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Indigenous and Green Groups Fighting Pipeline Urge 2020 Democrats to Take 'NoKXL Pledge'

Politics
Indigenous and Green Groups Fighting Pipeline Urge 2020 Democrats to Take 'NoKXL Pledge'
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally at Lafayette Park next to the White House in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24, 2017. SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Indigenous, environmental and landowner groups fighting to block the Keystone XL pipeline sent a letter Tuesday to the two dozen 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidates, urging them to take the "NoKXL pledge" and vow — if elected — to revoke the Trump administration's permit for the tar sands oil project.


"There is no middle ground when it comes to protecting the land, water, and climate," Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb said in a statement. "You either stand with family farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, and environmentalists — or you stand with fossil fuel corporations who are abusing eminent domain, and trampling on the treaty rights of Tribal Nations."

"Tribal Nations and communities are battling for the survival of our ecosystems and ways of life, and we need a president who will stand with us against Big Oil and the fossil fuel regime," said Dallas Goldtooth, a Keep It in the Ground campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. "Signing the NOKXL pledge is a solid step in the right direction."

The three-point NoKXL pledge, featured on Bold Nebraska's website, states:

  • If elected, I pledge to take executive action on Day One to stop any construction on the Keystone XL pipeline — no matter what — and revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations.
  • I pledge to direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis.
  • I pledge to protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations.

Natalie Mebane, associate director of U.S. Policy at 350 Action, called the pledge "a critical step in moving towards stopping all new fossil fuel projects and protecting communities already experiencing the devastation of fossil fuel disasters."

"To build systems that work for all of us, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, prioritize Indigenous rights, workers, and frontline communities, and hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable for their destruction," Mebane added. "Together we've stopped the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade. It's time all presidential candidates join us and commit to stopping KXL once and for all."

If constructed, the long-delayed pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily more than 1,000 miles from the Alberta tar sands, across Montana and South Dakota, to Nebraska. In a move that critics decried as a "ridiculous attempt" to skirt the law to benefit a fossil fuel company, President Donald Trump issued an "unprecedented and unilateral" executive memorandum in March, granting TransCanada — now known as TC Energy — a permit for the project.

"Our next president needs to listen to the science that says we can't build new fossil fuel projects and fight climate change at the same time, not the polluters who say we don't have a choice," Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang said Tuesday. "Reversing Trump's misguided Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline authorizations on day one sends a clear message to the fossil fuel executives that their days of power over the White House are over."

Other groups co-sponsoring the pledge are the Bold Alliance, Nebraska Easement Action Team, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Sunrise Movement, CREDO, Oil Change U.S., Friends of the Earth Action, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Climate Hawks Vote, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Progressive Democrats of America, NYC Grassroots Alliance, Earth Action, Bucks Environmental Network, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Anthropocene Alliance, New York Climate Action Group, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, and Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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