Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline to Shut Down Pending Full Environmental Review
The decision is a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Indian Country Today reported. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fears the pipeline will pollute their drinking water and sacred lands if it leaks from where it flows beneath the Missouri River, and the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation sits adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux and the river.
"Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said in a press release from Earthjustice, the group that litigated the case. "This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning."
Breaking: Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline to be SHUT DOWN! #NoDAPL #ProtectTheSacred https://t.co/UxhUgdfA2Q— Indigenous Environmental Network (@Indigenous Environmental Network)1594047947.0
The ruling is also a major blow to the oil and gas industry and the Trump administration, which has pushed to keep major pipeline projects like the Dakota Access and Keystone XL afloat. It comes less than 24 hours after Dominion and Duke Energy announced they were cancelling their planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline because extensive legal challenges had led to delays and uncertainty. Together, the pipelines' fates bode ill for the future prospects of large-scale energy pipeline projects, Bloomberg pointed out.
"I would expect this to be a turning point for new investment," Katie Bays, co-founder of Washington-based Sandhill Strategy LLC, told Bloomberg. "There is real investor fatigue around this parade of legal and regulatory headwinds to energy projects."
The decision by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to shut down the pipeline marks the first time that a judge has closed an operating pipeline for environmental reasons, Southern Methodist University energy law professor James W. Coleman told Bloomberg.
"The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect," Boasberg wrote Monday, as The Associated Press reported. "Yet, given the seriousness of the Corps' NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease."
In its press release, Earthjustice pointed out that a full environmental review could take several years, and then additional permits would have to be issued, meaning the ultimate permitting decision might be made by another administration.
But the pipeline's owner Energy Transfer vowed to challenge Boasberg's decision.
"We believe that the ruling issued this morning from Judge Boasberg is not supported by the law or the facts of the case. Furthermore, we believe that Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely operating for more than three years," Energy Transfer spokesperson Lisa Coleman said in a statement to Pipeline & Gas Journal. "We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow."
Earthjustice staff attorney Jan Hasselman, who represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, noted on Twitter that Energy Transfer had already filed an appeal.
Well, that didn't take long: DAPL just filed its appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal seeking to overturn th… https://t.co/lav9hmwlIU— Jan Hasselman (@Jan Hasselman)1594076534.0
The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline currently carries 570,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois, according to The Associated Press. It was the subject of high-profile Indigenous-led protests in 2016 and 2017.
In December 2016, the Obama administration and the Army Corps of Engineers denied a key permit for the pipeline, and the Army Corps was set to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement to seek alternative routes. But when he came into office in January, President Donald Trump sped up the pipeline approval process via executive order and the review was never completed. The pipeline began operating in June 2017, according to The Associated Press, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continued to fight it in court.
Judge Boasberg ordered a full review in late March of this year and asked both the Army Corps and the Standing Rock Sioux to submit briefs explaining why the pipeline should or should not continue to operate while the review was taking place. On Monday, he sided with the tribe.
"I applaud the actions of the US District Court in finding what we knew all along, that this pipeline, like many other actions taken by the US government, is in fact illegally operating," Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement reported by Indian Country Today. "The fact that this operation had been operating illegally for three years before this conclusion was finally made shows you the power that money holds on the American government."
I have been getting "congratulations" today. Today was about our planet and everything for which she provides life.… https://t.co/m3lwwbikhj— CRSTChairman (@CRSTChairman)1594079589.0
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By Peter A. Kloess
Picture Antarctica today and what comes to mind? Large ice floes bobbing in the Southern Ocean? Maybe a remote outpost populated with scientists from around the world? Or perhaps colonies of penguins puttering amid vast open tracts of snow?
Giants of the Sky<p>As their name suggests, these ancient birds had sharp, bony spikes protruding from sawlike jaws. Resembling teeth, these spikes would have helped them catch squid or fish. We also studied another remarkable feature of the pelagornithids – their imposing size.</p><p>The largest flying bird alive today is the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/group/albatrosses/" target="_blank">wandering albatross</a>, which has a wingspan that reaches 11 ½ feet. The Antarctic pelagornithids fossils we studied have a wingspan nearly double that – about 21 feet across. If you tipped a two-story building on its side, that's about 20 feet.</p><p>Across Earth's history, very few groups of vertebrates have achieved powered flight – and only two reached truly giant sizes: birds and a group of <a href="https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/pterosaurs-flight-in-the-age-of-dinosaurs/what-is-a-pterosaur" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reptiles called pterosaurs</a>.</p>
Full-size model of a Quetzalcoatlus on display at JuraPark in Baltow, Poland. Aneta Leszkiewicz / Wikimedia<p>Pterosaurs ruled the skies during the Mesozoic Era (252 million to 66 million years ago), the same period that dinosaurs roamed the planet, and they reached hard-to-believe dimensions. <a href="https://www.wired.com/2013/11/absurd-creature-of-the-week-quetz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quetzalcoatlus</a> stood 16 feet tall and had a colossal 33-foot wingspan.</p>
Birds Get Their Opportunity<p>Birds originated while dinosaurs and pterosaurs were still roaming the planet. But when an <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur-killing-asteroid-impact-chicxulub-crater-timeline-destruction-180973075/" target="_blank">asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago</a>, dinosaurs and pterosaurs both perished. Some <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/how-birds-survived-asteroid-impact-wiped-out-dinosaurs" target="_blank">select birds survived</a>, though. These survivors diversified into the thousands of bird species alive today. Pelagornithids evolved in the period right after dinosaur and pterosaur extinction, when competition for food was lessened.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/spp2.1284" target="_blank">The earliest pelagornithid remains</a>, recovered from 62-million-year-old sediments in New Zealand, were about the size of modern gulls. The first giant pelagornithids, the ones in our study, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75248-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">took flight over Antarctica about 10 million years later</a>, in a period called the Eocene Epoch (56 million to 33.9 million years ago). In addition to these specimens, fossilized remains from other pelagornithids have been found on every continent.</p><p>Pelagornithids lasted for about 60 million years before going extinct just before the Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 million to 11,700 years ago). No one knows exactly why, though, because few fossil records have been recovered from the period at the end of their reign. Some paleontologists cite <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2011.562268" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">climate change as a possible factor</a>.</p>
Piecing it Together<p>The fossils we studied are fragments of whole bones collected by paleontologists from the University of California at Riverside in the 1980s. In 2003, the specimens were transferred to Berkeley, where they now reside in the <a href="https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of California Museum of Paleontology</a>.</p><p>There isn't enough material from Antarctica to rebuild an entire skeleton, but by comparing the fossil fragments with similar elements from more complete individuals, we were able to assess their size.</p>
In life, the pelagornithid would have had numerous 'teeth,' making it a formidable predator. Peter Kloess, CC BY-NC-SA
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As U.S. Election Nears, Polling Shows 82 Percent of Voters Support 100 Percent Clean Energy Transition
By Jessica Corbett
With an estimated 66 million ballots already cast and only a week to go until Election Day, new polling released Tuesday shows the vast majority of U.S. voters believe the nation should be prioritizing a transition to 100% clean energy and support legislation to decarbonize the economy over the next few decades.
<div id="5206f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="584d1641628f692ff103aee7ed74b45e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1321080152328208384" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Biden should get "uncontrolled climate change would cost $486 trillion" tattooed on his forehead imo https://t.co/nTbVdHa9gD</div> — Emily Atkin (@Emily Atkin)<a href="https://twitter.com/emorwee/statuses/1321080152328208384">1603805027.0</a></blockquote></div>
Arctic Ocean sediments are full of frozen gases known as hydrates, and scientists have long been concerned about what will happen when and if the climate crisis induces them to thaw. That is because one of them is methane, a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey has listed Arctic hydrate destabilization as one of the four most serious triggers for even more rapid climate change.