Dakota Access Pipeline 'Could Be Operational Within 30 Days'
By Andy Rowell
A federal judge refused to issue a temporary injunction Monday against construction of the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
The latest setback for the First Nations fighting the pipeline means that it could be "operational in as little as 30 days," according to a lawyer for the company building it, Energy Transfer Partners.
Next Step in the Fight to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline https://t.co/433hocV2fK @climateinstitut @beyondzeronews— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486988112.0
In court Monday, lawyers for the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes had argued that Lake Oahe, which the pipeline crosses, is sacred: "The Lakota people believe that the pipeline correlates with a terrible Black Snake prophesied to come into the Lakota homeland and cause destruction. The Lakota believe that the very existence of the Black Snake under their sacred waters in Lake Oahe will unbalance and desecrate the water."
They added the pipeline would "desecrate the waters upon which the Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely for their most important religious practices."
Cheyenne River Sioux tribe chair Harold Frazier also argued that "to put that pipeline in the ground would be irreparable harm for us in our culture."
The judge, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected the claim, though. He argued that he was not ruling on whether the pipeline was "a good or bad idea," but whether construction would cause "imminent harm."
To this end, he ruled that as long as oil actually is not flowing along the pipeline, there is no risk of imminent harm to the tribes, who had argued the pipeline poised a threat on religious grounds. The threat of harm to the tribe "comes from when the spigots are turned on and the oil flows through the pipeline," argued the judge.
Although this is a setback for the Indigenous water protectors fighting the pipeline, the judge did say he would consider the case more thoroughly on Feb. 27.
Michael Jackson's Daughter Uses Grammys Stage to Protest Dakota Access Pipeline https://t.co/qsIzwrPcff @KXLBlockade @Indigeneity— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487023807.0
The Associated Press reported yesterday that although a spokeswoman for the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said last week that it could be operational in about 3 months, a lawyer for the company, David Debold, now said "work is going more quickly and suggested the pipeline could be ready for oil in as soon as 30 days."
But activists remain defiant, with three new camps springing up in recent days: Paulino Mejia, a 21-year-old Ch'orti' Maya, who returned to Standing Rock last week, said: "I don't think this will stop the movement. If anything, it might even make it stronger. I'm going to stay here indefinitely."
Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel in the Dakotas for Lakota People's Law Project, said in a statement: "We're disappointed with today's ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised. We know this fight is far from over. The tribes will continue to pursue legal remedies through the courts, seek an injunction against the pipeline and push for the full Environmental Impact Statement to be completed."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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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