Drilling on Public Lands: Native American Voices Frustrated by Virtual Public Hearings Over Zoom
The Trump administration has attempted to plow forward with its plans to open up public lands to drilling for oil and gas exploration. To do so, it has continued to hold public meetings over Zoom. That means that Native American groups who often have spotty internet service or no service at all are not able to participate in the public meetings, according to The Washington Post.
While tribal groups are often vociferous in public meetings in an attempt to protect their land from encroaching industry and the pollution that accompanies it, some have complained that the technology creates a roadblock to participating in the public discussion.
More than 30 percent of tribal lands lack access to basic broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The issue was recently relevant in Alaska, where ConocoPhillips is looking to expand its drilling operation in Alaska's North Slope. The project would move drilling deeper into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the direction of currently protected habitat. It would also increase development that may affect the Alaska Native village of Nuiqsut, which sits just inside the petroleum reserve border and is home to roughly 400 people, as E&E News reported.
Martha Itta, a resident of Nuiqsut, said in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management's project manager, Rachael Jones, that she was "frustrated and saddened" after an April 23 meeting. She described technology as a hurdle that excludes many members of the public in rural Alaska, as E&E News reported.
She also noted in the letter that the Zoom platform gave outsized control to the moderator. "I myself was muted after my initial comment and they would not unmute me," she wrote in her letter, as E&E News reported.
"How many North Slope members have access to WiFi?" Raymond Ipalook, vice president of the tribal council in the Alaska Native village of Nuiqsut, asked during one virtual hearing on April 21, according to The Washington Post. "That's what I want to know. How many of them know that this webinar is going on?"
A similar problem happened with a proposed project in New Mexico, where there were complaints of speakers being dropped by bad connections and moderators muting the microphones of meeting participants.
The Bureau of Land Management, however, is telling another story, saying that the virtual meetings are a resounding success and allowing more people to participate in the meetings. According to The Washington Post, more than 300 people participated in eight virtual public meetings in Alaska while 100 participated in the first in New Mexico last Thursday, with yet more viewing on Facebook, the BLM said. By contrast, 250 attendees showed up to six in-person meetings held in Anchorage, Fairbanks and other spots in Alaska last year.
In northwestern New Mexico, where an oil and gas project would infringe on Pueblo land, speakers asked the government to pause the public comment period, since they would like more time to make their voices heard before the government moves forward with a plan that will bring energy and other development near cultural sites considered sacred to New Mexico's Pueblos and other tribal groups within the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, according to The Washington Post.
"Although I am participating in today's virtual public meeting, I want to make clear that the All Pueblo Council of Governors and our member Pueblos have not had the resources necessary to meaningfully comment," said Marissa Naranjo, policy director with the All Pueblo Council of Governors, noting that the two counties surrounding the protected area have some the highest coronavirus infection rates in New Mexico, according to The Washington Post.
The entire congressional delegation for New Mexico has asked that the public comment hearing be extended 120 days.
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On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
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The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>
By Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Najmedin Meshkati
Ten years ago, on March 11, 2011, the biggest recorded earthquake in Japanese history hit the country's northeast coast. It was followed by a tsunami that traveled up to 6 miles inland, reaching heights of over 140 feet in some areas and sweeping entire towns away in seconds.
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Nuclear power generates about 10% of the world's electricity (TWh = terawatt-hours). About 50 new plants are under construction, but many operating plants are aging. World Nuclear Association / CC BY-ND
<div id="07c42" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac2be7bdc1a748c089d24d27f01992a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366694917045690369" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🇸🇪 Nuclear Safety statement in IAEA BoG: Important safety upgrades introduced at 6 remaining nuclear power stations… https://t.co/FrgHv4N4UL</div> — SwedenUN Vienna 🇸🇪 (@SwedenUN Vienna 🇸🇪)<a href="https://twitter.com/SwedenUN_Vienna/statuses/1366694917045690369">1614680434.0</a></blockquote></div>
Author Najmedin Meshkati holding an earthquake railing in a Fukushima Daiichi control room during a 2012 site visit. Najmedin Meshkati / CC BY-ND
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"Watch. Connect. Take Action."
These words are the invitation and mandate of the WaterBear Network, a free film-streaming platform that launched in November of 2020. Its goal is to turn inspirational images of the natural world into actions to save it.
WaterBear CEO Ellen Windemuth uses films to inspire planet-positive actions. WaterBear
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By Kenny Stancil
Amid the ongoing climate emergency and the devastating coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. alone as well as an economic meltdown that has left millions of people unemployed, the Sunrise Movement on Thursday launched its "Good Jobs for All" campaign to demand that lawmakers pursue a robust recovery that guarantees a good job to anyone who wants one and puts the country on a path toward a Green New Deal.
<div id="c7fe3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5664692fdfd187db01eff5ac2787c564"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1367650177436311562" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">We’re coming together to fight for each other and guarantee #GoodJobsForAll Join us: https://t.co/MoJhmlzoaS https://t.co/IAPa8DeeLR</div> — Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)<a href="https://twitter.com/sunrisemvmt/statuses/1367650177436311562">1614908186.0</a></blockquote></div>
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