Nebraskans Install First Solar Panels Inside the Keystone XL Pipeline Route

‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
 
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

“Build Our Energy Barn” built in 2013 on the Hammond family’s land inside KXL route near York, Nebraska — one of the many signs of resistance to Keystone XL. Photo Credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

Source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/albums/72157686827119456

“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed,” commented Joye Braun, organizer from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industryThe Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.
  

Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: 

“I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC:

“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:

http://boldnebraska.org/solarxl

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How Flint’s water crisis is impacting the nation’s water infrastructure

As of late, five Michigan officials, including the head of the state health department, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the ongoing investigation into Flint’s water crisis. A dozen of Flint residents contracted Legionnaires’ disease after the city’s water source had been contaminated with lead poisoning, leaving one dead. Eastern Kentucky University that highlights a study that found the 100-year-old U.S. water infrastructure will cost $1 trillion to fix. 
Currently, the United States is graded as a “D+” for the state of its water infrastructure. In order to ensure the continuation of safe tap water, the U.S. will have to invest $384.2 billion to make infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. 

How Flint's water crisis is impacting the nation’s water infrastructure
To learn more about Flint’s water crisis and how it’s impacting the nation’s water infrastructure, view full infographic here: http://safetymanagement.eku.edu/resources/infographics/our-nations-growing-water-crisis-what-you-need-to-know/

Experts Share their Secrets to an Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.

Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin! That’s why the team at EmPower Solar decided to speak with a panel of eco-friendly experts on their personal practices. You can see their best advice here.

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.  Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin!

Renowned Photographer Joel Sartore Travels the Globe to Create the Photo Ark

PBS' RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark profiles renowned National Geographic photographer, author and conservationist Joel Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves and more for his long-running

PBS’ RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark profiles renowned National Geographic photographer, author and conservationist Joel Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves and more for his long-running “Photo Ark” project. 
PBS' RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark profiles renowned National Geographic photographer, author and conservationist Joel Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves and more for his long-running

Episode 2 – Premieres Tuesday, July 25 at 9/8C
Joel will go anywhere to add another rare species to the Photo Ark. He travels to Spain to photograph the Iberian lynx, once the rarest cat in the world. He gets a rare look inside a breeding center that teaches lynx how to hunt their main food source: rabbits. But scientists working in China might be too late in saving the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. With only three left in the world, Joel witnesses an attempt to artificially inseminate the last known female and keep this species from going extinct.

Joel will go anywhere to add another rare species to the Photo Ark. He travels to Spain to photograph the Iberian lynx, once the rarest cat in the world. He gets a rare look inside a breeding center that teaches lynx how to hunt their main food source: rabbits. But scientists working in China might be too late in saving the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. With only three left in the world, Joel witnesses an attempt to artificially inseminate the last known female and keep this species from going extinct.
Joel hates hiking, but in Cameroon, he has the opportunity to glimpse the Cross River gorilla in the wild. Little is known about the rarest great ape in the world and he gets close enough to nap in its nest. But the highlight of the trek is extracting beetles from cow dung – because every creature counts in the Photo Ark.

Press Release:

BOSTON, MA [June 28, 2017] – Renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is a natural-born storyteller. His Photo Ark project is a digital “collection” of the world’s mammals, fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles and insects, and the focus of RARE-Creatures of the Photo Ark. This captivating new three-part series, produced by WGBH Boston and premiering on PBS in Summer 2017, follows Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves, and more. Throughout RARE, scientists and naturalists reveal surprising and important information about why ensuring the future of these animals is so critical. Follow Sartore’s adventures at #RarePBS.

Author, conservationist and National Geographic Fellow, Sartore has traveled to nearly 40 countries to photograph 6,395 species for the Photo Ark to date, including 576 amphibians, 1,839 birds, 716 fish, 1,123 invertebrates, 896 mammals, and 1,245 reptiles in captivity. When complete the Photo Ark will be one of the most comprehensive records of the world’s biodiversity. Through RARE, audiences can journey with Sartore across the globe—to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania—to chronicle his experiences
RARE-Creatures of the Photo Ark premieres on consecutive Tuesdays—on July 18, July 25 and August 1—at 9 pm ET/8c on PBS.

Author, conservationist and National Geographic Fellow, Sartore has traveled to nearly 40 countries to photograph 6,395 species for the Photo Ark to date, including 576 amphibians, 1,839 birds, 716 fish, 1,123 invertebrates, 896 mammals, and 1,245 reptiles in captivity. When complete the Photo Ark will be one of the most comprehensive records of the world’s biodiversity. Through RARE, audiences can journey with Sartore across the globe—to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania—to chronicle his experiences. 

“Viewers will see the spectacular variety and beauty of these animals, large and small, whose lives are intertwined with ours,” said John Bredar, executive producer of RARE and VP of National Programming for WGBH. “The loss of biodiversity exacts a toll on all our lives.” 

But there are also losses: at the Dvur Kralove Zoo near Prague, in one of RARE’s most emotional moments, Sartore’s camera records a northern white rhino—a very old female and, at the time, one of only five left in the world. Now, only three remain.
In the premiere episode of RARE, prankish semi-habituated lemurs playfully crawl over Sartore at Madagascar’s Lemur Island rehab center, during one of his easiest photography shoots. Others are more challenging: as no amount of tasty, tempting raw carrots can persuade a 500-pound, 150-year-old giant tortoise to stand on his mark or get ready for his close-up. Likewise, in Florida, a photo of an elusive bunny taking refuge near an active U.S. Navy airstrip has taken four years to procure for the Photo Ark. It’s all in a day’s work….

Sartore knows he is in a race against time. Sometimes he is able to photograph 30 to 40 species in a few days. Others are disappearing before he can get to them. RARE looks at factors driving extinction, including deforestation, rising sea levels, invasive species, pollution and human development, all impacting creatures essential to the world’s ecosystems.

“RARE provides audiences the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of an exceptional photographer with an extraordinary mission. We share Joel’s goal that through his photography and these films, people will be inspired to care while there is time,” says Laurie Donnelly, executive producer of RARE and director of Lifestyle Programming at WGBH, where she has overseen series such as I’ll Have What Phil’s Having and Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. 

In the second hour, Sartore travels around the globe in pursuit of some of the rarest and most vulnerable creatures on earth—trying to capture these species for the Photo Ark before they go extinct. In China, he goes in search of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle, with just three left on the planet, and the South China tiger, which has not been seen in the wild for more than 30 years. In Spain, he photographs one of the rarest small cats, the Iberian lynx, whose numbers fell to fewer than a hundred 15 years ago, then he heads to Africa to the mountain rainforest of Cameroon to accompany scientists working on the frontlines to save the cross river gorilla, the rarest gorilla on earth.

In RARE’s final episode, Sartore treks up a mountain in New Zealand to photograph the rowi kiwi, accompanying a naturalist to rescue its egg successfully. Without this intervention, there is only a five percent chance of survivability for this rare flightless bird. 

But there are also losses: at the Dvur Kralove Zoo near Prague, in one of RARE’s most emotional moments, Sartore’s camera records a northern white rhino—a very old female and, at the time, one of only five left in the world. Now, only three remain.

Sartore likes photographing the smallest creatures for the Photo Ark because they’re often more important to the health of an ecosystem than the big ones, like the naked mole rat: blind, buck-toothed and hairless, it is also cancer-resistant—and scientists are researching why. And he has seen how photos can lead to change. His images of parrots in South America and koalas in Australia prompted local governments to protect them. In the U.S., coverage of the Photo Ark has helped to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow and the Salt Creek tiger beetle.  “Fifty percent of all animals are threatened with extinction, and it’s folly to think we can drive half of everything else to extinction but that people will be just fine,” says Sartore. “That’s why I created what’s now called the National Geographic Photo Ark. I hope seeing the images fills people with wonder and inspires them to want to protect these species.”
Sartore likes photographing the smallest creatures for the Photo Ark because they’re often more important to the health of an ecosystem than the big ones, like the naked mole rat: blind, buck-toothed and hairless, it is also cancer-resistant—and scientists are researching why. And he has seen how photos can lead to change. His images of parrots in South America and koalas in Australia prompted local governments to protect them. In the U.S., coverage of the Photo Ark has helped to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow and the Salt Creek tiger beetle.

“Fifty percent of all animals are threatened with extinction, and it’s folly to think we can drive half of everything else to extinction but that people will be just fine,” says Sartore. “That’s why I created what’s now called the National Geographic Photo Ark. I hope seeing the images fills people with wonder and inspires them to want to protect these species.”

RARE is premiering in conjunction with an ongoing initiative by National Geographic, which is showcasing the Photo Ark project throughout 2017 on multiple platforms, including exhibitions around the world, two new books and digital features. Learn more at NatGeoPhotoArk.org.

RARE—Creatures of the Photo Ark is a production of WGBH Boston and So World Media, LLC in association with National Geographic Channels. Executive producers are John Bredar and Laurie Donnelly. Series producer/writer: Stella Cha. Producer/director: Chun-Wei Yi. RARE is made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Kendeda Fund, the Candis J. Stern Foundation and public television viewers.
RARE – Creatures of the Photo Ark is part of “PBS Summer of Adventure,” taking viewers and their families on an adventure around the world this season. The lineup of history, science and natural history programming includes the six-part series THE STORY OF CHINA, an exploration of China’s 4,000-year history featuring Michael Wood beginning June 20. The five-part program BIG PACIFIC, starting June 21, reveals the Pacific Ocean’s most guarded secrets. Following BIG PACIFIC on June 21, GREAT YELLOWSTONE THAW is a three-part series showcasing the stories of different animal families as they attempt to survive the toughest spring on Earth. On July 12, the three-part NATURE’S GREAT RACE explores the most astounding migrations on earth. WEEKEND IN HAVANA is a one-hour walking tour through Cuba on July 18. In WILD ALASKA LIVE, airing live over three nights beginning July 23, witness a must-see natural spectacle as thousands of the world’s wildest animals gather to take part in Alaska’s amazing summer feast. 

On August 2, IRELAND’S WILD COAST takes viewers on a one-hour journey along the island’s rugged Atlantic coast. Summer of Adventure will also include PBS KIDS programming, featuring three new one-hour specials: NATURE CAT: OCEAN COMMOTION (premieres June 19), WILD KRATTS ALASKA: HERO’S JOURNEY (premieres Monday, July 24.) and READY JET GO!: BACK TO BORTRON 7 (premieres August 14).

Sources: WGBH Boston  hearing or visual impairments. More info at , PBS

Previews & Scenes/Animals & Locations in episode: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rare/episode/episode-2/

Episode 3 (series finale)- Premieres Tuesday, August 1 at 9/8c
In his 25 years as a National Geographic photographer, Joel Sartore has learned to never ignore the smaller creatures in our midst. Joel gets us up close with colorful and charismatic insects with faces and features usually found in sci-fi flicks, because “they help make the world go ‘round.” Joel also goes in search of larger animals. In the Czech Republic and in one of the series’ most poignant moments, Joel boards the rarest rhinoceros in the world onto the Photo Ark. Nabiré is one of only five of northern white rhinos left on the planet and it may be too late for her kind.

Joel’s got one more hike-he’d-rather-not-hike in him, this time in New Zealand where he tags along on a Rowi kiwi egg rescue. By taking and hatching these enormous kiwi eggs, scientists give these birds a fighting chance against unnatural predators. If they didn’t rescue the eggs, the species would go extinct.

Previews & Scenes/Animals & Locations in episode: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rare/episode/episode-3/

Examples, Methods and Benefits of Sustainable Living

Shifting our lifestyle towards a sustainable model is a journey that takes a lifelong commitment. It requires learning, exploring and experimenting with sustainable practices in all the spheres of our lives. Beyond the reach of international agreements, campaigns, politics and economy, there are individual people who can do a lot to improve their way of life and the lives of people around them by following these examples.

Besides solar, Shifting our lifestyle towards a sustainable model is a journey that takes a lifelong commitment. It requires learning, exploring and experimenting with sustainable practices in all the spheres of our lives. Beyond the reach of international agreements, campaigns, politics and economy, there are individual people who can do a lot to improve their way of life and the lives of people around them by following these examples.
Conserve water

Fresh water takes up just a little over 2% of the world’s water, and only 1% is accessible drinking water. Water conservation not only reduces the energy and resources needed for its purification and transport, but also decreases pollution of natural water systems. There are many ways to use water more responsibly. Purchase only water-efficient appliances and install a grey water system. Front-loading laundry washers use up to 40% less water than top-loading models. Captured rainwater can be used for watering, and in combination with drip-irrigation, the amount of wasted water is even smaller.
Fresh water takes up just a little over 2% of the world’s water, and only 1% is accessible drinking water. Water conservation not only reduces the energy and resources needed for its purification and transport, but also decreases pollution of natural water systems. There are many ways to use water more responsibly. Purchase only water-efficient appliances and install a grey water system. Front-loading laundry washers use up to 40% less water than top-loading models. Captured rainwater can be used for watering, and in combination with drip-irrigation, the amount of wasted water is even smaller.

 How you reach your destination and how you move around once you get there makes a big environmental difference. A flight from New York to London emits about 1.2 tons of carbon per person on-board. The prospects are not glamorous as you might hope, but a cheap vacation closer to home is always a greener option. Trains and ferries are awesome transportation methods – like cruise ships for the environmentally aware. If you still have to fly, always look for direct flights. Once you’re there, consider public or human-powered transportation. Local buses and trams are perfect for getting a feel for a new city and its residents, while a bike can take you to the countryside or parts of town inaccessible to vehicles.

Travel green

How you reach your destination and how you move around once you get there makes a big environmental difference. A flight from New York to London emits about 1.2 tons of carbon per person on-board. The prospects are not glamorous as you might hope, but a cheap vacation closer to home is always a greener option. Trains and ferries are awesome transportation methods – like cruise ships for the environmentally aware. If you still have to fly, always look for direct flights. Once you’re there, consider public or human-powered transportation. Local buses and trams are perfect for getting a feel for a new city and its residents, while a bike can take you to the countryside or parts of town inaccessible to vehicles.

According to an article published in Time in December 2013, ‘There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.’ What we put on our table makes a big impact on the environment. By filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, you help reduce freshwater withdrawal as well as deforestation necessary for raising livestock. Some popular species of fish are at risk of being overfished, so feel invited to try some new seafood. By exploring farmer’s markets you can find fresh locally-grown produce, but also get the chance to meet people who produce your food.
Eat sustainable  

According to an article published in Time in December 2013, ‘There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.’ What we put on our table makes a big impact on the environment. By filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, you help reduce freshwater withdrawal as well as deforestation necessary for raising livestock. Some popular species of fish are at risk of being overfished, so feel invited to try some new seafood. By exploring farmer’s markets you can find fresh locally-grown produce, but also get the chance to meet people who produce your food.

While communities can benefit from geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and wind power, solar energy is also suitable for individual households. Apart from using its thermal component to heat water, photovoltaic cells convert the sun rays into electrical energy. There is a hardly cleaner energy source, as it leaves no waste nor emits greenhouse gasses. The cost of solar systems is coming down, and some of the best solar panels in Australia are becoming more affordable to many households. These systems have no moving parts and require minimal maintenance, while the development of new lithium-ion batteries for homes increases your potential to store the energy surplus to be used during the night or on cloudy days.  Own fewer things    Getting rid of everything you don’t need and cutting out any activities that don’t add value to your life is one of the most effective ways to start a sustainable life. Keep only the things and activities you find useful and you love. By donating to charity or a freecycle program, you will de-clutter your home, but you also need to commit yourself not to re-clutter. Francine Jay, the author of The Joy of Less, says that you should store the items you use once a year or less in labelled boxes and keep outside your main living area. If you need to purchase something non-essential, wait for 30 days to see if you’ll still be needing it then.  Our every choice impacts the others through creation, use and disposal of the things we buy, the energy

Shift to solar energy
While communities can benefit from geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and wind power, solar energy is also suitable for individual households. Apart from using its thermal component to heat water, photovoltaic cells convert the sun rays into electrical energy. There is a hardly cleaner energy source, as it leaves no waste nor emits greenhouse gasses. The cost of solar systems is coming down, and some of the best solar panels in Australia are becoming more affordable to many households. These systems have no moving parts and require minimal maintenance, while the development of new lithium-ion batteries for homes increases your potential to store the energy surplus to be used during the night or on cloudy days.

Own fewer things  

Getting rid of everything you don’t need and cutting out any activities that don’t add value to your life is one of the most effective ways to start a sustainable life. Keep only the things and activities you find useful and you love. By donating to charity or a freecycle program, you will de-clutter your home, but you also need to commit yourself not to re-clutter. Francine Jay, the author of The Joy of Less, says that you should store the items you use once a year or less in labelled boxes and keep outside your main living area. If you need to purchase something non-essential, wait for 30 days to see if you’ll still be needing it then.

Our every choice impacts the others through creation, use and disposal of the things we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, etc. While we’ll probably never meet those who are impacted, our choices can change everything.