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Energy development and conservation can work…if we let it
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EYES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Energy development and conservation can work…if we let it

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Mike Gutzmer talks about some of his recent work

Mike Gutzmer

There is nothing like patience to get us through all the challenges of the day. I know as a parent, husband and business owner, there are days my patience is severely tested. Let’s face it, the world will never be like it was 2000 some years ago when continents were sparsely populated and human impact on the land was minimal and flora/fauna populations were left almost entirely intact. Also people did what they had to in order to survive.

As our global population has increased, so have all the residuals of our expansion. Residuals meaning the incredible contribution man can make in either a positive or negative way. To this day I still believe there is common ground in what I call “Conservation Compromise” that we can all achieve if we just take greed and well-hidden corruption out of the equation and maybe communicate better with our fellow man.

As the tribal biologist for the last 9 years for the Standing Rock Sioux our team gets to see wildlife and flora diversity in numbers, other parts of the Great Plains have not had for decades. We are truly blessed to see “in certain areas” what much of the Great Plains most likely appeared in the 1800’s. Tribal and other lands now are leased and sub-leased at a rampant rate leaving many native grasslands overgrazed in many of the counties we work in or drive through. Many grasslands have been converted to agriculture.

In early July on a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux and the U.S government, our team was fortunate enough to share our ecological expertise addressing concerns with a pipeline and explaining some of the environmental risks to a governmental panel from Washington DC and the Omaha Corps office.

There were several individuals from the US Army Corps of Engineers at the pow-wow grounds in Cannonball North Dakota on the shores of the Missouri River. John Eagle, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer started the discussion with how the white man has broken every treaty with the Indians since 1851.

Among those was Mr. Jaime A. Pinkham who was Biden appointed to the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on April 19, 2021, and is also serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works by the Biden Administration.

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Columnist Mike Gutzmer talks about the vegetation found at Lake Babcock

He establishes policy direction and supervises the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspect of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works program. These responsibilities include programs for conservation and development of the nation's water and wetland resources, flood control, navigation and aquatic ecosystem restoration. He is a former fisheries biologist with the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in May denied a request by the Standing Rock Sioux and other adversaries of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to shut the pipeline, saying the tribes had failed to prove the line's continued operation would cause irreversible harm.

The decision allowed the 570,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) pipeline out of North Dakota's Bakken shale basin to continue operating at least until an environmental review of the line is completed, a process that is expected to take until March 2022. The court scrapped a key environmental permit for the pipeline last year based on work we did and ordered the environmental review. Standing Rock, other tribes and other protesters contended that the pipeline threatened to contaminate the Missouri River and obviously all the uses of Missouri River water by man and wildlife.

Closer to home, President Biden wrote in an executive order that “The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest,”. “The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.” Doesn’t less dependence on others create greater stability, if you are a world leader? Shouldn’t everyone who uses energy have a say in these deliberations?

Biden’s rationale for shutting down the project is clear. He believes that carbon emissions and climate change pose a grave threat to the environment and the economy (not to mention jobs lost). Thus, the president essentially hopes to block more use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions by ending projects like this. I think most know shutting down the project may actually increase emissions in the long run, not to mention the time and resources already spent and loss of thousands of jobs.

In energy development there will always be winners and losers, as with most linear transportation projects. One aspect is clear, there has been incredible resources spent and wasted on numerous projects country and worldwide that never happened as a result of our inability to communicate effectively or plan efficiently. Wouldn’t it be nice if our phones had an app that would allow for greater understanding in all our communications?

Hopefully future generations will use more facts and less fiction in their decision-making processes…inform the debate, if you will. I look at a lot of trees and still have not found a money tree.

Michael P. Gutzmer, PhD is principal and owner of New Century Environmental LLC and provides environmental consulting services in the Great Plains. NCE works with water, wetlands, habitat development threatened and endangered species and pollution problems. Please email me at mgutzmer@newcenturyenvironmental.com

Michael P. Gutzmer, PhD is principal and owner of New Century Environmental LLC and provides environmental consulting services in the Great Plains. NCE works with water, wetlands, habitat development threatened and endangered species and pollution problems. Please email me at mgutzmer@newcenturyenvironmental.com.

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