118 Groups Demand FERC Halt Construction of Rover Pipeline
Community activists and organizations sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Wednesday, signed by 118 groups, demanding the agency halt all construction of the Rover gas pipeline and embark upon an extensive review of its approval policies.
The letter, signed by groups along the Rover pipeline route in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan as well as across the country, comes on the heels of massive construction accidents and spills by Energy Transfer Partners as it began construction of the fracked gas pipeline in recent weeks. Already, Energy Transfer Partners has been fined by the state of Ohio and FERC has taken action to pause a portion of their construction activities.
Feds Halt New Drilling on Rover Pipeline After Massive Spills Destroy Ohio Wetlands https://t.co/myayIKZ3QI (@ecowatch)— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1494599011.0
"In just the first few weeks of building the Rover pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners has shown themselves to be simply reckless in their construction practices. But just as importantly, they've exposed glaring flaws in FERC's approval processes for pipelines like Rover," said David Turnbull, campaigns director with Oil Change International.
"FERC needs to take immediate action not only to protect people and ecosystems along the Rover pipeline route from Energy Transfer Partners' reckless ways, but to improve their own processes to ensure this never happens again."
The letter has been endorsed by community-based groups in the states impacted by Rover, like the Ohio River Citizens' Alliance, FreshWater Accountability Project, Buckeye Environmental Network, and Sierra Club Ohio Chapter, along with national groups like Oil Change International, Earthworks, Greenpeace USA, and the Sierra Club. It calls upon FERC to take two discrete actions:
First, the groups demand that FERC halt all construction of the Rover pipeline, with the only exception being any activity necessary to ensure the structural integrity of construction to date. This construction should be halted so that the environmental impact statement can be re-opened to reassess the risks the pipeline construction imposes.
Second, the groups demand that FERC initiate an immediate review of horizontal directional drilling plans and procedures on all open pipeline dockets under their jurisdiction, halting all new approvals of projects while the review takes place.
"Ohioans have a very close connection to the waters of our state, with Lake Erie to the north and the Ohio River in the south," said Cheryl Johncox, dirty fuels organizer in Ohio with the Sierra Club.
"We don't take kindly to big oil and gas coming in here and trashing our state. We will fight with everything we have to protect our water and our communities."
The letter will be sent electronically and delivered in person to the FERC headquarters in Washington, DC.
"The twin Rover pipelines have torn a path across our lands, stepping on property rights and placing added burdens on our communities," said Elaine Tanner, an organizer with the Ohio River Citizens' Alliance.
"We must think before placing our future in the hands of corporations willing to leave our people behind as collateral damage."
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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Listen:<iframe style="border: none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/17278520/height/45/theme/standard/thumbnail/yes/direction/backward/" height="45" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/01/college-course-teaches-students-how-to-be-climate-leaders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Yale Climate Connections</a>.</em></p>
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