20+ Proposed Pipelines Threatening Indigenous Communities
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.
Standing Rock Celebrates as Army Corps Denies Key Permit, Halts Project https://t.co/2gR870B9Em @FoEAustralia @OhioEnviro— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1480976409.0
"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."
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.
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:
Reposted with permission from our media associate MintPress News.
By Robert J. Orth, Jonathan Lefcheck and Karen McGlathery
A century ago Virginia's coastal lagoons were a natural paradise. Fishing boats bobbed on the waves as geese flocked overhead. Beneath the surface, miles of seagrass gently swayed in the surf, making the seabed look like a vast underwater prairie.
Why Didn’t Seagrasses Recover Naturally?<p>Development, nutrient runoff and other human impacts have damaged marshes, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in many bays and estuaries worldwide. Loss or shrinkage of these key habitats has reduced commercial fisheries, increased erosion, made coastlines more vulnerable to floods and storms and harmed many types of aquatic life. Rapid climate change has compounded these effects through <a href="https://theconversation.com/ocean-warming-has-fisheries-on-the-move-helping-some-but-hurting-more-116248" target="_blank">rising global temperatures</a>, more <a href="https://theconversation.com/more-frequent-and-intense-tropical-storms-mean-less-recovery-time-for-the-worlds-coastlines-123335" target="_blank">frequent and severe storms</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-climate-change-alters-the-oceans-what-will-happen-to-dungeness-crabs-61501" target="_blank">ocean acidification</a>.</p><p>In the late 1990s, local residents told two of us who are longtime students of seagrasses (Robert "JJ" Orth and Karen McGlathery) that they had spotted small patches of eelgrass in shallow waters off Virginia's eastern shore. For years the conventional view had been that seagrasses in this area had not recovered from the events of the 1930s because human activities had <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2005.07.007" target="_blank">made the area inhospitable for them</a>.</p><p>But studies showed that water quality in these coastal bays was <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02782971" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">comparatively good</a>. This led us to explore a different explanation: Seeds from healthy seagrass populations elsewhere along the Atlantic coast simply weren't reaching these isolated bays. Seagrasses are underwater flowering plants, so seeds are among the main ways they reproduce and spread to new environments.</p>
Eelgrass beds were restored in four bays at the southern tip of Virginia's eastern shore on the Atlantic coast. David J. Wilcox/VIMS, CC BY-ND
Sowing a New Crop<p>From our <a href="https://doi.org/10.2307/1941597" target="_blank">earlier research</a>, we knew that when eelgrass seeds fall from the parent plant, they sink to the sea bottom quickly and don't move far from where they land. We also knew that these seeds don't germinate until late fall or early winter. This meant that if we collected the seeds in spring, when eelgrass flowers, we could hold them until the fall, helping them survive over the months in between.</p><p>We decided to try reseeding eelgrass in the areas where they were missing. Starting in 1999, we collected seeds by hand from underwater meadows in nearby Chesapeake Bay – plucking the long reproductive shoots, bringing them back to our laboratory and holding them in large outdoor seawater tanks until they released their seeds naturally. After about 10 years we started gathering the grasses using a custom-built underwater "lawn mower" to collect many more of the reproductive shoots than we could by hand.</p><p>In 2001 we sowed our first round by simply tossing seeds from a boat. Our first test plots covered 28 acres of mud flats in waters 2 to 3 feet deep. Returning the following year, we saw new seedlings sprouting up.</p><p>Each year since then, the <a href="https://www.vims.edu/" target="_blank">Virginia Institute of Marine Science</a> and the <a href="https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/virginia/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nature Conservancy's Virginia Coast Reserve</a>, along with staff and students from the <a href="https://www.vcrlter.virginia.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of Virginia</a>, have led a team of scientists and citizens to collect and seed a combined 536 acres of bare bottom in several coastal bays.</p><p>These initial plots took off and rapidly expanded. By 2020 they covered 9,600 acres across four bays. Several factors helped them flourish. These bays are naturally flushed with cool, clean water from the Atlantic Ocean. And they lie off the tip of Virginia's eastern shore, where there is little coastal development.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a482c2146febd6782c99960c2b55feb8"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K9NyfPLINtk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Sheltering Marine Life and Storing Carbon<p>Since eelgrass disappeared from these bays in the 1930s, human understanding of seagrass ecosystems has evolved. Today people don't pack their walls full of seagrass insulation but instead value different services they provide, such as habitat for fish and shellfish – including many <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12645" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">commercially and recreationally important species</a>.</p><p>Scientists and government agencies also have recognized the importance of coastal systems in capturing and storing so-called "<a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/bluecarbon.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">blue carbon</a>." In fact, we now know that seagrasses constitute a globally significant <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1477" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon sink</a>. They are a key tool for reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-64094-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slowing climate change</a></p><p>We are working to understand the valuable services that our restored seagrass beds provide. To our surprise, fish and invertebrates returned within only a few years as the meadows expanded. These organisms have established extensive food webs that include species ranging from tiny seahorses to 6-foot-long sandbar sharks.<br></p><p>Other benefits were equally dramatic. Water in the bays become clearer as the seagrass canopy trapped floating particles and deposited them onto the bottom, burying significant stocks of carbon and nitrogen in sediments bound by the grasses' roots. Our research is the first to verify the overall net carbon captured by seagrass, and is now being used to issue carbon offset credits that in turn <a href="https://vaseagrant.org/eelgrass-carbon-credits/" target="_blank">create more funds for restoration</a>.</p><p>One big question was whether restoring seagrasses could make it possible to bring back bay scallops, which once generated millions of dollars for the local economy. Since bay scallops no longer existed in Virginia, we obtained broodstock from North Carolina, which we have <a href="https://chesapeakebaymagazine.com/return-of-the-bay-scallop/" target="_blank">reared and released annually</a> since 2013. Regular surveys now reveal a growing population of bay scallops in the restored eelgrass, although there is still some way to go before they reach levels seen in the 1930s.</p>
Restored seagrass beds (dark areas) along Virginia's Atlantic coast, with sunlight reflecting from a small island. Jonathan Lefcheck, CC BY-ND
A Model for Coastal Restoration<p>Repairing damaged ecosystems is such an urgent mission worldwide that the United Nations has designated 2021-2030 as the <a href="https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/" target="_blank">U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration</a>. We see the success we have achieved with eelgrass restoration as a prime model for similar efforts in coastal areas around the world.</p><p>Our project focused not only on reviving this essential habitat, but also on charting how restoring seagrasses affected the ecosystem and on the co-restoration of bay scallops. It provides a road map for involving scholars, nonprofits organizations, citizens and government agencies in an ecological mission where they can see the results of their work.</p><p>Recent assessments show that the restored zone only covers about 30% of the total habitable bottom in our project area. With continued support, eelgrass – and the many benefits it provides – may continue to thrive and expand well into the 21st century.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
Leaders of climate and conservation groups on Tuesday welcomed House Democrats' introduction of landmark legislation that aims to address the ocean impacts of human-caused global heating and reform federal ocean management—recognizing that, as Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva put it, "a healthy ocean is key to fighting the climate crisis."
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<div id="17f05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="28d7040a5dd41c4d26fed8e93a225655"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318614724842524674" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">.@RepRaulGrijalva’s climate bill will ignite #OceanClimateAction to help fight inequality by prioritizing funding f… https://t.co/oeH1W214em</div> — NRDC 🌎🏡 (@NRDC 🌎🏡)<a href="https://twitter.com/NRDC/statuses/1318614724842524674">1603217223.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Julia Conley
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. late Sunday struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of people from losing badly needed federal food assistance.
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