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Environment: South Dakota Native Americans describe House vote on Keystone XL pipeline as an ‘act of war’

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War over the Keystone XL pipeline?

‘We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such … We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation groups and climate activists aren’t the only ones hopping mad about the Congressional rush to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Native Americans in South Dakota say they consider last week’s House vote to approve the pipeline “an act of war.”

The proposed project, aimed at pumping tar sands crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries, would completely cross South Dakota. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because it represents continued reliance on fossil fuels. Most, if not all, of the oil would be exported to other countries, so the argument that it would somehow lower fuel prices rings hollow and false. Continue reading

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Will federal agencies start taking climate seriously in analyzing proposals for public lands?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Lack of appeal in Colorado coal mining case may signal change of direction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal resource managers may be inclined to take a closer look at the climate impacts of projects on national forests and BLM lands, after the Obama administration decided not to challenge a recent federal district court ruling on Colorado coal mining leases. Continue reading

Lawsuit aims to protect walruses from oil drilling

A Pacific walrus. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Can walruses survive global warming and Arctic oil drilling? Photo courtesy NOAA.

Conservation groups challenge federal rules on ‘incidental take’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation groups this week opened another front in their ongoing battle to block irresponsible fossil fuel exploitation in the Arctic. Represented by Earthjustice, wildlife advocates and Native Americans went to court to block a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that would allow oil companies to harm Pacific walruses.

According to the lawsuit, the rule puts the at-risk mammals under more environmental pressure by allowing drilling in key walrus foraging areas in the Chukchi Sea, where walruses depend on the ice for resting, raising their young, feeding, and avoiding predators. Continue reading

Why do bats fly into wind turbines?

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Close observation of bat behavior around wind turbines may help reduce bat deaths.

Study results may aid bat conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say they may be a step closer to being able to reduce widespread bat mortality associated with the development of wind energy.

Based on months of nighttime video surveillance, U.S. Geological Society researchers say some species of the flying mammals may be mistaking the wind turbines for trees. The tree-roosting bats may be confusing the turbines for trees, according to USGS scientist Paul Cryan.

“If we can understand why bats approach wind turbines, we may be able to turn them away,” Cryan said. “Advances in technology helped us overcome the difficulties of watching small bats flying in the dark around the 40-story heights of wind turbines. The new behaviors we saw are useful clues in the quest to know how bats perceive wind turbines and why they approach them.”  Continue reading

Energy: BLM finalizes northern Alaska drilling plan

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New oil and gas drilling set to start in National Petroleum Reserve. Map courtesy BLM.

Conservation groups say new road will hammer wetlands, tundra and wildlife

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Bureau of Land Management plan for fossil fuel exploitation in Alaska has spurred criticism from environment groups, who say that a road included in the proposal will permanently damage the Western Arctic’s sensitive wetlands and tundra, with impacts to wildlife and subsistence values.

The BLM plan covers the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit 1 project in the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic Reserve, more than half of which is potentially open to oil and gas leasing. Conservation advocates are calling for more careful study of drilling impacts to ensure that the wildlife, subsistence and wilderness character of our nation’s largest parcel of public land are balanced with energy development. Continue reading

Study finds Deepwater Horizon oil ‘fallout zone’

Satellite view deepwater horizon oil spill

A NASA satellite view shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Oily particles were raining down around these deep sea corals …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — More than four years after the disastrous failure of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sent about 5 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, a team of scientists said they’ve found a 1,250-square mile fallout zone, where some of the oil settled to the sea floor in a thin layer.

The researchers, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of California, Irvine sampled 534 locations during 12 expeditions in Gulf and collected more than 3,000 samples, finding that the oil is concentrated in the top half-inch of the sea floor. Continue reading

Global hydropower boom poses biodiversity risks

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Hoover Dam.

New database to help assess impacts of planned dams

Staff Report

FRISCO — An emergent global hydropower boom will help meet the demand for low-carbon energy, but also poses environmental risks, according to experts compiling a new data base on global hydropower.

The boom is expected to double production of hydropower, but could also reduce  the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.

A new database has been developed to support decision making on sustainable modes of electricity production. An unprecedented number of dams for electricity production is currently under construction or planned worldwide, mainly in developing countries and emerging economies in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, that also hold some of the world’s most important sites for freshwater biodiversity.  Continue reading

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