On Friday I tweeted: “What an extraordinary day, the federal government has a pulse.” The United States finally weighed in on what many of us believe is the most important issue in the country right now: The question of how this nation will address climate change.
This is Trahant Reports.
Let me back up. The Federal Government didn’t exactly answer that question, but it raised new ones in the Standing Rock dispute in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Tribe filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because the agency did not adequately consult with the tribe as required law. But last week a federal court ruled the Tribe had not demonstrated that an injunction was warranted to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Several minutes after the court ruling three federal agencies issued their own statement and required a review of the pipeline under the Missouri River and asked for a voluntary halt to construction near the reservation.
So what does this all mean? Well, there is a review of the pipeline crossing water — and that should lead to a larger question, how important are water resources in the era of climate change?
I suspect the oil and pipeline industry already knows the answer. A news release from the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now was gloomy in its assessment. “Should the Administration ultimately stop this construction, it would set a horrific precedent.” The industry says. And, quoting here, “We hope and trust that the government will base its final decision on sound science and engineering, not political winds or pressure.”
That is exactly where the country ought to start the conversation, using sound science.
The federal government’s best science comes from the U.S. Global Research Program. In its most recent report, it says “climate change does not occur in isolation. Rather, it is superimposed on other stresses, which combine to create new challenges.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline is such a challenge. The industry’s own promotions say this pipeline will move oil to markets faster; eventually moving 570,000 barrels a day. Instead of reducing consumption, it makes it easier and cheaper for Americans to have more.
Yet at the same time the United States has promised the rest of the world that we will slow down our use of fossil fuels. That will not happen with more, cheaper oil.
The Federal Government’s best science says we need to protect water as the most important resource on the planet. In other words: Water is life. And that’s not politics. It’s science.
I am Mark Trahant reporting.