Environmentalists Celebrate First UK Coal Mine Rejected Over Climate Concerns
Northumberland County Council had approved in 2016 a plan from developer Banks Mining to extract three million metric tons of coal, sandstone and fireclay from a site near Druridge Bay. While supporters said the mine would create at least 100 jobs and bring economic investment in the region, opponents said the mine would hurt wildlife, harm tourism and continue the UK's dependence on the polluting fossil fuel.
But last week, Sajid Javid, Britain's Communities and Local Government Secretary, rejected the project.
I’ve made a decision on planning permission for a surface coal mine at Highthorn, Druridge Bay, Northumberland – ta… https://t.co/7tstXcm44l— Sajid Javid (@Sajid Javid)1521796750.0
In a March 23 letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to Banks Mining, Sec. Javid "agrees that Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from the proposed development would adversely impact upon measures to limit climate change. He further agrees that most of the GHG emissions would be emitted in the short term, resulting in an adverse effect of substantial significance, reducing to minor significance in the medium term; and that Green House Gas emissions in the long term would be negligible, but that the effects of carbon in the atmosphere would have a cumulative effect in the long term.
"Given that cumulative effect, and the importance to which the Government affords combatting climate change, he concludes that overall the scheme would have an adverse effect on Green House Gas emissions and climate change of very substantial significance, which he gives very considerable weight in the planning balance."
The UK government has committed to phasing out coal power no later than 2025 in order to meet its climate targets. Britain is also part of the international Powering Past Coal Alliance aimed at reducing global coal consumption.
#Oregon and #Washington Join 20 Countries to Phase Out #Coal By 2030 https://t.co/PezTQjVdEI @BeyondCoal… https://t.co/6PFpOHNcCj— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1510850855.0
Environmental groups celebrated the decision.
"This is the first coal mine ever to be rejected in the UK because of climate change impacts—a vindication for everyone who has been calling for fossil fuels to be left in the ground," Friends of the Earth campaigner Rose Dickinson said.
"Now ministers should take the next step by banning all new opencast coal and stop trying to impose fracking on communities," she added.
"Our renewable energy resources hold the answer: by being able to reduce emissions, meet energy needs, and bring the jobs and investment that is badly needed for communities here in Druridge Bay and elsewhere."
Banks Mining criticized Javid's action. Gavin Styles, managing director at Banks Mining, called it an "absolutely perverse decision" that was "made for purely political reasons."
The company said it "will now carefully review the precise reasons for the Secretary of State's decision before deciding on the most appropriate next steps to take."
The UK is Europe's second-largest emitter behind Germany. However, preliminary government data released Thursday shows that greenhouse gas emissions fell 3 percent last year from 2016 levels—a fifth consecutive yearly drop.
This decrease was largely due to a decline in coal-fired power generation. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reported that power generation from coal plants fell 26 percent in 2017 to 21.36 terawatt hours (TWh), making up less than 7 percent of Britain's total electricity supply. Meanwhile, Britain experienced a banner year with renewable energy, with wind power rising 33 percent to a record 40.9 TWh and solar generation up 43 percent to a record 2.9 TWh.
Macron: France Will Shut All Coal-Fired Power Stations by 2021 https://t.co/JzQ8Wim6un @TheCCoalition @CarbonBrief— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1516962011.0
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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