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Standing Rock’s pipeline protest swells into a movement

CANNON BALL, North Dakota — A Native American tribe’s efforts to halt construction of a crude oil pipeline in North Dakota have swelled into a movement, drawing international attention and the support of movie stars and social media, and making a major oil company blink.

While the tribe’s lawyers work to persuade a federal judge to withdraw permits for the pipeline in a ruling expected on Friday, thousands of protesters gathered at campgrounds near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands.

While the tribe’s lawyers work to persuade a federal judge to withdraw permits for the pipeline in a ruling expected on Friday, thousands of protesters gathered at campgrounds near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands.

“This is a new beginning, not just for our tribe, but for all tribes in this country,” said Standing Rock Sioux spokesman Ron His Horse is Thunder, one of the leaders hoping for a rebirth of Native American activism beyond the pipeline battle.

“This is a new beginning, not just for our tribe, but for all tribes in this country,” said Standing Rock Sioux spokesman Ron His Horse is Thunder, one of the leaders hoping for a rebirth of Native American activism beyond the pipeline battle.Representatives of 200 tribes and environmentalists have set up camp in the rolling hills near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in

Representatives of 200 tribes and environmentalists have set up camp in the rolling hills near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in sight of the proposed pipeline route.They say the planned pipeline, near but not on tribal land, runs through a sacred burial ground and could leak, polluting nearby rivers and poisoning the tribe’s water source.

They say the planned pipeline, near but not on tribal land, runs through a sacred burial ground and could leak, polluting nearby rivers and poisoning the tribe’s water source.

The 1,100 mile (1,770 km), $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline would carry oil from just north of the tribe’s land in North Dakota to Illinois, where it would hook up to an existing pipeline and route crude directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.Protesters have included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who authorities say is part of a group under investigation for illegally spray-painting construction equipment at the site.

Protesters have included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who authorities say is part of a group under investigation for illegally spray-painting construction equipment at the site.

“Our indigenous people have been warning for 500 years that the destruction of Mother Earth is going to come back and it’s going to harm us,” said David Archambault, tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux. “Now our voices are getting louder.”On Tuesday, U.S. Judge James Boasberg granted in part the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the

On Tuesday, U.S. Judge James Boasberg granted in part the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the project, and said he would decide by Friday whether to grant the larger challenge to the pipeline, which would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permits.Protesters were disappointed that the judge did not shut down construction altogether, but savored a small win when the group of companies building the pipeline, led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners through its Dakota Access subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.

Protesters were disappointed that the judge did not shut down construction altogether, but savored a small win when the group of companies building the pipeline, led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners through its DakotaAccess subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.

Access subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.
The pipeline was fast-tracked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year, but the project has been dogged by protests since April.It was envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains.

It was envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains.In June, a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a school and the closure of a highway. In 2013, a runaway train in Canada crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.

In June, a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a school and the closure of a highway. In 2013, a runaway train in Canada crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.

DIGGING IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is one of six reservations in the Dakotas that are all that remain of what was once the Great Sioux Reservation, which comprised all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the Black Hills, which are considered sacred, according to the tribe’s website.The tribe has 15,000 members in the United States including as many as 8,000 in North and South Dakota. The reservation covers about 9,300 square miles (24,087 square km).

The tribe has 15,000 members in the United States including as many as 8,000 in North and South Dakota. The reservation covers about 9,300 square miles (24,087 square km).At campsites dotted with white tepees and colorful tents, many people prepared for the long haul.

At campsites dotted with white tepees and colorful tents, many people prepared for the long haul.”People are ready to stay through winter,” said Allyson Two Bears, who sits on the tribe’s emergency response team.

“People are ready to stay through winter,” said Allyson Two Bears, who sits on the tribe’s emergency response team.Members of an Ojibwe tribe are helping to erect lodges capable of withstanding North Dakota cold, and people from as far away as London and South Korea have joined the protest, signing their names to a map at the campsite.

Members of an Ojibwe tribe are helping to erect lodges capable of withstanding North Dakota cold, and people from as far away as London and South Korea have joined the protest, signing their names to a map at the campsite.The tribe has also enlisted the help of online petition website Change.org, which helped it gather more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the pipeline. Youth members of the tribe aged 6 to 25 ran a relay race from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petitions.

The tribe has also enlisted the help of online petition website Change.org, which helped it gather more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the pipeline. Youth members of the tribe aged 6 to 25 ran a relay race from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petitions.The protest and lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux are not the first efforts by Native American and environmental groups to stop or reroute planned pipelines through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas.

The protest and lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux are not the first efforts by Native American and environmental groups to stop or reroute planned pipelines through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas.Aboriginal Canadian and Native American groups have opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, along with other pipeline projects.

Aboriginal Canadian and Native American groups have opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, along with other pipeline projects.
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has said he would approve TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal if elected, reversing a decision by the administration of President Barack Obama to block it over environmental concerns. TransCanada has sued the U.S government to reverse Obama’s rejection of the pipeline.The Standing Rock Sioux have hired a political campaign director to publicize their actions to stop the North Dakota pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux have hired a political campaign director to publicize their actions to stop the North Dakota pipeline.”They’ve been making really good use of social media as part of this and that has actually changed the way Native American activism takes place,” said Katherine Hayes, chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

“They’ve been making really good use of social media as part of this and that has actually changed the way Native American activism takes place,” said Katherine Hayes, chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul.The Standing Rock Sioux sued in July. Last month, celebrity activists joined about 100 members of the tribe outside a Washington, D.C., courthouse where hearings were being held, while others demonstrated in North Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux sued in July. Last month, celebrity activists joined about 100 members of the tribe outside a Washington, D.C., courthouse where hearings were being held, while others demonstrated in North Dakota.Over the weekend of Sept. 3, protesters broke through a wire fence in an attempt to chase bulldozers grading the land. They were met by pipeline security staff and guard dogs.

Over the weekend of Sept. 3, protesters broke through a wire fence in an attempt to chase bulldozers grading the land. They were met by pipeline security staff and guard dogs.Actress Susan Sarandon, who joined the Washington protest, said she was there to help publicize the tribe’s cause.

Actress Susan Sarandon, who joined the Washington protest, said she was there to help publicize the tribe’s cause.”These kinds of things happen when people don’t have a voice,” Sarandon said, referring to the government’s decision to fast-track the project. “We have to give them a voice.”

“These kinds of things happen when people don’t have a voice,” Sarandon said, referring to the government’s decision to fast-track the project. “We have to give them a voice.”

Images from the protest site, by Reuters

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Driven out: Housing crisis looms in flood-stricken Louisiana

With an estimated 40,000 homes damaged by deadly flooding, Louisiana could be looking at its biggest housing crunch since the miserable, bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.

People whose homes were swamped by some of the heaviest rains Louisiana has ever seen are staying in shelters, bunking with friends or relatives, or sleeping in trailers on their front lawns. Others unable or unwilling to leave their homes are living amid mud and the ever-present risk of mold in the steamy August heat.

Many victims will need an extended place to stay while they rebuild. Countless others didn’t have flood insurance and may not have the means to repair their homes. They may have to find new places altogether.

“I got nowhere else to go,” said Thomas Lee, 56, who ekes out a living as a drywall hanger — a skill that will come in handy. His sodden furniture is piled at the curb and the drywall in his rented house is puckering, but Thomas still plans to keep living there, sleeping on an air mattress.

Exactly how many will need temporary housing is unclear, but state officials are urging landlords to allow short-term leases and encouraging people to rent out any empty space.

“If you have a unit that’s an old mother-in-law suite and you can rent it out, let us know,” said Keith Cunningham, who heads the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the state housing agency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose very name became a punchline during Katrina, said it will look into lining up rental properties for those left homeless and also consider temporary housing units.

But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave assurances that the temporary units won’t be the old FEMA travel trailers — a reference to the ones brought in after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that were found to have toxic levels of formaldehyde.

The flooding that has struck the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas has left at least 13 people dead.

More than 30,000 have been rescued, and at least 70,000 have registered for federal disaster assistance.

At the height, 11,000 people were staying in shelters, though that had dropped to 6,000 by Wednesday.

For the foreseeable future, home for Carolyn Smith, her husband, two grown sons and a family friend will be a 30-foot travel trailer supplied by a relative. It has one bedroom, a sofa-sleeper, four bunks and one bathroom.

It sits in the driveway of the home she and her husband lived in for 48 years in Denham Springs. Nearby lies a pile of stinking debris pulled from the flooded, one-story wood-frame home.

Smith and her husband are both in their 70s and on fixed incomes. She said she’s not sure how they will make it in coming months as they try to rebuild the house, which took on more than 4 feet of water.

“We’re starting over again. From rock bottom,” she said. “At our age that’s kind of rough.”
In a sign of the housing crunch, Livingston Parish officials are talking with FEMA about getting temporary housing for emergency and rescue workers. An estimated 75 percent of the homes in the parish of 138,000 residents were a total loss.

Those with flood insurance will be in a much better place to begin rebuilding — but there won’t be many of them.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said that only 12 percent of the homes in hard-hit Baton Rouge were covered by flood insurance, and only 14 percent in Lafayette.

Across the flood-stricken area, many residents said they weren’t required to have flood insurance and didn’t have it, since nothing remotely like this had ever happened before.

“My father’s owned this place for 70 years. Never seen it like this. We never thought we needed it,” said Chris Bankston, owner of an auto parts place in the Livingston Parish town of Albany where workers were shoveling debris.

Water crept into his parking lot Friday night, and by Sunday his gasoline pumps were covered. Floodwaters had never come within 200 yards of the place before, he said.

FEMA said more than 9,000 flood claims have been filed with the agency.

Anyone with flood damage is eligible for FEMA aid of close to $33,000 — far less than many people without flood insurance will need to repair and replace their damaged property. The maximum payout under a home flood insurance policy is $250,000.

Joseph Bruno, a New Orleans lawyer who is a veteran of the Katrina insurance wars, fears the greatest needs could be borne by elderly residents who paid off their homes and weren’t required by their bank to carry flood insurance.

Ronald Robillard, 57, and his 65-year-old brother, William Robillard, have been living next door to each other in Baton Rouge homes owned by the older brother. Since both places flooded, they have been sleeping at a shelter at night and cleaning up the homes by day.

William owns the homes free and clear. He doesn’t have flood insurance to pay for the repairs but isn’t waiting for any government aid.

“I figure by fixing it up one room at a time, we’ll be fine,” William said.

“If they give us help, fine,” Ronald added. “We ain’t looking for a handout. Just a hand. That’s a true statement.”

On the web

Updates from the White House.

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Tamiami Trail changed the course of Florida history

A century ago, Florida was a different place.

Mosquitoes and alligators ruled. Air conditioning was science fiction. Cars were scarce, and paved roads were the perks of city living.

One hundred years ago, a rivalry began that would shape the state, one that would drive tourism and traffic along the southwest coast of Florida where seaside towns like Naples and Venice grew and prospered, and away from the interior, where towns like Sparkman and Bermont withered and died.

The Tamiami Trail versus the Cross State Highway.

The battle is little-remembered but changed Florida forever.

“The ultimate selection of the Tamiami Trail route over the Cross State Highway would determine Southwest Florida’s economic, political and social landscape, not just its topography,” wrote Theresa Hamilton Proverbs, an architect and professor at the Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers in an academic paper titled “We Built That: The Lost Fight for Florida’s Cross State Highway.”

“To think of what would have been is speculation,” she said in an interview this week. “It would be great to try to create a future. I think it would have made a difference to the small towns (along the central spine of the state) that would have had access to a major highway. There would be more population and business and industry would be attracted there. There would have been an alternate ending had the Cross State Highway gone through.”

Hamilton Proverbs should know. She lives in LaBelle, in Hendry County, which would have been along the Cross State Highway had it materialized. LaBelle now has a population of about 4,500, but a number of towns at the time along the proposed Cross State Highway “no longer exist,” she said.

One hundred years ago, there wasn’t a single direct east-west paved road in the state, she said, only patchworks of dirt roads that connected the beaches along the Atlantic to main streets in interior towns to the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

So in 1915, a group of Fort Myers area businessmen began working on a project to connect Tampa to Miami.

There were two possible routes; one from Tampa to Arcadia, which was a hub of the state at the time, then southeast directly to Miami. The other route meandered along the the scenic Gulf Coast to Naples, where it hooked to the east, cutting through the Everglades to the East Coast.

“The rivalry was where the highway was going to go,” Hamilton Proverbs said. “This was 1915. There were few paved roads anywhere.”

In many ways the direct route made more sense, cutting across the state through Arcadia, LaBelle and Immokalee, skirting the northern part of the Everglades, to Miami. But that route didn’t have the backing or the savvy of the moneyed businessmen around Fort Myers, eager to bring tourists and their money to the sparkling shores of Southwest Florida.

At that time, fewer than a million cars were toting people around the nation, but the driving future was clear and a lot hung in the balance.

“To all appearances, the long-forgotten competition between these two highways appears to have been a fight between local groups over a seemingly local issue,” Hamilton Proverbs wrote in her paper, published in the Journal of Planning History in October. “But this rivalry would have statewide implications.”

The battle between the backers of the two highways was fierce, she wrote. She quoted Lee County historian Karl Grismer: “The two groups fought openly and secretly, with every weapon at their command, waging no quarter warfare. The battling became venomous.”

Hamilton Proverbs details the political maneuverings of the time and the influx of private funding that eventually tipped the balance in favor of the current route.

Private investment was the key, she said, particularly the money and influence of one man: New York mogul Barron Collier, for whom Collier County is named.

“An understanding of the Tamiami Trail and its ultimate triumph over the rival Cross State Highway,” she wrote, “begins with the question of how a single individual, Barron Collier, was able to exert disproportionate influence over the selection of highway routes, county creation, and ultimately the future planning of the state.”

History records the Tamiami Trail as the accomplishment of dedicated pioneers and dedicated men, led by Collier, she said, but it was mostly the force of his will that pushed the project through. Collier, who made millions in advertising and real estate, lived in the Fort Myers area and contributed about $1 million to the project, a fortune at the time.

In exchange, he got the state Legislature to name the county after him. Collier County was incorporated while the trail was under construction.

“The residents of Southwest Florida needed state policy, powers and infrastructure for highways and subsequent economic growth, (and) the state of Florida was in need of private capital to pay for it,” Hamilton Proverbs wrote. “Barron Gift Collier’s influence over planning for The Trail and its victory over the Cross State Highway stands at the nexus of this issue.”

Importantly, Collier knew how to market the project.

“The Tamiami Trail became this romantic, idyllic highway for travelers to drive on, but it also represented conquering the Everglades and progress,” she wrote. “Development would concentrate on Florida’s coastal cities and tourism and real estate would direct the economy.”

Once the route was finalized, construction began. It helped when Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and other coastal counties anted up to build the connecting roads. The largest hurdle was stretching a paved road through 90 miles of the formidable and wild Everglades.

“It was an extremely difficult feat of engineering to accomplish,” Hamilton Proverbs said. More than a few people died along the way.

In 1921, construction stalled and rumors flew that the lower section of the trail would never be finished, that the Everglades had, as many predicted, defeated progress.

A history of the Tamiami Trail posted on the National Park Service website tells the rest of story:

“By 1923, with vast sums expended, several workmen dead from drowning or dynamite explosions, and little progress made, south Florida residents seemed ready to give up,” the website said. “Then in the spring of 1923, a group of public-spirited citizens calling themselves ‘The Tamiami Trailblazers’ set out to rekindle the Tamiami fire.

“In a dramatic attempt to revive interest, a trail blazing expedition of ten cars filled with twenty-three white men and two Indian guides made a perilous three-week trip across the Everglades swampland. They proved that the route of the proposed Tamiami Trail was feasible, opened the way for land development, captured the imagination of the public with their exploit, and reaffirmed the need for ‘Florida’s Greatest Road Building Achievement.’ “

The following year the Florida State Road Department officially recognized the project, and the Legislature incorporated the Tamiami Trail as part of the state highway system and assumed responsibility for completing it.

Now the real work began. Surveyors and land clearers went to work, often in chest-deep water and muck, the National Park Service website said. Drillers and dynamite men dug and blasted their way through nearly 100 miles of hard rock under the muck.

“Ox carts were used to haul dynamite,” the website said. “When bogged down, men would shoulder the explosives and flounder through the water. Giant dredges followed, throwing up the loose rock to provide a base for the segment of road that took thirteen years and approximately $13 million to pave across ‘America’s Last Frontier.’ “

Besides the monumental task of building a road across a massive swamp, the builders did have to try to at least minimize the environmental impact of building a road that essentially created a dam on the River of Grass.

In “Everglades: The Ecosystem and Its Restoration” by Steve Davis and John C. Ogden, published in 1994, Ogden writes that the Tamiami Trail does not appear to have adversely affected the flow of water, though there is still debate over the issue.

“The presence of the road is clearly a departure from pre-existing conditions,” the book says. “On the other hand, designers realized that the flow could not be stopped, so numerous culverts and bridges were (and still are) installed.”

In 1928, the Tamiami Trail opened. To celebrate, backers led a motorcade from Tampa to Miami.

The trip took three days.

Eventually, the road would become U.S. 41, though street signs south of Sarasota still call the highway the Tamiami Trail. It’s now the second choice behind Interstate 75 and the high-speed Alligator Alley, which cuts through the Everglades parallel to the Tamiami Trail, a few miles to the north.

Still, for those interested in seeing a bit of the old Florida, Hamilton Proverbs, who has driven from city to city, recommends the Tamiami Trail.

“It is only a couple of hours from Miami and Naples, but in experience a world away,” she said. “It is a narrow dirt road, cut right through the Everglades, and if you allow yourself a little imagination you can picture conquistadors and Seminoles, pirates and pioneers and the crazy, determined people who built a highway through the muck and mosquitoes.”

Keystone XL opponents carve 80-acre message: Heartland#NoKXL

Opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast have stamped a massive message of resistance into a Nebraska field that is in the project’s path.

The artwork, which covers 80 acres and was done last week, reads “Heartland(hash)NoKXL.” It is the latest protest environmentalists and landowners have employed against TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Critics of the pipeline want President Barack Obama to reject the project because they fear it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution.

Farmer Art Tanderup, who owns the land where the artwork was created, said he worries about the proposed pipeline because of the nature of his land.

“We have always been stewards of the land,” Tanderup said. “The soil is very sandy here. Any leak would leach into the Ogallala Aquifer, contaminating our water without any concrete plan to clean up the pollution.”

Tanderup drove the tractor that carved the image into dirt. It was based on a design created by artists John Quigley and Richard Vollaire.

TransCanada has said the pipeline will have upgraded safety measures, including remote control shut-off valves and frequent inspections. The company has already built and is operating the southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas.

More than five years have passed since TransCanada first proposed the project to complement its existing Keystone pipeline.

The U.S. State Department and the president have authority over the project because it crosses a U.S. border.

The section of the project that still needs approval would cross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

TransCanada also has proposed connecting it to the Bakken oil field in Montana and North Dakota.

The company altered the pipeline’s path through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region and a couple of towns’ drinking water wells.

But a February court ruling raised questions about the status of TransCanada’s proposed route through Nebraska because a judge invalidated the law state officials followed when they approved the route. That court ruling has been appealed, and the company says that means the route remains valid until the appeal is decided.

Whooping cranes arrive in Wisconsin to train for fall migration

The 2013 class of birds that will follow ultralight aircraft to Florida has arrived in Wisconsin from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership announced on July 16 that Windway Capital provided the aircraft and the pilots to ferry the young cranes from Maryland to Wisconsin. This transfer was the 30th such flight that Windway has made with endangered whooping cranes on board their aircraft.

The cranes were taken to the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, Wis. This is the third year that this training site will be used. The cranes will spend the summer with Operation Migration pilots and field staff getting acclimated, gaining strength and learning to follow the aircraft.

This fall, Operation Migration will guide the young birds on their first southward migration to the Gulf coast of Florida, the cranes’ winter home.

The birds are a portion of the 13th group of endangered whooping cranes to take part in a project conducted by WCEP, a coalition of public and private organizations that is reintroducing a migratory population of whooping cranes into eastern North America, part of their historic range.

An additional batch of chicks will be migrating south as part of WCEP’s Direct Autumn Release project. Biologists from the International Crane Foundation rear whooping crane chicks that are released in the fall in the company of older cranes, from which the young birds learn the migration route. The DAR cranes will be released on the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wis., early this fall.

Most of the whooping cranes released in previous years spend the summer in central Wisconsin.

WCEP asks anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild to give them the respect and distance they need. Do not approach birds on foot within 200 yards; remain in your vehicle; do not approach in a vehicle within 100 yards. Also, please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you.

WCEP founding members are the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

Many other flyway states, provinces, private individuals, and conservation groups have joined forces with and support WCEP by donating resources, funding, and personnel. More than 60 percent of the project’s budget comes from private sources in the form of grants, public donations, and corporate sponsors.

On the Web…

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm.