A striking report has revealed that 90 percent of the 137 interstate pipeline fires or explosions since 2010 have drawn no financial penalties for the companies responsible.
The article from E&E News reporter Mike Soraghan underscores the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) weak authority over the fossil fuel industry for these disasters.
The government levied a mere $5.4 million in fines for the 13 pipeline explosion and fire cases in the last eight years, the analysis found.
137 fires and explosions on interstate pipelines since start of 2010. $5.4 million in fines levied by feds at… https://t.co/o4zuqObVlV— Mike Soraghan (@Mike Soraghan)1542369720.0
One of the country's largest natural gas pipeline accidents—the 2010 San Bruno, California pipeline explosion that resulted in eight deaths—fell under state jurisdiction rather than PHMSA. California authorities imposed a record $1.6 billion fine against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).
Although serious pipeline incidents are relatively rare—at least when you consider how much natural gas is transported every day by the country's 3 million miles of mainline and other pipelines—it's little solace to the people who have suffered from pipeline accidents.
Citing PHMSA data, the Washington Post reported that more than 300 people have died and 1,200 have been injured due to natural gas pipeline incidents in the last 20 years—and the nation's aging gas distribution network further increases these risks.
7 Hospitalized After #Pipeline Explosions in #Texas https://t.co/5sq000oE4N @PipelineandGas @keystonexI @PriceofOil— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1533243616.0
But new gas pipelines explode, too. TransCanada's Leach XPress project, which was placed in-service on Jan. 1, exploded in Marshall County, West Virginia in June. A 24-inch natural gas line, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco, exploded in Beaver County, Pennsylvania in September a week after it was activated.
These risks have prompted calls from environmentalists and concerned citizens to halt new fracked gas projects such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, which have both lost key permits in recent weeks.
"Those who disregard the public's widespread opposition to fracked gas pipelines seemingly always point to how safe they are and closely watched they'll be. Nothing could be further from the truth," the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin said in an online statement in response to the E&E News article.
"We know we can't expect corporate polluters to look out for our health, but we should be able to count on our enforcement agencies to protect us. Stories like these show exactly why we should never build another fracked gas pipeline, especially when clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable," Martin concluded.
Pipeline in Hurricane Florence’s Potential Path Poses Added Danger https://t.co/73UAxfFiQS— The YEARS Project (@The YEARS Project)1536941465.0
No injuries were reported but flames and smoke from the blast could be seen as far as 20 miles away, residents told local media. Area police told CBS News the fire was "very large—if you can see it from your house, evacuate."
"It sounded like a freight train coming through, or a tornado, and the sky lit up bright orange, and then I got up and looked out the window and flames were shooting I don't know how far into the sky," Tina Heath-Chaplin, of Moundsville, told WPXI.
TransCanada—the same company behind the Keystone pipeline—said the explosion has been contained and an investigation is underway.
"As soon as the issue was identified, emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m," the company commented Thursday.
"The cause of this issue is not yet known," TransCanada continued. "The site of the incident has been secured and we are beginning the process of working with applicable regulators to investigate, including the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration."
This is drone footage from @MarshallCoWVOEM Director Tom Hart says this is at the end of Nixon Ridge near Fish Cree… https://t.co/B3OJOM6A0Q— Tessa DiTirro (@Tessa DiTirro)1528380838.0
Robert Burrough, the director with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's Eastern Regional Office, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the affected line is likely TransCanada's $1.6 billion, 160-mile Leach XPress pipeline, which started service in January.
Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO said at the line opening, "This is truly a best-in-class pipeline and we look forward to many years of safe, reliable, and efficient operation on behalf of our customers."
Keystone Pipeline Spilled 407K Gallons in South Dakota, Double Previous Estimate https://t.co/H1jwquWveg @EnvAm… https://t.co/jsOwQqDpRY— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1523280084.0
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From bamboo utensils to bamboo toothbrushes, household products made from bamboo are becoming more popular every year. If you have allergies, neck pain or wake up constantly to flip your pillow to the cold side, bamboo pillows have the potential to help you sleep peacefully through the night.
In this article, we'll explain the benefits of bamboo pillows and how they can help you on your journey to better sleep. We'll also recommend a few of the best pillows on the market so you can choose new bedding that's right for you.
Our Picks for the Top Bamboo Pillows
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall: Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Luxury Pillow: Cosy House Collection Luxury Bamboo Pillow
- Best Body Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow
- Best Bamboo Alternative: Avocado Green Pillow
Why Switch to Bamboo Pillows?
Bamboo may be thought of as a tree-like structure because of its resilience, but it's actually classified as grass, which can be spun and woven in a soft, spongy material much like cotton. The pillows are made with a bamboo-based outer sleeve and stuffed with foam pieces in order to mold to your head position. Bamboo is considered naturally hypoallergenic and doesn't attract pests, bacterias or other fungi like most other plants.
Bedding materials such as cotton and silk don't have the concise cellulose structure that bamboo does. The material's cell structure allows more oxygen circulation, which keeps it lightweight and breathable so your pillow stays cooler longer.
Other than the sleeping benefits of the pillows, bamboo is considered an extremely sustainable material through production. The adaptable plant works as a great renewable resource, as it can thrive in any soil type and it is considered one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. As the bamboo is grown, it produces more oxygen than its calculated carbon emissions. And the cultivation of bamboo doesn't require fertilizer or pesticides, so ecosystems around the bamboo farms can be left unharmed.
Although bamboo itself is a completely natural and sustainable material, it has to undergo a strong chemical process in order to become a textile. Bamboo viscose, which is a type of rayon, is controversial among environmentalists because of this process, but overall, bamboo derivatives still produce lower carbon emissions than traditional polyester bedding. New bamboo textile processes are also being developed to be much more eco-friendly.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
When choosing our top recommended bamboo pillows, we looked at factors including:
- Comfort: Quality comes first when choosing bedding. The bamboo pillows chosen contain soft and snug adjustable filling to adapt to your preferred firmness.
- Materials: Most traditional pillows are stuffed with synthetic foam that contains VOCs, also known as volatile organic compounds. We ensure both the bamboo fabric and foam used in our picks are toxin-free.
- Cost: Bamboo pillows are usually a little more expensive than regular polyester or feather pillows because of their superior comfort and eco-friendly properties. It's important that the product you spend your money on is worth the cost and will hold up long-term.
- Customer reviews: We look at real and verified reviews in order to make sure each product is genuinely beneficial to customers' sleep.
Best Overall: Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
The Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow is our pick for the overall best bamboo pillow because it offers just the right amount of support for side sleepers, stomach sleepers and back sleepers. Unlike most memory foam pillows, which use a large compact memory foam base, the shredded memory foam in these sleeper pillows allows you to easily add or remove the filling to meet your optimal comfortability. This memory foam pillow can support your neck, shoulders and upper back muscles without putting stress on your spine.
The bamboo cover as well as the memory foam allow for better air circulation to keep you from feeling too warm. These bamboo pillowcases are antibacterial as well as machine washable, so you can always have a clean sleep. The sizes range from standard to king-size pillows and are sold in a compact box that can easily be reused or recycled after purchasing.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 6,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Sleepsia's memory foam pillow uses CertiPUR-US® certified safe foam to ensure low emissions and prohibits the use of harmful components.
Best Luxury Pillow: Cosy House Collection Luxury Bamboo Pillow
Cosy House's king- and queen-size pillows are made with high-quality, bamboo-derived rayon fabric. The premium bamboo fibers increase airflow and temperature control so you won't have to flip to the cool side of your pillow through the night. If the pillows get dirty or flat over time, simply throw them in the washer and dryer to make them feel brand new again.
These bamboo pillows have a middle layer of transitional foam for extra durability as well as a safe, non-toxic filling to ensure you can sleep comfortably. If you're not satisfied with the luxurious product, Cosy House offers a satisfaction guarantee and will answer any questions or concerns in a timely manner.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 2,300 Amazon ratings.
Why Buy: Cosy House products are Amazon's Choice for luxury bamboo pillows and are CertiPUR-US certified. They contain premium materials to ensure you get the best possible sleep.
Best Body Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow
If you have back pain and neck pain, the Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow will be able to support your full body to relieve tension while sleeping. The 4.5-foot-long pillow works great as a pregnancy pillow or for anyone seeking premium comfort and support.
The Snuggle-Pedic was developed by chiropractors who wanted to help restless patients get a good night's sleep. The doctors found that your body is able to evenly distribute its weight and naturally align your spine when hugging a body pillow. Inside the pillow is a cooling material that is designed to absorb heat and help people prone to night sweats and overheating. The shredded memory foam pillow can be easily maneuvered to your body's comfort and is fully machine washable if you want to clean or re-fluff it for long-lasting coziness.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 14,300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Made in the USA and GreenGuard Gold certified, Snuggle-Pedic ensures non-toxic stuffing.
Best alternative: Avocado Green Pillow
If bamboo pillows just aren't for you, Avocado's 100% organic cotton pillow is just as sustainable and comfy. When you open the sleeve, the pillow is divided into three main materials. The outer layer consists of a quilt-like cover made from high-quality cotton. The soft organic latex ribbons underneath provide structure and customizable firmness to support all sleep positions. Finally, the pillow is stuffed with eco-friendly kapok tree fiber which is hypoallergenic, biodegradable and never grown with pesticides.
Avocado provides an extra bag of filling if you want to adjust your volume for a softer or more extra firm pillow. You can wash your removable cotton pillow cover if needed, but there's no need to use bleach and hanging it to dry will keep it from naturally shrinking. The soft pillows come in every size necessary and pair well with Avocado's green mattress if you're determined to sleep well with sustainable peace of mind.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 5,000 ratings on the Avocado website
Why Buy: Vegan, GreenGuard certified and considered a carbon-negative business, Avocado's Green Pillow has passed some of the most strict emissions and sustainability testing for sleeping products on the market today.
Frequently Asked Questions: Bamboo Pillows
Is a bamboo pillow sustainable?
Bamboo is considered a great renewable resource that can be used in many different household items and is a great alternative to traditional polyester bedding products. The fast-growing plant has such a high carbon to oxygen rate that it actually offsets carbon emissions, and it doesn't require any fertilization or pesticides that could potentially cause runoff production. However, the production process to turn bamboo into a textile can create toxins that leach into the environment. Still, it's a better alternative to full synthetic materials.
What is so special about bamboo pillows?Bamboo bed pillows are a great product to try if you have trouble sleeping because of allergy issues, breathing problems or overheating at night. They are known for their distinct fibers that encourage airflow and make the pillows so lightweight. The breathable features have shown evidence of hypoallergenic properties and create a natural cooling to help sleepers get a good night of rest.
Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel Deregulation After Fatal Chemical Fire
By Jake Johnson
Just a week after a chemical plant explosion killed one worker and spewed thousands of pounds of dangerous pollutants into the air in Crosby, Texas, President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to visit that city Wednesday to sign executive orders to speed up approval of pipelines and other fossil fuel projects.
In coming to the location of a deadly fossil fuel-related explosion to sign an order that would gut states' power to protect residents from the hazards of oil and gas pipelines, Trump is adding tasteless insult to the injury he is inflicting on our planet," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.
"Trump's support for the fossil fuel industry reflects a real disdain for public safety and a livable climate for generations to come," Hauter continued. "Expediting pipelines means more petrochemical buildout in places like Appalachia, and more disasters waiting in the wings — not to mention climate catastrophe."
According to the Houston Chronicle, Trump will appear at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, where he will deliver a speech about "how he plans to aid the United States' booming domestic oil and gas production."
While the full details of Trump's forthcoming executive orders have not yet been made public, a White House official told the Chronicle they will be geared toward helping oil and gas companies avoid "red tape."
"With oil industry cronies and swamp monsters filling the ranks of his administration, it's no surprise that Trump is once again taking an action championed by climate deniers and fossil fuel companies," Rachel Rye Butler, climate campaigner with Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. "This executive order is nothing but an attempt to trample people's rights to protect their air, water, and climate from polluting oil and gas pipelines."
"This is particularly appalling given that many parts of the country are reeling from climate disasters—like the historic flooding in the Midwest that has much of the Keystone XL pipeline route underwater," Butler added. "Instead of creating jobs in the rapidly growing green energy economy, Trump is putting fossil fuels on life support at the expense of our climate and communities."
The president's move to expand fossil fuel production in Texas and across the nation — including TransCanada's Keystone pipeline — comes as the international scientific community warns carbon emissions must be slashed drastically and quickly to avert planet-wide climate catastrophe.
Oil Change International (OCI) estimated in a report published earlier this year that Trump's Big Oil-friendly agenda has put the U.S. on track to account for 60 percent of global growth in fossil fuel production between 2019 and 2030.
"If not curtailed, U.S. oil and gas expansion will impede the rest of the world's ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable decline of oil and gas production," OCI's report warned.
Cash Buys Elections—and Continued Fossil Fuel Dominance https://t.co/ZL3gNZLPvi #Energy https://t.co/AK1hXFwpgg— Renewable Search (@Renewable Search)1542315846.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Facing mounting protests and lawsuits from environmental groups and property owners, backers of the natural gas pipeline industry are seeking help from the U.S. government to help push their projects through, Reuters reported.
"It's definitely not getting easier to build a new pipeline," Stanley Chapman, executive vice president and president of U.S. natural gas pipelines at TransCanada Corp, told the news service at the World Gas Conference in Washington.
"I'm seeing more already-approved pipeline projects that are under construction get held up by a judge in lawsuits and this has to be addressed either by FERC or with legislation," he added, referring to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees construction of new pipelines.
Followers of the Keep It In The Ground movement would say that the best means of fossil fuel transportation is none. Environmentalists oppose oil and natural gas pipelines over fears of air and water pollution, as well as its impact on climate-warming emissions.
Reuters further reported:
In recent weeks, environmental groups like the Sierra Club have won court orders delaying construction on EQT Midstream Partners LP's Mountain Valley pipeline at several locations in West Virginia, and are now seeking a court order to also stop construction in Virginia.
"We don't need these pipelines to meet our energy needs, so it makes no sense to lock us into generations of dependence on dirty fossil fuels," said Joan Walker, who helps lead the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.
Natural gas has become America's primary fuel to generate electricity, displacing coal. The energy industry has touted natural gas as the "cleanest" fossil fuel and a means to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, a recent study found that U.S. oil and natural gas operations release 60 percent more planet-warming methane than currently estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This suggests that ramping up shale gas production could be a real climate problem over time.
Calgary-based TransCanada owns about 30,000 miles of gas pipelines in the U.S. Earlier this month, its new Leach XPress pipeline—which only started service in January—exploded in the remote Nixon Ridge area of Marshall County in West Virginia.
TransCanada #Pipeline Explodes in West Virginia https://t.co/tFobp9KhlS #pipelines @StopFrackNCTown… https://t.co/Y5NuERpQVp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528397919.0
TransCanada's crude oil pipelines have been at the center of environmental ire, especially its existing Keystone and the controversial Keystone XL, which President Donald Trump pushed forward last year through an executive order, overturning President Obama's rejection of the project.
The Keystone pipeline has already leaked a significant amount of oil three times in less than seven years. Since the 2,147-mile pipeline began operating in 2010, it has gushed 9,700 barrels in November in Marshall County, South Dakota, and about 400 barrels each in Hutchinson County, South Dakota in 2016 and in Sargent County, North Dakota in 2011.
Other energy executives are also feeling the heat from pipeline opposition, including Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge Inc. that owns more than 27,000 miles of gas transmission lines in North America.
"Fifteen years ago nobody cared that much about pipelines, today pipelines are under siege," Monaco told Reuters.
Incidentally, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission just approved a rebuild of Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline over vehement opposition from environmental activists and Native American groups.
The Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota are asking a Montana judge to rescind the permit granted by the administration in 2017, saying it did not assess how the pipeline would impact their water and sacred lands.
"As President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, I want to make it perfectly clear, and give fair warning to President Trump, Secretary Zinke, The United States Army Corps of Engineers, TransCanada and their financial backers and potential investors, South Dakota Governor Daugaard, Representative Noem, and Senators Thune and Rounds that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Through our attorneys—the Native American Rights Fund (NARF)—the Rosebud Sioux Tribe will use all means available to fight in the courtroom this blatant trespass into Sicangu Lakota territory," Rosebud Sioux Tribe President William Kindle said in a NARF statement.
The Keystone XL pipeline, which TransCanada wants to build to transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta's tar sands through Montana and North and South Dakota to connect with an existing Keystone pipeline in Nebraska, was denied a permit by former President Barack Obama in 2015.
But almost as soon as President Donald Trump took office, he invited TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, to reapply for a permit that the State Department granted two months later, according to NPR.
NARF noted in a statement that, in granting the 2017 permit, the State Department did not explain why it had ruled differently this time. It took only 56 days to approve the project after TransCanada reapplied.
"President Trump permitted the Keystone XL pipeline because he wanted to. It was a political step, having nothing to do with what the law actually requires. NARF is honored to represent the Rosebud Sioux and Fort Belknap Tribes to fully enforce the laws and fight this illegal pipeline," NARF staff attorney Natalie Landreth said in a statement.
The Fort Belknap Indian Community is concerned because the pipeline would travel less than 100 miles from its reservation headquarters and pass through sacred sites, as well as the ancestral lands of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is concerned because the pipeline would pass within miles of the boundaries of its reservation and yards of its trust lands and members' allotments. It would also cross under the two sources of water used for the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply Project, which the Rosebud Sioux Tribe uses to run its own water delivery system.
"There are countless historical, cultural and religious sites in the planned path of the pipeline that are at risk of destruction, both by the pipeline's construction and by the threat of inevitable ruptures and spills if the pipeline becomes operational," the NARF statement said.
The lawsuit contends that no attempt was made in the permitting process to consider these risks.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana will hear the case, NPR reported.
Morris ruled last month in favor of environmentalists, Native American groups and landowners who had argued that the State Department had to conduct a separate Environmental Impact Statement after the pipeline's route in Nebraska was changed since the first statement was written in 2014.
TransCanada's long-gestating Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline was dealt another setback after a federal judge in Montana ruled Wednesday that the Trump State Department must conduct a robust environmental review of the alternative pipeline route through Nebraska.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris sided with environmentalists, landowners and tribal plaintiffs in their challenge to the Trump administration. Pipeline opponents argued that the State Department's approval of the KXL was based on an outdated Environmental Impact Statement from 2014 of the original route, and accused the administration of trying to short-cut the permitting process.
Morris ordered the State Department to conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Statement for the "Mainline Alternative" route, approved by Nebraska officials in November, to supplement the 2014 review.
In his decision, Morris said the State Department has the "obligation to analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision," according to Courthouse News Service.
If built, the $8 billion 1,180-mile pipeline will transport heavy crude from Alberta's tar sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The controversial project has been at the center of an environmental fight for a decade. President Obama rejected the KXL in 2015 partly due to concerns about its contribution to climate change, but President Trump reversed the decision shortly after taking office.
Plaintiffs in the case celebrated the decision.
"This decision rejects the Trump administration's shameful attempt to ram through Keystone XL without bothering to take a hard look at its effect on wildlife and the environment," said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. "It's always been painfully obvious what a disaster this pipeline will be—not just for our climate and local communities but for endangered species like the whooping crane. There's just no excuse for approving this terrible project."
Joye Braun, of the Wakpa Waste Camp at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, said in a statement: "This is a huge step to once again shut down this zombie pipeline that threatens water, our homelands, and our treaty territory. No route is acceptable for Keystone XL, and I believe a full environmental review of this alternative route will highlight the extraordinary risks this pipeline poses to us all—including highly sensitive ecological and cultural sites. This is a step in the right direction to protect our treaty territory, our Indigenous rights, and our people."
In November, the Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected TransCanada's preferred route for the pipeline through the state. Instead, they voted for an alternative route that will cost the company millions of dollars more than the original path, Reuters reported.
#Trump State Dept. Attempts 'Shortcut' to Build KXL #Pipeline, Groups Say https://t.co/HovbZWojQb @keystonexI @NoTarSands #KeystoneXL— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1533070817.0
"Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators," TransCanada spokesman Matthew John told Omaha World-Herald. "All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment."
The move comes after President Trump's State Department—in response to a judge's order—released a nearly 340-page draft review on Friday that said the pipeline's alternative route approved by Nebraska regulators in November will have "no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments."
"Prompt cleanup response would likely be capable of remediating the contaminated soils before the hazardous release reaches groundwater depth," the report also said.
The KXL has been at the center of a contentious fight for a decade. If built, the $8 billion, 1,184-mile pipeline will transport heavy crude oil from Alberta's tar sands through Montana and North and South Dakota to connect with an existing Keystone pipeline in Nebraska.
BREAKING: President Obama rejects #KeystoneXL pipeline. Thank you #NoKXL movement! https://t.co/xeQ7K1M6JU https://t.co/wk3rm8gTzL— RAN (@RAN)1446844802.0
Indigenous groups worry that its path would cross drinking water sources and treaty territories.
Earlier this month, the Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota asked a Montana judge to rescind the permit granted by the Trump administration, saying it did not assess how the pipeline would impact their water and sacred lands.
Environmental groups sharply criticized the Trump administration's review and vowed to fight the project.
“The Trump administration sees no problem with building Keystone XL—in other news, the grass is still green and the sky is still blue," Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin said in a press release.
Keystone XL is a threat to our land, water, wildlife, communities, and climate. We've held off construction of this pipeline for 10 years, and regardless of this administration's attempts to force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people, that fight will continue until Keystone XL is stopped once and for all.
Builders have already started preparing pipe yards, transporting pipe and mowing parts of the project's right-of-way in Montana and South Dakota, the Associated Press wrote.
Last week, the Guardian reported that state and federal law enforcement officials are already anticipating possible Standing Rock-style protests against the KXL, citing documents from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Montana.
The ACLU obtained a report showing that state and federal agencies may be spying on potential protesters and characterizes pipeline opponents as "extremists" intent on "criminal disruptions and violent incidents" and warned of potential "terrorism."
'Treating protest as terrorism': US plans crackdown on Keystone XL activists https://t.co/uyI2AMMI6T— Guardian Environment (@Guardian Environment)1537430687.0
The government shutdown has left thousands of federal employees without a paycheck, but the Trump administration is making sure energy companies can continue with plans to extract fossil fuels from public lands.
Even though the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is closed during the shutdown, agency employees organized public meetings for an environmental review for oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), according to Alaska's Energy Desk.
The report said:
Emails obtained by Alaska's Energy Desk show that on Jan. 3—13 days into the shutdown—Bureau of Land Management project coordinator Nicole Hayes wrote to community leaders in Alaska to schedule public meetings for the ongoing environmental review process needed to allow oil lease sales in the Arctic refuge.
When contacted Friday by Alaska's Energy Desk, Hayes' email account sent an automatic reply: "Due to the lapse in funding of the federal government budget, I am out of the office. I am not authorized to work during this time, but will respond to your email when I return to the office."
The department also moved ahead with public meetings surrounding more oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, the report said.
BLM is using remaining funds from the previous fiscal year to pay for the work, BLM Alaska director Ted Murphy told Energy Desk in a statement.
Drilling in the pristine, federally protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—home caribou herds, polar bears, grizzlies and other unique species—had been off limits for decades, but the Trump administration has aggressively pushed for Arctic drilling projects on land and water under the guise of "energy dominance."
Bloomberg reported that the Interior Department is also issuing permits for oil companies to drill wells in the Gulf of Mexico during the government freeze.
"The oil industry is still getting business as usual and everybody else is getting shut out, so it's fundamentally not fair and it may be illegal too," Matt Lee-Ashley, a former deputy chief of staff at the Interior Department, told Bloomberg.
Not all energy projects are moving forward during the shutdown. Environmental reviews of Dominion's Atlantic Coast pipeline and TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline have also been stalled by the shutdown, as well as permits to conduct seismic blasting in the Atlantic, Bloomberg reported.
Meanwhile—as the Trump-caused shutdown continues in its third week—garbage, human waste and vandals are destroying our National Parks, another bureau of the Department of the Interior.
Joshua Tree Closes because of damage during government shutdown. Park Rangers stated that "there have been incident… https://t.co/KHnyIqZkmw— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1547044630.0
Following the reports, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the new chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, sought answers from David Bernhardt, the acting head of the Interior Department.
In a letter sent Monday, Grijalva questioned why public meetings for the two Arctic energy projects moved ahead even though most agency staff have been furloughed and the Interior is reportedly not responding to public inquires on the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska planning process.
"Notice that the Reserve meetings were still occurring was only provided to stakeholders the day before the first one was held, and information about the Arctic Refuge meetings is currently only available through news reports," the Democrat of Arizona wrote.
"Asking people to comment on two major development processes in the Arctic with huge potential environmental and human consequences without anyone in the agency able to answer questions defeats the purpose of the public participation process," he added.
Grijalva demanded a response by this Friday, as even with reduced BLM staff, "there should be no difficulty having those employees provide responses to these questions" since the employees still appear to be working on oil development projects.
As #GovernmentShutdown Drags on, #NationalParks Will Use Entrance Fees to Take Out Trash https://t.co/PJsXcfSmQ6 @DeSmogBlog @NRDems— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1546920017.0
By Jessica Corbett
Raising alarm about human rights violations and the global climate crisis, activists from around the world are traveling to Washington, DC for the first annual Indigenous Peoples March, which will kick off at 8 a.m. local time on Jan. 18 outside the U.S. Department of the Interior's main building.
"It's wonderful—and needed, now more than ever—to see so many tribes and organizations coming together to raise awareness about the ongoing need to preserve and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples," said organizer Phyllis Young of the Lakota People's Law Project.
Launched by the Indigenous Peoples Movement, a newly formed coalition dedicated to fostering positive change on "issues that directly affect our lands, peoples, and respective cultures," the march will be preceded by a group prayer at 9 a.m. and followed by an evening fundraising concert at the Songbird Music House.
"Indigenous people from North, Central and South America, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean are a target of genocide," the organizers charge. "Currently, many Indigenous people are victims of voter suppression, divided families by walls and borders, an environmental holocaust, sex and human trafficking, and police/military brutality with little or no resources and awareness of this injustice."
More than 10,000 marchers are anticipated to descend on DC for the event, including people from Australia, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Canada, the Caribbean and across the U.S. Those interested in participating or supporting the march can check for updates on the official Facebook event, and are encouraged to post updates to social media using the hashtags #IPMDC19 and #WHYIMARCH.
Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People's Law Project, said in a statement on Wednesday that his delegation will also advocate for a Green New Deal—an increasingly popular proposal championed by the Sunrise Movement and other grassroots organizations as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a growing number of Democratic lawmakers that would pair climate and economic policies—"as a way to combat climate change and create green jobs, especially in Indian Country."
"It's going to be a beautiful day," he said of the march. "Our people are under constant threat, from pipelines, from police, from a system that wants to forget the valuable perspectives we bring to the table. But those challenges make us stronger. We look forward to gathering together and raising awareness. We must remind the world, again, that Indigenous people matter. We are all made better when we respect one another and lift each other up."
Iron Eyes' comments come just a day after global protests spurred by outrage over the Canadian government's support for TransCanada's plans to build a fracked gas pipeline through unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, despite opposition to the project from First Nations leaders. Public anger ramped up on Monday afternoon, ahead of the demonstrations, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police invaded a checkpoint established by Indigenous land defenders and arrested 14 of them.
We stand with you! https://t.co/1VFEdqgu2Q— Indigenous Peoples Movement (@Indigenous Peoples Movement)1546942901.0
Plans for the march also come amid growing concern over the presidency of Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, who was sworn in at the beginning of the year and has not wasted any time launching attacks on the environment and Indigenous communities in his country.
As Common Dreams reported, "On his first day in office, Bolsonaro introduced an executive order that will effectively take away land rights for indigenous Brazilians and descendants of former slaves and gave control of Amazon lands to the agriculture ministry; eliminated LGBTQ rights from the purview of the country's human rights ministry; and set the minimum wage lower than the rate his predecessor's government had budgeted for."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Environmentalists spoke out against President Donald Trump's State Department after it found "no significant environmental impacts" in its review of TransCanada's long-gestating Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
The alternative route approved by Nebraska regulators in November would have "minor to moderate" impacts from its construction and operation, according to the 300-page draft report released Monday. It said the route would not have a major impact on the state's water resources, soils or wildlife. It may cause minor impacts on cultural resources such as Native American graves.
Once built, the $8 billion 1,180-mile pipeline will transport heavy crude from Alberta's tar sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The controversial project has been at the center of an environmental fight for a decade. President Obama rejected the KXL in 2015 partly due to concerns about its contribution to climate change, but President Trump reversed the decision just days into office.
In a press release, the Sierra Club said that Trump's approval of the KXL was based on an outdated Environmental Impact Statement from 2014 and accused the administration of short-cutting the permitting process.
"Once again, the Trump administration is attempting to take a shortcut around the legally required review process on Keystone XL, putting our communities at risk for the sake of propping up the Canadian tar sands industry," said Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Director Kelly Martin in a statement. "Keystone XL was a bad idea when it was proposed a decade ago, it was a bad idea when former President Obama rejected it, and it's an even worse idea now. This pipeline is a threat to our land, water, wildlife, communities, and climate, and we will continue fighting, in the courts and in the streets, to ensure that it is never built."
The group noted that in November, Nebraska regulators rejected TransCanada's preferred route for the pipeline. Instead, they voted for a new route that had not been assessed.
KXL opponents are now trying to block the State Department's approval of the pipeline "based on this insufficient analysis" in federal court, the Sierra Club said.
The press release added: "Rather than following the legally required process of preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before approving a project, the State Department is attempting to rush the project through by releasing an abbreviated Environmental Assessment on the new Nebraska route while leaving its permit in place, and still failing to conduct an adequate review of the project's climate impacts, harm to endangered species, or changes in oil prices and market forces since 2014."
Under a 2011 state law, Nebraska is not allowed to factor in pipeline safety or spill risks. Nebraska regulators did not factor in a 210,000-gallon spill from Transcanada's existing Keystone Pipeline on South Dakota farmland that happened just days before they voted on the KXL's alternative route.
TransCanada hopes to start KXL construction in the beginning of 2019.
"We will review the environmental assessment and provide comment to the Department of State as necessary," Matthew John, a TransCanada spokesman, told Bloomberg.
The State Department has opened its draft report of the Keystone XL Mainline Alternative Route for a 30-day public comment period.
Other environmentalists blasted the State Department's assessment.
"The Trump administration can't patch over its total failure to comply with the law by releasing this environmental assessment now, after Keystone XL has already been approved," said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement. "The dirty tar sands carried by this pipeline would have disastrous effects on our climate, land, and water. This project should have been rejected at the outset, and the administration should revoke the permit immediately."
Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, has similar sentiments.
"The Trump administration doesn't care about water or property rights," Kleeb stated. "Landowners, Tribal Nations and everyday citizens will continue to fight the Trump administration's illegal rubber-stamp of a permit for Keystone XL, and this illegal review that completely violated due process of affected landowners on the Mainline Alternative Route. The only right thing to do, would be to reject Keystone XL again."
TransCanada #Pipeline Explodes in West Virginia https://t.co/tFobp9KhlS #pipelines @StopFrackNCTown… https://t.co/Y5NuERpQVp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528397919.0
By Tara Lohan
Animals today live in a shrinking world. Development, resource extraction and roadbuilding have fragmented landscapes and reduced wild spaces making it harder for animals to find food, search for a mate and adapt to a changing climate. To help address these problems, ecologists and conservationists have been working for decades to create wildlife corridors — areas of natural habitat that can reconnect fragmented habitats. These projects have ranged from small-scale efforts to build safe passage over highways to major conservation efforts protecting millions of acres.
For more than 20 years, ecologist Jodi Hilty has been one of the people at the heart of this work. As president and chief scientist of the Canada-U.S. nonprofit Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), Hilty has helped lead the organization's work to connect and protect habitat in the massive region stretching 502,000 square miles across western North America from Wyoming to the Northwest Territories.
She's also co-author of the book Corridor Ecology: Linking Landscapes for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Adaptation, due out in April, which explains why corridors are needed now more than ever with a changing climate. We talked to Hilty about what kind of wildlife corridor projects have been most successful and why corridors aren't just for land-based animals.
What have been some of the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on wildlife? What kinds of species have been most affected?
Habitat loss and fragmentation affects wildlife in a number of different ways. Generally, wildlife that have specific needs or large home-range requirements in more intact habitat are more likely to experience a reduction in total numbers or disappear from part of their original range. This is particularly true where smaller and more isolated patches of habitat remain because they often can only sustain smaller populations, and smaller populations are more likely to go extinct.
There are three kinds of animals that have difficulty in places where natural habitat is disappearing or has become fragmented. The first is migratory animals — these are animals that need to move seasonally to obtain resources. For example, some wildebeest and pronghorn populations have been lost in places where they can no longer migrate. Second are animals that are fewer in number and require large home ranges, especially those that have a harder time co-existing with humans, such as grizzly bears and tigers. Many isolated, small populations have gone extinct or are at high risk of extinction. And third are specialist animals that have very specific needs and don't do well in altered environments — animals like orangutans and tiger salamanders are examples of specialists that face challenges with habitat loss and fragmentation.
Ecologist Jodi Hilty on the Nahanni River.Colleen Brennan
What are some of the most exciting wildlife corridor projects you're working on now?
Wildlife corridors are one tool that can help reconnect disconnected patches of habitat and so are essential to achieve the Y2Y vision of connecting and protecting habitat in the region for people and nature to thrive. We worked with Vital Ground, a land trust in western Montana this year to purchase lands just west of Missoula to help maintain a corridor between Ninemile and the Bitterroot Ranges for grizzly bears and other wildlife. This is one of the key connections to allow grizzly bears to naturally re-occupy the Salmon-Selway wildland complex in central Idaho.
Road-crossing projects in the Y2Y region are also really exciting. The region already has more than 100 underpasses and overpasses dedicated to getting wildlife safely across roads. A new overpass on the TransCanada highway east of Banff in Alberta is at the design stage, and Y2Y is supporting the Valhalla Wilderness Society to study how to solve the problem of western toads getting killed on Highway 31A in British Columbia. Animals of all sizes can face problems getting across roads safely.
The book you co-authored, Corridor Ecology, is coming out with a second edition in April. What have been some of the most important developments in this field since the first edition was published in 2006?
The science has advanced significantly, and the implementation of corridors has become vastly more widespread, with a proliferation of studies focusing on habitat connectivity originating from all over the world. Over half of these studies are coming from the U.S., followed by Spain, China and Australia.
There have been more than 180 new papers published on connectivity and climate change alone — a field that was in its infancy in 2005 when we submitted the first book for publication.
Likewise, the growth and sophistication of various connectivity modeling approaches also exploded in recent years, as did other related science and implementation efforts.
Which wildlife corridor projects have been most successful?
It is difficult to say — there have been many corridor conservation projects around the world. It is so exciting to see once-denuded creeks in Australia restored so well that a wide corridor of habitat has regrown and wildlife like Lumholtz tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus lumholtzi), which are threatened by large-scale clearing of rainforest habitat, are using the corridors. Closer to my home, Dr. Michael Proctor has been monitoring grizzly bears on the U.S.-Canada border and has been able to verify wildlife using key corridors.
Snow geese stop during their migration from the Arctic at Pongo Lake in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina.Jim Liestman / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Most wildlife corridors we hear about are on land, but what about the sky and sea?
The concept of wildlife corridors took off quickly on land but connectivity in the marine environment has recently emerged as a field of research and we are pleased to have University of California, Santa Cruz marine ecology professor Mark Carr and NOAA research ecologist Elliott Hazen contributing a chapter on the topic in our book. There is now research into deep-sea connectivity in oceans, as well as near the shore, like along coral reefs.
In some ways, flyways have been a pioneering part of the world of connectivity. North America has done quite a good job of protecting major flyways, mostly by making sure wetland stop-over sites for birds were maintained or restored. There is increasing discussion about what corridors in the sky might look like, but more work needs to be done to explore this concept.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
Of the many Obama-era environmental decisions that President Donald Trump reversed once he took office, one of the most painful was his move to re-approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta's tar sands through Montana to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines leading to the Gulf Coast.
President Barack Obama finally rejected the pipeline after a massive popular movement protested the creation of more fossil fuel infrastructure in an age of runaway climate change. It was disappointing to see all that hard work undone with a scrawl of a pen.
That's why it is so exciting to report that a federal judge has thrown a wrench in the pipeline's construction. Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled Thursday that the project cannot proceed until the Trump administration produces an environmental impact report that actually deals with the fact of climate change, The Huffington Post Reported.
BREAKING! Tonight Federal Judge Brian Morris rescinded the Presidential Permit of #KeystoneXL Pipeline - in a lawsu… https://t.co/2FbN4TTIQ8— Indigenous Environmental Network (@Indigenous Environmental Network)1541737357.0
This is a major victory for the environmental groups that sued the administration to stop the pipeline, as well as the indigenous groups who have long protested it and anyone who cares about life on Earth.
"Despite the best efforts of wealthy, multinational corporations and the powerful politicians who cynically do their bidding, we see that everyday people can still band together and successfully defend their rights," Dena Hoff, a Montana farmer and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, one of the groups that brought the suit, told The Huffington Post.
Morris ruled that the State Department needed to write a supplement to the 2014 environmental impact statement that the Trump administration relied on to approve the project. The new statement must take into account the risks posed by the project: oil spills, damage to indigenous resources and climate change.
One of the best parts about the whole thing is that Morris is clearly as fed up with Trump's love of alternative facts as the rest of us. He especially called the administration out for simply acting like the climate science that led Obama to block the project didn't exist.
"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate," Morris wrote.
From tonight’s #KeystoneXL ruling: “The Department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to clima… https://t.co/XFNQDNEqjX— David Turnbull (@David Turnbull)1541739189.0
Since Obama blocked the pipeline in 2015, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued an even starker warnings on how quickly we must act to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Since greenhouse gas emissions need to fall to 45 percent of 2010 levels within 12 years, it's hard to see how any honest environmental impact statement could justify a 1,179 mile pipeline project.
Construction would have begun early next year in Montana and TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, was already moving equipment in preparation. Forgive us if we don't feel sorry for them.