American Burying Beetle May Stop Fast-Tracking of Keystone XL Pipeline
In a victory for the climate, public health and endangered species, the Fish and Wildlife Service has taken action that could interfere with Canadian oil corporation TransCanada’s plan for fast-tracked approval of its Keystone XL tar-sands oil pipeline.
According to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, the agency decided July 10 to disallow a University of Nebraska researcher from using his research permit to help TransCanada clear the way for Keystone XL by physically relocating the American burying beetle from its habitat.
In 2011, the agency allowed TransCanada to mow native prairie vegetation through Nebraska’s Sand Hills and allowed researcher Wyatt Hoback to trap and move the beetles situated in the path of the pipeline—even though, at the time, the pipeline had not yet received final approval and in fact never did. The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Western Nebraska Resources Council challenged these actions in court, in part arguing that a permit for endangered species research should not be used to clear the path for destructive development. Documents newly obtained by the center show that as a result of this litigation, the agency now agrees.
“The job of the Fish and Wildlife Service is to ensure the survival and recovery of endangered species, not to expedite destructive development,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “We’re glad to see the agency has seen the error of its ways and will no longer allow use of a research permit to clear the path of the Keystone XL pipeline.”
The decision could delay pipeline construction—if approved—even longer because beetles can only be trapped and moved in the spring and early summer, when they are active. If the permit for the project itself, which presumably would allow movement of the beetles, is not issued until later in 2013, TransCanada will have to wait until the following year to move the beetles and begin construction. The State Department on July 30 closed its public comment period for the scope of the environmental review of the Canada-to-Nebraska leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“If President Obama truly considers the impacts of doubling down on more climate-wrecking tar sands oil, he’ll have no choice but to reject Keystone XL,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Keystone XL would be an environmental disaster not just for endangered species like the American burying beetle, but also for landowners and the public who could be left on the hook to clean up Big Oil’s mess from devastating spills and more unprecedented extreme weather caused by spiraling climate chaos.”
The research permit granted to Dr. Hoback, used for moving beetles last year, was given specifically for research on the “survival and enhancement” of endangered species. Dr. Hoback was granted a renewed permit this year, but in issuing it, the agency specifically stated: “Dr. Hoback’s revised permit does not allow trapping and removal of American burying beetles for the purpose of removing beetles from harm’s way of development projects.” In order to move the beetles from the pipeline path, TransCanada will need a permit for incidental take, which may only be granted as part of a “biological opinion” document assessing the impacts of the whole pipeline on endangered species.
“The Nebraska Sand Hills are the most important biologically intact focal area within the Great Plains, and to see the integrity degraded for a pipeline that had not even been granted a permit set me off,” said Buffalo Bruce McIntosh with Western Nebraska Resources Council. “If built, this pipeline will do exceedingly more harm than good.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil, strip-mined from Canada’s tar sands oil fields, across six states and hundreds of rivers and streams. It was supposedly rerouted last year to avoid Nebraska’s legendary Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer, which is a source of drinking water for millions of Americans and a major source of water for agriculture. But the current proposal from TransCanada shows the pipeline will still cross both the Sand Hills and the aquifer. TransCanada’s existing Keystone I tar-sands pipeline has reportedly leaked 14 times since it went into operation in June 2010. Another tar-sands pipeline spilled more than a million gallons into the Kalamazoo River, which more than two years later has still not been cleaned up.
By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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