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Renewable Energy Barn Built in Path of Keystone XL Pipeline

Bold Nebraska

A solar- and wind-powered barn built by volunteers on land directly inside the proposed route of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was dedicated on Sunday, in a ceremony near tiny Benedict, NE, that drew 200 people and featured speakers including energy investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

Pipeline protestors gathered in the early morning hours to paint no-KXL signs that will hang on Nebraska barns along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei/ Bold Nebraska

Many at the dedication ceremony were volunteers who had joined in a four-day community barn-raising to construct the Build Our Energy Barn. Led by Bold Nebraska with partners Nebraska Farmers Union, 350.org, CREDO and the Sierra Club, the Build Our Energy Barn is to be an educational resource; a place where the community can learn and discover sustainable energy alternatives that serve to benefit the agricultural industry. Wind and solar energy are much more than just viable, renewables are an ecological and economic necessity that builds—not threatens—our communities.

The barn is located on land near York, NE, that has been stewarded by the Hammond, Harrington & Kleinschmidt family for six generations.

Volunteers work to erect the Renewable Energy Barn. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

"As a Nebraska farmer and rancher, I know just how challenging it is to produce the food that sustains us," said Meghan Hammond, a sixth-generation family farmer on whose land the barn was built. "Climate change has already disrupted other farmers and my ability to supply nutritional sustenance that all of our families rely on." 

"The last thing we needed was a pipeline that threatened and compromised resources that we depend on season after season, generation after generation," concluded Hammond. 

Due to the location of the Build Our Energy Barn, should President Obama ultimately approve a permit for Keystone XL, TransCanada will either have to reroute the pipeline, or demolish a community-serving, sustainable energy structure.

The Harrington sisters—Abbi Kleinschmidt, Terri, and Jenni—pose with philanthropist and anti-KXL activist Tom Steyer on their family land after the dedication ceremony for the Build Our Energy solar- and wind-powered barn that now stands on the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei/ Bold Nebraska

"Investing in local and clean energy is what builds communities and our nation," said Tom Steyer, energy investor. "President Obama has a clear choice, do we build our clean and local energy, or do we allow a foreign corporation to use our land and risk our water for their bottom line. Our President must put our national interest over TransCanada's interest to expand and export tar sands."

Supporters gather for the dedication ceremony of the Build Our Energy solar- and wind-powered barn west of Benedict, NE.

Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei/ Bold Nebraska

The Build Our Energy barn project was funded with $65,000 raised from more than 1,200 online donors, and constructed by volunteers across two weekends this month. In addition to raising the barn, volunteers also painted "#NoKXL" billboards to place with landowners along the proposed pipeline route.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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