What is the Future of the Keystone XL Pipeline with Obama in the White House for Four More Years?
Immediately after the U.S. election, Canadian Minister Joe Oliver said that he fully expected the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to be approved by the reelected Obama administration. This is wishful thinking on the part of the Canadian federal government. Approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is certainly not a given, especially when a second term for President Barack Obama is going to mean a strong commitment to fighting climate change pollution and promoting clean energy choices.
More than ever, Canada’s current approach to energy development—which strongly favors a massive build up of tar sands production—is at odds with America’s path. The Obama administration has already moved forward with an energy agenda that has, for example, resulted in historic fuel efficiency standards significantly reducing demand for oil and proposed carbon pollution limits for new power plants. And we can expect more in this second term.
The fossil fuel industry put energy front and center in this past election cycle—and the American people voted for clean energy over dirty energy. With many are still suffering in the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, Americans are more aware than ever of the high cost of climate change to our families and communities. So as Canada is asking what Obama’s second term could mean for tar sands, here are a few trends to watch:
Americans are looking for action on climate and energy:
Americans are more and more concerned about climate. Two-thirds of Americans are concerned about global warming. With the endorsement of national leaders like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama will be increasingly expected to place its climate policies as a priority. In a recent poll, 9 out of 10 registered voters want the U.S. to develop and use solar power. More than 90 percent of car owners in the U.S. want to see stricter fuel-economy standards. Climate activists across the U.S. continue to view dirty fuels and the question of whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as a major climate decision and are already organizing to deliver a message to the administration to tell the President that he has support to reject this dirty energy project.
There will be a detailed review to evaluate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:
The Obama administration is in the middle of the environmental review for the pipeline. The American public expects a rigorous review that includes climate impacts especially as the previous State Department assessment was seriously flawed. The Obama administration has already committed to completing a rigorous review. As such, any decision on the pipeline will not likely occur until early to mid 2013. Earlier this year, President Obama said:
I think the prime minister and our Canadian friends understand that it's important for us to make sure that all the questions regarding the project are properly understood, especially its impact on our environment and the health and safety of the American people….[Keystone XL] is a big project with big consequences. We've seen Democrats and Republicans express concerns about it. And it is my job as president of the United States to make sure that a process is followed that examines all the options, looks at all the consequences before a decision is made.
There is more awareness that tar sands development at odds with protecting the climate:
Canada’s aggressive push to expand controversial tar sands development from the current 2 million barrels a day to 5 million barrels by 2035 and 9 million in the longer term is increasingly viewed as completely counter to protecting the climate. Canada’s Conference Board, a national think tank, has acknowledged that if the world were to adopt policies to keep the warming of the planet below 2 degrees C⁰, that the demand for tars sands oil would drop dramatically. Some of America’s more prominent scientists are now saying that to combat global warming we must reject projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The Harper administration approach is at odds with the Obama administration:
Prime Minister Harper has taken a completely different approach to energy and climate than the Obama administration. In addition to its achievements to combat climate from cars and power plants, the Obama administration has already proposed the conservative Supreme court-mandated first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. And the next step will be for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt these new protections and to develop limits on existing power plant pollution as well. As the Obama administration is likely to ramp up its climate priorities for the second term, it is no secret that neither Alberta nor the federal Canadian government has policies in place to address the rapid growth of tar sands emissions. In fact, the policies that have been adopted and promoted are geared to push for expansion tar sands development and undermine the already weak environmental protections. The Pembina Institute has pointed out that not only is Alberta’s plan weak but that the federal plan is completely out of step with the nation’s climate commitments.
Americans are concerned about tar sands not just pipelines:
Some in Canada may view opposition to Keystone XL as merely a local issue in Nebraska or Texas where citizens are concerned about dangerous pipeline spills. Indeed, communities across the U.S. are opposing new or expanded tar sands pipelines because they fear a devastating tar sands oil spill such as the one that occurred in Michigan in 2010 that is still not cleaned up after two years. But, in fact, there is now a national movement against the growing reliance on Canadian tar sands that can be found in every corner of the U.S. with the vast majority concerned about the climate impacts. This movement will only grow in size and impact given the tar sands industry’s push to expand new pipelines into the U.S.
Canadians are already very concerned about global warming. But the track being taken by the Harper government does not represent many Canadians’ hope for aggressive action. By focusing on a national energy strategy that promotes tar sands development as a priority over investments in clean energy and a strong climate plan, the Harper government has put Canada on a different path from the U.S.—taking the country backwards. The new Obama administration should be an opportunity for Canadians and Americans to work together to fight climate change and support clean energy.
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By Matt Kasson, Brian Lovett and Carolee Bull
Home gardening is having a boom year across the U.S. Whether they're growing their own food in response to pandemic shortages or just looking for a diversion, numerous aspiring gardeners have constructed their first raised beds, and seeds are flying off suppliers' shelves. Now that gardens are largely planted, much of the work for the next several months revolves around keeping them healthy.
Start With Prevention<p>Just as preventive steps like maintaining a balanced diet help keep humans healthy, home growers can take many actions to help their gardens thrive.</p><p>One key step is assessing soil fertility – the ability of soil to sustain plant growth – which can vary widely depending on your location and soil type. Low soil fertility limits food production and predisposes plants to disease and pests. University extension <a href="https://soiltesting.wvu.edu/" target="_blank">soil testing labs</a> can help evaluate the quality of garden soil and identify nutrient deficiencies and acidic soils, often at no charge.</p>
Using weed barrier landscape cloth for planting rows and mulching between rows is an effective way to suppress weeds. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
Diagnosing Problems<p>Common plant pathogens include <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/viral/introduction/Pages/PlantViruses.aspx" target="_blank">viruses</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/prokaryote/intro/Pages/Bacteria.aspx" target="_blank">bacteria</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/nematode/intro/Pages/IntroNematodes.aspx" target="_blank">nematodes</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/oomycete/introduction/Pages/IntroOomycetes.aspx#:%7E:text=The%20oomycetes%2C%20also%20known%20as,foliar%20blights%20and%20downy%20mildews." target="_blank">oomycetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/fungalasco/intro/Pages/IntroFungi.aspx" target="_blank">fungi</a>. All of these microorganisms, especially at an early stage of infection, are too small to see. But when they proliferate, they cause changes in plants that we can recognize.</p><p>Unlike insects, which move around on six legs or on wings through the air, pathogens can move unseen and unchecked from leaf to leaf on the wind, through the soil or in droplets of water. Some microbes have even formed intimate relationships with insects and use them as vehicles to move from plant to plant, which makes these pathogens even more challenging to manage. Unfortunately, by the time some pathogens make their presence known, the damage is already done.</p><p>We recently conducted a <a href="https://twitter.com/kasson_wvu/status/1265989041725624323" target="_blank">Twitter poll</a> of gardeners nationwide to find out which culprits plagued their gardens. People named <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/aphids" target="_blank">aphids</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-vine-borer" target="_blank">squash vine borers</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-bug" target="_blank">squash bugs</a> and <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/flea-beetle" target="_blank">flea beetles</a> as the most problematic insect pests. Their most troublesome pathogens included <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/powdery-mildew" target="_blank">powdery mildew</a>, <a href="https://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/rsol/Trainingmodules/BWTomato_Module.html" target="_blank">tomato bacterial wilt</a> and <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/downy-mildew" target="_blank">cucurbit downy mildew</a>.</p><p>To manage such perennial challenges, the first step is to spend time closely looking at your plants. Do you notice any insects consistently hanging around, or molds colonizing leaves or other plant parts? How about symptoms such as blight, stunting, or leaves that are yellowing, browning or wilting?</p>
This white fungal growth is an early sign of powdery mildew on a leaf of susceptible summer squash. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
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By Emma Charlton
The effects of climate change may more far-reaching than you think.
Hotter temperatures have been linked to a rise in energy poverty, with more people struggling to meet their energy bills from their household income, according to a new study published on ScienceDirect by researchers from Italy's Ca' Foscari University.
Value of air conditioning imports in selected OECD countries. ScienceDirect
The ‘Golden Thread’<p>The <a href="https://www.endenergypoverty.org/reports" target="_blank">Global Commission to End Energy Poverty</a> calls access to energy the "golden thread" that weaves together economic growth, human development, and environmental sustainability. And one of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/archive/sdg-07-affordable-and-clean-energy" target="_blank">United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals</a> is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.</p><p>Sustainability also has a large role to play in the future of energy and failing to embed green policies in COVID-19 stimulus packages and underinvesting in green infrastructure are current risks, according to the <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_COVID_19_Risks_Outlook_Special_Edition_Pages.pdf" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</p><p>In its vision for a 'Great Reset' – building a better world after the pandemic – the Forum and the IMF jointly backed the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/end-fossil-fuel-subsidies-economy-imf-georgieva-great-reset-climate/" target="_blank">transition to a green economy</a> and called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.</p>
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Scores of people remained stranded in southern Japan on Sunday after heavy rain the day before caused deep flooding and mudslides that left at least 34 people confirmed or presumed dead.
Care Home Inundated<p>Altogether 16 residents at an elderly care home in Kuma Village are presumed dead after the facility was flooded by water and mud.</p><p>Fifty-one other residents have been rescued by boats and taken to hospitals for treatment, officials said.</p><p>Eighteen other people elsewhere have been confirmed dead, while more than a dozen others were still missing as of Sunday afternoon.</p><p>The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said many others were still waiting to be rescued from other inundated areas.</p><p>Hitoyoshi City was also badly affected by flooding, as rains in the prefecture exceeded 100 millimeters (4 inches) per hour at their height.</p>
More Rain Forecast<p>The disaster in the Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu island is the worst natural catastrophe since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year, which cost the lives of 90 people.</p><p>Although residents in Kumamoto prefecture were advised to evacuate their homes following the downpours on Friday evening into Saturday, many people chose not to leave for fear of contracting the coronavirus.</p><p>Officials say, however, that measures are in place at shelters to prevent the transmission of the disease.</p><p>More rain is predicted in the region, and the Japan Meteorological Agency has warned of the danger of further mudslides.</p>
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