The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) wages on. Just this week law enforcement used tear gas and fired bean-bag rounds to disperse crowds and arrested nearly 40 people since Monday, the Billings Gazette reported. One Water Protector appears to have suffered a nasty wound in his leg after an alleged confrontation with an officer on Thursday (warning, the photo is graphic).
But that's not the only concerning news story developing around the controversial project.
1. National Guard Deploys "Observational" Missile Launchers
The non-violent protests that kicked off in the Spring have been marked by increasingly violent showdowns between the Standing Rock Sioux and their fellow Water Protectors versus militarized law enforcement.
On Tuesday, reports emerged that the North Dakota National Guard had sent two Avenger missile launchers near a critical work site near the pipeline. National Guard spokesman William Prokopyk told the Daily Beast the missiles were unloaded and had no authorization to be loaded. The Morton County Sheriff's Department also confirmed these missiles in a Facebook post, saying they were "strictly for observation of ungoverned encampments to help protect private property and maintain public safety."
National Guard Pulls Missile Launchers Away From Standing Rock Protesters https://t.co/6NiZo1YPwP #NoDAPL… https://t.co/fYmImroMdp— Indigenous (@Indigenous)1484839803.0
The Daily Beast notes that the Avenger is "foremost a weapon of war" that "combines a Humvee truck chassis with a rotating turret that can be armed with eight Stinger missiles and a .50-caliber machine gun."
2. North Dakota Bill Would Protect Motorists Who "Unintentionally Cause Injury or Death" to Protestors
State Rep. Keith Kempenich has introduced a bill that says a driver "who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway, is not guilty of an offense."
#NorthDakota Bill Would Protect Motorists Who 'Unintentionally Cause Injury or Death' to Protesters https://t.co/sL4LMxC2N6 @NRDC @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484589627.0
Kempenich's said the bill is the result of his mother-in-law being inconvenienced while driving through protests. Apparently, she was driving past a long line of cars parked along shoulder of the road when a protester jumped in front of her car waving a sign.
"There's a line between protesting and terrorism, and what we're dealing with was terrorism out there," Kempenich told The Washington Post. "[Drivers] who were legally doing their business or just going home and all of a sudden they're in a situation they don't want to be in."
3. DAPL Company Tried to Block Environmental Study
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a key easement in December for the pipeline to travel under Lake Oahe and recently announced plans to prepare a full environmental impact study on the Oahe crossing that could take two years to complete, the company building the $3.8 billion project is determined to finish it.
On Jan. 17, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to stop the corps from publishing a notice announcing the study in the Federal Register.
The Bismarck Tribune reported:
ETP wants any further study put on hold until Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., rules on whether ETP already has the necessary permission to lay pipe under Lake Oahe—the reservoir that's the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
ETP wants to block further study so that the decision on the permitting, which is likely weeks away, will be "free from the risk that its ruling will be frustrated or thwarted by new governmental actions." The corps did not immediately respond to ETP's request.
4. Company Engaged in Deceit and Fraud in Acquiring Land Easements, Lawsuit Claims
Some two dozen landowners in Morton County, North Dakota, have filed a lawsuit this month in U.S. District Court against Dakota Access. The group seeks more than $4 million in damages.
The Associated Press writes:
Those suing say Dakota Access engaged in unfair tactics and fraud while negotiating to lay pipeline on private land, resulting in compensation that was as much as nine times lower than what other landowners got. Landowners also allege they were told if they didn't agree to the offered amount, they faced losing money or getting nothing either because their land would be condemned through eminent domain or the pipeline would be moved elsewhere.
"Dakota Access's representations to the Morton County landowners were false representations and deceptive," the lawsuit states. The company has until about the end of the month to file its response in court.
Energy Transfer Partners contends the allegations "are without merit," company spokeswoman Vicki Granado said, adding that the landowners who are suing represent only about 3 percent of the 800 North Dakota landowners who provided easements to Dakota Access.
5. DAPL Likely Rolling Full Speed Ahead Under President Trump
Donald Trump, who has personal investments in the DAPL, has formally announced his support of the project. Some of his main priorities after being sworn in on Jan. 20 are, according to Bloomberg, "nullifying President Barack Obama's guidelines that federal agencies weigh climate change when approving pipelines, deciding what areas to open for drilling or taking other major actions, two people familiar with Trump's transition planning say."
Day One Agenda for #Trump Administration: Energy Deregulation https://t.co/fOLWjA5snd @ClimateNexus @350 @billmckibben @RobertKennedyJr @ewg— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484922963.0
Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, also told NPR that the Trump administration could give a green light to energy infrastructure projects blocked by Obama's executive actions.
"Things like Keystone XL pipeline, Dakota Access pipeline," Gerard said, "we expect he'll take some early action on a variety of those fronts to really free us up and allow us to achieve our energy potential."
Water Protectors at the protest campsite have noticed desperation and declining morale due to the new Republican president, according to Billings Gazette. As one demonstrator told the publication, "There's a very real possibility that once the new president is inaugurated, our voices won't matter."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of Eastern Oklahoma Is Still a Reservation
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
- Federal Judge Orders Trump Admin to Give Native Americans Their ... ›
- Police Were Ready to Shoot Indigenous Pipeline Protesters in ... ›
- Climate Justice, Indigenous Rights Advocates Rally for Wet'suwet'en ... ›
By Tiffany Means
Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.
The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.
- Airborne Coronavirus Transmission Must Be Taken Seriously, 239 ... ›
- Trump Halts WHO Funding Amidst Criticism of His Own Coronavirus ... ›
- Here's Why COVID-19 Can Spread So Easily at Gyms and Fitness ... ›
- Is the New Coronavirus Airborne? A Study From China Finds Evidence ›
By Angela Nicoletti
The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.
- Global Frog Pandemic May Become Even Deadlier as Strains ... ›
- New Species of Diamond Frog Discovered in Remote Pocket of ... ›
- Frogs Are on the Verge of Mass Extinction, Scientists Say - EcoWatch ›
A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.
- Trump Admin Denies Endangered Species Protections to Pacific ... ›
- Trump Admin Failed to Protect 241 Species From Extinction ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
By Julia Vergin
It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
- 8 Ways to Tell if You Are Vitamin D Deficient - EcoWatch ›
- 7 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D - EcoWatch ›
- 7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common ›
Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.
EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.
Climate models are predicting faster warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, which will shift the Gulf Stream. NASA
- Could the Climate Crisis Spell the End for Maine Lobster? - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Reasons Why Biodiversity Matters - EcoWatch ›
- World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass ... ›
- The Top 10 Ocean Biodiversity Hotspots to Protect - EcoWatch ›