Quantcast

20+ Proposed Pipelines Threatening Indigenous Communities

Energy

By Joe Catron

As completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline remains on standby after the Army Corps of Engineers announced on Dec. 5 that it would not authorize the development company to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, similar projects continue to encroach on indigenous communities across the U.S.

"There are probably 20 or so pipelines being protested in various ways at any given time, and they affect many more reservations and traditional homelands than that," Aaron Carapella, a Cherokee cartographer in Warner, Oklahoma, told MintPress News.

Carapella recently designed a map showing how pipelines under development in the U.S. cross dozens of indigenous territories, many of which are the sites of contemporary Native communities.

"There are tens of thousands of existing pipelines throughout the land, so I chose to focus on those projects that are not quite completed, that are being resisted or that are only in proposal stages," he said.

No Resistance Equals Always Losing

Carapella, whose maps illustrate the past and present indigenous presence in the Americas, combined them with new information from various sources.

"I used the government's own proposed pipelines lists and maps, as well as activist and tribal websites, and overlaid them onto my existing map," he said.

He added that a task of this nature is difficult to complete.

"I need to include more pipelines on my map, like Comanche Trail and Pecos, both of [which] are being protested," he said.

"There is one running through a remote part of the Navajo Nation at the Chuska Mountains that is being protested, as well as several across the Great Lakes."

But he hopes that his project will help to magnify the scale of a continental conflict between Native communities and pipeline projects that, when it breaks into the headlines, is usually framed as a singular issue at a particular location.

"We won some victories and lost some good causes, but no resistance equals always losing, so resistance is necessary," he said.

"Campaigns to get out the word are necessary."

Endangering the Water of Millions

In one little-remarked struggle, the Ramapough Lunaape Nation, a small community nestled among the Ramapo Mountains chain of the Appalachians in northern New Jersey and southern New York, face the looming threat of the Pilgrim Pipeline.

Members of the Ramapough Lunaap demonstrate during the Clean Energy March in Philadelphia on July 24.Mark Dixon / Flickr

"The Pilgrim Pipeline is another of the many needless pipelines running through the Lunaape homeland which is endangering the water of millions, while it appears to be criminally circumventing federal law," Ramapough Lunaape Chief Dwaine Perry told MintPress.

The Ramapough Lunaape have long been the targets of outside attention, ranging from innocent curiosity to racist invective, due to their traditional life—seemingly paradoxical to some—centered 25 miles from New York City amid the suburbs of New Jersey.

Despite the long record of Lunaape contact with European settlers, dating to Giovanni da Verrazzano's 1524 voyage into the Hudson River, the Ramapugh Lunaapes' relative isolation throughout much of colonial and U.S. history lent the group an air of mystery, with their very existence more likely to be mentioned as legend than fact until the 20th century.

A map of the controversial 178-mile-long parallel Pilgrim pipelines proposed for New York's Hudson Valley/Northern New Jersey. FracTracker Alliance

"Is this logical, you ask yourself, that here so close to Times Square, several thousand people like these live and have their being?" an irate local historian wrote in 1941.

"No it isn't logical at all, it's 150 years and across the world."

They Bribed, Threatened, Even Murdered

Over the ensuing decades, the harsh logic of a surging industrial economy would reach deep into the Ramapough Lunaapes' mountain enclaves.

Most destructively, Mafia-controlled haulers operating on behalf of the Ford Motor Company's nearby Mahwah Assembly plant dumped millions of gallons of toxic paint sludge before the facility closed in 1980.

"An analysis of public records and interviews with truckers who hauled Ford's waste shows mob-controlled contractors dumped anywhere they could get away with it," an investigative report by NorthJersey.com found in 2009.

"They bribed, threatened, even murdered to maintain control of Ford's trash."

Ford's lucrative contracts sparked clashes between rival mobsters that at times turned deadly.

In a notorious incident that spurred a rare federal investigation of the Mafia's stranglehold on industrial waste disposal, Genovese crime family figure Joseph "Joey Surprise" Feola "was lured to a garage in 1965 and strangled as a favor to the notorious godfather Carlo Gambino," NorthJersey.com reported.

"His offense? Stealing the Mahwah stop"—located in the heart of Ramapough Lunaape territory—"from a Gambino-controlled company."

Watch Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It:

Government at all Levels

Despite this momentary attention, the regional news portal also found that "[g]overnment at all levels shares the blame" for Ford's colluding with the mob and poisoning the Ramapough Lunaape and other communities near the plant.

"For years, it allowed mobsters to turn New Jersey into a toxic dumping ground."

Toxic Legacy, an investigative series conducted by the Bergen Record in 2005, explored the deadly effects of Ford's deposits in the old Ringwood Mines landfill site on the surrounding Ramapough Lunaape.

The newspaper's soil tests found levels of lead, arsenic and xylenes at more than 100 times the recommended maximums, while nearby levels of both health disorders, ranging from nosebleeds to cancer, and learning disabilities had skyrocketed.

A lawsuit against Ford by hundreds of Ramapough Lunaape, chronicled in the HBO documentary Mann v. Ford, ended in 2010 with a disappointing settlement.

Their hands forced by the specter of a possible Ford bankruptcy, 633 individual plaintiffs accepted one-time payouts between $4,368 and $34,594 each.

"It's probably a vacation for a CEO for a week with his family," lead plaintiff Wayne Mann told NorthJersey.com.

"A healthy family."

The Very Same Watershed

Steeled by the legacy of Ford, today the Ramapough Lunaape confront the threat of Pilgrim.

A proposed 178-mile, double-barreled pipeline, project would run from Albany, New York, to Linden, New Jersey, transporting Bakken crude oil south and refined petroleum products north.

"We are adamantly opposed to any pipeline that has no internal market and endangers all of our water, including one of only seven sole source aquifers in the United States," Perry said.

In July, the Ramapough Lunaape mobilized to Philadelphia, where more than 100 helped to lead the March for a Clean Energy Revolution during the Democratic National Convention.

"Pilgrim is proposing to cut through the very same watershed lands where Ford dumped paint sludge into the shafts of the abandoned iron mines once worked by our ancestors," Perry wrote at the time.

"Learning from our long history of struggle against the toxic effects of environmental injustice, we are now organizing with the broader community to stop Pilgrim's dirty pipelines before they're built."

We Need Help Now

The word 'Hate' was scrawled, along with other hateful graffiti, on the sacred home of the Ramapough Lunaape.Chief Dwaine Perry

In recent months, the Ramapough Lunaape have joined their struggle with that of the Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock, even offering the Split Rock Sweetwater Camp as a smaller reflection of the massive gatherings blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline half a continent away.

Perry calls it a "site that we have been using for Native American ceremony for over a quarter of a century, and have invited all to enjoy the land and to share in our culture."

"Currently, the prayers of Split Rock have been directed toward Standing Rock."

But like Standing Rock, the camp is surrounded by threats.

"Recently the Split Rock Sweetwater Camp has come under a great deal of duress, both from the local Polo Club community, of whom we are the largest landowners, and the Mahwah municipality, in an apparent push to deny us the right to open air prayer and the right to assembly," Perry said.

He added that opposition has come not only from local police and other public bodies, but also racist vigilantes.

"We have had swastikas and the word 'hate' drawn on our sacred home, and an eleven-car police raid on two of the land guardians for charging their phone."

While the backlash against indigenous self-determination that has included attack dogs, concussion grenades, pepper spray and water cannons in North Dakota takes different forms in New Jersey, it nevertheless seems familiar.

Perry has appealed online for supporters to gather at the site on Friday, when he says it faces the threat of "eviction" by police, days after Mahwah officials warned in a letter that use of the indigenous land as a "place of public assembly" requires zoning approval from the local government.

"In effect Split Rock Sweetwater is now under the same kind of duress as Standing Rock," Perry told MintPress.

"We need help now, legal and tangible, to help us keep and occupy our own land through this threat."

Resist One Pipeline at a Time

As similar struggles develop across the U.S., the effects of the unprecedented Native mobilization at Standing Rock and its overwhelming public support remain to be seen.

By all accounts, Dakota Access garnered such massive opposition not because of the development's exceptionality, but rather its familiarity.

And with a historic, if provisional, victory under its belt, many expect a burgeoning indigenous movement to intensify its resistance to similar projects elsewhere.

"This is an ongoing problem, and we are probably going to have to resist one pipeline at a time for many decades to come, and maybe longer," Carapella, the cartographer, said.

"This is one victory in a very long battle, a battle that has gone on for 500 years," he added of the permit denial at Standing Rock.

"We are very aware of the next steps forward."

Cherokee cartographer Aaron Carapella's map of pipeline development of tribal lands:

Aaron Carapella

Reposted with permission from our media associate MintPress News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

View of an Ivorian cleared forest at the edge of the 35.000 hectares Peko Mont National Park on Oct. 8, 2016. The Mont Péko National Park is located in the west of Ivory Coast where the forest officers fight with illegal immigrants to protect an exceptional flora and fauna, espacially dwarf elephants. SIA KAMBOU / AFP / Getty Images

Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Apusiaajik Glacier, as seen from Kulusuk village in East Greenland. Like most glaciers in Greenland, it's retreating rapidly, changing the local landscape year by year. Photo credit: Karin Kirk

By Karin Kirk

Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.

During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.

Read More Show Less

Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.

Read More Show Less
Chicago skyline on July 22 as high winds continue to push the waters of Lake Michigan over the top of the pedestrian and bike trail along the lakefront in Chicago. Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

By Daniel Macfarlane

Every fall, I take my environmental studies class camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Some years the beach extends more than three meters to the water. This year, in many spots, there was no beach at all.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Insects like bees, butterflies and even certain species of beetle and ant incidentally pollinate our crops when they collect protein-rich pollen and sugary nectar. Rolf Dietrich Brecher / CC BY 2.0

By Kerstin Palme

Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.

But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.

Read More Show Less
Swedish automaker Volvo unveils its first electric vehicle the XC40 Recgarge EV, during an event in Los Angeles on Oct. 16. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images

Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.

Read More Show Less
Cars are queued in Turin, Italy in August. Particulate matter levels were the highest in Italy, Poland and the Balkans countries. Nicolò Campo / LightRocket / Getty Images

Air pollution in Europe led to more than 400,000 early deaths in 2016, according to the most recent air quality report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less