1 Dead, 5 Injured in Second Enbridge Pipeline Explosion This Year
A natural gas pipeline owned by Canadian company Enbridge exploded in Kentucky early Thursday, sending flames 300 feet into the sky, killing one woman and sending five people to the hospital, CBS News reported. The blast was so strong it showed up on radar.
"It was like an atomic bomb went off, basically," one evacuee told WKYT, as CBS News reported. All told, around 75 people were forced to flee their homes in the Indian Camp trailer park in Moreland, The Associated Press reported.
The explosion occurred around 1 a.m. It destroyed at least five homes in the trailer park and damaged four others, The Louisville Courier Journal reported. It took firefighters hours to fight the flames, which burned trees and grass in the area and left only red dirt behind, according to The Associated Press.
"The part of the area that has been compromised, there's just nothing left," Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said. "The residences that are still standing or damaged will be accessible. There doesn't really look like there's any in-between back there. They're either destroyed or they're still standing."
The flames also melted tar on the nearby U.S. 127 and were visible throughout Lincoln County. The smoke could be seen from Louisville, 70 miles away, according to The Louisville Courier Journal.
Jodie Coulter, one of the five people injured, described the blast.
"I could feel it as we were running from the house," Coulter told The Louisville Courier Journal. "I could feel it, like if you had your hand in an oven."
The woman who died was identified as 58-year-old Lisa Denise Derringer, one of Coulter's neighbors in the mobile home park. Kentucky State Police spokesman Robert Purdy said she may have left her home because of the fire and died from heat exposure, as The Associated Press reported.
Nearby railway tracks were also damaged, causing an overnight back-up of 31 trains, Purdy said.
The explosion was the second this year on Enbridge's Texas Eastern natural gas pipeline, Reuters pointed out. Another explosion in Ohio in January on the same line injured two. But, as Quartz summarized, Enbridge overall has a history of disasters from both its natural gas and liquid oil pipelines. Its lines were behind both the Kalamazoo River spill, which dumped around one million gallons of tar sands oil into the Michigan waterway in 2010, and a 50,000 gallon oil spill in Wisconsin in 2012. A Greenpeace report found that the company averaged one hazardous liquid pipeline accident every 20 days between 2002 and 2018.
Despite its record, the company is behind a controversial plan to replace its aging line 5 pipelines with an oil-transport tunnel under Michigan's Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes.
Washington Gov. and climate-focused presidential candidate Jay Inslee came out against both the existing pipelines and the proposed tunnel last month, calling them "a clear and present threat to the health of the Great Lakes and to our climate" in a statement reported by The Detroit News.
But the dangers of fossil fuel use are bigger than one company. Environmental group Earthworks noted that the Kentucky explosion was the fourth involving oil and gas infrastructure in the last two days.
We've been devastated to hear the news of explosions at fossil fuel and #petrochemical facilities in #Colorado #Texas #Pennsylvania and #Kentucky in just the past 2 days.— EARTHWORKS (@Earthworks) August 1, 2019
We cannot wait to get off #fossilfuels. We need a #JustTransition now. https://t.co/N8Dm6xGAEu @melissat22 pic.twitter.com/tRj3h0AKMw
"These incidents are just the latest in a growing list of injurious and deadly fossil fuel impacts across the United States," Earthworks blogger Melissa Troutman wrote. "As the renewable energy revolution continues to grow, these events are a tragic reminder of what our society has yet to leave behind."
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.