Tar Sands Pipeline that Could Rival Keystone XL Quietly Gets Trump Approval

GR: It’s really hard to find a fresh or useful comment on something like this. Just sad.

Enbridge’s Line 67 carries tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. The Trump administration just approved a permit to nearly double its flow at the border. Credit: John W. Murray/CC-BY-NC-2.0

“You’ve probably heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. But what about Line 67, also known as the Alberta Clipper?

“Nine years ago, both were controversial proposals to ship oil from Canada’s tar sands into the United States. But while Keystone XL is still awaiting approval and continues to draw protests, Line 67 quietly secured a federal permit last week to ship even more crude than Keystone would.

“On Oct. 13, the State Department approved a long-awaited permit that allows Enbridge, which owns the pipeline, to pump up to 890,000 barrels per day across the border between Canada and North Dakota, en route to Superior, Wisconsin.

“Enbridge has built the equivalent of a Keystone XL pipeline without gaining the kind of attention that Keystone got,” said Kenneth Rumelt, a senior attorney and professor at Vermont Law School who represented several environmental and indigenous groups in a challenge to the project. “Other than our suit, it largely slipped under the radar. But really, this is a quiet Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Even before the approval, though, the company had already effectively been shipping the full volume through a clever work-around.

“It’s a convoluted story that reflects how Enbridge has gone about trying to boost its capacity to ship Canadian tar sands crude to U.S. refineries piece by piece.

Boosting Line 67’s Volume Before the Permit

“Enbridge began construction on Line 67 in 2008, designing it to eventually carry up to 890,000 barrels per day. Yet when the company initially applied to ship oil over the border, it requested approval to ship about half that amount, 450,000 barrels per day. Enbridge got that approval in 2009, about the time opposition to Keystone XL began gaining steam.” –Nicholas Kusnetz (Continue reading: Tar Sands Pipeline that Could Rival Keystone XL Quietly Gets Trump Approval | InsideClimate News.)

Tell Congress: Vote No on Clovis for USDA Chief Scientist

Sam Clovis, Trump’s choice for USDA chief scientist.

GR: The USDA Chief Scientist must be a scientist. The USDA evaluates the safety of outdoor activities including farming, logging, ecosystem protection, herbicide use for weed control, and many more. The person in charge of the evaluations must understand the methods used for measurement and analysis and must understand the certainty or lack of certainty of the results. Sam Clovis has no experience in scientific methods. Trump selected his other appointees based on political connections and not qualifications. Clovis may be the worst of the worst. The Union of Concerned Scientists has given us some information to use in protest of Clovis’ appointment.

“President Trump has nominated Sam Clovis—a vocal climate change denier with no training in science—for the role of chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Clovis’ nomination represents an abandonment of America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers who depend on the USDA to provide sound scientific guidance on the pressing challenges facing our nation’s food system. Moreover, Clovis’ history of denying climate change and peddling racist and homophobic conspiracy theories calls into question his capacity to make informed, objective, and sound investments for the future of American agriculture.

“Scientists and experts around the country are signing this letter to demand that the USDA chief scientist have a strong scientific background in order to fulfill the demands of this crucial position.

“Add your name to this letter urging the Senate Agriculture Committee to stand by its commitment to scientifically informed governance by voting no on Sam Clovis for USDA chief scientist.

“Learn more about the case against Clovis, and read the nine questions the Senate should ask of Clovis. Check out our Sidelining Science Since Day One report.” Union of Concerned Scientists.


GR:  Contact your Senators and ask them to reject the Clovis appointment. You could also contact Senator Pat Roberts, chairman and Senator Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Tell your Senators that Sam Clovis falls far short of the standards of chief scientist. While he holds a Doctorate of Public Administration, his professional background is completely devoid of relevant scientific experience. The USDA chief scientist must have a strong scientific background to administer scientific programs and make crucial decisions on food safety, agricultural productivity, and emerging threats to public health. Dr. Clovis lacks grounding in the scientific process and is not equipped to make informed, objective, and strategic investments for the future of American agriculture.

There are some excellent smart phone apps that simplify contacting congress. I’m trying out “Congress” by Eric Mill my phone. Seems pretty good so far.

Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Corrupt USDA

GR: Corrupt interaction between U. S. government agencies and pesticide manufacturers poisons people, pets, plants, and wildlife. This has been true in the past, but there is a looming flash flood release of toxic chemicals under Trump.

“Internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Administrator Scott Pruitt has effectively relinquished the EPA’s oversight of pesticide safety to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) senior vice president of government affairs.

“More than 700 pages of emails and other records show that Pruitt and other EPA officials consulted closely with agribusiness interests and top officials at the USDA on the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to harm children’s brains at even very low levels, according to The New York Times.

“In response to the Times report, the EPA issued a statement Monday maintaining that Pruitt relied on the “USDA’s scientific concerns with methodology used by the previous administration” to go against the agency’s own scientists who had pushed for a full ban of the pesticide.

“The emails, on page 301, show that top political appointees made edits to the chlorpyrifos petition as it awaited Pruitt’s signature, in order to reverse the ban of the pesticide recommended by career EPA scientists.” –Environmental Working Group (Continue reading: Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Agriculture Department).

Poison Papers: Monsanto Knew PCBs Were Toxic for Years But Sold Them Anyway

GR:  Monsanto is facing enormous financial penalties for their continued production and sale of toxic chemicals. This post (and earlier stories) discusses PCBs. Other reports describe similar indefensible production and sale of ecosystem destroying and cancer causing herbicides. I guess that once the company directors decided that profits were more important than the health and life of people and natural systems, they would sell any profitable chemical they could produce. The company strategy includes controlling government regulations and regulators.

“Washington could have an ace up its sleeve in its major lawsuit against Monsanto over PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination throughout the state.

“Before switching operations to agriculture, Monsanto was the primary manufacturer of PCBs, which was used for paints, electrical equipment and other products, from 1935 until 1977. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned PCBs in 1979 due to its link to birth defects and cancer in laboratory animals. PCBs can have adverse skin and liver effects in humans and can also linger in the environment for many decades.

“But according to documents published by The Poison Papers project, a new online archive of more than 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers, Monsanto possibly knew as early as the 1960s—at least a decade before the federal ban—that PCBs were harmful to public health and the environment but continued to manufacture and sell the widely used product anyway.

“Washington assistant attorney general Bill Sherman told the Guardian that the archive contained information the state was previously unaware of.

“If authentic, these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact,” he said. “They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit.”

“Sherman cited a particular Monsanto pollution abatement plan from October 1969 that was published in the Poison Papers archive. A section of the plan titled, the “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” states: “The evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”

“Further, the document says that “direct lawsuits are possible” because “customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor [do] our labels carry this information.” –Lorraine Chow (Continue: Poison Papers: Monsanto Knew PCBs Were Toxic for Years But Sold Them Anyway).