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Drill pad in Gunnison National Forest, Colorado. Mason Cummings / The Wilderness Society

5 Crazy Ways the House Is Pushing Extreme Drilling on Public Lands

By Katherine Arcement

Congress wants us to drill our lands and waters … or else!

Some members of Congress are trying to rig the system to use public lands primarily for oil and gas drilling, and they are threatening to silence and punish anyone who objects.

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Energy
Protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Fibonacci Blue / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

TransCanada, Whose Pipeline Just Exploded, Wants Feds' Help to Beat Green Groups

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.

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Energy
Contractors work on a replacement for Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline in Wisconsin. Derek Montgomery / Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota Approves Controversial Enbridge Pipeline Rebuild

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents are concerned about the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure and the danger of an oil spill near vulnerable ecosystems in Minnesota, including areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, which is sacred to the Ojibwe.

"You have just declared war on the Ojibwe!" Tania Aubid of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe stood and said when the PUC's decision became apparent.

"What they have done to us today is egregious," Honor the Earth executive director Winona LaDuke told Reuters. "They have gotten their Standing Rock. We will do everything that is needed to stop this pipeline."

Enbridge Energy argued they needed to replace the existing Line 3, which was built in the 1960s and is subject to corrosion and cracking. They currently operate it at half-capacity due to safety reasons. The company said they would continue running the existing unsafe pipeline if a replacement was not approved, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents, including the Minnesota Department of Commerce, said the Midwest didn't need the additional oil from a pipeline replacement since demand will likely fall with the rise of electric vehicles and renewable energy.

The commissioners seemed to have a hard time making the decision―chairwoman Nancy Langue wiped away tears as she explained her reasoning―and emphasized concerns about the safety of the existing, older pipeline

"It's irrefutable that that pipeline is an accident waiting to happen," Commissioner Dan Lipschultz said before the vote. "It feels like a gun to our head … All I can say is the gun is real and it's loaded."

All five PUC members voted to approve the rebuild of the current pipeline, which stretches from Alberta, through North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Wisconsin. Rebuilds have already finished in Wisconsin and begun in North Dakota and Alberta.

The PUC also voted three to two to approve a modified version of Enbridge's approved route, which will avoid two Native American reservations crossed by the existing pipeline but will cross land belonging to the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa, though the PUC said the new route would depend on the Fond du Lac Band's agreement.

Tribal groups said Enbridge's plan was the worst possible route and preferred a longer one that went further south, according to Reuters.

Opponents will have 20 days from when the approval order is written to ask the PUC to reconsider its decision, something White Earth Nation lawyer Joe Plummer told Reuters is very likely. If the decision stands, opponents can then appeal to the Minnesota appeals court.


Energy
Permian Basin pumpjack east of Andrews, TX. Zorin09 / CC BY 3.0

Kinder Morgan Plans $2B Permian Gas Pipeline

Kinder Morgan's Texas subsidiary has announced a $2 billion pipeline to transport natural gas from the oil-rich Permian Basin.

As the Houston Chronicle noted, this is Kinder Morgan's first major project announcement since the Canadian government's controversial $4.5 billion (U.S. $3.5 billion) buyout of the company's existing Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion project. The Trans Mountain expansion is expected to triple the amount of tar sands transported from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia and has been at the center of widespread protests by environmentalists and some Indigenous groups.

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Energy
The Greenbrier River in West Virgina is one of the waterways protected by a court order halting work on some parts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Tim Kiser / GNU Free Documentation License

Court Orders Controversial Pipeline to Halt Construction Over West Virginia Streams and Wetlands

In a reprieve for the waterways of West Virginia and the communities that depend on them, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in a document on Monday that EQT Midstream Partners would halt work on the parts of its controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that cross 591 streams and wetlands in the state, Reuters reported.

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Insights
David Ingram / Flickr

Energy Efficiency and Technology Squeeze the Carbon Bubble

The carbon bubble will burst with or without government action, according to a new study. That will hurt people who invest in fossil fuels.

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve and prices drop, global demand for fossil fuels will decline, "stranding" new fossil fuel ventures—likely before 2035, according to the study in Nature Climate Change, "Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets."

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Energy
VanessaC (EY) / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Lake Powell Pipeline Is a Hot, Expensive Mess

By Sam Schipani

With rainfall at record lows, water is an increasingly precious commodity in the deserts of southern Utah. But in the driest reaches of redrock country, one long-waged water war thunders even louder than the rest.

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Energy

'Historic First': Nebraska Farmers Return Land to Ponca Tribe in Effort to Block Keystone XL

By Jessica Corbett

In a move that could challenge the proposed path of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline—and acknowledges the U.S. government's long history of abusing Native Americans and forcing them off their lands—a Nebraska farm couple has returned a portion of ancestral land to the Ponca Tribe.

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Energy
A demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline. Josh Lopez / CC BY 2.0

South Dakota High Court Blocks Bid to Halt Keystone XL

The South Dakota Supreme Court disappointed an attempt by Native American tribes and state activists to block the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday, ruling that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to hear their appeal, The Associated Press reported.

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