Archive for the ‘Environmentalism’ Category

Ignoring Reality   Leave a comment

This is Brad. Lela will be back, I promise.

So Sunday was Earth Day and I hardly noticed, but my lovely wife started this post and then asked me if I would finish it for her.

Do you remember all the apocalyptic predictions from the 1970s? They were the reasons given for a day of the year to worship nature as a pagan goddess.

During the first Earth Day observance (that actually lasted for a couple of months:

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15-30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

“Man must stop polluting and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possibly extinction” New York Times editorial

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

Texas University professor, Peter Gunter wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

National Academy of Sciences Harrison Brown published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Wow, lots of fear-mongering. Have any of those predictions come true?

As the opening chart shows, the United States has “decarbonized” over the last decade or two. CO2 emissions have risen throughout most of the rest of the world, but the US’s emissions have fallen dramatically. Did the Earth Day movement have anything to do with that? Not really. It’s mostly because of hydraulic fracking and substitution of natural gas for coal as a electric generation fuel source.

Ronald Baily of Reason Magazine (who pulled together much of this awesome list) asked in on Earth Day 2000 (Earth Day 30):

“What will the Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030?”

He predicted a much cleaner, much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty and longer life spans, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he also warned:

“There will be a disportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future – and the present — never looked so bleak.”

The hype and hysteria over these spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, because it’s been such a wonderful con and has reaped such lovely benefits for the environmentalists. Why would they want the gravy train to end by acknowledging reality?

What Rampant Environmentalism Gets Wrong   Leave a comment

I oppose the killing of animals for their ivory, but I also oppose stupidity. Alaskan Natives eat walruses, which are not an endangered species. They use the whole animal and make beautiful scrimshaw pieces from the ivory.

Image result for image of shed walrus tusk on beachMoreover, walrus break their tusks in fighting with other males. If you visit a recently vacated walrus beach, you will find several tusks just lying there in the sand. The Inupiats gather them up and use them in their art work.

http://www.wpxi.com/news/business/senator-to-etsy-let-alaska-native-artists-sell-ivory-work/695383158

Environmentalists are so irrational that they can’t see the difference between African elephant ivory and any other kind of ivory. They believe, foolishly, that the only way to stop the African trade, which involves the horrific death of elephants and the meat isn’t even harvested, is to ban all ivory world-wide.

It bothers me that people in Africa – hunters and artists – can’t make a living off of a traditional material, but African elephants are legitimately endangered and I’m told their meat is not exactly tasty, so yeah — find another way to make a living.

But Arctic walrus aren’t endangered and their meat is part of the traditional lifestyle of the Alaska Eskimo peoples. It is a waste of a resource to throw away the ivory. It would be like me harvesting a moose and refusing to let my dog have the bones or not giving the rack to an artist to do something with it. Plus, most of the ivory is collected rather than killed which makes it a great deal like the rack of a caribou (who shed their horns yearly and these are used in Alaska art by both Natives and non-Natives).

This is just plain stupid and I don’t blame my friends in the coastal villages for being upset. Etsy needs to set aside the rampant environmentalism and look at the reality of the situation.

Peril of Perfectionism   4 comments

Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. That’s an old saying that has never been truer than today.

Environmental activists tend to be perfectionists. They want air quality to be completely free of all pollutants. That sounds like a worthy goal until you realize that it is unachievable.

Image result for image of container ship

Seriously. If we want to have warm homes, be able to travel and make things for consumption, we have to burn fossil fuels to power things. Currently, renewables make up less than 10% of the energy available and that’s with massive government investment well above the return on the dollar. Fossil fuels may be replaced someday by nuclear electric powering hydrogen fuel cells, but we’re nowhere near that dream right now.

And, then there are the forest fires. I woke up to completely natural air quality contamination on Sunday morning, but that’s another topic for another day.

While some activists want to eliminate all fossil fuels use in the name of air quality, it is not possible without major disruption to our quality of life, jobs and economy. That’s the “perfect” getting in the way of the good.

The United States has made major environmental improvements over the last 40 years. That’s a net good for all Americans and we certainly don’t want to backslide now, but many environmentalists refuse to see the good that has already been done and to recognize that clearing the air completely is not possible.

Consider this example of positive change. Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) hauls more than 35% of all goods consumed in Alaska. That makes them a vital part of the Alaska economy. When they lost a barge in a storm last winter, our grocery store shelves looked pretty barren for the next month while they strove to replace the lost stock. If they failed to sail at all, Alaskans would go hungry.

In 2012, TOTE announced plans to convert its maritime fleet to operate on cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG). The fuel switch on its East Coast ships operating in the Caribbean is complete. Now, TOTE Alaska Maritime is focusing on the transition of its vessels operating between Tacoma and Anchorage.

In 2014, TOTE inked an agreement with Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Washington’s largest supplier of electricity and natural gas, to furnish LNG for its ships, but now its LNG conversion has hit a roadblock.

Activists are attempting to block construction of PSE’s $300 million LNG plant on Tacoma’s Tide Flats. If they succeed, they will put Washington’s ports at a competitive disadvantage with Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C., ports which are currently adding LNG facilities.

“By switching from diesel to LNG, maritime vessels at the port will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions into Tacoma’s air by more than 30 percent and dangerous particulate (smoke) emissions by more than 90 percent,” Puget Sound Energy Vice President Andy Wappler pointed out in The News Tribune in Tacoma.

The Environmental Protection Agency calculated there are 23 million people with port-related jobs and seaports account for 26% of the U.S. economy. There are an additional 39 million Americans who live in proximity to ports.

LNG processing reduces greenhouses gases and eliminates other air contaminants. During conversion from natural gas to LNG, CO2 and other pollutants are removed. LNG is simply the same natural gas many Americans use in our homes and businesses, only purified and refrigerated to minus 260 degrees, where it turns into a liquid. It is not explosive or even particularly flammable in its liquid state.

When warmed, it’s the same fuel folks use in their stoves and furnaces, and requires the same safety precautions. LNG storage tanks are not pressurized, so cannot blow up if there is a breach.

The tank PSE plans to install in Tacoma is “designed to withstand a once-in-every-2,450-year earthquake (compared to our highway bridges, which are designed to a 1,000-year-earthquake standard),” Wappler contends.

PSE’s new facility doesn’t just benefit TOTE and other shippers. Wappler figures it will save its natural gas customers between $50 million and $100 million over 10 years compared to the cost of increasing pipeline capacity into the region.

There is one other environmental benefit. TOTE’s relationship with Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling brings tons of recycled material to Tacoma for processing.

Grace Greene, TOTE’s Alaska general manager, told Alaska Business Monthly magazine there are other partners who contribute to the project, “but we’re probably one of the top three contributors, to the tune of more than $1 million every year.” Recycling has never really taken off in Alasaka because of the cost of shipping refuse to the Lower 48 for processing. TOTE is improving that situation and perhaps reducing the amount of trash Alaskan landfills collect.

As with everything humans do or build there are associated risks, but total risk avoidance is impossible. Why strive for the perfect and reject the good getting better?

Interior Department Takes Step to Rollback Regulatory Overreach   Leave a comment

Amidst the angst-ridden media attention paid to President Donald Trump’s efforts to carry out his campaign promises to deemphasize the speculative dangers of climate change and focus federal efforts on the real problems people face today — including energy and jobs — the Interior Department (DOI) under new Secretary Ryan Zinke has quietly gone about implementing Trump’s vision.

Image result for image of environmental regulatory overreachDOI acted quickly to reduce federal interference with state wildlife management and energy development decisions and scale back the regulatory burden on energy production.

On his last day as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), January 19th, Dan Ashe issued a directive to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on the 307 million acres of federal land controlled by the agency.

Professional wildlife managers within FWS and their partners in state wildlife agencies were taken aback by the order. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), which represents the 50 states’ fish and wildlife agencies, issued a press statement expressing “utter dismay” over the FWS action.

“The Association views this Order as a breach of trust and deeply disappointing given that it was a complete surprise and there was no current dialogue or input from state fish and wildlife agencies prior to issuance,” AFWA President Nick Wiley said in the statement

In an interview I conducted with John Jackson III, president of Conservation Force, Jackson said Ashe’s last-minute action was a “payoff” to radical environmentalists.

Continued at Source: Amidst the angst-ridden media attention paid to President Donald Trump’s efforts to carry out his campaign promises to deemphasize the speculative dangers of climate change and focus federal efforts on the real problems people face today — inc…

Crude Alaska story   Leave a comment

Image result for image of northslope oilA leaking, Alaska oil well that sprayed some crude and then spewed gas for days on the North Slope of the Brooks Range has been shut down, and the world can rest easy.Aside from generating some more bad press for London-based British Petroleum, this accident will likely slide into history as just one of the thousands of minor spills and leaks in the U.S. this year.Given that the amount of oil was small – the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation describes it as  “an initial spray of crude oil that impacted the well pad” – it will disappear into time once the catastrophe of this happening in the pristine wilds of that great American national park called Alaska passes.Welcome to America’s odd relationship with oil, and the even stranger world of 21st Century news where certain narratives are expected to be followed, agendas color so much, and the easy often trumps the important.First and foremost, an oil spill is easy. It is the car crash of environmental news. Of nightly television news, it was once said “if it bleeds, it leads.” Of internet news today, it might be said that “if its spill, it kills.”Or at least that is the case if the spill happens to be in pristine Alaska. Elsewhere? Who cares.

But in Alaska, hostile yet vulnerable Alaska, the place in which every true environmentalist knows oil should never have been tapped to begin with….Ugly messesThe oil spill at BPXA Drill Site 2, Well 3, shouldn’t have happened. No oil spill should. Not this one. Not any one of the 20 or so that can be expected somewhere else in the American oil patch today.  Not the one involving some kid changing oil in his car in the driveway of a home in middle America, or the fisherman doing the same in an Alaska port and spilling some overboard.Few if any of the latter spills, however, make the news, or if they do it is only in passing. No journalists consider those stories worthy of the spotlight.Even a gas blowout with a spray of oil that, as the Alaska Environmental Conservation reports,”did not leave the pad” would fail to make much news in the California, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma or other oil patches.When Propublica took a look at North Dakota’s Bakken oil field in 2012, it found “more than 1,000 accidental releases of oil, drilling wastewater or other fluids in 2011….Many more illicit releases went unreported, state regulators acknowledge, when companies dumped truckloads of toxic fluid along the road or drained waste pits illegally.“State officials say most of the releases are small. But in several cases, spills turned out to be far larger than initially thought, totaling millions of gallons. Releases of brine, which is often laced with carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals, have wiped out aquatic life in streams and wetlands and sterilized farmland. The effects on land can last for years, or even decades.”Almost none of these spills had been reported by the media. The extent of leaks and spills, in fact, went unknown to the public until Propublica started poking around.Alaska’s Arctic, thankfully, does not have this problem. That is the upside of keeping even small spills in the spotlight in Alaska. The downside is that suggestion of another disaster in that hostile polar region where humans really don’t belong reinforces the misperception that operating in Alaska is somehow more difficult and more dangerous than operating elsewhere in the world.The reality is Alaska has a pretty good record for producing oil while minimizing oil spillage. It is a record good enough that the state didn’t even warrant a dot on the National Resources Defense Council’s “Spill Tracker” in 2015.Nonetheless, the BPXA blowout made news around the world. Spills in Alaska are simply treated differently than those of the rest of the world.“BP Struggles to Control Damaged Well in Alaskan Arctic,” the New York Times headlined, predictably pointing out the frigid temperatures and noting that the well was leaking “methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

”Danger versus danger

Read the rest of the article at Crude Alaska story

Obama’s Parting Shots Explains Why Trump Won   1 comment

I didn’t vote for Trump, but I’ve said that had someone put a gun to my head and required me to vote for either Trump or Clinton, I would have voted for Trump. My reasons are myriad:

  • Before Obamacare started bankrupting Americans, it was called Hillarycare, showing that Hillary has as poor understanding of economics as Obama does.
  • In her book Tough Choices Hillary proudly proclaimed her role in starting the Libyan war, increasing tensions in the Ukraine, exacerbating terrorists in Yemen, expanding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and lamented that Obama flinched on her advice of what to do about Syria. I have an 18-year-old son and a 24-year-old daughter who are both now eligible for the draft. There was no way I was voting for that warmonger.
  • I don’t believe in dynastic rule and “I was the First Lady” is not a qualification for any job other than perhaps wedding planner.
  • She promised 4-8 more years of Obama’s economic policies. I sort of like eating and having a roof over my head and I don’t think the economy can stand another decade of economic lunacy.

But mainly I voted against Hillary because she was Obama’s successor and Obama’s policies have not been good for me because I live in Alaska, which Obama wants to designate as a snow globe.

Image result for image of alaska snow globeThere is this law from way back in the Teddy Roosevelt administration called the Antiquities Act. It was used by President Carter to lock up million of acres of Alaska and parts of the west. Now Obama made use of it again, banning the economic use of an additional 1.7 million acres in Utah, where the federal government controls 61% of the state’s land. (This one new lock-up is nearly equal to Delaware and Rhode Island combined.)

The withdrawal was on top of 320 million acres in national park, preserve, wildlife refuge, wilderness and other restrictive land use categories—plus “buffer zones” around many of those areas—nearly all of it in the eleven westernmost states and Alaska. That’s equivalent to virtually all the land in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

With yet another last-minute regulation, the Obama Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) designated the rusty patched bumblebee (RPB) an endangered species, because its populations have declined significantly in recent years. It did so in response to a petition and a sue-and-settle lawsuit by the activist Xerces Society, which originally claimed the decline was due to “low population dynamics,” habitat loss, and a nasty parasitic fungal infection that spread to RPBs from commercially raised bees imported from Europe.

Xerces and the FWS inexplicably revised their rationales, arguing that most of the blame should be attributed to pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids—the advanced technology, reduced-risk pesticides that farmers love and radical environmentalists have been trying to ban for years. In another nod to green extremists, the agency also blamed herbicides like RoundUp, saying the weeds they kill in farmers’ fields and along highways are important food sources for RPBs.

These sorts of “friendly” sue-and-settle lawsuits between pressure groups and regulators have been a hallmark of the Obama Administration, making those of us who don’t trust these organizations suspect carefully plotted collusion.

These always rare bumblebees make their nests in the ground. That means any activities that disturb the soil could impact them: road, pipeline, transmission line (for wind, solar or conventional power), housing and other construction projects, and even plowing fields for crops.

In its rush to beat the January 20 noon deadline, the FWS failed to publish any “survey protocols” for finding RPB nests and avoiding damage to them. All of this means farmers, developers and even homeowners are in murky legal waters and could face fines if they inadvertently harm any nests or bees.

Vast areas are affected. Rusty patched bumblebees were once found from the Dakotas through the Midwest, down to Kentucky and the Carolinas and northward to Maine. Xerces claims the bees have been “sighted” since 2000 in 13 states—including many major corn and soybean producing states, as well as the Upper- and Mid-Atlantic seaboard states.

Having that huge swath of the USA in legal jeopardy—and subject to review, control, delay and penalty by the FWS—is bad enough. But the agency is also pondering endangered status for two more bee species.

The yellow-banded bumblebee has been found all the way from Montana east to New England, and down the Atlantic coast to Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The western bumblebee’s range includes the entire block of eleven western states plus Alaska: more than a billion acres—nearly half of the entire United States!

Put them together, and the Fish & Wildlife Service would regulate nearly three-fourths of the USA. The bumblebee listings would be the highest impact designations in Endangered Species Act (ESA) history—and would rival the EPA’s CO2 endangerment rule, Clean Power Plan and Waters of the US power grab.

Folks in Eastern and Midwestern states have no idea what it is like to have federal bureaucrats controlling 30-87% of lands within their borders, and affecting vast additional acreage—questioning, studying, delaying, blocking and escalating costs for every proposal and project. They’re about to get an inkling.

Most Americans associate the ESA with prominent conservation achievements, such as reversing the near-extinction of iconic national emblems like the bald eagle, alligator and bison. However, the ESA has increasingly been invoked to “protect” small, obscure creatures like beetles, other bugs and the snail darter of Tellico Dam fame—and often to block energy and economic development.

Three invented spotted owl subspecies ended timber cutting in many states—often resulting in super-hot conflagrations that incinerated forests, soil organisms and endangered species alike. The delta smelt’s 2010 endangered species designation is being used to deny water to farmers and communities in California’s Central Valley, costing thousands of jobs, millions in agricultural damage and numerous bankruptcies—while regulators flushed billions of gallons of water into the sea in unsuccessful efforts to help the fish.

Indeed, it seems only wind turbines are exempted from the ESA’s draconian rules and penalties. Worse, threatened or endangered designation has only rarely been used as a foundation for proactive efforts to restore species populations. In some cases, environmentalists have opposed proposed human intervention such as hatching California condors and releasing the grown adults into the wild, or employing fish hatcheries for smelts.

The real activist and regulator goal of ESA designations—and actual result—seems to be land use control.

With regard to neonicotinoid seed treatments, which account for over 90% of neonic usage, even EPA recently concluded that these insecticides pose no threat to honeybees, and careful practices can easily mitigate potential risks from spraying them. In fact, growing scientific evidence is so overwhelming that neonics are safe for domesticated bees and wild bees (native bees) alike that anti-pesticide groups are now focusing on bumblebees, which have declined in numbers and about which much less is known. The real threats to all bee species continue to be natural and imported mites, fungi and other diseases. There is little evidence that government-mandated efforts to “restore” lost habitat for bumblebees (or other “endangered” species) will actually bring them back.

Many suspect that these last-ditch DC dictates have little to do with conservation—and are primarily designed to expand government control over land use and development. That’s why a 2016 FWS decision to expand its definition of “critical habitat” caused 18 state attorneys general to sue the agency over its asserted authority to “protect” areas where endangered species do not currently live, calling it an unconstitutional “taking” of private property without compensation.

This and countless other Obama Administration actions also help explain why the majority of US counties voted for Donald Trump, and why Republicans now control the House and Senate, 33 governorships and 68 state legislative chambers. Hillary Clinton won only in coastal cities, academic enclaves and very poor areas.

All of this suggests that most of America is tired of being governed by unelected, unaccountable, elitist, illegitimate Washington bureaucrats who don’t understand or care about citizens’ concerns and needs.

The endangered species actions raise vital questions for the new Congress and Trump Administration:

  • Amid all the other high-priority items, how can we block and defund this last-ditch RPB overreach?
  • How can we repeal, replace, repair and improve the Endangered Species Act, to prevent future abuses, balance human and wildlife needs, and find ways to recover populations of threatened and endangered species without controlling or shutting down thousands of human activities on hundreds of millions of acres?

It’s an essential component of restoring power from Washington to the people. If Trump is serious about restoring the governing power to the people, this would be a good and essential place to start.

There Are NOT 100s of Pipeline Explosions A Year   2 comments

The other day, I ran across a post on Twitter saying there were 130-odd pipeline explosions in the last year “caused death and mayhem”.

Image result for alaska pipeline shot by drunkLiving in a big oil state, I thought I’d have heard of that if pipelines were that dangerous. So I decided to research it. It’s what I do, right.

There was a pipeline explosion in Shelby County, Alabama, back in October. It killed one worker, injured five others and sent a massive plume of flames and smoke into the sky.

That’s scary, but pipeline explosions are pretty rare and it is rarer still that such accidents cause a fatality.

In the last 10 years, there have been 135 excavation accidents involve pipelines carrying hazardous liquids such as gasoline or crude oil, according to Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, an industry watchdog group. That’s about one a month. In those same 10 years, there was one fatality from such an accident, a Georgia man killed when a liquid propane pipeline ruptured in 2010.

Before that, the last fatal accident was in November 2004 (six years earlier) when five workers were killed when a jet fuel pipeline in Walnut Creek, California, was hit during a construction project.

Liquid pipelines are typically made of thick steel … the earlier ones were made of cast iron. Due to cathodic protection to prevent corrosion (rusting), sparks are generally suppressed. Excavation accidents generally just cause spills rather than an explosion.

In Alaska, we have this 800-mile-long pipeline that literally anyone can walk up to. That’s going to give people some ideas. In the 1970s, some guys tried to blow it up with a truck filled with dynamite. They damaged the insulation and the vibration knocked the pipeline off-line, but no oil was spilled.

In 2001, a drunk managed to shoot a hole in the TransAlaska Pipeline with a hunting rifle. He got lucky and hit a weld and bathed a part of Alaska countryside with a lot of oil at high pressure. My husband worked on the clean-up because only electricians are allowed to touch the cathodic protection. Nothing caught fire. Nothing exploded, even with a hot bullet piercing the pipeline.

Most hazardous liquid pipeline fatalities are due to causes such as improper operation of the pipeline or equipment failure. Fatalities are far more common when a natural gas line is ruptured. There were 116 deaths involving natural gas pipelines in the last 10 years, 32 of which were caused by excavation accidents. Most of those excavation deaths involved the relatively small pipes carrying natural gas into homes and businesses, which are often made from polyethylene instead of metal.

The number of natural gas accidents isn’t that much higher, but a lot more people are killed and injured because gas explodes easily.

The discussion of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been blown way out of proportion. Pipeline transportation of crude oil is much safer than tank car or truck transportation. I understanding the environmental concerns, but there are already existing pipelines crossing the Missouri within that corridor. Why are these older pipelines not a concern, but this brandnew pipeline built with modern safety protocals is considered a disaster.

This protest isn’t about the pipeline’s safety. It’s about the environmentalists’ desire to control the rest of us by reducing us to poverty by taking away efficient energy sources.

To a large extent, the Standing Rock Indians are completely on the wrong side of this debate. The pipeline is a bit of infrastructure that is part of improving the economy of the area, creating jobs that Standing Rock Indians could take if they weren’t so busy being pawns in the environmentalist design.

Just ask yourself this. Which is a better paying job? Working as wait staff at a casino or working in the oil patch? We could perhaps argue about which commerical venture causes more harm to the human spirits involved in the enterprise.My tribe has a casino. I live in a state with a large oil patch. What do you think I might know about both topics?

False Protest   Leave a comment

Since August, my social media timeline has been fairly well-inundated by updates on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

I have family in North Dakota. My mom grew up in Dickey County. My grandfather used to work roundups in the area we’re discussing. A cousin owns land up in the Bakkans and has expanded his business to a town in the area. So, of course, I discussed the situation with him and he sent me some information about it.

At the same time, my cousins on the Res — the other side of my mom’s family who live in Oklahoma — have been sending me posts where the builders of the Dakota Access are the default villains in this whole situation. Add to that all the people who have jumped on the bandwagon of the “poor beleaguered Indians who are having their land stolen” and my irritation meter is starting to tick over into the red.

Protests always get the media attention. People are drawn to civil disobedience that seem to pit David against Goliath. It’s an American tradition to accomplish great social good by waving signs and refusing to move. Idealistic sacrifice for a grand cause is a powerful narrative.

Big corporations, like the one building the pipeline, cannot count on media or public support, especially not in a day when the public is weary of crony deals amid powerful elites crushing the rights of others. “Why should anyone take the side of wealthy entitled bullies?” is how the narrative plays out.

The problem with this narrative is that it doesn’t apply to this particular situation. The real story is a contest between a commercial enterprise that is respecting the property rights of the Standing Rock Sioux in its effort to vastly improve the energy infrastructure of the Bakkans and bring new prosperity to the area and a coalition of interest groups that couldn’t give a care about the Standing Rock Sioux.

Amy Goodman of the protest group Democracy Now broke into a construction site on private land and, apparently unaware of the 5th Amendment, conveniently filmed the crime for our enlightenment. The film with commentary and other related videos is available to view here.

If you follow all the videos, you’ll see how Goodman captured Sioux trespassers walking in formation, beating security dogs with sticks, which resulted in injury to at least one dog. These dogs were not “set lose” on the protesters. The dogs’ job is to protect the equipment when humans are not available to do so. The dogs were responding to trespassers as they have been trained to do … as my yellow Lab would attempt to do if you broke into my house when I wasn’t around. Back in August, this breakin was reported as the trespassers being the ones attacked while passively strolling along, but the film shows them being active and aggressive.

Related imageHere we are, two months later and the civil unrest in Cannon Ball is escalating to dangerous levels as the protesters increasing work to damage infrastructure and possibly harm themselves in the process. The destruction has grown from cutting a wire fence to break into the construction side to setting trucks on fire and rendering the bridge the trucks were on unusable and unstable. The aggression has heighted from sticks and flag poles to guns, Molotov cocktails and improved explosive devices made of propane cylinders.A woman lost her arm and the protesters claimed the police somehow did it while deploying beanbag loads for crowd-control, but there’s reason to believe it was actually a homemade bomb created by the protesters. The FBI is investigating.

I would note that there’s about 300 protesters and about 20 cops to contain them, so it’s a fraught situation.

So, what about the claims that police are using water cannons on the protesters. I suppose you could consider it partially true. When police used fire hoses to douse the burning trucks, the 400 or so protesters who started the trucks on fire and gathered around them did get wet. There are many photos and videos available on line (including a heavily-edited Standing Rock protest site photo that crops out the blazing fire in the background) that show protesters atop piles of burning rubble, dancing in the water stream.

My North Dakota cousin says the hope is that with winter coming, this protest will die off.

It’s important to understand that the Army Corps of Engineers granted a permit for this pipeline, which runs in parallel with existing pipelines. In other words, this is not pristine wilderness where cultural artifacts (if any exist) have been undisturbed. This is a major infrastructure corridor. The Army Corps of Engineers proposed a December 5 2016 deadline for protesters to remove themselves from a rancher’s leased land.

Most people really don’t know what to believe, but find the professionally edited campaign videos by the environmental groups driving the protest to be very moving. After all, they have music and dramatic imagery and imaginative location names like “Red Warrior Camp.”

 

 

Please understand that its no longer just the Standing Rock Sioux involved in this thing. Similar to how Wounded Knee started with a small group, this has drawn support from very far away and there is some large money circulating.

Related imageMany of the Standing Rock Sioux who are involved in protest say their tribal administration did not adequately inform them of the project. That’s kind of hard to believe because according to the Army Corps of Engineers, project leaders participated in 559 meetings in communities along the pipeline route. There were 43 regulatory hearings, public meetings and open houses where people could share their concerns with public officials. Regarding specific tribal concerns, the Army Corps of Engineers participated in 389 meetings with 55 tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe itself had nearly a dozen meetings with the Corps — they refused or did not show up to several others.

I work in a field where public meetings are required for every project we do and they are well advertised because the law specifies what is required. We work in Alaska Native villages a lot and they show up … so long as we bring pizza and soda (sorry, that is a truth that makes me snicker).

In the case of Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, Dave Archambault, who failed to show up seven times to scheduled meetings, it is possible he did the common Native American thing of thinking he could wait until sometime in the future to protest. Sorry, that’s another observation from a fringe-insider. Reservation Indians always seem to think they have decades to deal with a situation. It is possible the DAPL project moved too fast for him. On the other hand, as I suggested in an earlier blog post, this might have been willful obstruction in hopes of a more profitable outcome. Tribal government is often quite lucrative for the tribal administration.

Archambault proved completely derelict in identifying sacred sites for the planners. Why would he do that? I don’t know the man, but his sister worked for the Obama administration until May 2016 and there is this photo of Archambault with the Obamas back in June 2014 … right about the time the public meeting process was going on. You don’t need a tinfoil hat to think promises might have been made … as they were when President Obama visited Western Alaska, a mess we’ll be dealing with for a decade or more.

Other protesters include white, middle-class, urban singles seeking adventure … rebels without a cause who are turning this into something like a Burning Man party.

“Just wanna note some white people – just showed up to Standing Rock – who want to spend donations on fluoride free water instead of tap.” — Nihiixoohoothitho (@teeteeseiht) November 13, 2016

In other words, they don’t know what they’re protesting, but if there’s some good ganga involved, they’re there!

Not all the Standing Rock Sioux agree with the protesters. Native communities have much to be concerned about today. Jobs would be nice and so would better education for their kids. The pipeline is part of a complex of pipelines that cross the Missouri River in that basic area. This pipeline poses no different threat than any of the others. It will provide a safe, efficient way to get Bakkan oil to the refinery without using trucks and tank cars, which are demonstratively less safe.

Putting on my tinfoil hat for just a moment, I think this was all planned back in 2014. Obama told Archambault to ignore the Corps meetings and promised to do exactly what he is doing now. Why? Because commercial enterprises like the construction company building the DAPL have bottom lines and they can’t afford to wait forever to build this thing. Their financing goes away if they do that. The regulatory system that pipelines require is lengthy, complex and expensive, but companies like this know how to shepherd their application to permit. Had the Standing Rock Sioux showed up at the public meetings to voice their concerns, they would have had their concerns addressed. The burial sites would have been protected, there would have been excessive and unnecessary safety protocols put in place to assure the construction did not contaminate the water. And, ultimately, the pipeline would have been built … just like the other pipelines in the area.

But violent protests … that has a propaganda cache that the environmentalists can use. President Obama knows that. And he knew that whoever  the President-elect was come this fall, he would still be president and he could make his last months in office memorable. And, in the meantime, the pipeline company is slowly being bled dry by these protests, so that it is entirely possible that a perfectly legal pipeline, planned with great care to avoid conflict with stakeholders, won’t be built because the company won’t be able to sustain financing.

Yeah, it’s the unethical world that we live in.

 

They Care Now!   Leave a comment

A cousin who lives in North Dakota sent me a bunch of information on the Dakota Access Pipeline and asked me if I would blog on it. I’ve previously said I deplore the violence of the protests and that I don’t really get what they’re so exercised about, but I haven’t really looked deeply into it until now.

Living in Alaska, I know a lot more about pipelines than the average American. I know they can be done safely and I recognize that pipeline transportation of both oil and natural gas is much safer than truck or tankcar transportation. So you sort of know what side I would be on if asked.

Image result for image of dakota access pipelineThe Dakota Access Pipeline’s route is 99% on private land, so the federal government really couldn’t say much about it, except for in the immediate area where the pipeline crosses navigable waterways.

Dakota Access Services is the company behind this $3.7 billion project that would move almost 500,000 barrels of oil daily from the Bakken oil field in North Dakot to an Illinois refinery. The company jumped through all the appropriate US Army Corps of Engineers hoops to be permitted to construct the pipeline under a damned portion of the Missouri River about a half mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

That permit conferred a property right to DAS. The Standing Rock Sioux challenged the permit in court. The Department of Justice argued that the Corps had acted legally in conferring a permit to the company and in September, the government won a major component of the case when a federal district court judge refused to halt pipeline construction.

Up through winning in court last September, the government’s conduct was unobjectionable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers followed all required procedures in issuing the permit, and the Justice Department successfully defended the Army Corps actions in court. As a result, the company could proceed with construction of the pipeline.

Then the Obama administration did something very common for the Obama administration. Only minutes after the district court announced that construction could proceed, the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and Department of the Interior issued a joint statement announcing that the federal agencies will halt any additional permitting and reconsider its past permits of the project.

To capital-intensive infrastructure projects like the DAP, time is money. The construction company went to great lengths to comply with all applicable federal statutues so it could gain authorization to build on the 1% of the pipeline subject to federal jurisdiction. The product of all that labor was a permit or property right. A court ruled that the company had a right to build. Then the President — acting like a dictator — simply overturned the court’s order. The administration is now stalling while the construction company losses money each and every day that the construction is delayed.

I don’t believe President Obama, despite what he is claiming, is acting out of genuine concern for relations between the federal government and Native Americans. If that were even on his radar, he would have prevented the EPA from closing down the Navajo Nation’s coal-fired power plants, which cost them increased electrical costs and job losses.

Obama unilaterally overturned a court order in order to appease the green special interests that helped him get elected and who are cynically leveraging the Dakota Access Pipeline affair to pursue their own narrow interests.

 

Just think about this a moment. Why is Earth Justice, an environmental special interester group litigating a statute that deals with preserving Native American history when the pipeline doesn’t run on reservation land?

As Alaskans know well, green organizations will use any means available to achieve their goal of keeping oil in the ground. Their support for the Standing Rock Sioux is a sham pretense for their real purpose: misusing the law to advance their climate agenda.

What I found interesting is that not all Standing Rock Sioux oppose the pipeline. CNN reported the following in early November:

 

[Robert Fool Bear Sr., district chairman of Cannon Ball] has had it with the protesters. He says that more than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn’t care. Now, suddenly, the crowds are out of control, and he fears it’s just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

This is so familiar to me as an Alaska because Arctic Village was similarly manipulated by green organizations opposed to development of ANWR.

The central legal issue is whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fulfilled its responsibility under the National Historic Preservation Act to consult with tribes “that attach religious or cultural significance to property” affected by the Army Corps’s permitting decisions. In line with Robert Fool Bear Sr.’s comments above, the record clearly demonstrates that the Army Corps’s good faith efforts at consultation were ignored by the Standing Rock Sioux. The Corps sent files on the planned pipeline route to the Standing Rock Sioux for review back in September 2014 and received no response. On October 2, 2014, the Standing Sioux Rock backed out of the first scheduled meeting with the Corps on the project. The Corps rescheduled the meeting for November 6, 2014, but tribal officials were a no-show. On December 19, 2014, the Corps again reached out to the Standing Rock Sioux to schedule a meeting without receiving a response.

The Standing Rock Sioux refused to cooperate with the federal government for two years, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.According to Greenwire, the Standing Rock Sioux were also invited to three public hearings held by North Dakota state regulators. The tribe was a no-show at each one.

Yeah! The Standing Rock Sioux refused to cooperate with the federal government for two years and only got involved to any serious extent at the very end of the process, when they abruptly demanded that the Army Corps of Engineers review possible impact of the whole pipeline. Remember, that is impossible because the federal government only has jurisdiction over 1% of the pipeline, where it goes under the Missouri River.

“More than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn’t care.” Robert Food Bear, Sr.

Image result for image of dakota access pipelineDespite the tribe’s refusal to act in good faith, both the company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers went to great lengths to accommodate the tribe’s interests. The company devised a route to account for and avoid sites that had been identified as potentially eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The company bought rights to a 400-foot corridor along the preliminary route to conduct cultural surveys by professionally licensed archeologists, who inventoried, delineated, & assessed historic sites. Having identified 91 stone features of religious significance to Native Americans, the company then rerouted the pipeline around all of them.

Ultimately, the company surveyed twice as many miles as the 357 miles planned for the pipeline and the route was modified more than 140 times in the process. And, where the pipeline crosses the Missouri, which is the whole focus of this fight, it is 100% adjacent to an existing natural gas pipeline.

So, I still don’t see what the fuss it about. Do we as a nation just like to be dependent upon the Saudis for our oil?

Posted November 26, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Environmentalism

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The Myth of the Bee-pocalypse | Shawn Regan   Leave a comment

Sean Regan

You’ve probably heard by now that bees are mysteriously dying. In 2006, commercial beekeepers began to witness unusually high rates of honeybee die-offs over the winter — increasing from an average of 15 percent to more than 30 percent. Everything from genetically modified crops to pesticides (even cell phones) has been blamed. The phenomenon was soon given a name: colony collapse disorder.

Image result for image of honey beesSince colony collapse disorder began in 2006, there has been virtually no detectable effect on the total number of honeybee colonies in the United States.Ever since, the media has warned us of a “beemaggedon” or “beepocalypse” posing a “threat to our food supply.” By 2013, NPR declared that bee declines may cause “a crisis point for crops,” and the cover of Time magazine foretold of a “world without bees.” This spring, there was more bad news. Beekeepers reported losing 42.1 percent of their colonies over the last year, prompting more worrisome headlines.

Based on such reports, you might believe that honeybees are nearly gone by now. And because honeybees are such an important pollinator — they reportedly add $15 billion in value to crops and are responsible for pollinating a third of what we eat — the economic consequences must be significant.

Riding the buzz over dying bees, the Obama administration announced the creation of a pollinator-health task force to develop a “federal strategy” to promote honeybees and other pollinators. The task force unveiled its long-awaited plan, the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The plan aims to reduce honeybee-colony losses to “sustainable” levels and create 7 million acres of pollinator-friendly habitat. It also calls for more than $82 million in federal funding to address pollinator health.

But here’s something you probably haven’t heard: there are more honeybee colonies in the United States today than there were when colony collapse disorder began in 2006

Read the rest of the article on FEE: The Myth of the Bee-pocalypse | Shawn Regan

Posted September 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Environmentalism

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