New Analysis Shows, There's No Safe Way to Transport Fossil Fuels
By Ryan Schleeter
The rate and volume of pipeline spills in the U.S. has increased in recent years, with devastating consequences for communities and our environment. In the past decade, U.S. pipeline spills have led to 20 fatalities, 35 injuries, $2.6 billion in costs and more than 34 million gallons spilled. That's an average of 9,000 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled every single day for ten years.
And yet Donald Trump's pro-fossil fuel agenda means we could be facing a massive expansion of the U.S. pipeline network, including increased development in the Canadian tar sands. If that happens, it would be disastrous for the climate and violate the rights of tribes and First Nations on both sides of the border.
It would also mean more pipeline spills—lots of them.
Three companies—TransCanada, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge—want to build new pipelines to transport oil from the Canadian tar sands into the U.S. Together, they've seen 373 spills totaling 63,221 barrels of hazardous liquids since 2010.
Needless to say, this is a less than stellar track record.
Keystone XL builder TransCanada has by far the smallest U.S. pipeline network of the three, yet has still seen 13 spills in the last six years. Enbridge, which wants to expand its Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota and Wisconsin, has seen 147 spills. And Kinder Morgan, builder of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, has seen 213 spills.
The largest of those was a massive spill from an Enbridge pipeline near Marshall, Michigan in 2010 that dumped more than 1 million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. Tar sands oil from the ruptured pipeline flowed freely for 17 hours and reached 40 miles downriver.
Tar sands oil spills are particularly hard to clean up because unlike crude oil, tar sands oil sinks in water.
If these companies—and others like them—are allowed to continue expanding the tar sands pipeline network, another Kalamazoo-sized spill is a very real threat. Given TransCanada's history, the Keystone XL pipeline could expect 59 significant spills in 50 years, while Enbridge's Line 3 Expansion would be expected to see 51 significant spills.
Our climate and communities cannot afford that. But there is a way to stop these pipelines from being built in the first place.
But he can't control the financial markets.
It's time to put the banks funding these dangerous pipelines on notice, starting with JPMorgan Chase. As the sixth-largest bank in the world—and one that publicly supported the Paris climate agreement—JPMorgan Chase has a responsibility to cut ties to this climate and human rights disaster.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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