Julie Dermansky

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

The Keystone Pipeline Network Could Soon Be Completed Under Trump, But Will It Be Safe?

Keystone pipeline in Texas

In the coming months, TransCanada will likely receive a green light to build the final leg of its Keystone pipeline network, which would carry Canadian tar sands to Gulf of Mexico refineries. President-elect Trump has said that, during his first 100 days in office, he will reverse President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline.

If built, TransCanada maintains that the Keystone pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built. But an ongoing DeSmog investigation into the Keystone network’s safety record continues to raise questions about the veracity of TransCanada’s claim.

Battle Against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Threatens to Become the Standing Rock of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin

A woman holds a sign protesting the Bayou Bridge pipeline before a permit hearing in Louisiana

At a permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge pipeline held January 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opponents warned that if a permit is granted, the battle to stop the pipeline could turn the Atchafalaya Basin into the next Standing Rock. 

The reason is that Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline, if built, isn't just any pipeline; it would be the tail end of the controversial Dakota Access route, cutting through the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country.

PHOTOS: Louisiana’s Oil and Gas Industry Continues Growing Along the Coast It’s Helping Shrink

Strips of coastal Louisiana land eroding into the sea.

The Louisiana coast loses a football field’s worth of land every 38 minutes. This staggering rate of land loss has been brought on by climate change and coastal erosion accelerated by human activities, including water diversion projects and damage done by the oil and gas industry. 

It is also a problem that is best seen from the sky. Thanks to the nonprofit conservation organization SouthWings, I was able to photograph the state’s troubled coast for DeSmog during a flight on November 15, 2016. 

2016: A Year in Photos, From Climate Change Devastation to the Power of Protests

Santa and other home contents damaged by floodwaters in Louisiana.

2016 will likely be the warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. So it’s not surprising that issues related to climate change continued to dominate my work for DeSmog this past year. 

I documented in photos the devastation caused by extreme weather and the passionate protests of people determined to protect the environment. 

New Orleans Water Protectors Show Solidarity with Standing Rock

On November 15, over 150 people protested against the Dakota Access Pipeline in New Orleans outside the US Army Corp of Engineers headquarters in a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose fight against the pipeline has made international news. 

The New Orleans demonstration, one of over 100 planned in the US and 20 in cities worldwide, called on President Obama to deny Energy Transfer Partners, owner of Dakota Access pipeline, permission to complete the project.

Environmental Concerns — and Anger — Grow in Month After Thousand-Year Flood Strikes Louisiana

Contents from a flooded home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, awaiting removal on Sept 9.

In the aftermath of the 1000-year flood that hit southern Louisiana in August, environmental and public health concerns are mounting as the waters recede.

Residents want to know why many areas that never flooded before were left in ruin this time, raising questions about the role water management played in potentially exacerbating the flood. The smell of mold lingers on streets where the contents from flooded homes and businesses are stacked in piles along the curbside, as well as in neighborhoods next to landfills where storm debris is taken.

Texas Ranch Owner Battles TransCanada to Restore Her Pipeline-Scarred Land

Eleanor Fairchild, an 82-year-old grandmother who owns a 425-acre ranch outside of Winnsboro, Texas, has advice for anyone who is asked to sign a contract by a company that wants to build a pipeline to transport tar sands oil on their land: “Don’t sign it.”

During a recent visit to her ranch, I saw the damage to her land caused by the installation of TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Pipeline, which is the original southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline before the project was broken into segments. 

I first met Fairchild in October 2012, a few days after she was arrested, along with environmentalist actress Daryl Hannah. The two had stood in the way of land-moving vehicles on Fairchild’s land where TransCanada had started clearing trees and readying a right-of-way to install its pipeline. At that time, Fairchild was refusing to make a deal with TransCanada, but the company moved forward with clearing her land anyway. 

Flood-Ravaged Gulf Coast Residents Ask President Obama To Cancel Federal Offshore Drilling Lease Auction

During President Obama’s visit to a flood-ravaged area near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this week, a group of environmental activists delivered a petition to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) protesting the planned leasing of more of the Gulf of Mexico for oll and gas drilling.

They gathered 184,000 electronic signatures over just six days calling for the President and BOEM to cancel its lease auction — scheduled to take place today, August 24. 

Four members of the group told police on the scene they planned to stay until either they got a response from President Obama or they were arrested.

Louisiana's Drowning: Follow our Photographer's Journey Capturing Hope and Loss in Historic Flood

The largest flooding event in Louisiana’s history — and the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — is not over.

As I write, new areas in the southern part of the state are taking on water from rising creeks and bayous. 

Last Friday, the greater Baton Rouge area received more than 30 inches of rain in less than 48 hours. Many rivers crested at record-breaking heights, and the run-off from those rivers is now flooding areas further to the south. 

On Monday, three days after the rain event began, I flew with the Louisiana National Guard in a Black Hawk helicopter to survey the flood damage. From the air, I was able to take in the vast reach of the disaster.

Eight Years After a Mercaptan Spill, Residents of Eight Mile, Alabama, Call For Evacuation

Eight years after a mercaptan spill at a Mobile Gas facility in Eight Mile, Alabama, residents still affected by the spill are fighting back. “For years we have been told there is not a problem anymore, though the smell of gas never really goes away,” Eight Mile resident Geraldine Harper told DeSmog, “and I’m sure breathing that stuff is making my health worse.”

Harper was one of more than 200 people who attended a public meeting hosted by the We Matter Eight Mile Community Association at the Highpoint Baptist Church in Eight Mile on July 21, 2016. Environmental scientist and community advocate Wilma Subra confirmed what many feared—their air is getting worse, not better.

Mercaptan (tert-butyl mercaptan) is an odorant that is added to natural gas (methane) to give it the telltale smell now associated with the otherwise odorless and colorless gas. Just a tiny amount of mercaptan is perceptible by the human nose. Mobile Gas is owned by Sempra Energy, which is also the parent corporation that owns Southern California Gas Co. (the company responsible for the massive natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, California), and is required to add mercaptan to its gas supply, as are all the other gas companies across the country. 

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