The earth moved in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10, and it wasn't another freak East Coast earthquake. The Obama administration announced it would reevaluate the environmental review of the dirty Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. That means that, despite being backed by all the might and money of Big Oil and its minions, the Keystone XL will not be approved by President Obama this year, if ever.
A year ago—even six months ago—even the most wild-eyed optimists among us wondered whether we could stop this pipeline, in spite of the catastrophic consequences that we knew would come from developing Alberta's tar sands. The Keystone XL was flying under the radar toward approval, with most Americans completely unaware it was being foisted upon them.
What changed? Last weekend, as I watched 12,000 people form a circle of protest around the White House, I knew that the Keystone XL and all its flaws had been unmasked before the entire nation. It was a tremendous moment, but it didn't happen spontaneously. It took years of hard work by dozens of organizations to put together a coalition, organize grassroots volunteers, and use the power of the people to counter the formidable lobbying resources of the oil industry. We know that pipeline proponents like TransCanada have millions and millions of dollars to hire lobbyists and PR executives and run ads to promote its pipeline. But we have millions and millions of people who know better, and who are willing to work harder for the clean energy future that we all need. And without such a strong, organized, and righteous movement, we never would have prevailed.
But we have. Now, having won this part of the battle, let's take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we're really just getting started. Because we haven't yet defeated the pipeline for good. And defeating the pipeline isn't even our highest aspiration. This movement is much bigger than just about the tar sands. It's about getting off oil as quickly as we can and replacing dirty power with clean energy as soon as possible.
We'll only do that by working together. We know that ending our addiction to oil is the only way to be sure an oil company can never again put our drinking water at risk for the sake of a pipeline we don't need. We also know that getting off oil is the only way to make sure we don't destabilize our climate, pillage our forests, prop up dictators, and pollute both our air and our political process.
We stopped the Keystone XL with people power. Now let's use that power to lead our nation toward a clean energy future. All it takes are the tools of a working democracy: talking to your neighbors, making phone calls, sending emails, and visiting with your congressperson.
That is how we will win the fight for clean energy—by working together to create a better future for all Americans.
Can't wait to begin? Why not start by thanking President Obama for listening to the American people and putting the brakes on a dirty, dangerous pipeline proposal.
We won today against the Keystone XL. Let's win tomorrow for clean energy.
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>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
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By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."
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