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Another Day, Another Pipeline Spill
By Joshua Axelrod
After months of protests and passionate pleas for the government to recognize and analyze the threats Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) could pose to fresh water resources and numerous others, news came this week that before even fully opening, the pipeline had already leaked.
A few states away, in Ohio, the same company's effort to build a natural gas pipeline has been put on hold after 18 leaks and a massive spill of drilling fluids into a pristine wetland convinced state and federal regulators to largely shut down the company's construction of the project. And even as this happens, we're facing similar threats as the Trump administration and TransCanada try to ram Keystone XL through America's heartland.
All of this feels like déjà vu. Back when Keystone 1 opened, for example, it experienced its first leak within months. A few years later, it experienced a major rupture in South Dakota, spilling at least 17,000 gallons of oil into a farmer's field. At the time, it was revealed that TransCanada, Keystone's owner and operator, had been warned about potential problems with the steel pipe it had used to build the line, as well as the welds holding the line together.
And DAPL isn't the only new oil pipeline rearing its ugly head and threatening our precious resources with the risk of an oil spill. Keystone XL has come back from the grave under President Trump and the State Department's rubber stamp cross-border permit. Enbridge is trying to expand its Alberta Clipper (Line 67) and Line 3 pipelines in Wisconsin and Minnesota. And the list goes on and on.
So why does this keep happening? The easy answer is: oil pipelines leak. They always have and they always will. They are complex projects that span thousands of miles and are held together by welds that commonly fail. They use materials sourced from manufacturers around the world that are almost always found to have anomalies. They carry substances that create conditions that can accelerate corrosion. They are impacted by external conditions like moisture and freezing and thawing and intense summer heat. All the technology in the world will not stop an oil pipeline from leaking. And what's worse, the best technology available today to detect a leak almost always fails to do so.
This week's leak is another example in a growing list that proves the concerns of Native Americans, farmers, ranchers and the public about the impacts these projects can have on water resources are real and pressing. For months, leaders from Standing Rock and elsewhere raised serious concerns about DAPL, its threat to water resources and the likelihood it would spill only to see those concerns not addressed by the current administration. Now, those same concerns are being ignored in the case of Keystone XL—which would cross one of the most important aquifers in the U.S.
America doesn't need new pipeline capacity to meet today's oil demand. And that underlying fact will only become more established as energy efficiency rises, vehicle electrification increases and renewable energy production grows.
Joshua Axelrod is a policy analyst for the Canada Project at Natural Resources Defense Council.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.