Dakota Access pipeline springs first oil leak – before completion

May 11, 2017 by  
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Before the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was even completed, it suffered its first leak. On April 6, the $3.8 billion project spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, enraging members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other activists who protested its development for nearly one year. The Guardian reports that the leak was quickly contained and cleaned. However, critics of the spill say that the environmental travesty could have been prevented had state officials listened to concerned members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and those who support them. The pipeline was in its final stages of preparing to transport oil when the leak occurred. Beginning in April of 2016, thousands of people gathered near Cannon Ball, ND, to protest the DAPL ’s development. The main concerns continue to be that its construction could contaminate the Missouri river and that a portion of land the DAPL runs through was promised to the Standing Rock Sioux in an 1851 treaty. Though the Obama administration halted the DAPL’s development in December of 2016, President Trump ordered it to resume shortly after his inauguration. Activists were forcibly removed from the protest grounds. Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said, “They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong. It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.” “It doesn’t give us any pleasure to say, ‘I told you so.’ But we have said from the beginning that it’s not a matter of if, but when. Pipelines leak and they spill. It’s just what happens,” she added. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has fought Energy Transfer Partners and the U.S. government in court, argues that the project requires a full environmental study to assess the risks. Because President Trump has financial ties to the oil company, however, it is unlikely such an assessment will be conducted. Standing Rock Sioux tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said the spill is just one more sign the courts should intervene. “Our lawsuit challenging this dangerous project is ongoing, and it’s more important than ever for the court to step in and halt additional accidents before they happen – not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk,” he said in a statement. Related: Major oil spill 150 miles from DAPL protest validates Standing Rock concerns Neither the company nor the state have made a public announcement about the spill . According to Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota department of environment and natural resources, this is because the spill was relatively minor as it was caused by a mechanical failure at a surge pump. “It’s not uncommon to have a small release at a pump station,” said Walsh, adding that the company responded immediately and cleaned up the liquid petroleum. Via The Guardian

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Dakota Access pipeline springs first oil leak – before completion

This modern log home in Finland is heated by the earth

May 11, 2017 by  
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This may look like a traditional log home, but unlike other homes, it can withstand harsh winters and freezing temperatures down to -30°C (-22°F) without a huge impact on the environment. Finnish architecture firm Pluspuu Oy designed the Log Villa house in Finland as an energy efficient modern residence for cold climates that offers optimal living conditions thanks to a well-insulated envelope and the use of geothermal energy. The Log Villa sits near a beautiful lake in Central Finland and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Thick laminated timber logs constitute the envelope and features three-layer glued pine as the outer layer. This allows the structure to withstand extremely low temperatures. Although the design references traditional log buildings of the region, the villa’s envelope has no overlaps or visible cross corners. Related: Four-Cornered Villa is an Off-Grid Minimalist Retreat in Finland Geothermal energy is the main source of heat, which is pumped out of a well drilled in the ground. During the summer, when temperatures can go up to 30°C, cool air is pumped from the ground into the building. Triple-glazed thermal glass and blown-in wood fiber insulation make the envelope airtight and contributes to the ecological construction approach. + Pluspuu Oy Via Archdaily Photos by Samuli Miettinen

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This modern log home in Finland is heated by the earth

8 gorgeous green hotels to add to your bucket list

May 11, 2017 by  
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Need an escape but don’t want to harm the environment in the process? There are hotels throughout the world centered around sustainability – from a seaside resort in Thailand that grows 100% of its produce to a self-sustaining vacation spot in Mexico. Featuring beautiful design and eco-friendly accommodations, these hotels allow you to satisfy your wanderlust in a conscious way. Hit the jump to check out the eight green hotels we’ve rounded up, and get your adventure started. Blue Lagoon hotel connects with Icelandic landscape When you think of Iceland , you probably think of the famous Blue Lagoon , colored via minerals in waste – but safe! – seawater from a nearby geothermal plant. But you may not know there’s a new resort, the Moss Hotel, under construction there, perched near the pools. The resort design is meant to connect seamlessly with the landscape. Visitors can explore lava corridors and waterfalls in a subterranean spa , and a new restaurant will feature seasonal and local ingredients. The 62-room hotel will open this fall. Related: Solar-powered cylindrical treehouse in Mexico is made with sustainable bamboo Thailand resort grows 100 percent of its produce Traveling to Thailand ? Look no further than The Tongsai Bay Hotel . The hotel was constructed with the environment in mind; not even one tree was cut down to make room for the family-owned resort. 66 species of birds and wildlife reside within the hotel’s 28 and a half acres. The resort also grows 100 percent of its produce , with food waste getting a second life as fertilizer. They practice radical reuse; a few examples include reusing old bathtubs as planters and old sheets as napkins. 121-year-old warehouse on Singapore River given new life as chic hotel An old Singapore warehouse – that once acted as an opium den – got a second chance as the classy Warehouse Hotel . The waterfront warehouse is 121 years old, but Zarch Collaboratives gave it new life with a design inspired by its industrial past in 37 rooms and a double-height lobby. The hotel kept some original elements of the warehouse like its peaked roofs and renovated others like the louvre windows. Self-sustaining Mexico resort incorporates permaculture principles Near Tulum, Mexico rests a self-sustaining, eco-luxe villa that’s the stuff of travel daydreams. The resort designed by Specht Architects is cooled in part by large cutouts in the walls and insulated with native plants adorning the roof. Solar-powered , the villa collects and filters rainwater for use. It even utilizes constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. Not only does the hotel boast impressive sustainability but stunning bay views and gorgeous modern design as well. Switzerland visitors enjoy connection to nature in open-air hotel Brothers and artists Frank and Patrik Riklin took sleeping under the stars to a whole new level with their one-room, open-air hotel in Switzerland – with no walls or roof. Visitors to the second reincarnation of Null Stern (the first being a nuclear bunker turned luxury hotel) may not have access to a bathroom but do have a butler for the night who will bring breakfast in bed. The minimalist experience provides stunning views of the Swiss Alps . Sweden’s famed Treehotel welcomes Snøhetta-designed 7th room amidst the pines Treehotel , a collection of designer treehouses in Sweden , recently welcomed their 7th room designed by Snøhetta . The cabin is lifted over 30 feet above ground and immerses guests among the enveloping pine trees – Snøhetta said their goal was to bring nature and people closer together. Massive windows and skylights afford opportunities to gaze at the Northern Lights, and a pine tree print across the bottom of the cabin makes it appear invisible from underneath. Locally sourced, natural materials comprise spruce-clad Swedish hotel As you might guess, there’s more than one eco hotel in Sweden. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed Öijared Hotel with a similar aim of blending the buildings into surrounding nature . Locally sourced and natural materials were used in the hotel’s 34 prefabricated rooms. Natural wood materials inside add to the earthy aesthetic. Whimsical hotel in Romania built with sand and clay In Romania , a storybook hotel built of clay and sand, hearkens back to both ancient stories and ancient building techniques. The Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor , designed by owners Razvan and Gabriela Vasile along with eco architect Ileana Mavrodin , includes 10 rooms and was constructed without drawing on any modern building techniques. Natural materials , shaped by local craftsmen, give the hotel a fairytale feel. Images via Blue Lagoon , Laura Mordas-Schenkein for Inhabitat, Warehouse Hotel , © Taggart Sorensen, Null Stern , © Johan Jansson, Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture , and Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor

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Judge throws out request to halt Dakota Access Pipeline construction

February 14, 2017 by  
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a The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux just suffered a major defeat at the hands of a federal judge — the tribes’ request to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was rejected Monday afternoon. The tribe’s lawyers filed the motion arguing that Lake Oahe, which the pipeline would cross, contains sacred water which would be desecrated by the pipeline. This argument was dismissed by Energy Transfer Partners , saying that the company had “the utmost respect for the religious beliefs and traditions” of the tribe and that their efforts did not threaten the traditions of the community. The protesters, who fear the consequences of an oil spill near their main source of water, say they aren’t surprised by the ruling. In a report from the Guardian , many reaffirmed their commitment to the cause, with some stating they would continue to occupy the protest camps near the pipeline’s construction sites. Related: Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately Religious beliefs and traditions weren’t only issues at stake in this ruling. The pipeline, which was originally halted by the Obama administration in December, was supposed to undergo a lengthy environmental review process before permits would be issued for the company to begin drilling. Instead, Donald Trump used his first weeks in office to throw out the review and simply push the approval process through. Though many indigenous protesters dispersed during the winter to avoid brutal storms, they are beginning to return as the weather improves. They are vowing to continue to fight the pipeline, both on the ground and in court. Via The Guardian Images via Tony Webster and Lars Plougmann

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Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately

February 8, 2017 by  
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In a surprise move, the US Army Corps of Engineers just approved construction on the final 1.5 miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline . The move cut short a public comment period and environmental impact assessment that was supposed to last two weeks – the Army was originally supposed to accept comments through February 20th, but it expedited the process under the direction of Donald Trump . The accelerated timeline makes legal challenges to the pipeline extremely difficult. The agency has also announced it’s planning to waive its usual policy of waiting 14 days after notifying Congress of the decision to grant an easement. Instead, the easement could be granted within 24 hours, allowing Energy Transfer Partners to begin construction immediately. Due to the nature of the project, it’s not necessary for the company to apply for a separate construction license. Related: 76 water protectors arrested at Standing Rock The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports that it plans to file a lawsuit and ask for a temporary restraining order to halt construction while the decision’s legal standing undergoes a review. The protestors are also coordinating an international day of action to stand against the decision. In the past, police have soaked Standing Rock protectors with water cannons in freezing conditions, attacked them with dogs , and early in February 76 protestors were arrested during a raid on a new camp at Standing Rock. Via NPR Images via Standing Rock Uprising Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )  

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Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately

Congressman makes statement with ‘Keep the EPA Great’ hat

February 8, 2017 by  
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Democratic Congressman Don Beyer’s Northern Virginia district is home to thousands of federal workers who make the daily commute across the Potomac River to their jobs in Washington — and many of them are EPA employees working to ensure clean air, clean water and a livable climate for their fellow Americans. On Tuesday, Beyer stood up for the agency, which is under attack from President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress who want to abolish it . During a hearing, Beyer used his speaking time to run down the agency’s accomplishments in protecting the environment and human health, before donning a red cap similar to the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” hats — except Beyer’s said “Keep the EPA Great.” https://www.facebook.com/RepDonBeyer/videos/1870037156576073/ The House Science Committee is chaired by climate change denier Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who used the first hearing after Trump’s inauguration to bash the EPA with baseless accusations of politicization and questionable science. Beyer refuted Smith’s assertions, reminding the committee that the EPA was responsible for banning the pesticide DDT, reducing acid rain, mandating lead-free gasoline, regulating toxic chemicals and establishing a national commitment to protect the nation’s air and water. Related: Florida Republican introduces bill that would abolish the EPA Many EPA employees are on edge after Trump nominated anti-EPA crusader Scott Pruitt to head the agency and chose professional climate science denier Myron Ebell to lead the EPA transition team. In a recent interview, Ebell said that Trump would seek significant reductions to the EPA’s 15,000 staff and $8 billion annual budget. Ebell explained that the aim was to cut the agency down to a Nixon-era level of 5,000 employees. “This Committee should be leading the charge to protect the planet and our environment for future generations,” said Beyer. “Instead it attacks the credibility of scientists, casts doubt on accepted science, and makes life difficult for the people trying to solve urgent crises. The Science Committee’s contribution now is like that of the Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burned down around him. This is irresponsible and dangerous. It is not leadership and it will not make the EPA, or America, great.” Via Gizmodo Image via Twitter

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North Dakota will fine pipeline protesters $1000 for bringing in food and supplies

November 30, 2016 by  
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In an effort to suppress the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota officials have threatened hefty fines on anyone bringing “prohibited items” into the area – including portable bathrooms, building materials, and even food. This follows an “ emergency evacuation ” order issued by state Governor Jack Dalrymple on Monday. While the evacuation was supposedly due to incoming snowstorms, protesters believe it’s simply an attempt by the state to circumvent federal authority and intimidate activists. The governor’s office initially planned to set up a physical blockade to prevent people from reaching the camp, however, it has since softened its approach. Instead, law enforcement officers will stop vehicles attempting to enter the camp and inform drivers that they could be subject to a $1,000 fine for entering the evacuation zone. Organizers at the camp allege that the order is simply an attempt to bully the protesters, and it’s a difficult point to argue – law enforcement officials certainly didn’t seem to worry about exposing the self-proclaimed “ water protectors ” from the elements earlier this month when they sprayed them with water cannons in sub-freezing weather conditions . In fact, this week injured protesters filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the police gave no warnings before violently attempting to disperse the protests. Related: Hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters injured by police attacks at Standing Rock While the state of North Dakota has asked for help from federal law enforcement to remove the demonstrators from the evacuation zone by December 5th, the Army Corps issued a statement on Monday that it would not be forcibly removing people from the land. However, emergency services to the camp will be restricted, based on approval from the county sheriff and highway patrol – a potentially dangerous action if the police should clash with the protesters again. Via Reuters Images via   Standing Rock Rising

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North Dakota will fine pipeline protesters $1000 for bringing in food and supplies

Patagonia is donating all $10 million of its Black Friday profits

November 30, 2016 by  
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Black Friday is a consumeristic nightmare – but there are some companies using the day for good. Last week Patagonia announced plans to donate all of its Black Friday sales to charity, and they wound up pulling in a grand total of $10 million – five times the amount they originally predicted. The money will go towards grassroots environmental groups fighting the wave of climate change deniers moving into Washington D.C. next year. Patagonia has vowed to give away 100 percent of its profits from the single biggest shopping day of the year – and they intend to keep their promise. The company’s philanthropy goes all the way back to a 1985 pledge. Their yearly donations to environmental organizations account for just one percent of their daily global sales – but the figure added up to $7.1 million just last year. Related: Scientists warn of uncontrollable climate change amid drastic Arctic melt “This is a difficult and divisive time for our country,” Lisa Pike Sheehy, the company’s vice president of environmental activism , told CNNMoney. “I believe the environment is something we can all come together on… Environmental values are something we all embrace.” Patagonia says the decision to donate their Black Friday sales was inspired by nation’s recent political climate, since the environment does not seem to be a great concern for incoming politicians or many incumbent conservatives. The money will be given to a global network of over 800 grassroots environmental groups hellbent on saving the world. + Patagonia Via CNN Images via Flickr , Wikimedia

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Patagonia is donating all $10 million of its Black Friday profits

Hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters injured by police attacks at Standing Rock

November 22, 2016 by  
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This weekend, protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline escalated into a violent standoff between demonstrators and police. On Sunday afternoon, the peaceful “water protectors” attempted to move a barricade set up by police on the Highway 1806 bridge. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, along with National Guard soldiers, responded by firing rubber bullets at close range, bombarding the protestors with tear gas bombs and concussion grenades, and shooting water cannons into the crowd in sub-freezing weather.

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Hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters injured by police attacks at Standing Rock

US Army delays Dakota Access Pipeline on Corps lands near Lake Oahe

November 15, 2016 by  
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Standing Rock Sioux members and their supporters protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline just got a piece of good news. Yesterday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a statement on the pipeline saying before they’re willing to grant an easement to Energy Transfer Partners , they want to hold more discussions with the tribe. They said that during these conversations, pipeline construction near Lake Oahe on Corps land will halt. The Army said it has finished its review begun September 9, 2016, and has determined “additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands” and because of how important Lake Oahe is to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe . Related: President Obama says Army is exploring rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline The Army’s statement doesn’t completely stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rather, the goal of the discussions they mention is to talk about easement conditions to lower the risk of ruptures or spills along the oil pipeline and expedite response to such disasters “or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies.” In a statement in response to the Army letter, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II said, “We are encouraged and know that the peaceful prayer and demonstration at Standing Rock have powerfully brought to light the unjust narrative suffered by tribal nations and Native Americans across the country…Not all our prayers were answered, but this time, they were heard.” The Army made it clear they have not yet decided whether or not they will grant Energy Transfer Partners an easement, which the company needs to construct the part of the pipeline that goes underneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. While discussions are held, “construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur.” Via NBC News Images via Fibonacci Blue on Flickr and Takver on Flickr

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