Atlantic Coast Pipeline Can’t Cross Streams Until Court Case Is Resolved
The controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry fracked natural gas along a 600 mile route through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, has been stalled yet again. This time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit allowing the pipeline to cross streams, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
This particular suspension was actually requested by one of the companies behind the pipeline, Dominion Energy, while it awaits a court ruling involving water crossings in two West Virginia counties. But the environmental groups behind the lawsuit, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad), welcomed the news.
Great news for clean water advocates! ACP now lacks authorization to do any instream or wetland construction anywhe… https://t.co/IWBcikf0w0— Appalmad (@Appalmad)1542752388.0
"If the polluting corporations behind the ACP ever thought this would be easy, they know better now. There is no right way to build this dirty, dangerous pipeline and we won't stop fighting it until construction is permanently halted," Kelly Martin of the Sierra Club said in a statement reported by The News & Observer.
Appalmad had won a suspension of the West Virginia water crossing permits from the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 7, and Dominion Energy decided to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to suspend all water crossing permits until the court makes its decision. It will hear arguments in January, The Associated Press reported.
"Because of that order, it is uncertain whether NWP (nationwide permit) 12 will ultimately be able to authorize work for ACP in North Carolina. Therefore as requested, the Wilmington district finds it appropriate to temporarily suspend your authorization and await clarity on this issue," Army Corps Wilmington, NC Division Chief Scott McLendon wrote in his decision, the News & Observer reported.
The pipeline has faced both legal and popular opposition since it was announced. Just last week, 15 people were arrested outside North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office after a sit-in protesting the pipeline.
"We are confident that this issue will be resolved in a timely manner and we do not expect the project schedule to be affected by this voluntary suspension," she said. "We successfully completed West Virginia summer construction with stay provisions in place and expect ACP's fall and winter construction will also proceed in a productive manner in compliance with the stay provisions."
Dominion Energy is responsible for construction in Virginia and West Virginia, while Duke Energy will handle construction in North Carolina, The News & Observer reported.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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