Pipelines = Fracking: Stop the Constitution Pipeline
Stop the Pipeline (STP), a grassroots organization of landowners and citizens who are opposed to the 120-mile long Constitution Pipeline which would run through pristine territory, from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY, is holding a street meeting and rally in front of Foothills Performing Art Center—24 Market St., Oneonta, NY 13820—at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, before the scheduled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) public scoping session at 7 p.m. where people will testify regarding the obligations of FERC to investigate all possible impacts of the proposed pipeline.
FERC had not originally scheduled any Constitution Pipeline hearings for Delaware or Otsego counties in New York. As a result of public pressure from Stop the Pipeline and other groups and individuals, FERC has extended the comment period to Nov. 9 and is holding the Oct. 24 hearing in Oneonta.
In early June, landowners received a letter from the pipeline developers—Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC, a joint venture of Williams Partners LP and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp—about the plans to build the Constitution Pipeline. Concerned about what was stated in the letter, Howard Hannum, a resident of Sidney Center, NY, called the first meeting of Stop the Pipeline. He asked Anne Marie Garti, a Delaware County native and law student enrolled at Pace University's nationally esteemed Environmental Litigation Clinic, to speak. More than 150 people attended, representing all the New York counties affected, including residents from Pennsylvania.
"We want, need and deserve to know the cumulative impact this is going to have on our way of life, public health and safety, the environment, and the future of tourism and agriculture," says Rebecca Roter, who lives in Montrose, PA, where the pipeline's originating compressor is being built. "We already know the economic boom is going to come to an end. We need to know what is going to be left when that happens."
The group's mission is to focus on the the impacts of the pipeline. One of the greatest concerns is the ecological and seismic fragility of the land along the pipeline route. One of the pipeline routes crosses Riddell State Park, home of old growth trees and Schenevus Creek, a Class A trout stream. Another cuts through the famed and unique Emmons Bog.
"The Richmondville and East Worcester portions of the I-88/M route, where there is a confluence of a spider web of faults, present an elevated risk for pipeline compromise during and following the area’s inevitable seismic activity," says Robert Nied, of Schoharie, NY, a Stop the Pipeline steering committee member. "There have been something like 91 quakes in that area since 1973. I live about 2.5 miles west of the confluence and the last substantive quake, about 6 years ago, cracked the foundation of my house."
Another goal is to keep an eye on the industry. "Williams-Cabot are renegades operating outside the law," says Mark Pezzati of Andes, NY.
"For instance, they lack required permits, yet despite that they are building a facility at the start of this project in Pennsylvania which in some places, such as internal investor's reports, is described as the beginning of the Constitution Pipeline and on others, such as government specs, is just a compressor being built in limbo. They are illegally and fraudulently segmenting the project to avoid regulatory oversight."
The first proposed route runs right beside Loddie Marsh's home in Sidney. The second route does not. "When people read that the new proposed pipeline will use the I-88 corridor they may get the impression that no residents will be affected, that no land will be taken by eminent domain,” says Marsh, an STP steering committee member. "That's what Cabot-Williams, who is building the pipeline, wants you to think. Cabot-Williams is trying to take your land for corporate profit. This project is not created for the good of the people. This project is providing the infrastructure for fracking. So I do not want a pipeline in my front yard nor in anyone's front yard."
Bruce Kernan of East Worcester, NY, a STP steering committee member, whose family manages a sustainable forest, is concerned about environmental as well as economic impacts. "The pipeline is sucking wealth out of local property owners and giving it to the stockholders of the pipeline company. Just the proposal of this pipeline project has already destroyed property values in the counties through which the proposed pipeline would pass."
"I am grateful to those who traveled from the west to comment at the scoping session in Schoharie County," says Robert Nied, a concerned citizen. "Everyone who is concerned about this proposal views this as a regional issue rather than a local one. Comments were clearly articulated, heartfelt, thoughtful and well researched. There is no question that the community spoke well for itself and there is no question that the proposed Constitution Pipeline is intended to encourage and facilitate the reckless practice of hydrofracking across Upstate NY and is part of an effort to industrialize and negatively transform our rural communities. I hope that the people of Otsego and Delaware Counties will let FERC know about their concerns at the Oneonta hearing."
Stop the Pipeline has retained the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, who will be representing STP on legal matters during the environmental review of the Constitution Pipeline. The supervising attorneys of the Litigation Clinic are Karl S. Coplan, Daniel E. Estrin and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Garti will be working under them.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. founded the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic in 1987, and still operates it with his two law partners, Professors Karl S. Coplan and Daniel E. Estrin, and a team of ten eager third-year law students. "It is not possible to sit back and watch corporations and government agencies violate the public trust. We must do everything possible to take back our democracy and protect the air, water and soil on which we all depend," said Kennedy.
Learn more about pipelines by watching this video:
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
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Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.
Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.
The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.
If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.
The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.
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