels and the cleanup of fuels as they relate to CO2 creation,” and researching “the Market Penetration Requirements of Introducing a New Energy Source into World Wide Use.” The Task Force even asked the question “what is the 50 year future of fossil fuels?”
  • (c) In March 1982, an API-commissioned report showed the average increase in global temperature from a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and projected, based upon computer modeling, global warming of between 2 and 3.5 ºC [3.6 to 6.3 ºF]. The report projected potentially “serious consequences for man’s comfort and survival,” and noted that “the height of the sea level can increase considerably.”

On information and belief, Defendants were aware of the industry Task Force and API findings described above, which were distributed by the API to its members. Each Defendant (or its predecessor) was a member of the API at relevant times, or had a subsidiary that was a member of the API at relevant times. Each subsidiary passed on information it learned from the API on climate change to its parent Defendant (or Defendant’s predecessor) and acted as the agent for its parent company, which remained in charge of setting overall production levels in light of climate change and other factors.

On information and belief, each Defendant was also actually aware (at the time they were made) of public statements on climate change described above, including the 1979 National Academy of Science findings and Dr. Hansen’s 1988 testimony. Because these statements were centrally relevant to Defendants’ ongoing investment of billions of dollars in fossil fuel production and billions of dollars in profits, and because Defendants employed experts charged with evaluating climate change and other energy and regulatory trends, Defendants were in a superior position to appreciate the threat described in these statements. Defendants’ representatives attended congressional hearings on climate change beginning as early as the late 1970s.

In addition to the API information, some of the Defendants produced their own internal analyses of global warming. For example, newly disclosed documents demonstrate that Exxon internally acknowledged in the late 1970s and early 1980s that its products posed a “catastrophic” threat to the global climate, and that fossil fuel use would have to be strictly limited to avoid severe harm:

  • a) Exxon management was informed by its scientists in 1977 that there was an “overwhelming” consensus that fossil fuels were responsible for atmospheric carbon dioxide increases. The presentation summarized a warning from a recent international scientific conference that “IT IS PREMATURE TO LIMIT USE OF FOSSIL FUELS BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE ENCOURAGED.” The scientist warned management in a summary of his talk: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”
  • b) In a 1979 Exxon internal memo, an Exxon scientist calculated that 80% of fossil fuel reserves would need to remain in the ground and unburned to avoid greater than a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • c) In a 1981 internal Exxon memo, a scientist and director at the Exxon Research and Engineering Company warned that “it is distinctly possible” that CO2 emissions “will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).”
  • d) A year later, the same scientist wrote another memo to Exxon headquarters, which reported on a “clear scientific consensus” that “a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from its preindustrial revolution value would result in an average global temperature rise of (3.0 ± 1.5) ºC [2.7 ºF to 8.1 ºF].” The clear scientific consensus was based upon computer modeling, which Exxon would later attack as unreliable and uncertain in an effort to undermine public confidence in climate science. The memo continued: “There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”
  • e) In November 1982, an Exxon internal report to management warned that “substantial climatic changes” could occur if the average global temperature rose “at least 1ºC [1.8 ºF] above [1982] levels,” and that “[m]itigation of the ‘greenhouse effect’ would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.” The report then warns Exxon management that “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” including the risk that “if the Antarctic ice sheet which is anchored on land should melt, then this could cause a rise in sea level on the order of 5 meters.” The report includes a graph demonstrating the expected future global warming from the “CO2 effect” demonstrating a sharp departure from the “[r]ange of natural fluctuations.” This graph is attached hereto as Exhibit 3.

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  • f) By 1983, Exxon had created its own climate models, which confirmed the main conclusions from the earlier memos. Starting by at least the mid-1980s, Exxon used its own climate models, and governmental ones to gauge the impact that climate change would have on its own business operations and subsequently took actions to protect its own business assets based upon these modeling results.

Exxon’s early research and understanding of the global warming impacts of its business was not unique among Defendants. For example, at least as far back as 1970, Defendants Shell and BP began funding scientific research in England to examine the possible future climate changes from greenhouse gas emissions. Shell produced a film on global warming in 1991, in which it admitted that there had been a “marked increase [in global temperatures] in the 1980s” and that the increase “does accord with computer models based on the known atmospheric processes and predicted buildup of greenhouse gases.” It acknowledged a “serious warning” that had been “endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists” in 1990. In the film, Shell further admits that by 2050 continued emissions of greenhouse gases at high levels would cause a global average temperature increase of 1.5 to 4º C (2.7 to 7.2º F); that one meter of sea level rise was likely in the next century; that “this could be disastrous;” and that there is a “possibility of change faster than at any time since the end of the ice age, change too fast, perhaps, for life to adapt without severe dislocation.”

The next section is entitled,

DESPITE THEIR EARLY KNOWLEDGE THAT GLOBAL WARMING WAS REAL AND POSED GRAVE THREATS, DEFENDANTS PROMOTED FOSSIL FUELS FOR PERVASIVE USE WHILE DOWNPLAYING THE REALITY AND RISKS OF GLOBAL WARMING.

The document also includes this graph:

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The graph compares the greenhouse gas emissions trajectory necessary to prevent global warming from exceeding a 2º C increase over the pre-industrial temperature (IEA 450 from International Energy Agency) to BP, Exxon and Shell’s projections of total worldwide future emissions that they use to make long-term business plans.

Wikipedia provides a nice history of climate change research. Global warming as a result of CO2 emissions was first described in 1896. The theory attracted more attention in the 1950s. The term “greenhouse” was used in a government report in 1965. However, it was not until the mid-1970s that a scientific consensus began to emerge on the level of global warming associated with CO2 emissions. The oil companies not only followed it closely, but developed their own models that corroborated the science. The dangers of global warming did not attract public attention until 1988, long after Big Oil had thoroughly studied it and knew of its impacts.

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American policy past and present: Ripping brown children from their mothers’ arms

Few images evoke a more visceral reaction than seeing authorities tear children from the arms of their mothers. As the men in uniform pry hands from their mothers’ legs, the children are wide-eyed in terror while the mothers scream in panic.

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Since early May, ICE employees, acting on orders from Trump, have been separating parents and children at the border, including those seeking political asylum. The children have included 18-month old toddlers and a six-year-old blind girl. ICE is prosecuting the parents as “child traffickers” while declaring the children “unaccompanied minors” and sending them off to relatives or foster homes. There are plans to house them at military bases. A lawsuit by the ACLU seeking a restraining order against the separations is pending.

There is little video footage from the border, but this scene in San Diego, in which a woman who has lived in the community for years, is taken from her family provides an indication of the trauma:

The comments on the video illustrates the widespread public support for this cruelty.

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This scene, involving white authorities and brown children, is a recurring pattern on US soil over the centuries. It is a policy designed to make America whiter by terrorizing people of color, specifically by targeting mothers and children. Each time it is part of an over-arching policy to build a white society, and each time it has had the support of at least a third of the white population.

Most Americans are familiar with this drama at slave plantations, such as this scene depicted in Roots, made more tame by the fact that Kizzy is a young adult:

Less familiar to many, child separations occurred repeatedly from 1879 to at least the 1950s with regard to Native American children and boarding schools. The enlightened policy articulated by Richard Pratt, the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, was to “kill the Indian, save the man”. That is, instead of massacring them all, it was more humane to simply take their children and strip them of their name, language, identity, and culture. Tens of thousands of children were sent across the country to boarding schools far away, forever disrupting their lives and connection to their home communities.

There was resistance. Parents hid their kids when government officials arrived. In 1895 nineteen Hopi men were imprisoned on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay for refusing to allow their children to be taken to a boarding school. They were to be “held in confinement, at hard labor, until they shall show they fully realize the error of their evil ways, until they shall evince a desire to cease interference with the plans of the government for the civilization and education of its indian wards.” As they were loaded onto the boat at the Clay Street Wharf, a crowd of whites teased them while the local paper reported that there were “cruel, cold-blooded savages”.

There are no videos from that time, but there are some accounts from boarding school survivors, such as this one:

While the psychological effects of a single event like this will no doubt stay with a child forever, a recent story about an Alaskan Native illustrates the impact of such actions on future generations.

Last week, in the midst of the controversy over the child removals at the border, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke suggested sending troubled Native children to a boarding school over a thousand miles from their reservation.

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Billy Frank Jr’s legacy lives on in Washington agriculture

“Salmon-safe” label spreads across farms in the Pacific Northwest

“Billy Frank Jr. is a big reason he decided to change the way he runs his farm. It was Frank who encouraged Wilcox to stop using pesticides, plant trees by waterways and keep chicken manure out of the water. That would earn him a “salmon-safe” certification for his eggs.”

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Painting at a coffee shop in Port Townsend, WA

 

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Cassina tea: History and revival

Just passing on this link to an interesting article:

The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries

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Native communities confront oil development across Turtle Island: April 2018 update

Across North America, Native communities are leading the battle against increasing oil development, fighting proposed new production, pipelines, and crude-by-rail routes. There is hardly a new proposal without indigenous opposition. Here is an update from the front lines.

oil11mapNote: Many of these battles concern pipeline proposals to move diluted bitumen (aka

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Canadian tar sands production continues to increase.

“dilbit”) from Canadian tar sands to markets in the US or to coastal ports where it can be exported to Asia. Presently, 99% of Canada’s exports are to the US. The vast majority of that is tar sands oil moving from Alberta to the Midwest via pipelines and rail. Canada’s goal is to move tar sands oil to China. Without these pipelines, Canadian producers have been forced to slow production. This is a very heavy oil, extracted from very costly and destructive open pits, and has among the highest carbon footprints of any oil. This makes it first on the list of oil that should stay in the ground.

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Map of various pipelines coming from Canada. Domestic US pipelines in gray.

 

Proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline (STATUS: pipeline rejected)

  • Proposed in the 2000s, the pipeline would have carried tar sands dilbit from Alberta to a marine terminal on the west coast of British Columbia, for export to Asia.
  • Amid tremendous opposition, especially from 130 different First Nations, the project was effectively killed by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2015.

Proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (STATUS: in court)

  • First built in 1953 and then augmented in 2008, the current Trans Mountain Pipeline carries 300 Mbpd (thousand barrels per day) of tar sands dilbit from Alberta to near Vancouver, British Columbia, primarily for local use.
  • The proposed expansion would add a second pipeline alongside the first one, dramatically increasing capacity to 890 Mbpd, primarily for export to Asia.
  • Many First Nations continue to engage in protests against the pipeline.
  • The proposal is currently being challenged in court by the Tsleil-Waututh, Suquamish, Kwantlen, and Coldwater First Nations, as well as the governments of British Columbia and local cities. The pipeline is supported by the federal government under Prime Minister Trudeau.

Swinomish crude-by-rail crossing (STATUS: in court)

  • In 2015, upon learning that many 100-car unit trains of Bakken crude were passing thru their reservation just a few hundred yards from their casino and hotel, the Swinomish field a lawsuit against BNSF to stop them.

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    Rail lines in close proximity to Swinomish casino and hotel.

  • In 2017, the nearby Tesoro refinery received an average of 64 Mbpd by rail, about one 100-tank car train per day, passing thru the reservation. A prior agreement between BNSF and the Swinomish limited dangerous cargo to just one train of 25 cars daily.
  • As of June 2017, the case is proceeding – a judge ruled that BNSF has violated the agreement—but so are the trains.

Bears Ears proposed oil development (STATUS: in court)

  • Bears Ears National Monument was created in 2016 by President Obama. In 2017, Trump reduced the size of the monument by 85% specifically to exclude potential gas and oil production.
  • This reduction in the monument is currently being challenged thru several lawsuits, including one filed by the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Zuni Tribe.

Chaco Canyon proposed oil development (STATUS: pipeline cancelled; new oil leases deferred)

Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline (STATUS: in court)

  • The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would be Phase 4 of the Keystone Pipeline network. The first three phases, built by TransCanada between 2010 and 2014, deliver 590 Mbpd of Canadian tar sands dilbit to refineries in Illinois or storage facilities in Cushing, Oklahoma, and 700 Mbpd from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast.
  • Phase 4, the Keystone XL, would duplicate Phase I, from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. It would carry 500 Mbpd of tar sands dilbit and would include and “on ramp” in Montana where Bakken oil could be added to it.
  • First Nations in Canada and several Native communities in the US have been involved in multiple protests against the pipeline. All of the various proposed routes cut through the Great Sioux Nation as defined in the Treaty of 1868, weaving between the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Lower Brule, and Rosebud Indian Reservations.

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    Proposed Keystone XL route in South Dakota between various reservations.

  • The proposal was blocked by Obama in 2015, but revived by Trump in 2017.
  • In November, 2017, the Nebraska Public Services Commission became the final authority to grant approval for the pipeline. However, they only approved an alternate route, which now requires TransCanada to do additional years of new review and face new legal challenges.
  • The current approval of the pipeline by the State Department is also being challenged in court, based on outdated environmental documents. A hearing is scheduled in May.
  • The soonest construction is likely to begin is 2019, if ever.

Dakota Access Pipeline (STATUS: in court)

  • In the aftermath of the conflict at Standing Rock in late 2016 and the Army Corps’ unprecedented withdrawal of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process due to Trump’s executive order, the question of the pipeline went to the courts. The pipeline was completed and began delivering Bakken oil in late spring 2017. Just weeks later, on June 14, the judge ordered the Army Corps to address numerous deficiencies in the woefully deficient Environmental Assessment (EA), the main permitting document. He also allowed the pipeline to continue running while the Army Corps revised the document.oil8DAPL
  • See my analysis of the judge’s June 2017 ruling on why the tribes’ victory here may be short-lived. Also see my analysis of all the laws broken by Energy Transfer Partners in the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Now we wait for the Army Corp to complete its revisions of the EA, due in April 2018. At the same time, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to ask for meaningful consultation, which it has been demanding since 2014 but has never happened. They are also demanding adequate spill preparedness measures at Lake Oahe.

Red Lake Enbridge Pipelines crossing (STATUS: pipelines must be removed)

  • Enbridge Lines 1 thru 4, carrying a total of 2,234 Mbpd of light synthetic tar sands oil, dilbit, and heavy tar sands oil, cross the Red Lake Indian Reservation. The pipelines were built between 1950 and 2002, without the permission of the tribe.
  • Amid protests by citizens of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, in 2016 the tribal council reached a deal with Enbridge, swapping the 24 acres where the pipelines are in exchange for $18.5 million to be spent on 164 acres of adjacent land.
  • On March 13, 2018, in a principled move that echoes Pine Ridge’s “the Black Hills are not for sale”, the Red Lake Tribal Council voted unanimously to rescind the deal and order Enbridge to remove the pipelines from its lands.

Proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline (STATUS: construction halted by judge; in court)

  • Proposed in 2015, the Energy Transfer Partners pipeline would run across the bottomlands of Louisiana, including the Atchafalaya Basin, to connect refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
  • Protests, primarily by local residents and several local tribes, began in 2017. Energy Transfer Partners has attempted to hire the controversial private mercenary firm, Tiger Swan, that was used at Standing Rock, though the state of Louisiana has so far denied them a permit to work in the state.
  • The Army Corps approved the project, with just a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on an EA, on December 15, 2017. (Note: that’s completely absurd for a 160-mile long pipeline running through wilderness and waterways.) The company immediately began cutting a path through the swamp.

    oil9atchafalaya

    Just the clearing of trees in the pipeline corridor has caused ecological harm. Large trees have been removed and turned to mulch. The mulch has been placed in the swamp waterways, creating hypoxic conditions leading to the death of fish, crawfish, and other aquatic organisms.

  • Local crawfish producers and several environmental groups filed suit on January 11, 2018. On February 3, the judge granted a preliminary injunction and ordered the pipeline construction halted pending trial.

Proposed Energy East Pipeline (STATUS: cancelled)

  • Yet another pipeline to move tar sands dilbit to the coast for export, this pipeline was proposed in 2013. At just under 3,000 miles, it would have been the would have been the longest pipeline in North America, transporting 1,100 Mbpd from Alberta east to refineries in Quebec and to an export terminal in New Brunswick.oil10East
  • The pipeline route crossed lands of 155 different First Nations, nearly all of whom opposed it for its threat of oil spills. Many organizations also opposed it due to its enormous carbon footprint.
  • On October 5, 2017, TransCanada announced it was cancelling the pipeline for economic reasons.

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    Protest in Quebec against the Energy East Pipeline.

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