Keystone XL's Environmental Impact an Afterthought on ‘Meet the Press'
President Barack Obama's impending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline earned significant airtime Sunday on NBC's popular Meet the Press program, but little thought was given to the environmental impact of as much as 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day being carried from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
First, the network examined the impact the massive pipeline would have on tiny Steele City, NE. There seems to be little concern for the potential environmental impact there compared to the dollars the local economy could incur from the pipeline. Attorney Dave Domina is one the more widely known Keystone opposers from the area, but his fight centers around fair compensation for owners of the land the pipeline would pass through if Obama approves it.
"For most Nebraskans, the environment is a very secondary issue," Domina admitted.
There are already four pipelines that converge on the Steele City area, according to the report from correspondent Kevin Tibbles.
Next, a Meet the Press roundtable comprised of Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, Revolution CEO Steve Case and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN). Other than a brief reading from a Natural Resources Defense Council statement that the pipeline would increase carbon pollution and hurt the health and drinking water of people of millions in its path, the environment took a backseat to dollar signs.
Ford mentioned the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement from the State Department in January that concluded that the pipeline wouldn’t increase the rate of extraction of tar sands and thus isn’t likely to significantly increase carbon pollution. That was a conclusion that Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace who did not appear on the program, called "laughable" earlier this year.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
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A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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