President moves to revive pipeline
President Donald Trump moved swiftly Tuesday to advance the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, signing executive actions to aggressively overhaul America’s energy policy and deal a sharp blow to Barack Obama‘s legacy on climate change.
Obama had personally halted the Keystone XL project, which was to bring oil from Canada to the U.S., and major protest demonstrations have frozen work on the Dakota pipeline.
Trump, in his continuing effort to undo the past eight years of a Democratic president, invited the Keystone builder, TransCanada, to resubmit its application to the State Department for a presidential permit to construct and operate the pipeline. The company said it would reapply.
Obama halted the proposed pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centerpiece of his environmental agenda.
Revel in stories about triumphs over conventionTrump also ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to quickly review and approve construction and easement requests for the Dakota Access pipeline, a project that has led to major protests by American Indian groups and their supporters.
“From now on we are going to start making pipelines in the United States,” Trump said from the Oval Office, where he also vowed to require the actual pipe for Keystone to be manufactured in America.
Trump’s actions four days after he took office came on the heels of his decision to withdraw from a major trade agreement as he upends Obama’s policies, winning praise from congressional Republicans. Democrats in energy-producing state also hailed Trump’s actions on the pipelines as long-awaited steps to boost jobs and move the country toward energy independence.
But environmental groups and Native American tribes who have fought both projects for years pledged to defy Trump.
“President Trump will live to regret his actions today,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Unwittingly he is beginning to build a wall — a wall of resistance. This fight is far from over.”
The 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada to Nebraska, where it would join other lines already leading to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Trump directed the State Department and other agencies to make a decision within 60 days of a final application and declared that a 2014 State Department environmental study satisfies required reviews under environmental and endangered species laws. Environmental groups promised a legal challenge, arguing a new application requires a new review.
State Department approval is needed because the pipeline would cross the northern U.S border.
As a practical matter, the Dakota Access project is likely to be completed first. The company building it says it is complete except for a section that would pass under the Missouri River near a camp in North Dakota where pipeline opponents are demonstrating.
The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Illinois. The proposed route skirts the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation and crosses under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota that serves as the tribe’s drinking water source.
The tribe’s chairman accused Trump of breaking the law, citing treaty rights with the United States, and promised to fight the action in court.
“Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted toward our nation and without our consent,” Dave Archambault said.
The Army decided last year to explore alternate routes for the Dakota pipeline after the tribe and its supporters said it threatened drinking water and Native American cultural sites. The company developing the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, says it will be safe.
“Today’s news is a breath of fresh air, and proof that President Trump won’t let radical special-interest groups stand in the way of doing what’s best for American workers,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate.
In July, the Army Corps of Engineers granted the company needed permits, but in September the agency said further analysis was needed. On Dec. 4, the assistant Army secretary for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, said alternate routes needed to be considered.
About 600 pipeline opponents have been arrested in North Dakota since last year. An encampment on Corps land along the pipeline route that once hosted thousands of protesters has dwindled to fewer than 300 after the Tribal Council recently urged people to leave due to harsh winter weather. Much of the camp is buried in two feet of snow and many of the teepee tarps have been taken down, leaving only the frames. Law enforcement continues a presence on nearby bluffs.
Trump’s action could re-ignite large-scale protests, said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the main camp organizers.
“Standing Rock has ignited a fire in all of us,” Goldtooth said. “We hope to see those fires continue to burn.”
Producer halts plan for hog operations
Plan for 20,000-hog facility sparks revolt in western Illinois
Gravel crunching beneath their wheels, cars and pickup trucks pulled up at twilight around the one-room schoolhouse in Bernadotte Township.
A powerful pork company was planning a 20,000-hog confinement near the storied Spoon River in western Illinois, and a dozen neighbors were gathering to fight for their creeks, clear air, one-lane roads and rural way of life.
They exchanged greetings in the dim light inside, some squatting to fit onto children’s chairs.
“We’ll call the meeting to order,” began retired schoolteacher Stuart Harrison, 74. Efforts like this one have largely failed during the past two decades as pork producers constructed more than 900 new swine confinements across Illinois, often brushing aside farm families’ concerns about sickening odors, road damage, depletion of wells and fouling of creeks.
But this network of farmsteads set amid rolling hills has become the newest battleground where small-town residents are trying to fend off a leading U.S. pork producer.
Via a threat to send ‘Feds’
President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday night about Chicago’s violence, saying he will “send in the Feds!” if the city “doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on.”
Trump’s tweet refers back to a line in his inaugural address Friday about “the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
The tweet cited numbers — “228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016)” — that come from Chicago Tribune data used in a news story Monday about violence in the city so far this year. As of Tuesday evening, there had been at least 247 people shot in Chicago, with at least 44 people killed, according to Tribune data.
Chicago Police Department statistics for the month are lower because they do not include shootings on area expressways, police-involved shootings, homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense, or pending death investigations.
If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
“There’s a lot the federal government can do,” Emanuel said, citing gun control, use of federal resources to track illegal guns and federal prosecutions. “And also, fundamentally, in my view, also help fund additional police officers.
“Over the years the federal government’s stepped back their resources, which we have stepped up. The federal government can be a partner, and to be honest they haven’t been for decades.”
Blizzard of’67’s record unbroken
Before he was commissioner of the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, Charles Williams was nearly trampled by a snow plow.
Williams was 16 when a record-setting blizzard struck Chicago in January 1967. Like many teenagers at the time, he took advantage of school closures and reveled in the snow.
“I was standing on a huge snow mound. A plow came down the street and I didn’t back up enough … it almost took me out with it,” he said.
The blizzard, which hit 50 years ago Thursday, effectively took out the city, too.
Thousands of people were stranded in offices, schools and buses. About 50,000 vehicles and 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses were abandoned on the streets and expressways and buried underneath 23 inches of snow.
According to Tribune stories at the time, expectant mothers were taken to hospitals by sled, bulldozer and snow plow. At least a dozen babies were born at home.
As a result of the infamous Blizzard of ’67, 26 people died, including a 10-year-old girl who was accidentally caught in the crossfire between police and looters and a minister who was run over by a snowplow. Several died of heart attacks from shoveling snow.
The snowstorm caused the biggest disruption to the commerce and transportation of Chicago by any event since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, according to the National Weather Service.
For adults, it was a nightmare. Businesses were closed. Public transportation was shut down. Cars were abandoned in the streets. The storm struck on a Thursday, and by Sunday, at least 237 people were arrested for looting stores and stranded vehicles.
But for children, the blizzard created a holiday. Most schools didn’t reopen until Tuesday.