By Jessica Corbett
A coalition of conservation groups sued the Biden administration on Thursday over the U.S. Department of the Interior's recent rule allowing fossil fuel companies to harass polar bears and walruses while searching and drilling for oil and gas in the Southern Beaufort Sea.
Announced last month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the rule was quickly blasted as "disturbing" by Kristen Monsell, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups behind the new federal lawsuit in Alaska.
The suit accuses the Interior Department and USFWS of violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
"The Biden administration flouted the law in allowing oil companies to continue their noisy, harmful onslaught on polar bears," Monsell said Thursday. "We're hopeful the court will overturn this dangerous rule that puts polar bears in the crosshairs."
Monsell, whose group is representing itself and Friends of the Earth in the case, also called out President Joe Biden for promising "bold action to address the climate crisis" while "allowing business-as-usual oil drilling in the Arctic."
Bridget Psarianos, an attorney with the law firm Trustees for Alaska, charged that "the Biden administration ignored the law and its own science and handled the process as if stamping an oil-industry punch card."
"The Fish and Wildlife Service has a legal obligation to do a thorough analysis of the potentially lethal effects of industry's harassment of polar bears," she added, "and to consider ways to avoid and minimize that harm."
Trustees for Alaska is representing the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, and the Sierra Club, which also represents itself. Representatives for the groups outlined how industry activity threatens the region's polar bears.
"'Harassment' is a fancy legal way of saying that an action can disturb or injure polar bears," explained Nicole Schmitt, executive director of Alaska Wildlife Alliance. "This Fish and Wildlife Service rule allows oil and gas companies to harass almost half of the polar bears left in the Southern Beaufort Sea population, double the harassment that occurred under the last regulation."
Such harassment includes scaring the animals with noise and equipment as well as disrupting denning and feeding. The organizations warn these actions can be fatal, especially for young bears.
"Relying on bad math to gloss over the injury or death of newborn polar bear cubs for the sake of oil industry profit isn't just morally wrong, it's also unlawful," declared Sierra Club Arctic campaign representative Mike Scott.
Enviro groups sue Biden administration over decision to allow oil and gas operators to "harass" Southern Beaufort S… https://t.co/a39ZQzGRwr— Adam Federman (@Adam Federman)1631814290.0
Nicole Whittington-Evans, director of Defenders of Wildlife's Alaska Program, warned that "unchecked oil and gas development in Alaska's Arctic impedes the survival of Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, already one of the world's most imperiled populations due to climate change and habitat loss."
The regional polar bear population "has already declined by 50% during the last three decades—their survival is a bellwether for the future of a landscape and its people who are being ravaged by climate change," noted Kristen Miller, Alaska Wilderness League's acting executive director.
Whittington-Evans asserted that "we can't continue to send wildlife toward extinction in the name of fossil fuels, especially in a climate and biodiversity crisis."
As Steve Blackledge, conservation program director for Environment America, put it: "Extinction, after all, can't be rectified."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Polar Bears Could Be Nearly Gone by 2100, Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change, Oil Development Threaten Alaska's Polar Bears ... ›
By Andrea Germanos
A new analysis reveals a near total global failure of governments to have climate action and targets on track for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Released Wednesday by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the assessment rated just one nation, The Gambia, as "1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible," and found the United States' overall climate action — despite a welcome "U-turn on climate change" since the Trump administration — to be "insufficient."
The analysis, which covered policies of 36 nations and the European Union, framed the widespread failings as particularly glaring given the "absolute urgency" of climate action made clear by the most recent IPCC report, a publication United Nations chief António Guterres declared "a code red for humanity."
CAT, a watchdog effort of Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute, described a "2030 emissions gap" in projecting how governments' plans and current policies largely fall short of being on track to meet the 1.5˚C threshold of warming.
The analysis said "the IPCC is clear that getting onto a 1.5°C pathway means reducing emissions by 50% by 2030" and that meeting that goal "is no longer a matter of feasibility, but rather one of political will."
Such will appears to be lacking.
In a statement, Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute pointed to May, after U.S. President Joe Biden's "Leaders Summit on Climate" and the international Petersberg Climate Dialogue, when "we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments, but governments then had only closed the emissions gap by up to 14%."
"But since then," said Höhne, "there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Governments have now closed the gap by up to 15%, a minimal improvement since May. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case."
2/ The #emissionsgap is still enormous: with all pledges on the table we would be double the emissions in 2030 than… https://t.co/v3ujV5sJFf— ClimateActionTracker (@ClimateActionTracker)1631692694.0
This latest assessment from CAT includes new factors in its ratings systems, reflecting net zero targets as well as "an overall rating, the domestic target, policies and action, fair share, climate mitigation finance (either on providing mitigation finance, or detailing what international support is needed), and land use and forestry (where relevant)."
Based on overall ratings, the U.K. is the only G20 nation deemed "almost sufficient," a classification that covers six other countries including Nepal and Costa Rica.
Like the U.S., the EU, Germany, Norway, and Japan's overall climate plans were assessed as "insufficient." Canada joined Brazil, Australia, India, and UAE as countries whose plans were deemed "highly insufficient."
A small group of countries had overall climate plans classified "critically insufficient."
"Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand perform so badly on climate action," the analysis found, "that if all governments were to adopt this approach, global warming would reach beyond 4°C."
To move in the right direction, the analysis urged developed nations "to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition."
In terms of energy sources, all governments should take advantage of the falling costs of renewables to boost such installations while also ditching plans for any continued coal and gas infrastructure, the analysis said.
Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, stressed the need for swift action to rein in emissions.
"The IPCC has given the world a 'code red' warning on the dangers of climate change reinforcing the urgent need for the world to halve emissions by 2030," he said in a statement. "An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed."
"While many governments have committed to net zero," he said that "without near-term action achieving net zero is virtually impossible."
The publication was released on the heels of a global study revealing widespread climate anxiety in young people, with 58% of the 10,000 16-25-year-olds surveyed feeling "betrayed" by government inaction on the climate emergency.
"This study shouldn't be a moment of pity," said German climate activist Luisa Neubauer. "The adequate answer to this study would be drastic climate action."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- New Coal Projects Declined by 76% Since Paris Agreement ... ›
- On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal ... ›
Solar panels allow you to harness the sun's clean, renewable energy, potentially cutting your electric bills as well as your environmental footprint. But do solar panels work on cloudy days, or during seasons of less-than-optimal sun exposure? For homeowners who live outside of the Sun Belt, this is a critical question to consider before moving ahead with solar panel installation.
In this article, we'll go over how solar panels work on cloudy days, whether solar panels work at night, and how to ensure you always have accessible power — even when your panels aren't producing solar energy.
How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.
While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.
With clouds usually comes rain, and here's a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That's because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated.
One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy. If they're illuminated, it's likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.
Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.
But how do you store this energy for future use? There are a couple of options to consider:
You can store surplus energy in a solar battery.
When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.
Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:
- It's one more thing you need to install.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up a bit of space.
- You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.
You can use a net metering program.
Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company. Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.
Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- You may not always break even.
- In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
- Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.
Is Residential Solar Right for You?
Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn't directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren't producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?
It depends on the panels, but as a rule of thumb, you can expect your solar panels to work at 10 to 25% efficiency on cloudy days.
How do solar panels work when there is no sun?
If there is literally no sunlight (e.g., at night), then solar panels do not work. This is because the photovoltaic effect, which is the process through which panels convert sunlight into energy, requires there to be some light available to convert.
However, you can potentially use surplus solar power that you've stored in a battery. Also note that solar panels can work with indirect light, meaning they can function even when the sun is obscured by cloud coverage.
Do solar panels work on snowy days?
If there is cloud coverage and diminished sunlight, then solar panels will not work at their maximum efficiency level on snowy days. With that said, the snow itself is usually not a problem, particularly because a dusting of snow is easily whisked away by the wind.
Snow will only impede your solar panels if the snowfall is so extreme that the panels become completely buried, or if the weight of the snow compromises the integrity of your solar panel structures.
Will my solar panels generate electricity during cloudy, rainy or snowy days?
Cloudy days may limit your solar panel's efficiency, but you'll still be able to generate some electricity. Rainy days can actually help clean your panels, making them even more effective. And snowy days are only a problem if the snow is so extreme that the panels are totally submerged, without any part of them exposed to the sun.
Animal Agriculture Responsible for 57% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Food Production, Study Finds
By Brett Wilkins
Global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods, according to the results of a major study published Monday.
According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, "of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food," including livestock feed.
"The global population has quadrupled over the last century," the study notes. "Demographic growth and associated economic growth have increased global food demand and caused dietary changes, such as eating more animal-based products. The United Nations projects that food production from plants and animals will need to increase 70% by 2050, compared to 2009, to meet increasing food demand."
"Increased food production," the paper continues, "may accelerate land-use changes (LUCs) for agriculture, resulting in greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced carbon sequestration, and further climate change."
Beef production — which according to the study contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions — is by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow's milk, pork, and chicken. Among plant-based foods, rice production is responsible for 12% of food-based emissions.
The publication notes that the provision of adequate grazing land and food for livestock fuels deforestation, while the animals also produce tremendous quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas found to be up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
"Global GHG emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods." A new study @NatureFoodJnl es… https://t.co/u5A8XdOv1H— Leila Niamir (@Leila Niamir)1631568176.0
"To produce more meat you need to feed the animals more, which then generates more emissions," University of Illinois researcher and study lead author Xiaoming Xu told The Guardian. "You need more biomass to feed animals in order to get the same amount of calories. It isn't very efficient."
The paper notes that while it only takes 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions to produce one kilogram of wheat, producing the same quantity of beef emits 70 kilograms of emissions.
"I'm a strict vegetarian and part of the motivation for this study was to find out my own carbon footprint, but it's not our intention to force people to change their diets," study co-author Atul Jain told The Guardian. "A lot of this comes down to personal choice. You can't just impose your views on others. But if people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits."
Jain added that "this study shows the entire cycle of the food production system, and policymakers may want to use the results to think about how to control greenhouse gas emissions."
20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France. These emissions make up 56 to 58… https://t.co/jGwwpemIkp— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)1631102387.0
The new study's findings closely mirror those of separate research published last week by Friends of the Earth Europe, its German arm Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz, and the Berlin-based Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, which concluded that worldwide food production accounts for up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture responsible for more than half of that amount.
Noting that "industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities, and hurting independent farmers," the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said Monday that the Farm System Reform Act — legislation reintroduced in July by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) — "would end some of the worst practices and begin building a just food system for people and the planet."
Industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities and hurting independen… https://t.co/gXfWyAUOIo— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1631539803.0
"Meat and dairy production in the United States is based on heavily subsidized factory farming — a leading contributor to climate change, pollution, pesticide use, biodiversity loss, wildlife killings, and worker exploitation," CBD explains in a petition supporting the proposed legislation, which is endorsed by more than 300 diverse advocacy groups. "This broken system is the result of the unequal power that multinational meat corporations wield over federal farm policy."
Reposed with permission from Common Dreams.
- Top 5 Meat and Dairy Companies Match Exxon in Greenhouse Gas ... ›
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Giants: Why Tyson Foods Rivals Exxon ... ›
By Julia Conley
A vote overwhelmingly in favor of placing a moratorium on deep-sea mineral mining at a global biodiversity summit this week has put urgent pressure on the International Seabed Authority to strictly regulate the practice.
The vast majority of governments, NGOs, and civil society groups voted in favor of the moratorium at the world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday, after several conservation groups lobbied in favor of the measure.
Eighty-one government and government agencies voted for the moratorium, while 18 opposed it and 28, including the United Kingdom, abstained from voting. Among NGOs and other organizations, 577 supported the motion while fewer than three dozen opposed it or abstained.
Deep-sea mining for deposits of copper, nickel, lithium, and other metals can lead to the swift loss of entire species that live only on the ocean floor, as well as disturbing ecosystems and food sources and putting marine life at risk for toxic spills and leaks.
Fauna and Flora International, which sponsored the moratorium along with other groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Synchronicity Earth, called the vote "a momentous outcome for ocean conservation."
The motion called for a moratorium on mining for minerals and metals near the ocean floor until environmental impact assessments are completed and stakeholders can ensure the protection of marine life, as well as calling for reforms to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) — the regulatory body made up of 167 nations and the European Union, tasked with overseeing "all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area for the benefit of mankind as a whole."
Yes! Now time to take this overwhelming support for a moratorium on #deepseamining into the International Seabed Au… https://t.co/2klA6Wtwtw— Sian Owen (@Sian Owen)1631208614.0
In June, a two-year deadline was set for the ISA to begin licensing commercial deep-sea mining and to finalize regulations for the industry by 2023.
"Member countries of the ISA, including France which hosted this Congress, need to wake up and act on behalf of civil society and the environment now, and take action in support of a moratorium," said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, in a statement.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, another cosponsor of the motion, called on the ISA to reject the deep-sea mining industry's claims that mining for metals on the ocean floor is a partial solution to the climate crisis.
"The pro-deep seabed mining lobby is... selling a story that companies need deep seabed minerals in order to produce electric cars, batteries and other items that reduce carbon emissions," said Jessica Battle, a senior expert on global ocean policy and governance at the organization. "Deep seabed mining is an avoidable environmental disaster. We can decarbonize through innovation, redesigning, reducing, reusing, and recycling."
Pippa Howard of Fauna and Flora International wrote ahead of the IUCN summit that "we need to shatter the myth that deep seabed mining is the solution to the climate crisis."
"Far from being the answer to our dreams, deep seabed mining could well turn out to be the stuff of nightmares," she wrote. "Deep seabed mining — at least as it is currently conceived — would be an utterly irresponsible and short-sighted idea. In the absence of any suitable mitigation techniques... deep-sea mining should be avoided entirely until that situation changes."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
"Today we celebrate. Tomorrow, we get back to the hard work of seeing this through."
By Jessica Corbett
Conservationists, local tribes, and commercial fishers celebrated on Thursday the Biden administration's move to permanently protect Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed from the proposed Pebble Mine and similarly destructive projects.
"Placing a massive mine at the headwaters of the world's greatest, most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery has been a terrible idea from the start," said Kristen Miller, acting executive director of Alaska Wilderness League, "and today's administrative decision and its commitment to following science and protecting clean water is directly attributable to the decadeslong, tribal-led effort to protect Bristol Bay."
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice, in a legal filing, took aim at a decision under former President Donald Trump to strip protections from Bristol Bay.
If the United States District Court for Alaska agrees with the Biden administration, the EPA will be able to reinitiate the process of protecting the area — home to not only sockeye salmon but also copper and gold deposits — under the Clean Water Act.
"The Bristol Bay watershed is an Alaskan treasure that underscores the critical value of clean water in America," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement.
"Today's announcement reinforces once again EPA's commitment to making science-based decisions to protect our natural environment," Regan added. "What's at stake is preventing pollution that would disproportionately impact Alaska Natives, and protecting a sustainable future for the most productive salmon fishery in North America."
Robert Heyano, president of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, agreed that the development was "a historic step forward in the long fight to protect Bristol Bay, our fishery, and our people."
"The 15 federally recognized tribes of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay who call this region home have worked for decades to protect our pristine watershed that sustains our sacred Indigenous way of life," Heyano explained. "Today, we applaud Administrator Regan for reinstating the process to consider protections for Bristol Bay and for respecting tribal sovereignty. The people of Bristol Bay are counting on the EPA to listen to the science and finish the job of protecting our lands and waters."
Biden's EPA restores protections to #BristolBay, recognizing its salmon as "essential to the livelihood and the com… https://t.co/W7geCgrf9M— Northwest Treaty Tribes (@Northwest Treaty Tribes)1631220425.0
Katherine Carscallen, executive director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, also welcomed the news, calling it a "pivotal moment" for commercial fishers in the region.
"Our decadeslong, locally led effort to permanently protect Bristol Bay, our thriving commercial fishery, and our communities from the Pebble Mine is finally back on track," Carscallen said. "While we are celebrating today, the last four years have taught us that Bristol Bay is not safe from the Pebble Mine until the EPA completes the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) process. The Biden administration has an opportunity and a responsibility to truly finish the job that the EPA started in 2014 and complete the 404(c) process so that Bristol Bay's fishermen, businesses, and communities can resume our lives free from the threat of the Pebble Mine."
Reporting on the Thursday filing, The New York Times explained:
The move will have little immediate effect because the Trump administration ultimately denied an essential permit for the project, known as Pebble Mine, in 2020. That happened after President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, both of whom enjoyed hunting and fishing in the region, joined environmental activists and Native tribes to oppose the mine in an unlikely coalition.
But environmental activists noted that the decision to reject the permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is being appealed by the Pebble Limited Partnership, the company seeking to build the mine. The company wants to dig a pit, more than a mile square and one-third of a mile deep, to obtain the metals, estimated to be worth at least $300 billion. The project would include the construction of a 270-megawatt power plant and 165-mile natural gas pipeline, as well as an 82-mile road and large dammed ponds for the tailings—some of them toxic. It would also require dredging a port at Iliamna Bay.
Given the uncertainty due to ongoing litigation, as Common Dreams has previously reported, local and national campaigners have long called for permanent protections.
"The broad, locally driven coalition working to protect Bristol Bay has learned from experience how quickly political interference can unravel hard-earned progress," said Bonnie Gestring, Earthworks' Northwest program director. "Today we celebrate. Tomorrow, we get back to the hard work of seeing this through. The Biden administration has a responsibility to the people of Bristol Bay to finish the job of establishing permanent protections for the watershed and its salmon."
Today, we celebrate a significant victory in the fight to permanently protect #BristolBay, its economy, and its peo… https://t.co/g5ZCw58TMO— Stop Pebble Mine (@Stop Pebble Mine)1631208626.0
Environment America's Alaska organizer Dyani Chapman also emphasized the need to permanently protect Bristol Bay while praising the Biden administration's latest move.
"This decision will deliver a massive safeguard for salmon and the other wildlife that depend on the wetlands and streams in the area. With this action, the EPA will prevent what would have been catastrophic damage from one of the largest mining operations in the world," Chapman said. "We look forward to the Biden administration finalizing these protections so that the wildlife and communities near Bristol Bay can continue to safely enjoy clean water."
Noting that "Bristol Bay provides more than 50% of the global supply of sockeye salmon, is crucial to sustaining the region's Indigenous peoples, and is one of the premier destinations for sportsmen in the nation," Miller of Alaska Wilderness League declared that "it's time EPA vetoes the Pebble Mine once and for all."
U.S. lawmakers similarly praised the administration's action to protect the area from destructive mining.
I’m glad the Biden administration has taken this important step to secure permanent protection for this unparallele… https://t.co/YYZYbLEZQT— Governor Jay Inslee (@Governor Jay Inslee)1631210263.0
"I'm pleased to see the EPA take responsibility to restart a science-based protection process that was tossed out under the Trump administration," said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). "There is no time to waste: The EPA must restart their Clean Water Act review to protect Bristol Bay now, before the whims of another nefarious administration derail the process again."
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also blasted the Pebble Mine proposal and expressed relief over EPA's decision.
"By restarting the Clean Water Act review, the EPA has the opportunity to save the Bristol Bay region from certain catastrophe and reverse the dangerous course set by the Trump administration, which ignored both science and common sense," he said. "I have no doubt that this review will reaffirm what we already know: Bristol Bay is no place for an open pit mine."
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called it an "excellent decision from the administration" before connecting it to a fight against a fossil fuel project in her state: "Now let's protect the Mighty Mississippi and the thousands and thousands of people whose lives depend on it by canceling Line 3."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Brett Wilkins
Asserting that humanity "cannot wait for the pandemic to pass" before acting to rapidly reduce carbon emissions fueling the climate emergency, more than 220 health journals around the world on Sunday published an unprecedented joint editorial calling for "urgent action to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5°C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health."
The editorial — which appears in journals including The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Chinese Science Bulletin, The East African Medical Journal, Brazil's Revista de Saude Publica, and The National Medical Journal of India — was published ahead of next month's United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China and November's U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow.
"The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse," the authors write. "Despite the world's necessary preoccupation with Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions."
Noting that "health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world," the editorial continues:
The risks to health of increases above 1.5°C are now well established. Indeed, no temperature rise is 'safe.' In the past 20 years, heat-related mortality among people older than 65 years has increased by more than 50%. Higher temperatures have brought increased dehydration and renal function loss, dermatological malignancies, tropical infections, adverse mental health outcomes, pregnancy complications, allergies, and cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality. Harms disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, including children, older populations, ethnic minorities, poorer communities, and those with underlying health problems.
Global heating is also contributing to the decline in global yield potential for major crops, falling by 1.8% to 5.6% since 1981; this, together with the effects of extreme weather and soil depletion, is hampering efforts to reduce undernutrition. Thriving ecosystems are essential to human health, and the widespread destruction of nature, including habitats and species, is eroding water and food security and increasing the chance of pandemics.
"The consequences of the environmental crisis fall disproportionately on those countries and communities that have contributed least to the problem and are least able to mitigate the harms," the authors write. "Yet no country, no matter how wealthy, can shield itself from these impacts," which will include "more conflict, food insecurity, forced displacement, and zoonotic disease."
The greatest threat to public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise… https://t.co/fupVGkiRru— The BMJ (@The BMJ)1630904414.0
"As with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are globally as strong as our weakest member," the editorial argues, calling current efforts to combat the climate emergency "insufficient."
"This... means that temperature increases are likely to be well in excess of 2°C, a catastrophic outcome for health and environmental stability," the publication warns. "Health professionals are united with environmental scientists, businesses, and many others in rejecting that this outcome is inevitable."
"More can and must be done now — in Glasgow and Kunming — and in the immediate years that follow," urge the authors. "Governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized and how we live. The current strategy of encouraging markets to swap dirty for cleaner technologies is not enough. Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more."
"The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature," the journals conclude. "Urgent, society-wide changes must be made and will lead to a fairer and healthier world."
Commenting on the editorial, Lukoye Atwoli, editor-in-chief of The East African Medical Journal, said that "while low- and middle-income countries have historically contributed less to climate change, they bear an inordinate burden of the adverse effects, including on health. We call for the world's wealthier countries to do more to offset the impact of their actions on the climate."
In a statement preceding publication of the landmark editorial, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that "the risks posed by climate change could dwarf those of any single disease."
"The Covid-19 pandemic will end, but there is no vaccine for the climate crisis," he added. "Every action taken to limit emissions and warming brings us closer to a healthier and safer future."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Healing Relationship With Nature Key to Stopping Next Pandemic ... ›
- Climate Vulnerable Nations Call for ‘Emergency Pact’ to Limit Warming ›
By Jessica Corbett
As Louisiana residents and officials begin the recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Ida, environmental campaigners responded Thursday to reporting of a suspected oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by saying such scenes "are reminders that when we drill, we spill."
"On top of the devastation that people are still experiencing onshore, we are now learning about an oil slick in the Gulf, not far from the Louisiana coast," said Kelsey Lamp, Protect our Oceans campaign director with Environment America, in a statement.
"The Americans whose lives Ida has upended have enough to deal with already—they shouldn't have to worry about poisoned ocean life and polluted shorelines," she declared.
The campaigner's comments came in response to the Associated Press reviewing aerial survey imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing "what appears to be a miles-long oil slick near an offshore rig" following the Category 4 hurricane.
"The government imagery, along with additional photos taken by the AP from a helicopter Tuesday, also show Louisiana port facilities, oil refineries, and shipyards in the storm's path where the telltale rainbow sheen typical of oil and fuel spills is visible in the water of bays and bayous," the news outlet noted.
According to the AP:
Both state and federal regulators said Wednesday that they had been unable to reach the stricken area, citing challenging conditions in the disaster zone.
The NOAA photos show a black slick floating in the Gulf near a large rig with the name Enterprise Offshore Drilling painted on its helipad. The company, based in Houston, did not respond to requests for comment by phone or email Wednesday.
Aerial photos taken by NOAA on Tuesday also show significant flooding to the massive Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery along the bank of the Mississippi River, just south of New Orleans. In some sections of the refinery, rainbow sheen is visible on the water leading toward the river.
Lamp said that "this is yet another reminder of the major risks posed by offshore drilling for dirty, dangerous fossil fuels we increasingly don't need because of our increased capacity for solar and other renewable energy."
"Simply put, when oil companies drill, they spill," she added. "That's why we are continuing to urge the Biden administration to consider the true cost of offshore drilling, and end the practice for good."
fossil fuels fuel hurricanes cause oil spills https://t.co/Gb4iCx0ZMy— Chris D'Angelo (@Chris D'Angelo)1630542058.0
The deadly hurricane—the remnants of which wreaked havoc on the New York City area overnight Wednesday, causing more deaths and damage—hit as the Biden administration resumed leasing sales for public lands and waters.
Climate campaigners on Tuesday blasted the administration for resuming oil and gas lease sales—in compliance with a federal court order—given President Joe Biden's campaign promises.
In addition to taking aim at the government policies enabling planetary destruction, activists are calling out the corporations responsible for polluting the air, lands, and waters.
Regarding the suspected spill off the Louisiana coast, Lamp said that "we urge the owners of nearby rigs to act quickly to assess and resolve the situation. And we urge the government to act with great speed to determine the source of the slick and address the risk it poses to marine and shoreline wildlife in the Gulf."
That potential spill isn't the only pollution generating concern after Ida, as the New York Times reported Wednesday:
A fertilizer plant battered by Hurricane Ida belched highly toxic anhydrous ammonia into the air. Two damaged gas pipelines leaked isobutane and propylene, flammable chemicals that are hazardous to human health. And a plastic plant that lost power in the storm's aftermath is emitting ethylene dichloride, yet another toxic substance.
Early incident reports filed with the federal authorities are starting to paint a clearer picture of the damage wrought by the hurricane to Louisiana's industrial corridor, complicating relief efforts and adding to the conditions that make it perilous for residents to return.
Shortly after Ida—which one reporter described as "the poster child for a climate change-driven disaster"—struck Louisiana, Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash charged that "Biden must declare a climate emergency to mobilize the federal government towards addressing these climate disasters and tackling the climate crisis head on."
Following the fatal flooding in and around New York City, the youth-led climate group pointed to the storm as evidence that the president and Congress can't compromise on a $3.5 trillion Build Back Better reconciliation package Democrats are developing to pass without GOP support.
"New York is collapsing, New Orleans is still powerless, our loved ones are still missing, and compromise on our infrastructure is still on the table. This is unacceptable," said Sunrise communications director Ellen Sciales, whose family home flooded late Wednesday. "We are running out of time to act on the climate crisis and we need a Green New Deal now."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Brett Wilkins
Nearly a third of the world's tree species are at risk of extinction largely due to agriculture, logging, and, increasingly, the global climate emergency, according to a report published Wednesday by a UK-based conservation group.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International's (BGCI) landmark State of the World's Trees report found that 17,500 types of trees — or about 30% of the planet's total species — face the prospect of extinction, with 440 species having fewer than 50 individuals left in the wild. At least 142 tree species are recorded as extinct in their natural habitats.
The study's authors utilized data collected through the Global Tree Assessment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to determine that "the main threats to tree species are forest clearance and other forms of habitat loss, direct exploitation for timber and other products, and the spread of invasive pests and diseases."
"Climate change is also having a clearly measurable impact," the report notes, adding that the effects of the planetary emergency are "likely to be more widespread, as climate change is also impacting the fire regime of many habitats as well as impacts of pests and diseases," while "severe weather" threatens more than 1,000 tree species.
BGCI secretary general Paul Smith said in a statement that "this report is a wake-up call to everyone around the world that trees need help."
"Every tree species matters — to the millions of other species that depend on trees, and to people all over the world," Smith added. "For the first time... we can pinpoint exactly which tree species need our help, so policymakers and conservation experts can deploy the resources and expertise needed to prevent future extinctions."
Today as well as #StateOfTrees report we are also launching the GlobalTreePortal. https://t.co/IJnNnR9SRQ This da… https://t.co/8Ud8vNZHP4— GlobalTreeAssessment (@GlobalTreeAssessment)1630495285.0
According to the report, Madagascar has the world's highest number of threatened tree species (1,842), followed by Brazil (1,788 species) and Indonesia (1,306 species).
The study concludes that "strengthened action is urgently required to prevent further species extinctions and restore damaged and degraded ecosystems. Such action will provide responses to both the biodiversity crisis and climate change emergency."
"Forestry, biodiversity conservation, and climate change policies and mechanisms are already in place but need to be adhered to and implemented with greater resolve and commitment," the authors stress, urging steps including boosting conservation efforts, combating illegal logging, tree-planting and species recovery efforts, education, and better public policy and legislation.
"It is crucial that we use the information now available to manage, conserve, and restore threatened tree species and tree diversity," the report states. "This will prevent extinction both of trees and the associated plants, animals, and fungi that depend on them, sustain livelihoods, and ensure the ecological health of the planet."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Biodiversity: Everything You Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
- What We've Lost: The Species Declared Extinct in 2020 - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
Conservation advocacy groups on Tuesday responded with alarm and disappointment to the Biden administration's long-awaited new rule for protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whales from Maine to Florida.
"After four years of rule-making, it's disheartening that despite the legal obligation to be stewards of North Atlantic right whales and help them recover, the government has once again failed to take aggressive action," said Oceana campaign director Whitney Webber.
The U.S. government estimates there are fewer than 370 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. Webber highlighted that the species is "sliding closer toward extinction due to known, human-caused risks, including fishing gear entanglements."
"In February of this year, an 11-year-old male known as 'Cottontail' was found dead off South Carolina after being entangled in fishing gear for months," she said. "With only around 360 whales remaining, there is no room for shortsighted solutions. We can recover this species, but it will take meaningful, strong regulations to keep deaths below one per year — the level the National Marine Fisheries Service says is needed to support recovery."
The rule from the National Marine Fisheries Service — an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also known as NOAA Fisheries — amends the government's Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.
The plan aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries to North Atlantic right whales, fin whales, and humpback whales "in northeast commercial lobster and crab trap/pot fisheries to meet the goals of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act."
Since 2010, 34 right whales have died and 16 have been seriously injured, principally due to getting entangled in fishing gear or struck by vessels, according to NOAA Fisheries.
In a statement Tuesday, NOAA Fisheries detailed its new regulations that the agency expects will reduce the risk of death and injuries resulting from entanglement by 69%:
- Reducing the number of buoy lines (lines that link the fisherman's floating surface buoy to the pot or trap) in the water;
- Weakening the remaining lines so that whales can break free before becoming seriously injured; and
- Improving how fishing gear is marked so NOAA Fisheries and partners can better identify the type of fishing gear associated with entanglements when they do occur, thereby informing future risk reduction measures.
The required gear modifications will take effect May 1, 2022 — the start of the American lobster and Jonah crab fishing year — and changes to seasonally restricted areas will go into effect 30 days after the rule's publication.
"This rule represents years of work and collaboration on the part of fishermen, scientists, conservationists, and state and federal officials to develop strategies to reduce the dangers faced by North Atlantic right whales," said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and deputy NOAA administrator.
Michael Pentony, regional administrator for NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, said that "the new measures in this rule will allow the lobster and Jonah crab fisheries to continue to thrive, while significantly reducing the risk to critically endangered right whales of getting seriously injured or killed in commercial fishing gear."
However, both the fishing industry and conservation advocates are critical of the new rule — which, as the Portland Press Herald pointed out, "does not include measures to help prevent ship strikes or reduce mortality and serious injuries in Canadian waters, which together account for the majority of right whale deaths."
Noting that the new regulations will make a 950-square-mile area of the Gulf of Maine "off-limits to traditional lobstering from October through January," the Press Herald reported Tuesday on officials' concerns that the changes will threaten the state's fishing industry.
Maine's congressional delegation and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills issued a joint statement criticizing the "burdensome regulations," saying in part that "we agree that we must protect the fragile right whale population, but we must do so without endangering human lives or livelihoods" and "there has not been a single right whale entanglement attributed to Maine lobster fisheries in nearly two decades."
Conservation groups, meanwhile, argued the regulations don't go far enough.
After being decimated by whaling, vessel collisions and entanglement in fishing gear now threaten the future of the… https://t.co/ej54ibNTpI— Oceana (@Oceana)1630434311.0
The Center for Biological Diversity, which has challenged NOAA Fisheries' failure to protect the species in court, noted the closures south of Nantucket — from February to April — and in the Gulf of Maine are seasonal, "despite evidence that right whales use the area year-round."
Offering a broader critique of the new rule, Kristen Monsell, the center's oceans legal director, declared that "we can't save this rapidly declining whale population from extinction with half-measures like this."
"This plan is better than nothing and a step in the right direction," she said. "But we've already waited far too long to protect North Atlantic right whales from deadly entanglements. It's time to get all vertical fishing lines out of important right whale habitat immediately and convert to on-demand ropeless fishing gear."
As Oceana's Webber explained:
The National Marine Fisheries Service's overreliance on weak rope, which is designed to break with the strength of an adult whale, is insufficient because it continues to put calves and juveniles directly in harm's way. Proven management tools that will reduce interactions with the roughly one million fishing lines are available, yet the government declined to consider these tools because they were "unpopular with stakeholders." Oceana and its members are stakeholders in this crisis as well. This disregard for public comment by the Biden administration is disappointing.
Oceana is committed to ensuring North Atlantic right whales have meaningful protection from all threats across their range, from Florida to eastern Canada. As it stands, this rule leaves the whales vulnerable and jeopardizes their future, as well as the future of the U.S. lobster and crab fisheries, which could be shut down if North Atlantic right whales are not protected. There's no time to waste — the rule must be strengthened immediately with expanded time/area management and effective monitoring if North Atlantic right whales are to survive.
Environment America's conservation program director Steve Blackledge also called on the Biden administration to go further in a statement Tuesday.
"It's good to see NOAA taking action to protect the endangered right whale, but unfortunately, the plan that was released today falls short," he said. "By our reading, the net effect will be to delay the extinction of this beautiful, massive creature. What we need is a plan to save it."
According to Blackledge, "The problem is that these rules would reduce the 'risk of death and serious injuries caused by entanglement' by 69%, and that's not enough to enable this species to rebound."
"We're calling on NOAA and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to respond to our petition and use emergency powers to close key right whale habitats to fishing — most are seasonal closures and one would be year-round," he added. "Let's be the generation that protected the right whale, not the one that watched it slowly disappear."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- 14 Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Calves Spotted This ... ›
- Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Calves Spotted Off Coast ... ›
- Only 366 Endangered Right Whales Are Alive: New NOAA Report ... ›
"The EPA doesn't need any more proof," said one expert after agency analyses detailed threat to endangered species.
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental and food safety advocates highlighted Thursday the decline in iconic pollinators following new analyses released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing three widely used neonicotinoid insecticides are "likely to adversely affect" the majority of the endangered plants and animals the agency assessed.
"Now the EPA can't ignore the fact that these popular insecticides are wiping out our country's most endangered plants and animals," Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
"Neonicotinoids are used so widely, and in such large quantities," she said, "that even the EPA's industry-friendly pesticide office had to conclude that few endangered species can escape their toxic effects."
Burd's comments came in response to draft biological evaluations for three neonicotinoids, or "neonics," which are: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The evaluations, which now face a 60-day public comment period, were required by settlements the agency reached earlier this year with NRDC and the Center for Food Safety (CFS).
Neonics have come under the repeated scrutiny of environmental watchdogs and scientists, with previous studies linking their use to harm to insects, including bees and butterflies, as well as birds and freshwater marine species.
In its Thursday statement, the Center for Biologicical Diversity summarized the EPA's damning findings on the neonics' adverse impacts to threatened species and their habitats :
Nearly 80% of all endangered species—1,445 different kinds of plants and animals—are likely to be "adversely affected" by imidacloprid, and the pesticide will adversely modify the designated critical habitats of 658 species.
For thiamethoxam, 1,396 (77% of all) endangered species are likely to be adversely affected, and the pesticide will adversely modify the designated critical habitats of 644 species. About two thirds of all endangered species, 1,225, are likely to be adversely affected by clothianidin, and the pesticide will adversely modify the designated critical habitats of 644 species.
CFS also noted the "remarkable levels of harm" the evaluations found with regards to the neonics.
According to George Kimbrell, legal director of the group, the analyses "confirm what scientists have told EPA and industry for over a decade: These extremely toxic pesticides are causing drastic ecological harm, both the collapse of bee populations as well as putting literally hundreds of endangered species at extinction risk across the country."
In light of that confirmation, Kimbrell urged the Biden administration "to complete its process with all due speed in order to start protecting these iconic species."
Burd, in her comments, stressed that there's simply no reason for the EPA to further drag its feet on taking neonics off the shelves.
"The EPA doesn't need any more proof. It should ban neonicotinoids right now," she said, pointing to "a heartbreaking extinction crisis" in which neonics "are playing an outsized role."
"Pollinator populations are declining nationwide," Burd said, citing as evidence the decline in the American bumblebee. "Once the most common bumblebee in the country, [it] has declined by an estimated 89% in just the past 20 years. There are more Starbucks stores than monarch butterflies in California."
"What will it take," she asked, "for the EPA to act on this information and ban these deadly chemicals?"
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
A major report on climate says both greenhouse gas concentrations and global sea levels hit record highs in 2020.
By Kenny Stancil
Bolstering the case for meaningful climate action, a major report released Wednesday found that Earth's atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and sea levels both hit record highs in 2020.
Based on the contributions of more than 530 scientists from over 60 countries and compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), State of the Climate in 2020 is the 31st installment of the leading annual evaluation of the global climate system.
"The major indicators of climate change," officials from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information pointed out in a statement, "continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as sea level, ocean heat content, and permafrost once again broke records set just one year prior."
"Annual global surface temperatures were 0.97°–1.12°F (0.54°–0.62°C) above the 1981–2010 average" in 2020, said NOAA, making last year one of the three warmest on record "even with a cooling La Niña influence in the second half of the year."
Last year was the warmest on record without an El Niño effect, and "new high-temperature records were set across the globe," NOAA said. The agency added that the past seven years (2014-2020) had been the seven warmest on record.
Although the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown resulted in an estimated 6% to 7% reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020, the global average atmospheric concentration of CO2 increased to a record high of 412.5 parts per million. The atmospheric concentrations of other major greenhouse gases (GHG), including methane and nitrous oxide, also continued to climb to record highs last year despite the pandemic.
According to NOAA, last year's CO2 concentration "was 2.5 parts per million greater than 2019 amounts and was the highest in the modern 62-year measurement record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years." Moreover, "the year-over-year increase of methane (14.8 parts per billion) was the highest such increase since systematic measurements began."
In addition, global sea levels continued to rise, surpassing previous records.
"For the ninth consecutive year," said NOAA, "global average sea level rose to a new record high and was about 3.6 inches (91.3 millimeters) higher than the 1993 average," which is when satellite measurements began. As a result of melting glaciers and ice sheets, warming oceans, and other expressions of the climate crisis, the "global sea level is rising at an average rate of 1.2 inches (3.0 centimeter) per decade."
Other notable findings of the new report include:
- Upper atmospheric temperatures were record or near-record setting;
- Oceans absorbed a record amount of CO2, global upper ocean heat content reached a record high, and the global average sea surface temperature was the third highest on record;
- The Arctic continued to warm at a faster pace than lower latitudes—resulting in a spike in carbon-releasing fires—and minimum sea ice extent was the second smallest in the 42-year satellite record;
- Antarctica witnessed extreme heat and a record-long ozone hole; and
- There were 102 named tropical storms during the Northern and Southern Hemisphere storm seasons, well above the 1981–2010 average of 85.
In contrast to the release less than three weeks ago of the latest assessment from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned that fossil fuel emissions are intensifying extreme weather disasters—provoking a flurry of reactions and even garnering a short-lived uptick in corporate media's coverage of the climate emergency—NOAA's new report was met with less fanfare.
In one of the few early statements issued by members of Congress in response to the report, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said that "scientists sounded the alarm on the climate crisis again."
"It is clear that without swift action, we can, unfortunately, expect to set new records like these every year," said Johnson, chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. "The consequences of climate change impact every American—especially disadvantaged communities—across the country; from the devastating floods in Tennessee a few days ago to the record-breaking wildfires in the West."
"Building a better future for all means acting on climate now," the lawmaker added. "This situation is urgent, but it's not hopeless. We have an opportunity to lead the global response in the fight against the climate crisis—we cannot afford to waste it."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Jake Johnson
With Enbridge on the verge of completing its multibillion-dollar Line 3 pipeline, thousands of Indigenous leaders and environmentalists brought their protests against the sprawling tar sands project to the grounds of the Minnesota state capitol building on Wednesday to demand that lawmakers intervene before the dirty oil starts flowing.
Roughly 2,000 demonstrators — including Indigenous leaders who marched over 250 miles along the pipeline's route — rallied at the capitol Wednesday afternoon and hundreds stayed through the night as Minnesota police officers guarded the building's perimeter, which was surrounded by a chain-link fence installed in anticipation of the protest.
"The cops are gathered here by the hundred and the governor's brand new fence glimmers in the background, but our spirit is resolved," the Resist Line 3 Media Collective tweeted as pipeline opponents prepared to camp on the lawn of the capitol building. "We're staying."
There’s been a beautiful ceremony in front of the Minnesota state Capitol led by Indigenous elders and water protec… https://t.co/ymaWodqW7B— RootsAction (@RootsAction)1629947505.0
Part of a "Treaties Not Tar Sands" week of action against Line 3, Wednesday's demonstration came after the Minnesota Supreme Court let stand state regulators' decision to greenlight construction of the massive oil project, leaving the movement with dwindling legal options. If completed, the pipeline will have the capacity to carry around 750,000 barrels of tar sands oil each day from Alberta, Canada to Wisconsin, traversing hundreds of bodies of water and wetlands along the way.
With the pipeline on track to be operational as soon as next month, water protectors are vowing to ramp up their opposition. To date, around 900 people have been arrested for engaging in civil disobedience at anti-Line 3 protests, which have frequently been met with violent police crackdowns.
"We're here in ceremony. We're here to assert our treaty rights and our right to exist and our right to clean water," Nancy Beaulieu, a founder of the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Coalition, said during the rally Wednesday. "Line 3 violates our treaty and all the treaties along the Mississippi because the water flows. This is a people's problem, this is not just a Native issue here."
The U.S. portion of the near-complete Line 3 project involves the replacement of more than 300 miles of existing pipeline, which is part of a system that extends 1,097 miles.
First approved during the Trump administration, the pipeline has won the backing of the Biden Justice Department, which filed a legal brief defending the project in June — outraging environmental leaders who said the move ran counter to the Biden administration's promise to treat the climate crisis as an existential emergency.
Tim Walz, Minnesota's Democratic governor, has also voiced support for completion of the Line 3 project, despite warnings that it poses a threat to tribal lands and waters as well as the climate, with its contribution to the nation's planet-warming carbon emissions. One estimate suggests the Line 3 expansion project could have the equivalent climate impact of 50 new coal-fired power plants.
"There has already been much suffering, and it's only gonna get worse," Sam Strong, secretary of the Red Lake Nation, warned the crowd gathered at Minnesota's capitol building. "But we do have an opportunity to make a difference, we do have an opportunity to show the world a better way to live."
Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-led environmental group Honor the Earth, told The Associated Press that Minnesota police "have arrested 800, almost 900 people all for a Canadian corporation to make a buck in the middle of climate chaos."
"It's poor policy and it's worse practice," said LaDuke, "and we're here to ask the governor why he continues with such egregious policies and how we're going to change that."
Today 1000s of water protectors from across race, occupation, and generation came together at the MN capitol. We’r… https://t.co/FA4UjEWjed— MN350 (@MN350)1629945586.0
Treaties are sacred. True in 1855. True today. And when our politicians violate them we rise up. #stopline3 https://t.co/olugTmAnvQ— Resist Line 3 (@Resist Line 3)1629926887.0
In a tweet late Wednesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed solidarity with the Line 3 opponents "protesting for a livable planet, and for our future in Minnesota."
Last week, Omar joined Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and dozens of other members of Congress in calling on the Biden administration to immediately suspend the federal Clean Water Act permit allowing the construction of Line 3 and "undertake a thorough review" of its predecessor's permitting process.
"This pipeline's dangerous effects on the environment, surrounding communities, and Tribal groups will be irreversible," said Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "The Biden administration must immediately suspend Line 3's Clean Water Act permit and conduct a full environmental impact statement."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Line 3: Stopping the Next Big Climate Threat Crossing the U.S. ... ›
- 'Horrible and Unconscionable Betrayal': Biden DOJ Backs Trump ... ›
- Court Stops Police From Blockading Line 3 Protester Camp in 'Huge ... ›
- How Enbridge Helped Write Minnesota Pipeline Laws, Aiding Its ... ›