by Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight, August 10, 2017 This morning, two B.C. NDP cabinet ministers outlined steps their government is taking to address public concerns over Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. The owner, Texas-based Kinder Morgan, wants to triple shipments of Alberta oil through its system to 890,000 barrels per day. That would lead to […]
By Seth Borenstein | AP
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday officially told the United Nations that the U.S. intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate pact.
But the State Department’s announcement doesn’t formally start the process of the U.S. getting out of the voluntary agreement. That’s still to come.
Still, the department described its communication as a “strong message” to the world, following President Donald Trump’s decision in June to leave the accord.
“The State Department is telling the U.N. what the president already told the world on June 1 and it has no legal effect,” said Nigel Purvis, who directed U.S. climate diplomacy during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Purvis said countries can’t withdraw from new international agreements, including the Paris climate one, until three years after they go into effect. The Paris agreement went into effect on Nov. 4, 2016.
Then the process takes a year.
The State Department cited the same timeline, saying it can officially start withdrawing as soon as November 2019. That means the earliest the U.S. can be out of the climate agreement is Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after the next presidential election.
In a statement, the State Department said the U.S. will continue to participate in international meetings and negotiations on current and future climate change deals. The next meeting is in Bonn, Germany, in November.
Trump is “open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the United States can identify terms that are more favorable to it, its business, its workers, its people and its taxpayers,” the department said.
Under the agreement, countries set their own national plans for cutting climate emissions. That means Trump can come up with different targets for the United States than those set by President Barack Obama. But Trump can’t unilaterally change the text of the Paris deal.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received “a communication” from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley “expressing the intention of the United States to exercise its right to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, as soon as it is eligible to do so under the Agreement, unless it identifies suitable terms for reengagement.”
“The secretary-general welcomes any effort to re-engage in the Paris Agreement by the United States,” he said.
Dujarric reiterated Guterres’ June 1 statement calling the U.S. decision to withdraw “a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security.”
“It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on climate and sustainable development,” Dujarric said. “Climate change is impacting now. He looks forward to engaging with the American government and all other actors in the United States and around the world to build the sustainable future for our children and future generations.”
Under Obama, the U.S. agreed to reduce polluting emissions more than a quarter from 2005 levels by the year 2025. There is no climate court. All that’s required in the agreement is a plan and reporting on progress toward reaching self-set goals.
No matter what the U.S. does, the Paris agreement remains in effect because enough other countries ratified it.
The Paris agreement aims to prevent the Earth from heating up by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the industrial age.
The world has already warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Revolution. The overwhelming majority of scientists say the burning of coal, oil and gas is causing the Earth’s climate to change because of heat-trapping gases.
Edited for mb3-org.com
Ruling: Trump administration shortcut environmental review; Court seeks additional briefing on whether to shut down pipeline
Washington, D.C. —
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline.
A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.
In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.” The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week.
“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”
The Tribe’s inspiring and courageous fight has attracted international attention and drawn the support of hundreds of tribes around the nation.
The Tribe is represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, which filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for issuing a permit for the pipeline construction in violation of several environmental laws.
“This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration—prompting a well-deserved global outcry,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. “The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.”
The Court ruled against the Tribe on several other issues, finding that the reversal allowing the pipeline complied with the law in some respects.
The $3.8 billion pipeline project, also known as Bakken Oil Pipeline, extends 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat. The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it links with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
For more background on this case, read the FAQ on this litigation.
By Barbara Grzincic
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a fight over the federal government’s designation of a vast area in Alaska a critical habitat for polar bears, turning aside a challenge by the state, its native peoples and the oil and gas industry.
Alaska, the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association had asked the justices to overturn a February 2016 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision upheld the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s designation of 187,000 square miles of sea ice, barrier islands and coastal land as critical habitat for polar bears.