Keystone XL survived politics but economics could kill it

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/06/2017 12:00 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The proposed Keystone XL pipeline survived nine years of protests, lawsuits and political wrangling that saw the Obama administration reject it and President Donald Trump revive it, but now the project faces the possibility of death by economics.

Low oil prices and the high cost of extracting Canadian crude from oil sands are casting new doubts on Keystone XL as executives with the Canadian company that wants to build it face the final regulatory hurdle next week in Nebraska.

The pipeline proposed in 2008 has faced dozens of state and federal delays, many of them prompted by environmental groups who ultimately persuaded President Barack Obama to deny federal approval in November 2015. President Donald Trump resuscitated the project in March, declaring that Calgary-based TransCanada would create "an incredible pipeline."

After all that, a TransCanada executive raised eyebrows in the energy industry last week when he suggested that the pipeline developer doesn't know whether it will move forward with the project. Paul Miller, an executive vice president who is overseeing the project, told an investor call that company officials won't decide until late November or early December whether to start construction.

"We'll make an assessment of the commercial support and the regulatory approvals at that time," Miller said in the conference call Friday with investors.

The company has invited customers to bid for long-term contracts to ship oil on the pipeline. The bidding will run through September.

An energy expert said the project has been delayed so long it may no longer make economic sense.

"Frankly, in the current price climate, it's probably not going to be a going venture unless there's a massive improvement in technology" for processing Canadian crude, said Charles Mason, a University of Wyoming professor of petroleum and gas economics. Crude oil was trading at around $49.50 a barrel on Wednesday, down from highs of more than $100 in 2014.

The 1,179-mile pipeline would transport oil from tar sands deposits in Alberta, Canada, across Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines that feed Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

South Dakota and Montana regulators have approved the project, although there are legal challenges pending in both states. Only Nebraska has yet to give regulatory approval. The rest of the route for the oil to the Gulf would travel an existing pipeline in the network.

Mason said the biggest economic problem is that synthetic crude from the Canadian deposits is considered a lower-value product because it tends to be heavier, and thus more expensive to refine into gasoline and jet fuel. It's also more expensive to extract than other oils.

Producers have also found other ways to ship oil, primarily by train, and many are reluctant to sign long-term contracts with a pipeline that wouldn't go into operation for several more years, said Jeff Share, editor of the Houston-based Pipeline & Gas Journal, a leading industry publication. Given the difficulties, Share said TransCanada has probably a "50-50" chance of completing the project.

The five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission is supposed to decide by Nov. 23 whether the project serves the public's interests, based on evidence presented by attorneys in a formal legal proceeding beginning Monday and a series of public hearings held over the last few months. The elected commission is comprised of four Republicans and one Democrat.

Environmental opposition to the project has persisted in Nebraska, where opponents say the pipeline would pass through the Sandhills, an ecologically fragile region of grass-covered sand dunes, and would cross the land of farmers and ranchers who don't want it.

Nebraska law enforcement authorities already have had discussions with their counterparts in North Dakota about how that state handled widespread protests during construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indiana Reservation, said Cody Thomas, a Nebraska State Patrol spokesman.

Protesters led by Native American tribes and environmental groups flocked to North Dakota last summer to rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and some camped out in bitter cold through early this year, prompting the state to send a large law enforcement contingent that sometimes skirmished with protesters. The pipeline was ultimately completed but legal challenges remain.

Pipeline opponents in Nebraska said they are wary of TransCanada's recent statements and don't believe the company will surrender without a fight.

"We can't let our guard down," said Jim Carlson, a farmer near Silver Creek, Nebraska, who grows corn on the pipeline's proposed route. "We've got to continue to be vigilant and proactive. TransCanada could be doing things just to throw us off."

Carlson said TransCanada has offered him $307,000 since the company first contacted him in 2013, but he refuses to sign an easement agreement to grant access to his land. To highlight his opposition, Carlson is installing solar panels on his land directly in the path of the proposed pipeline.

If the Nebraska commission approves the route, TransCanada can initiate legal proceedings under eminent domain to gain access to the land of holdout property owners. TransCanada has secured agreement with roughly 90 percent of Nebraska landowners along the route.

The company said that if it decides to go ahead with the project, it would need six to nine months to start doing some of the staging of the construction crews followed by two years of construction.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/23/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Casino Tahlequah will host the 14th annual Cherokee National Holiday Car Show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 3. The all-ages car show is free to the public. At 2 p.m. is when judges will award trophies in nearly 40 categories. “This is always a fun event to host because there is so much excitement about all the great classic cars that overflow our parking lot,” Cherokee Casino Tahlequah General Manager Rod Fourkiller said. “It’s really impressive how good the vehicles are that enter the car show. It makes it a tough decision for the judges, and the car enthusiasts can’t get enough of them. If you love cars, you definitely need to be here that Sunday.” Categories include stock and modified cars and trucks for each decade, beginning pre-1935 through 2000s. Other categories include Camaro, Mustang, Chevelle and Corvette from multiple decades, and motorcycles with categories for pre-1979 and post-1980. In addition to category awards, recognition will be given to Best of Show, Best Paint, Best Interior, Chief’s Choice, Speaker’s Choice, Council’s Choice, Casino’s Choice and the Chamber of Commerce’s Choice. Registration is from 9 – 11 a.m. and costs $20. Members of car clubs who want to park together should arrive together, as parking will be filled as cars arrive. The first 125 entries receive a dash plaque, while every car show participant receives sunglasses, an event shirt and $10 in rewards play. Also, a fireworks show is scheduled for dusk. Cherokee Casino Tahlequah is located 4 miles south of Tahlequah on State Highway 62. For more information call, 918-207-3600 or visit <a href="http://www.CherokeeCasino.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeCasino.com</a>. To find a complete list of the 65th Cherokee National Holiday events, visit <a href="http://www.Cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.Cherokee.org</a> and click on the Cherokee National Holiday quick link.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/23/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the tribe’s Environmental Programs a $300,000 grant to create a national tribal mentoring program that focuses on the development and reporting of water quality assessments. The Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant will provide the CN with $100,000 per year for three years, the release states. It also states that in return CN Environmental Programs staff would help other tribes use an EPA reporting tool called Assessment, Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation System or ATTAINS. The online system allows the EPA states, territories, tribes and other partners to submit water quality data using an integrated reporting process, according to the release. “Over the past year, we have been active within our 14 counties and across Indian Country when it comes to the conservation of water,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now, with this grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, a new door has been opened for our environmental programs. Tribes across the country will have a strong mentor and partner in the Cherokee Nation. Our environmental programs will play a vital role in educational efforts and outreach to tribal water programs.” The release states that CN Environmental Programs staff members will develop a webpage to serve as a resource for tribes that want to learn more about ATTAINS. According to the release, CN workers will also create and coordinate workshops, trainings and meetings taught by the EPA and tribal mentors and publish a newsletter to showcase the ATTAINS reporting tool for tribal water programs. “This is another example of Cherokee Nation serving as a leader in Indian Country,” Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill said. “Not only does the Cherokee Nation depend on the technical ability and excellence of our Environmental Programs staff, but tribes across the country depend on them, too. We are looking forward to working with various EPA regional water programs and tribal water staff across the nation.” The Clean Water Act requires states, territories and some tribes to monitor water quality and report to EPA on the waters evaluated through the process known as assessment. CN Environmental Programs can begin working on the project in October, the release states.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/22/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School senior Danya Pigeon, of Hulbert, on Aug. 19 was crowned the 2017-18 Junior Miss Cherokee during the 26th annual leadership competition at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center. For the next year, Pigeon will act as a goodwill ambassador for the tribe, promoting the government, language, history and traditions of the Cherokee people. Three teens competed for the honor in three categories: a cultural presentation, an impromptu question-and-answer and a speech on their respective platform. Pigeon, 18, earned her crown and sash after giving a special presentation on Sequoyah and the Cherokee syllabary, giving her opinion on connecting citizens inside and outside of the tribal jurisdiction and speaking on her platform, alcohol abuse. “It has been a dream of mine to be Junior Miss Cherokee, and I would like to thank God for giving me this opportunity to serve the Cherokee Nation,” Pigeon said. Pigeon is the daughter of Tammy West and Walter Pigeon. She previously served in the Cherokee National Youth Choir and is a member of the Harvest Time Tabernacle youth group. The Junior Miss Cherokee competition is held each year in conjunction with the Cherokee National Holiday. The 2017-18 Miss Cherokee competition is slated for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/21/2017 04:00 PM
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will meet at 10 a.m. on Aug. 31 in the Tribal Services Conference room located at the W. W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. In Person: 17675 S Muskogee Ave, Tahlequah, OK 74464. Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex, Tribal Services Conference Room Conference Call: 1-866-210-1669 Code: 4183136# Agenda Items: 1. Welcome 2. Roll Call: Board members present 3. Approval of Minutes from last meeting- July 18, 2017 4. Update from Editor 5. Old business 6. New business 7. Set next meeting 8. Public comment 9. Adjourn
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/21/2017 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation hosted a “Solar Eclipse Watch Party” for its employees and citizens on Aug. 21 at the One Fire Field, west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The eclipse began at 11:45 a.m. CST, peaked around 1:10 p.m. and ended about 2:40 p.m. According to NASA’s website, all of North America was able to observe the sun’s eclipse. The totality path, where the moon completely covered the sun and its tenuous atmosphere stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. Observers outside this path, as in the case of the CN, saw a partial eclipse where the moon covered part of the sun. Locally it was estimated at about 90 percent coverage. CN Communications officials handed out 1,000 pairs of NASA-approved solar eclipse viewing glasses to employees and visitors. “A solar eclipse is an extremely rare event. We wanted our employees to witness and enjoy this rare occasion safely,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. The Burrow family, of San Antonio, was among the many observers at One Fire Field. “We drove to the Cherokee Nation specifically for the solar eclipse,” CN citizen Catherine Burrow said. “We wanted to be here for it.” Throughout the watch party, Cherokee storyteller Robert Lewis shared the Cherokee eclipse story of how a frog once tried to eat the sun. “Cherokees began screaming, yelling and banging on things until they scared the frog away and saved the sun,” he said. Lewis summed up the eclipse philosophically. “It’s important that Cherokees see the eclipse because it reminds us of our place in the universe.” According to Accu-weather.com, those who missed today’s eclipse will have to wait until April 8, 2024, when the moon’s shadow will once again block out the sun across the United States. Next time the path will be more southwest to southeast and spread from Texas to Maine. <strong>Cherokee Take on Eclipses</strong> “When the sun or moon is eclipsed it is because a great frog up in the sky is trying to swallow it. Everybody knows this, even the Creeks and the other tribes, and in the olden times, 80 or 100 years ago, before the great medicine men were all dead, whenever they saw the sun grow dark the people would come together and fire guns and beat the drum, and in a little while this would frighten off the great frog and the sun would be all right again.” – From “The Moon and The Thunderers” on Page 257 of James Mooney’s “History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees”
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 09:45 AM
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn. In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing. "It's a time of renewal," said Baldwin, a Navajo woman from Fort Defiance, Arizona. "Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything." Across the country, American Indian tribes are observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways. Some tribal members will ignore it, others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal, and those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration. For the Crow Tribe in Montana, the eclipse coincides with the Parade Dance at the annual Crow fair, marking the tribe's new year. Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life. The Crow's cultural director, William Big Day, said the sun is believed to die and come back to life during an eclipse. In more nomadic days, Crows would offer each other "good wishes" for their travels, and elders would advise them to do a cleansing ceremony to start anew, he said. U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the agency's schools, most of which are on the Navajo Nation, were given the option of closing Monday. Navajo Nation employees have Monday off, and other schools on and off the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah earlier decided to close in respect of the culture that teaches that looking at the sun during an eclipse can be harmful not only to one's eyesight but for overall well-being. "You're welcoming negativity into your life, or turmoil, or troublesome times ahead of you, as well as socially, health-wise and spiritually," Baldwin said. "You're observing something that should not be observed." Farther east near the Great Smoky Mountains, the Eastern Cherokee tribe is expecting thousands of spillover visitors from the national park. Stickball games during a two-day event will reinforce a lesson about cheating and the appearance of the moon. Fairgrounds supervisor Frieda Huskey recalled a legend of a player on the losing team picking up the ball, which is against the rules, and throwing it against the solid sky, so its appearance is small and pale. When the moon or sun is eclipsed, it's because a great frog is trying to swallow it, she said. In response, Cherokees beat drums and fire guns to scare off the frog and ensure the moon or sun don't disappear forever — just as they will do during Monday's solar eclipse, she said. Once the eclipse is over, Cherokee warriors will dance to celebrate the great frog's defeat. When the sun and the moon disappeared during eclipses in the past, it frightened indigenous people who believed they displeased the gods, said Stanford "Butch" Devinney, an Eastern Shoshone spiritual leader and teacher at Wyoming Indian Schools on the Wind River Reservation. The way he sees it now, the eclipse is an opportunity for renewal. "Maybe our way of thinking might change, our behavior," he said. "People will have a different outlook on life. Maybe it will change for the better. Be a different person." Students at two Northern Arapaho schools that share a reservation with the Eastern Shoshone will be using telescopes donated by NASA and special glasses to view the eclipse. Principal Elberta Monroe said teachers have been talking to students about the solar eclipse for months. It's "something students are going to remember for a lifetime," she said. Baldwin will call her children into the living room Monday, share traditional Navajo stories and ask them to meditate and reflect on what they want out of school, athletics and life, she said. For one daughter, the focus would be acceptance from elders on her role in rodeo. Baldwin will ask the children to concentrate and wish for happiness and health for their family, friends and all of humanity. "There's a little conversation, but there's that constant reminder that we need to be quiet," she said.