FERC Halts Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline
On Friday, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered work stopped on the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas along a 303-mile route from West Virginia to Virginia, Reuters reported.
The order is the consequence of a legal victory for pipeline opponents July 27, in which three federal appeals judges revoked two permits for the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management had not properly reviewed the project before issuing the permits, The Washington Post reported. The judges ordered the agencies to redo the permits.
"Should the agencies authorize alternative routes, (Mountain Valley) may need to revise substantial portions of the project route across non-federal lands, possibly requiring further authorizations and environmental review," FERC said in explaining its decision to halt construction, Reuters reported.
The Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups that brought the suit against the pipeline, applauded the FERC's decision.
"We have said all along that we can't trust polluting corporations to protect our water and we're relieved to see construction temporarily halted along the entire route of the MVP," Sierra Club senior attorney Nathan Matthews said in a statement. "This order is a victory for everyone who values clean water and a wake-up call for those who think they can put profits over people. There is no right way to build these dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipelines and we will continue to fight them until construction is stopped permanently."
Natalie Cox, spokesperson for EQT Corp., the company leading construction on the pipeline, told Reuters in an email that the company "respectfully disagrees with the breadth of the August 3 stop work order."
"We will continue to work closely with all agencies to resolve these issues and look forward to continuing the safe construction of this important infrastructure project," Cox said.
Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been fighting it with a combination of tree sits and lawsuits.
In June, the FERC announced that the pipeline had to stop construction more than 591 streams and wetlands in West Virginia following another appeals court decision in favor of environmental groups.
Opponents hope a mass of legal victories can stop the project all together, and shine a light on an FERC approval process that goes too easy on developers.
"We hoped this case will put a brake on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which is running roughshod over the environmental planning process," Wilderness Society conservationist Hugh Irwin told The Washington Post of the lawsuit that led to the current stoppage, to which his organization was a party. "Significant environmental concerns were brushed aside and inadequately analyzed," he said.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is seen by opponents as a particularly egregious example of a project that ignored environmental and community concerns."Quite frankly, Mountain Valley Pipeline has become a good example of bad energy development," The Appalachian Trail Conservancy said in a statement. "Currently the steep mountainsides near Roanoke are being carved, gashed and ripped up. Unusually heavy rainfall this year has, from when the earthmovers first fired up, exposed the recklessness of this pipeline developer," they wrote.
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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>
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