Unimpeded Rivers Crucial as Climate Changes: New Study

Flathead Basin

Gravel-bed rivers and their floodplains are the lifeblood of ecosystems and need to be allowed to run and flood unimpeded if species are to be protected and communities are to cope with climate change, a ground-breaking scientific study has found.

The broad valleys formed by rivers flowing from glaciated mountains, such as those found throughout B.C. and Alberta, are some of the most ecologically important habitats in North America, according to the team of scientists who have done the first extensive study of the full range of species that rely on gravel-bed rivers, ranging from microbes to bears. The paper was published online Friday in Science Advances.

In the region that stretches from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the northern Yukon, gravel-bed river flood plains support more than half the plant life. About 70 per cent of the area’s bird species use the floodplain, while deer, elk, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears use the plains for food, habitat and as important migration corridors.

While everyone knows that fish rely on rivers, the scientists found that species such as cottonwood trees need the river flood to reproduce and the ever-changing landscape of changing channels and shifting gravel and rocks supports a complex food web.

Open Letter About WA Governor Inslee's Appeal of Youth Climate Victory

This is a guest post by Andrea Rogers and Julia Olson 

We are the attorneys who represent the eight courageous youths who presented [Washington Governor Jay] Inslee with an unprecedented climate protection opportunity to issue rules to protect their future from carbon pollution.  We write not just as their advocates, but as mothers of young children as well. We do not now, nor have we ever, questioned Gov. Inslee’s professed commitment to addressing climate change. 

But as kids know too well, actions speak louder than words and action based on solid science is sorely lacking at all levels of government, including within Gov. Inslee’s administration. What we have asked Gov. Inslee for is a Climate Recovery Rule for the state of Washington, detailing and describing how Washington will use its existing authority to cap and draw down GHG emissions in a manner consistent with the best current scientific understanding of what it will take to protect not just these eight brave youths, but all of us, present and future generations alike.

South Australia’s Renewable Energy Progress Sets An Example For The World

First-time visitors to Australia are often drawn to the big city attractions of Sydney and Melbourne or the fabulous beaches of Queensland’s Gold Coast. I’ve always had a soft spot for Adelaide in South Australia, a city built more on a human scale, where downtown can be easily navigated on bike, foot or tram. For me, Adelaide’s greatest attraction is a huge market right in the city’s centre.

When I first visited Adelaide in 1993, I met Mike Rann, a young, charismatic aboriginal affairs minister in South Australia’s Labor government. His party lost the election that year, but Rann later became party leader and then state premier in a minority government in 2002. I met him again in 2003 when he outlined ambitious plans to address climate change by aggressively moving South Australia into renewable energy. Wind and solar were the obvious opportunities, but he was also enthusiastic about “hot rocks”, superheated pockets that could create steam to drive turbines for electricity.

How IOGCC Spawned the Lawsuit That Just Overturned BLM Fracking Regulations on Public Lands

In a ruling on the Obama Administration's proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on U.S. public lands, U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming Judge Scott Skavdahl — a President Obama appointee — struck down the rules as an illegal violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. 

Filed in March 2015 by first the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance and then the State of Wyoming (soon joined by North Dakota, Utah and Colorado), the industry and state lawsuits would soon thereafter merge into a single lawsuit. The merger symbolizes the origins of the lawsuit — the 2014 Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

California Oil Pipeline Ruptures Hours After Obama Signs Pipeline Safety Bill

On Wednesday, June 22nd, President Obama signed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 into law. The bill, known as the PIPES Act, reauthorizes the federal government to move swiftly in the event of a pipeline leak or rupture. Specifically, the Secretary of Transportation is allowed to issue emergency orders if the unthinkable happens.

The reauthorization was in response to the natural gas pipeline rupture in California where an estimated 97,000 tons of gas were released from the Aliso Canyon pipeline near Porter Ranch. The bill also includes new mandates on construction to insure the safety of future pipelines and to reduce the chances of another massive leak.

Ironically and very disturbingly, less than 24 hours after the bill was signed into law, an oil pipeline in Ventura County, California ruptured, and current estimates put the amount of oil leaked at over 29,400 gallons (down from the original estimate of over 210,000 gallons), though officials are still assessing the situation.

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