By Elly Pepper
Used with permission of NRDC – Switchboard
Today, the Senate is scheduled to vote on amendment #1826 to the Senate Transportation bill (S. 1813). Introduced by Sen. Roberts (R-KS), this wish list for Big Oil is even worse than the Vitter amendment that failed in the Senate last week. It would mandate drilling off of every coast in our nation and in the Arctic Refuge, allow oil shale development on millions of acres in America’s west, and allow the already-rejected Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.
Here’s a rundown on this harmful amendment:
- Forces New Drilling EVERYWHERE Offshore—would require a doubling of oil drilling over current levels, forcing new drilling off the Atlantic coast—from Maine to Florida—off the California coast, and in the Alaskan Arctic. Moreover, the amendment would fast-track this drilling by requiring that these areas be made available in the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which currently excludes the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and much of the Arctic. Further, it leaves no discretion at all to this or future administrations to decide how and where to offer oil leases along both U.S. coasts; it simply requires a set percentage of the coast be leased each year until every available parcel is leased. Finally, the Roberts amendment deems old environmental impact assessments adequate for the leases within the bill, even though they were completed before the BP oil disaster and, as a result, do not consider new information learned from the spill.
- Requires Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—would mandate oil and gas drilling on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain for the very first time. This pristine and delicate environment, which was set aside under President Eisenhower, is home to nearly 200 wildlife species, including polar bears, musk oxen, and caribou, is simply too special to sacrifice to oil and gas development. Further, the amendment would expedite and limit environmental and judicial reviews.
- Opens Millions of Acres in the West to Oil Shale Development—would force the secretary to open millions of acres of federal lands in the west to oil shale development. The process of oil shale extraction, which is akin to squeezing oil out of solid rock, incurs substantial environmental impacts for air, climate, land, wildlife, and water resources, while also requiring enormous amounts of energy to heat the oil shale, basically defeating the whole purpose of developing a new energy source. Further, oil shale development is shortsighted from an economic standpoint since it has never proven to be commercially viable, despite over a century of concerted efforts. For more information, see here.
- Approves the Already Rejected Keystone XL Pipeline—this provision, which failed in the Senate just last Thursday, would approve the already rejected Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without environmental review. It would also circumvent a process designed to protect the public’s safety, health, and economic well being. It is not in the public interest to approve a project that that will worsen climate change, likely lead to oil spills, and raise oil prices—all so that tar sands companies can export tar sands from the Gulf. The amendment also would turn Congress into a permitting agency. For more information, see here.
Not only would this amendment despoil our environment, but it also doesn’t make sense from a fiscal perspective since the leasing required by this amendment would not succeed in funding our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs.
In short, while this amendment gives Big Oil pretty much everything it wants, it does absolutely nothing for the rest of us.
For more information, click here.
JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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