From The New York Times. Minnesota Gov. signed off on final water permits for Enbridge to complete an expansion of its Line 3 Pipeline. December 28, 2020
The new section of pipeline will allow the pumping of oil sands and other forms of crude oil from Alberta to Wisconsin. It will cut through Indigenous treaty lands along the way. Despite pending lawsuits, construction has already started.
This is not just another pipeline, but a potential ‘climate bomb’ as it will facilitate the production of one of the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planate for decades to come. An environmental impact assessment of the project found the potential impact of the pipeline’s carbon output to be 193 million tons per year, the equivalent of 50 coal-fired plants or 38 million vehicles on the road.
In addition to this massive carbon cost, the destructive mining of the tar sands will affect the environment of Alberta’s boreal forests permanently. And if the pipelines leak, the sludgy mixture is almost impossible to clean up. The pipelines route will run through two watersheds draining directly into Lake Superior. The Great Lakes contain 84 percent of North America’s available freshwater and the pipeline is an existential threat to our water supply.
Young people are chaining themselves beneath pipeline trucks, clamping themselves to bulldozers, facing down semi trucks. It is unbearable. They know exactly what is at stake.
From Virginia Mercury. Appropriations omnibus increases Chesapeake Bay Program funding by $2.5 million. December 22, 2020.
The bump in funding comes despite Trumps request to slash the budget, and as the program’s six states enter the final stretch of a decade-long push to clean up the nation’s largest estuary.
The Blueprint plan signed by the six states sets a 2025 deadline for each to meet major targets in reducing sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus that flow from agricultural fiends, city streets and sewage treatment plants into the bay.
On September 2, 2020, the U.S. Forest Service (NFS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would ease existing restrictions on oil and gas development in the National Forests. The action follows a September 2018 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).
The NFS proposal, available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/01/2020-18518/oil-and-gas-resources, summarized the comments received on the ANPR, as follows:
- “Fifty-seven public comments included statements of general opposition, and twenty-three included statements of general support for the proposed rule. The remainder expressed neither opposition nor support.
- “Stated reasons for general opposition include the destruction of national forests and natural resources for financial or political interests; inadequate protection of human and environmental health; adverse impacts to recreation opportunities and tourism; and unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels.
- “Stated reasons for general support include the generation of revenue; large existing demands for oil and gas; decreases in regulatory burden on the oil and gas industry; promotion of domestic energy production; and creation of a simplified process leading to quicker leasing decisions and elimination of duplication with the Bureau of Land Management.”
Comments to the Forest Service on the proposed rule are due November 2, 2020.
From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #289, August 20, 2020
The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) is pleased to announce an exciting new program: The Conservation Hub. ABRA’s Conservation Hub program promotes responsible resource management by providing data-focused tools that enhance a project’s transparency, strengthen its accountability to regulatory agencies and facilitate public participation in its evaluation process. The Hub is a regional information and mapping portal, tailored to specific projects in the central Appalachian region of Virginia and West Virginia encompassing 52 counties (26 in VA and 26 in WV, see map below), but also an information resource on the natural resources and character of the region.
Projects beyond the region will be considered on a case by case basis.
The Conservation Hub is an outgrowth of the mapping system developed for ABRA’s Construction Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program that was created to monitor construction activity of the now-cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Note: The CSI program will continue until restoration of the ACP route has been completed.)
For more information, see the ABRA Web page.
From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #282, June 25, 2020
Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 22 a new Biological Assessment (BA) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), but designated the information as “privileged and confidential” and thus not available to the public. The new BA, which was developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is a necessary step toward the issuance of a new Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement (BiOp/ITC) for the ACP, as required under the Endangered Species Act. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously twice vacated the BiOp/ITC for the ACP, which led to construction activity on the ACP being suspended in December 2018.
Southern Environmental law Center wrote FERC on June 24 requesting that a public version of the new BA be posted on the FERC docket within five business days (by June 30), in accordance with statutory requirements.
From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update 281, June 18, 2020
West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Trout Unlimited have released a new report [June 2020] discussing the impact pipeline construction has on rivers and streams. Reducing Impacts of Pipelines Crossing Rivers and Streams notes that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline routes include over 2,600 waterbody crossings in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including approximately 250 rivers and streams containing species of concern such as native and naturally reproducing trout, anadromous fish and sensitive mussels. The 7-page study discusses the various methods used for pipelines to cross streams and rivers and includes several case studies that document the environmental challenges posed by pipelines crossing water bodies.