Category: Population


Senators Seek To Force Approval Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted: 05/01/2014 4:10 pm EDT Updated: 05/01/2014 4:59 pm EDT

 

HEIDI HEITKAMP

WASHINGTON –- Senate supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline say they think they have enough votes to pass a bill that would force the approval of the controversial project. A group of 56 senators — all 45 Republicans plus 11 Democrats –- introduced legislation on Thursday that would bypass the Obama administration and grant approval for the pipeline.

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced the bill on Thursday. Democrats Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Walsh (D-Mont.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) are cosponsoring it.

Because it crosses an international border, the decision on the pipeline falls under the authority of the State Department. The State Department announced another delay on a decision last month in response to a court decision that invalidated the pipeline’s proposed route through Nebraska, saying that it would wait to decide until there is more clarity on where the pipeline will ultimately run. The legislation would grant approval to “any subsequent revision to the pipeline route” in Nebraska, without requiring further environmental analysis.

“We continue to hear delay, delay, delay from the Administration about the Keystone XL pipeline. I’m beyond sick of it,” Heitkamp said in a statement Thursday. “We have strong bipartisan support in the Senate for this project –- and I’m proud to have recruited support from 10 other Democrats last month. Now, all of those Democrats also signed onto this bill that we crafted to fully approve the construction of the Keystone pipeline. If the Administration isn’t going to make a decision on this project after more than five years, then we’ll make it for them. End of story.”

 

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Friday 14 March 2014 14.28 EDT

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system
This NASA Earth Observatory released on

This Nasa Earth Observatory image shows a storm system circling around an area of extreme low pressure in 2010, which many scientists attribute to climate change. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with “Elites” based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:

“… accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels.”

The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:

“Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.”

Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from “increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput,” despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.

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The Washington Times

By Jessica Chasmar

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Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Matt Brown

**FILE** Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., on July 1, 2013. Colstrip is kind of plant called on by President Barack Obama‘s climate change plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. On Feb. 24, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency‘s unprecedented regulations, aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The case comes to the court amid Obama‘s increasing use of his executive authority to act on environmental and other matters when Congress doesn’t, or won’t. (Associated Press)

A co-founder of Greenpeace told a Senate panel on Tuesday that there is no scientific evidence to back claims that humans are the “dominant cause” of climate change.

Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist who was a member of Greenpeace from 1971-86, told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee environmental groups like Greenpeace use faulty computer models and scare tactics in further promoting a political agenda, Fox News reported.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” Mr. Moore said. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.

“It is important to recognize, in the face of dire predictions about a [two degrees Celsius] rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species,” he continued. “We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing.

 

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EcoWatch

New Evidence Submitted in State Department Hiring of Oil Industry Consultant to Write Keystone XL Environmental Review

Sierra Club | February 12, 2014 10:34 am

 

Today Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth submitted evidence to the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General to support the ongoing inquiry into conflicts of interest and mismanagement in the environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The groups request that the Inspector General takes steps to ensure that the tainted Final Environmental Impact Statement, released on Jan. 31, is excluded from the agency’s National Interest Determination.

 

Untitled

Image courtesy of Friends of the Earth/ 350.org infographic

 

“The State Department hired an oil industry consultant to write the environmental review of Keystone XL without taking steps to guard against industry bias,” said Doug Hayes, Sierra Club staff attorney. “So it’s no surprise that the report attempts to minimize the pipeline’s massive carbon pollution and threats to human health and water quality. This flawed report should have no place in the decision making on this pipeline.”

 

In Aug. 2013, the State Department confirmed that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had opened an inquiry into the agency’s hiring of the consultant Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to prepare the environmental review of the project. Evidence shows that ERM made false and misleading statements on its application for the contract.

 

“By hiring ERM, the State Department ignored its own guidelines and invited the fox into the hen house,” said Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth senior campaigner. “ERM has an obvious self interest in making sure Keystone XL is built.”

 

“The process that allowed them to get this contract has been corrupt from day one and the American people deserve better from their government,” Hammond continued. “It’s up to the Secretary Kerry and the Inspector General to restore some integrity and accountability into the review process, not preside over a whitewash.”

 

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NEAT leaders: TransCanada dupes landowners about eminent domain

New concerns over the Keystone XL oil pipeline are prompting leaders of the Nebraska Easement Action Team, or NEAT, to send a letter to President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and the Unicameral.

The letter expresses worry over TransCanada’s behavior and tactics in pursuing the proposed pipeline.

NEAT president Tom Genung, of Hastings, claims landowners are being misinformed about land seizures.

“Some of the land agents for TransCanada led landowners to believe that if they didn’t sign the initial proposal or the initial easement contracts that eminent domain would be implemented and that basically there would be no compensation,” Genung says, “which is not true at all.”

 

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JournalStar.com

Landowner group warns of perceived plans to bypass federal permit for Keystone XL

February 12, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

A Nebraska landowner advocacy group is warning state legislators and landowners to be aware that TransCanada, the company responsible for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is offering easement agreements that mention bypassing the need for a presidential permit.

The Nebraska Easement Action Team Wednesday issued a strongly worded resolution condemning what it characterized as a history of deceptive practices by TransCanada and sought to bring attention to a sentence in a letter TransCanada sent this month to a Nebraska landowner.

The letter said if an easement was signed, paperwork wouldn’t be filed with the county recorder until TranCanada gets a presidential permit for the 1,179-mile pipeline or “modifies the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project in such a way that a presidential permit is no longer required.”

David Domina, an Omaha-based attorney who works with NEAT, said that single sentence changes the narrative TransCanada has put forth for years about building an international pipeline that requires a federal permit from Canada to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma.

“This (NEAT resolution) is intended as an alert to landowners and, frankly, to the members of the Legislature. There is something up. And we don’t know what it is,” Domina said. “This is not about the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project, this is about something new that isn’t being disclosed and we don’t know what it is.”

TransCanada Spokesman Shawn Howard said the company has no plans to avoid the need for a presidential permit.

 

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EcoWatch

Senior Officials Accused of Skewing Science to Benefit Keystone XL Pipeline

PEER | February 6, 2014 11:44 am

Managers within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) overrode their scientific experts to adopt an inaccurate map based upon a flawed model that significantly shrank the range of an endangered species, according to agency investigative reports released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The managers not only retaliated against scientists who voiced objections but rushed into publication of a bogus scientific journal article to cover their tracks.

abb2004

The American burying beetle is an endangered species threatened by the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The American burying beetle (ABB), a critically endangered species, has seen its range dwindle from 35 states to the plains of South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma —areas in the proposed path for the $5.3 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Based on complaints from FWS scientists, specially convened Scientific Integrity Review Panels found two “high-level” officials guilty of scientific misconduct. The panels found that Dixie Porter, supervisor of the FWS Oklahoma Ecological services field office in Tulsa, OK, and Luke Bell, FWS Branch Chief for Threatened and Endangered Species and Contaminants:

  • Adopted flawed models that dramatically shrunk the known range of the ABB
  • Compounded their misconduct by improperly rushing an article into publication that both “knowingly impeded” the original panel investigation and also would “further degrade the endangered status of the ABB.…” Despite this finding, FWS has yet retract the paper.
  • Retaliated against line scientists who objected, including imposition of “several staff suspensions.”

This is the first time an Interior agency has upheld a scientific misconduct complaint under its relatively new Scientific Integrity policies. Yet FWS refused to release the reports to PEER under the Freedom of Information Act. PEER obtained them by filing an appeal with Interior’s Office of Solicitor, the administrative step before a lawsuit, and the solicitor ordered release of redacted versions of the reports.

 

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A photo of a whooping crane.

The Canada-to-Texas flight route of the critically endangered whooping crane passes along Keystone XL’s route for hundreds of miles. Conservationists worry about the impact of pipeline power lines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY PAT SULLIVAN, AP

Mel White

for National Geographic

Published February 14, 2014

Climate change has been the focus of much of the opposition to TransCanada‘s Keystone XL pipeline. But many conservationists are also concerned about more immediate environmental consequences.

They’re worried about the pipeline construction’s impact on wildlife and ecosystems, and of possible spills of the heavy crude oil that will flow through the pipeline at the rate of 830,000 barrels a day. (See related: “Interactive: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.“)

Some people, seeing a map of the pipeline’s proposed 875-mile route through the Great Plains, may picture the region in the terms of 19th-century explorers who called it the “great American desert”: a barren land lacking in natural-history interest. In fact, though the vast herds of grazing animals that Lewis and Clark saw are greatly diminished, rich ecosystems endure. And while the pipeline route crosses some agricultural land, much of it would traverse natural habitats in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska where harmful effects on native animals and plants could—some say would, inevitably—occur. (See related, “Oil Flows on Keystone XL’s Southern Leg, But Link to Canada Awaits Obama Administration.“)

A photo of the Yellowstone River in Montana

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNIE GRIFFITHS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Rich ecosystems surround the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers (the latter is pictured here). Keystone XL would cross both rivers in Montana.

Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers

The Keystone XL route crosses the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, two of more than 50 crossings of perennial streams. Both rivers are home to the federally endangered pallid sturgeon, a bizarre-looking fish up to six feet long adapted to life in large rivers with silty bottoms. A serious oil spill has the potential to damage or even destroy habitat for this species. Such a spill could also harm habitat for least terns and piping plovers, two birds that nest along rivers and that have suffered serious declines in recent decades.

And pipelines do fail, conservationists note. The failure in 2010 of an Enbridge pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil triggered the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, contaminating 40 miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and surrounding wetlands. Last year, another pipeline carrying Canadian oil, Exxon-Mobil’s Pegasus line, ruptured in a the small Arkansas town of Mayflower, affecting wetlands connected to the largest man-made game and fish commission reservoir in the United States. (See related, “Oil Spill Spotlights Keystone XL Issue: Is Canadian Crude Worse?”) Officials are still reckoning the lingering environmental damage after massive and expensive cleanup efforts.

In its recent Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the State Department admits that oil spills will occur and are a danger, but asserts that current technology and rigorous inspections make the odds of a serious spill remote. (See related, “3 Factors Shape Obama’s Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline.”)

Davis Sheremata, a spokesperson for TransCanada, said Keystone will incorporate construction and maintenance techniques more advanced than those of earlier pipelines. Safety measures “are the culmination of six years of consultation between TransCanada, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other federal and state environmental agencies,” he said. “The required environmental protection and pipeline safety measures set a new, and very high, standard unequaled by any other pipeline project.”

Whooping Crane

One of the greatest conservation concerns about the immediate effect of the pipeline centers on the critically endangered whooping crane. Most of these tall white birds nest in Canada and migrate through the central United States to and from their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast. The cranes’ flight route passes directly along the pipeline route for hundreds of miles.

It’s not the pipeline itself that’s of greatest potential danger to the cranes, though. Pumps needed to keep the thick Canadian oil flowing through the pipeline require power lines to supply them with electricity, and conservationists wonder what will happen when more than 300 miles of new power lines appear in formerly wide-open spaces in the birds’ flight path.

“The whooping crane is a species that we’ve really homed in on,” said  Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. “Power lines account for about 40 percent of juvenile whooping crane mortality, which is a big deal when you’re talking about a bird that has a population of about four hundred in the wild. Those concerns have never really been taken seriously.”

TransCanada’s Sheremata said his company and pipeline contractors “have committed to incorporate a number of conservation measures to prevent potential direct or indirect impacting to the whooping crane.” Measures include installing and maintaining avian markers (conspicuous objects designed to make lines more visible to flying birds) at pump stations “to reduce impacts to whooping cranes from power lines.”

Male Greater Sage Grouse

PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM WALKER, VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBIS
A male greater sage-grouse does a mating display. The proposed route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse “leks,” sites where males dance to attract mates.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Although the greater sage-grouse isn’t officially an endangered species, many bird experts believe it should be. They claim it has been kept off the list for fear of political backlash in conservative western states, where farming and ranching might face restrictions.

There’s no question that the grouse has suffered from loss of habitat: 20 of 27 known population groups have declined since 1995. The pipeline route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse leks (sites where males “dance” to attract mates); ornithologists fear that noise from construction, roads, and pumping stations could affect breeding success of these notoriously shy and easily disturbed birds.

In addition, power-line towers serve as hunting perches for eagles and hawks, which prey on grouse. In treeless areas where grouse live, towers will bring new threats and greater potential mortality by providing raptor lookouts where formerly there were none.

A photo of a Swift Fox.

PHOTORGAPH BY JIM BRANDENBURG, MINDEN PICTURES/CORBIS
A swift fox stands alert in the South Dakota prairie.

Swift Fox

The swift fox, a small canine of grassland regions, is another controversial species that the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity believes belongs on the endangered-species list. The CBD finds it “dumbfounding” that Keystone XL environmental-impact statements fail to address the pipeline’s effects on the fox.

“It’s like they took a map and drew a pipeline along the remaining locations of known bands of the swift fox,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney for the CBD. “That’s where the fox lives, because those are the areas that are not being used for agriculture and are on public land. That’s where pipeline companies like to site things these days to minimize landowner conflict or having to deal with eminent domain. And that’s where the wildlife is. They’ve been pushed out of other areas.”

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Ogallala Aquifer

 

From Wikipedia:

 

The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world’s largest aquifers, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 mi² (450,000 km²) in portions of eight states: (South DakotaNebraskaWyoming,ColoradoKansasOklahomaNew Mexico, and Texas). It was named in 1898 by N.H. Darton from its type locality near the town ofOgallala, Nebraska. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.

 

About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies the aquifer, which yields about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States. Since 1950, agricultural irrigation has reduced the saturated volume of the aquifer by an estimated 9%. Depletion is accelerating, with 2% lost between 2001 and 2009[ alone. Certain aquifer zones are now empty; these areas will take over 100,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.

 

The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the 2.3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.

 

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Teck smelter spills chemical solution into Columbia River

CBC News Posted: Feb 01, 2014 10:51 AM PT Last Updated: Feb 01, 2014 10:51 AM PT

Teck Resources says between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a solution containing sodium hydroxide spilled from its smelter in Trail, B.C., into the Columbia River on Tuesday.

Teck Resources says between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a solution containing sodium hydroxide spilled from its smelter in Trail, B.C., into the Columbia River on Tuesday. (The Canadian Press)

A mining and smelting company spilled a large volume of chemical solution into a domestic sewer line near Trail, B.C., on Tuesday.

Teck Resources says an incident at the Trail Smelter caused between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a sodium hydroxide solution to flow into a sewer line. That line leads to the Regional District sewage plant, which discharges into the Columbia River.

“Our initial information indicates that the sewage treatment plant process would have a limited effect on that solution as it passed through the plant and eventually discharged into the Columbia River,” said Teck spokesperson Richard Deane.

The solution is usually treated on-site. The company is investigating how it could have drained into the sewer, but says it does not expect there to be any long-term impact on the river’s aquatic life or surrounding environment.

“We are going to be having a third-party environmental impact assessment conducted to confirm whether there will be any impact as a result of this incident,” Deane said.

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Columbia River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Columbia River
Aerial view of a large river winding through a mountainous gorge. It passes over a dam stretching in four segments from bank to bank across three intervening islands. Highways, passing by clusters of buildings here and there on both banks, run parallel to the river. Whitewater and foam curl downriver from one of the central segments.
Bonneville Dam, in the Columbia River Gorge
Name origin: Captain Robert Gray’s ship, Columbia Rediviva
Nickname: Big River, the River of the West, River Oregon[1]
Countries United States, Canada
States Washington, Oregon
Province British Columbia
Tributaries
 – left Spillimacheen River, Beaver River, Illecillewaet River, Incomappleux River, Kootenay River, Pend Oreille River, Spokane River, Snake River, John Day River, Deschutes River, Willamette River
 – right Kicking Horse River, Blaeberry River, Canoe River, Kettle River, Sanpoil River, Okanogan River, Wenatchee River, Yakima River, Lewis River, Kalama River, Cowlitz River
Cities Revelstoke, BC, Tri-Cities, WA, Portland, OR, Vancouver, WA, Longview, WA, Astoria, OR
Source Columbia Lake
 – location British Columbia, Canada
 – elevation 2,690 ft (820 m) [2]
 – coordinates 50°13′N 115°51′W [3]
Mouth Pacific Ocean, at Clatsop County, Oregon / Pacific County, Washington
 – elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 – coordinates 46°14′39″N 124°3′29″W [4]
Length 1,243 mi (2,000 km) [5]
Basin 258,000 sq mi (668,000 km2)
Discharge for mouth (average); max and min at The Dalles, Oregon, 188.9 miles (304.0 km) from the mouth
 – average 265,000 cu ft/s (7,500 m3/s) [6][7][8]
 – max 1,240,000 cu ft/s (35,100 m3/s)
 – min 12,100 cu ft/s (300 m3/s)
Three-color map of the Columbia River watershed. The watershed is shaped roughly like a funnel with its wide end to the east and its narrow end along the border between Washington and Oregon as it nears the Pacific Ocean. The watershed extends into the western U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, and the western Canadian province of British Columbia as far east as its border with Alberta. The river itself makes a hairpin turn from north-west to south in British Columbia and another sharp turn from south to west as it nears Oregon.
Columbia River drainage basin
Wikimedia Commons: Columbia River

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.[9] The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River. Its drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven U.S. states and a Canadian province.

By volume, the Columbia is the fourth-largest river in the United States; it has the greatest flow of any North American river draining into the Pacific. The river’s heavy flow and its relatively steep gradient gives it tremendous potential for the generation of electricity. The 14 hydroelectric dams on the Columbia’s main stem and many more on its tributaries produce more hydroelectric power than those of any other North American river.

The Columbia and its tributaries have been central to the region’s culture and economy for thousands of years. They have been used for transportation since ancient times, linking the many cultural groups of the region. The river system hosts many species of anadromous fish, which migrate between freshwater habitats and the saline Pacific Ocean. These fish—especially the salmon species—provided the core subsistence for natives; in past centuries, traders from across western North America traveled to the Columbia to trade for fish.

In the late 18th century, a private American ship became the first non-indigenous vessel to enter the river; it was followed by a British explorer, who navigated past the Oregon Coast Range into the Willamette Valley. In the following decades, fur trading companies used the Columbia as a key transportation route. Overland explorers entered the Willamette Valley through the scenic but treacherous Columbia River Gorge, and pioneers began to settle the valley in increasing numbers, following both routes to enter it. Steamships along the river linked communities and facilitated trade; the arrival of railroads in the late 19th century, many running along the river, supplemented these links.

Since the late 19th century, public and private sectors have heavily developed the river. The development, commonly referred to as taming or harnessing of the river, has been massive and multi-faceted. To aid ship and barge navigation, locks have been built along the lower Columbia and its tributaries, and dredging has opened, maintained, and enlarged shipping channels. Since the early 20th century, dams have been built across the river for the purposes of power generation, navigation, irrigation, and flood control. Today, a dam-impounded reservoir lies along nearly every U.S. mile of the once free-flowing river, and much of the Canadian stretch has been impounded as well. Production of nuclear power has taken place at two sites along the river. Plutonium for nuclear weapons was produced for decades at the Hanford Site, which is now the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S. All these developments have had a tremendous impact on river environments, perhaps most notably through industrial pollution and barriers to fish migration.

Course

The Columbia begins its 1,243-mile (2,000 km) journey in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia (BC). Columbia Lake – 2,690 feet (820 m) above sea level – and the adjoining Columbia Wetlands form the river’s headwaters. The trench is a broad, deep, and long glacial valley between the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains in BC. For its first 200 miles (320 km), the Columbia flows northwest along the trench through Windermere Lake and the town of Invermere, a region known in British Columbia as the Columbia Valley, then northwest to Golden and into Kinbasket Lake. Rounding the northern end of the Selkirk Mountains, the river turns sharply south through a region known as the Big Bend Country, passing through Revelstoke Lake and the Arrow Lakes. Revelstoke, the Big Bend, and the Columbia Valley combined are referred to in BC parlance as the Columbia Country. Below the Arrow Lakes, the Columbia passes the cities of Castlegar, located at the Columbia’s confluence with the Kootenay River, and Trail, two major population centers of the West Kootenay region. The Pend Oreille River joins the Columbia about 2 miles (3 km) north of the U.S.–Canada border.[10]

Modified satellite view of the Columbia River watershed showing the course of the river in red from Columbia Lake in British Columbia, Canada, to Astoria, Oregon, in the United States. The maps shows that the river, although flowing on average in a southwesterly direction from source to mouth, changes direction sharply from northwest to south at Big Bend in Canada, from south to west near Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, from west to south near Wenatchee, Washington, and from south to west near the Tri-Cities area in Washington.

Course of the Columbia River

The Columbia enters eastern Washington flowing south and turning to the west at the Spokane River confluence. It marks the southern and eastern borders of the Colville Indian Reservation and the western border of the Spokane Indian Reservation.[11] The river turns south after the Okanogan River confluence, then southeasterly near the confluence with the Wenatchee River in central Washington. This C‑shaped segment of the river is also known as the “Big Bend”. During the Missoula Floods 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, much of the floodwater took a more direct route south, forming the ancient river bed known as the Grand Coulee. After the floods, the river found its present course, and the Grand Coulee was left dry. The construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in the mid-20th century impounded the river, forming Lake Roosevelt, from which water was pumped into the dry coulee, forming the reservoir of Banks Lake.[12]

The river flows past The Gorge Amphitheatre, a prominent concert venue in the Northwest, then through Priest Rapids Dam, and then through the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Entirely within the reservation is Hanford Reach, the only U.S. stretch of the river that is completely free-flowing, unimpeded by dams and not a tidal estuary. The Snake River and Yakima River join the Columbia in the Tri‑Cities population center. The Columbia makes a sharp bend to the west at the Washington–Oregon border. The river defines that border for the final 309 miles (497 km) of its journey.[13]

The Columbia River Gorge, facing east toward Beacon Rock

The Deschutes River joins the Columbia near The Dalles. Between The Dalles and Portland, the river cuts through the Cascade Range, forming the dramatic Columbia River Gorge. No other river except for the Klamath completely breaches the Cascades—the other rivers that flow through the range also originate in or very near the mountains. The headwaters and upper course of the Pit River flows through much of the Cascades; in contrast the Columbia cuts through the range nearly a thousand miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains. The gorge is known for its strong and steady winds, scenic beauty, and its role as an important transportation link.[14] The river continues west, bending sharply to the north-northwest near Portland and Vancouver, Washington, at the Willamette River confluence. Here the river slows considerably, dropping sediment that might otherwise form a river delta. Near Longview, Washington and the Cowlitz River confluence, the river turns west again. The Columbia empties into the Pacific Ocean just west of Astoria, Oregon, over the Columbia Bar, a shifting sandbar that makes the river’s mouth one of the most hazardous stretches of water to navigate in the world.[15] Because of the danger and the many shipwrecks near the mouth, it acquired a reputation as the “Graveyard of Ships”.[16]

The Columbia drains an area of about 258,000 square miles (670,000 km2).[6] Its drainage basin covers nearly all of Idaho, large portions of British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, ultimately all of Montana west of the Continental Divide, and small portions of Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada; the total area is similar to the size of France. Roughly 745 miles (1,200 km) of the river’s length and 85 percent of its drainage basin are in the U.S.[17] The Columbia is the twelfth-longest river and has the sixth-largest drainage basin in the United States.[6] In Canada, where the Columbia flows for 498 miles (801 km) and drains 39,700 square miles (103,000 km2), the river ranks 23rd in length,[18] and its basin ranks 13th in size.[19] The Columbia shares its name with nearby places, such as British Columbia, as well as with landforms and bodies of water.

Discharge

With an average flow at the mouth of about 265,000 cubic feet per second (7,500 m3/s),[6] the Columbia is the largest river by volume flowing into the Pacific from North America[20] and is the fourth-largest by volume in the U.S.[6] The average flow where the river crosses the international border between Canada and the United States is 99,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m3/s) from a drainage basin of 39,700 square miles (103,000 km2).[21] This amounts to about 15 percent of the entire Columbia watershed. The Columbia’s highest recorded flow, measured at The Dalles, was 1,240,000 cubic feet per second (35,000 m3/s) in June 1894, before the river was dammed.[22] The lowest flow recorded at The Dalles was 12,100 cubic feet per second (340 m3/s) on April 16, 1968, and was caused by the initial closure of the John Day Dam, 28 miles (45 km) upstream.[22] The Dalles is about 190 miles (310 km) from the mouth; the river at this point drains about 237,000 square miles (610,000 km2) or about 91 percent of the total watershed.[22] Flow rates on the Columbia are affected by many large upstream reservoirs, many diversions for irrigation, and, on the lower stretches, reverse flow from the tides of the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service issues tide forecasts for eight places along the river between Astoria and the base of Bonneville Dam.[23]

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KABC LOS ANGELES KABC LOS ANGELES

Published on Jan 31, 2014

As the drought deepens, California’s Department of Water Resources said today it will provide no more water from the state water project to the 29 agencies that use it. KABC’s Michael Linder reports.

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California drought: State Water Project will deliver no water this summer

Posted:   01/31/2014 01:10:58 PM PST | Updated:   a day ago

At Folsom Lake, Calif.,  the boat ramp is several hundred yards  from the water’s edge, January 2014.

At Folsom Lake, Calif., the boat ramp is several hundred yards from the water’s edge, January 2014. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project, a backbone of California’s water system, will provide no water to urban residents or farmers this year because of the severe drought, state officials said Friday.

The announcement does not mean that communities will have no water this summer. But it does mean that every region is largely on its own now and will have to rely on water stored in local reservoirs, pumped from underground wells, recycled water and conservation to satisfy demand.

Silicon Valley and parts of the East Bay — particularly residents of Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin, who receive 80 percent of their water each year from the State Water Project — will feel the impact the most in the Bay Area.

Hardest hit, however, will be the state’s huge agriculture industry.

“We expect hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Central Valley to go unplanted,” said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “That will cause severe economic problems in our rural regions — loss of jobs and economic activity, with all the heartache that entails.”

The state’s decision to turn off its main spigot will be re-evaluated every month and could change if California sees significant rainfall in February, March and April, state water officials said at a Friday morning news conference.

Still, the news highlighted how California is in uncharted territory this year. Last year was the driest in the state’s recorded history back to 1850. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is at 15 percent of normal, even after a storm this week. And January set more records for lack of rainfall.

“Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.”

Bay Area impact

The State Water Project, approved by voters in 1960 and a key legacy of former Gov. Pat Brown, the governor’s late father, is a massive system of 21 dams and 701 miles of pipes and canals that moves water from Northern California to the south. It essentially takes melting snow from the Sierra Nevada, captures it and transports it from Lake Oroville in Butte County through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta all the way to San Diego. In doing so, it provides drinking water for 23 million people from Silicon Valley to the Los Angeles basin and irrigates about 750,000 acres of farmland.

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Wine stocks could run dry as devastating drought in California threatens harvests and forces farmers to plant fewer crops

  • Officials ban access to vast reservoir to try to protect dwindling supplies
  • State would need snow and rain every other day from now until May to restore water levels
  • Ghost town submerged since 1950s revealed as reservoir runs low

By Daily Mail Reporter

|

As a drought tightens its grip on California, farmers in the Golden State are fearing harvests of almonds, oranges and grapes could be lost.

The state’s famed vineyards and other farms will be further affected by the decision yesterday to not send water from a vast reservoir system to local agencies in spring.

The unprecedented move means water supplies for 25 million people, and irrigation for one million acres of farmland, will be forced to look to other sources.

Run dry: A boating speed limit buoy stands out on the dry bed of Black Butte Lake last month

Run dry: A boating speed limit buoy stands out on the dry bed of Black Butte Lake last month

The announcement was timed to give farmers more time to determine what crops they will plant this year and in what quantities.

Farmers and ranchers throughout the state already have felt the drought’s impact, tearing out orchards, fallowing fields and trucking in alfalfa to feed cattle on withered range land.

Without deliveries of surface water, farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers. The state has no role in regulating such pumping.

‘A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses,’ Ted Page, president the Kern County Water Agency’s board, said in a statement.

‘While many areas of the county will continue to rely on ground water to make up at least part of the difference, some areas have exhausted their supply.’

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Business Insider

We Went Out To Count All Of The Homeless In New York City, And It Was Devastating

Surprisingly few were catching trains at this hour.

 

Jan. 29, 2014, 11:05 AM

For several freezing, early-morning hours Monday, Jan. 27, thousands of New York City volunteers patrolled the city’s streets and subways looking for undocumented homeless residents.

Last year’s survey reported a 13% rise to 64,060 homeless people in shelters and on the street, bucking a national trend of declining rates. This year’s numbers won’t be available for a few weeks.

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Though some people claimed not to be homeless at all, just between apartments or homes.

Though some people claimed not to be homeless at all, just between apartments or homes.

Robert Johnson for Business Insider

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Where The Homeless Are (And Are Not)


With food-stamp recipients dominated by ‘working age Americans’ for the first time in history; and 1.4 million having recently dropped off the benefits rolls, we suspect, extremely sadly, that the following breakdown of homelessness in America is about to get worse. Los Angeles has by far the greatest number of unsheltered homeless in America and New York City the largest population – at around 65,000 – of homeless people in the US. One wonders at the State of the Union tomorrow…

Via Vizual-Statistix,

The PIT estimates are based on counts of all sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night

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DrBones NurseAmy DrBones NurseAmy

Published on Jan 15, 2014

Are Preppers normal? Dr Bones answers the question that 97% of the population is asking. http://www.DoomandBloom.Net for more articles and information about medical preparedness.

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MRSTARGAZERNATION MRSTARGAZERNATION

 

 

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The Star.com

Boomers continue their love affair with the car while the industry ponders how to get their tech-driven kids on the bandwagon.

While boomers continue their love affair with the car, basing their lifestyle on having "wheels," millenials are dragging their feet getting driver's licences and are staying away from carmaker dealerships in droves.

Toronto Star file photo

While boomers continue their love affair with the car, basing their lifestyle on having “wheels,” millenials are dragging their feet getting driver’s licences and are staying away from carmaker dealerships in droves.

The president of Toyota Motor Corp. is perplexed by boys who don’t have a vehicle and think they can pick up girls these days.

“In the past, if you wanted to date someone, you couldn’t ask her out if you didn’t have a car,” Akio Toyoda, 57, told a packed auditorium of about 900 Meiji University students in Tokyo earlier this fall.

“It’s all changed now. Money goes on monthly phone bills. Also, parking’s expensive and it’s easy to get around . . . on public transport.”

His frustration is indicative of the looming crisis facing the big automakers down the road: how to get kids interested in cars.

While boomers continue their love affair with the automobile, their tech-driven offspring would rather get from point A to point B on their smartphones, which has car makers in a tailspin.

RELATED

Did you sign a smartphone contract instead of a car lease? Let us know in our comments section below

The big auto manufacturers are on pace for a record-setting sales year in Canada and the U.S. But a worrisome scenario looms to get so-called “millennials” (ages 16 to early 30s) behind the wheel, and keep sales momentum rolling in the future, experts say.

The elusive Gen Y crowd (often considered to be people born in the 1980s and 1990s) would rather socialize on their computers and smartphones than drive over to a friend’s house the way mom and dad liked to do in their day, says Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Richmond Hill.

“Kids don’t love cars the way their parents do, and smartphones are replacing some of the social elements that a vehicle used to fill,” he says.

“They feel they can be social more efficiently (via text and Twitter) than having a big honking car in the driveway,” he adds.

High gas prices and environmental concerns also don’t help matters, analysts say.

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