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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  July 3, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, july 3: an update on a pipeline that was fracturing a community in oregon; and a look back at how climate change impacts commerce along the mississippi river. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-
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smith. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutl of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like
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you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thank you for joining us. since his election, president joe biden, who calls climate change an “existential threat,” outlined a new plan for the united states to rejoin the paris agreement and to renew a commitment to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad. we've been reporting on the climate crisis as part of our ongoing series, "peril and promise: the challenge of climate change." on this special edition, we'll revisit some of the stories we reported on before the covid pandemic began, and we'll have more climate reporting to come in the year ahead. but first, newshour weekend's christopher booker has today's news. >> reporter: officials in miami- dade county said today they will begin to demolish the remainder of the collapsed condominium building in surfside, florida, as soon as tomorrow. the damaged structure is a danger to fire and rescue crews who are still searching and sifting through the rubble. no survivors have been found since the first hours after the
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building collapsed ten days ago. >> and so, if the building is taken down, this will protect our search and rescue teams because we don't know when it could fall over. and, of course, with these gusts, potentially, that would create a real severe hazard. >> reporter: miami-dade county's mayor said two more bodies were found today, bringing the death toll to 24, with 124 people still missing. florida officials are also keeping an eye on what is now tropical storm elsa, which made landfall as a hurricane on the islands of barbados and st. vincent earlier today. >> this morning, i signed a local state of emergency for hurricane elsa. and out of an abundance of caution, we are ensuring that we are mobilizing everything that we need in the county to prepare for any possible impacts. >> reporter: officials say the storm, which is approaching from the caribbean, could bring strong winds and rain south florida by late morrow or early monday, hampering the rescue effort. americans are travelling, gathering and celebrating this
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weekend as new coronavirus cases and deaths from vid-19 remain low, and the biden administration is celebrating with a tour called "america's back together." president joe biden headed to michigan for a visit to a cherry farm. first lady jill biden and vice president kamala harris are visiting new hampshire, maine and nevada today. the president's covid-19 vaccination goal-- for 70% of adults to have at least one shot by july fourth-- has fallen short and vaccinations rates have declined. according to the centers for sease control and prevention, about 66.8% of people 18 and over have gotten one shot. tomorrow, the bidens will host a barbecue for 1,000 invited essential workers and military families on the south lawn at the white house. in japan, at least 19 people are reported missing after a mudslide in the coastal town of atami about 60 miles southwest of tokyo. dre footage showed the aftermath of a river of mud that washed away homes and covered roads in debris. the mudslide occurred after 48 hours of rain brought at least a ot of water to the area.
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the two days of rain dumped was 30% more than the area's average rainfall for the entire month of july. rescue operations continued today. officials reported as many as 80 homes were completely buried and warnedhere is a risk of further mudslides. >> sreenivasan: for the latest national and international news, and a look at our "peril and promise" stories, visit >> sreenivasan: last year, we brought you the story of the protracted battle in oregon over a proposal to build a 229-mile natural gas pipeline and processing terminal in the southern part of the state. the plan was pitting community members hungry for economic development against others who were concerned about the project's environmental risks. as the 15-year fight was drawing close, newshour weekend's christopher booker had the story. >> this tree right here is a beautiful, old oak tree, and that's where the cattle shades.
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>> reporter: sandy and russ lyon are the kind of landowners that know every detail of their property. since 19, the california transplants have spent their days stewarding these 306 acres of ranch land in southwest oregon. they've raised their son here plus a small number of livestock, and they've worked to restore the salmon habitat in the creek that cuts through their land. >> and-- and the spawning salmon coming up can hide under those logs. >> reporter: the lyons say they moved to rural oregon because they wanted to live in nature, away from things. but in 2005, despite their best efforts, they learned that a bit of the outside world was indeed coming in-- or, in their case, coming under their land. >> we got a letter in the mail. and with the letter, there was a map showing where it would go. >> reporter: the letter concerned what is now called the jordan cove energy project. it's a proposed 229-mile natural gas pipeline that would serve as a connection between existing pipelines in the rocky mountains
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and a liquid natural gas export terminal that would be built on the oregon coast. the new pipeline would run right through the lyon property. >> so, it would be coming over that ridge up there where you see the tallest trees, down that mountain, and it will come in our property right about there and cut down and go through the creek. >> reporter: building a pipeline would mean cutting a path 95 feet wide, clearing everything in its way, including the trees. and equipment would be staged on their pasture for up to five years. the lyons have resisted each offer to put the pipeline under their land: from the first company in 25 who offered $4,000; to the most recent offer of nearly $100,000 from canadian energy firm, pembina. >> we won't be bought out because we love this land. we love the fish. >> and we wouldn't want to live here with the pipeline. >> reporter: the lyons are one
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more than 80 private landowners who have said no to the pipeline, but some have said yes. pembina says it's already secured more than 80% of the route. but it's not just about convincing landowners; this project needs approval from the federal energy regulatory commission and the state of oregon to go forward. it's been a regulatory odyssey that included a federal rejection in 2016 and ongoing wrangling with several state agencies. nevertless, the jordan cove project persists. the site of the proposed export terminal is 65 miles to the northwest in coastal coos county. the project's developer, pembina, declined pbs newshour weekend's request for an interview. but some community members see this project as an investment that will transform this rural community. why did you become involved with the jordan cove project? >> one word: jobs. jobs for-- for our workers, and also jobs for the community. >> reporter: robert westerman is the business manager of i.b.e.w.
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local 932, a union representing electricians on oregon's coast. he's been an outspoken supporter of the project since its first iteration more than a decade ago. >> it's a game-changer for us. it is going to completely change the landscape here for the economy. we don't see projects like this. this is a $10 billion infrastructure project that's come into southern oregon. it will be the largest of its kind ever. >> reporter: pembina estimates that at its peak, jordan cove will employ as many as 2,000 union constructionorkers during the five years it takes to complete the project, and it will then permanently employ about 200 people. the company has also gotten a tax break from coos county, but, overall, the county's assessor estimates the completed project would still nearly double the area's annual tax base. supporters of the project say it's particularly needed in a region that has seen a dramatic decline in one of its major industries: timber. more than half of oregon's saw mills have closed since the late
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'80s. >> we certainly realize that we're never going to recapture all of the-- the timber jobs that we lost over the last 30 years. this would be one small step in the right direction. >> reporter: todd goergen is the president of the local chamber of commerce and the co-chair of boost southern oregon. it's a nonprofit created to advocate for the project, and it's received financial support from pembina. goergen also owns an r.v. campground just down the road from where the proposed liquid natural gas terminal would be built. so, your land goes 100 acres back? >> we have 100 acres here from e transpacific. our property runs for a mile north. >> reporter: goergen's family purchased this plot of land, which sits next to the oregon dunes national recreation area, in 1992. you're not worried about having a natural gas terminal right there? >> well, we weren't worried about it when there was a big pulp plant right there, either. >> reporter: he says industrial activity has always been a part of life in this region. >> we have a working waterfront
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in a community that historically has been very open to making sure those uses are compatible. we're good neighbors. >> reporter: the site of the proposed terminal is currently vacant. >> this is where the slip and the-- the terminal will be. >> reporter: and then, just on the other side is the bay, which, then, basically, the boats can take the gas. >> go directly west, yep, out to the open ocean and across to ia. >> reporter: next stop, japan. >> next stop, japan. >> reporter: this wasn't always the case. the project was initially designed to import natural gas. but after the u.s. fracking boom, it was reconceived as an port facility to supply asian markets. but through each iteration, there has been opposition arguing the potential economic benefits have never justified the environmental risks. >> and they actually drill underneath the river. >> reporter: allie rosenbluth is an organizer with rogue climate, a nonprofit environmental group in southern oregon fighting the jordan cove project. >> the jordan cove l.n.g. terminal is in a very populated
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part of our coast. there would be over 10,000 people in a hazardous burn zone if anything was to go wrong. and we know that we're long overdue for a earthquake and tsunami on the oregon coast. >> reporter: the proposed export terminal sits next to what's called the cascadia subduction zone, an area that scientists say is at risk of a major earthquake in the next 50 years. but it's not just the location of the terminal that concerns rosenbluth; she objects to the entire project. coos bay will need to be dredged to make room for the large transport ships, possibly disrupting fisheries. the pipeline would travel under hundreds of waterways, and rosenbluth worries chemicals used during drilling might leak into rivers. and she points to a 2014 incident in neighboring washington where a natural gas plant exploded, injuring five workers and forcing hundreds to evacuate. but the opposition isn't focused entirely on the environment. >> this is another trauma. we're not as important as a canadian fossil fuel company or
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others that are partners with them. >> reporter: don gentry is the chairman of the klamath tribes. he's opposed to the project for all the same environmental reons as rosenbluth, but the pipeline would also travel through the tribes' ancestral lands, which include the klamath river. >> we've been here for over 14,000 years, so-- and that's why this is a problem. you know, our people lived along these rivers and lakes. the risk of disturbing sensitive cultural sites and human remains is significant. >> reporter: but perhaps more than any other issue, the fact that jordan cove is a fossil fuel project drives opponents like rosenbluth. she says this is exactly the wrong type of investment to be making as the world tries to address climate change. >> if weook at the methane leakage that happens across a pipeline route, if we look at how much methane is emitted when that gas is burned, this project is-- and-- and all fracked gas projects are not good for the climate, which is why we need local officials to be pushing for jobs in clean energy and not fracked gas.
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>> reporter: is it worth it to fight this long for a fuel that will most likely not be used to such a degree in the future? >> renewable energy, i believe, is what's going to save us in the future. and we are-- the i.b.e.w. is installing solar panels across this country as we speak. we're building windmills. but it's a drop in the bucket compared to just our growth of the need for power. it's not something that we can just snap our fingers and make happen overnight. >> reporter: westerman also points out that the company says the export terminal will be built to resist a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and raised more than 40 feet above sea level to withstand a tsunami. >> there's been a lot of fear mongering about the project, whether it be about the loss of habitat or that we have-- will now have a nuclear bomb waiting to explode. those are fairly false arguments. it's not that. it is an industrial facility. we are more than capable of building it safely and operating it safely. >> reporter: but even advocates
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like westerman acknowledge that balancing the intests of property owners isn't easy, especially if land ends up being taken through eminent domain. what's your conversation like with landowners who may own land that the pipe may run through? >> that's a difficult conversation. i don't think anybody is out there advocating for eminent domain and the closure of taking people's property away from them. to that one homeowner that absolutely does not want it, that may end up having it anyway, that is-- that's a shame. >> reporter: russ and sandy lyon think an eminent domain fight is where this is heading. >> one thing is, how can it happen? why do you have no say in it? that you'll actually do eminent domain for a foreign company to put something just for their profit across the land and do so much destruction along the way. >> reporter: how do you respond to the proponents of the project who acknowledge that eminent domain questns are challenging, they still believe that there is a greater economic
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benefit? >> i think they've been sold a bill of goods. the people here are told that it'll be local jobs, and we doubt that that's true. but even if it were true, it would be a temporary, short-term jobs, and at what risk? >> reporter: while the lyons have fought the pipeline from the beginning, they have recently intensified their resistance. >> if you choose to main in this building, you will be trespassing. >> reporter: last november, sandy lyon was among 21 people arrested after a sit-in at oregon governor kate brown's office. the governor has pledged to remain neutral while the regulatory process plays out. >> i am angry. i-- i put it down. if i let it out, i'll start to cry because i'm so passionate about this place and having it for our son and grandchildren. you know, this has been hanging over us so long, and we fight it every day.
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and-- and it gets really old, and it's stressful. and you feel you c't do anything. there's nothing we can do. >> reporter: since this report originally aired in february 2020, there have been some major updates to share. in march of 2020, the federal energy regulatory commission conditionally approved the project despite the state of oregon denying several permits. opponents appealed, and the regulatory process continued. but in april of this year, pembina made a big announcement in a lawsuit filing. development of jordan cove was being paused “while we reassess the impact of recent regulatory decisions.” homeowners russ and sandy lyons say the pause takes their minds off the pipeline that would run through their land for the time being, but they're nervous the project will be resurrected. they say they will keep on fighting it if and when that happens. >> sreenivasan: last month,
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tropical storm claudette brought heavy rains and flooding to coastal states, including louisiana, where climate change- related rising waters have challenged navigation along the mississippi river, which is a crucial artery for the u.s. economy and trade. last year, newshour weekend special correspondent and nexis media reporter josh landis reported from the port city of baton rouge as part of our ongoing series, "peril and promise: the challenge of climate change." >> reporter: when a drop of water from minnesota or a speck of sand from ohio finally reach baton rouge, they've joined the vast snowmelt and run-off from 31 states and two canadian provinces. the basin is more than a million square miles, stretching from montana to new york state. during an average spring, more than seven million gallons of water and about 20 tons of sediment pass under this bridge every second, focusing the continental force of the mississippi and billions of dollars of u.s. trade into a tightening bottleneck. in baton rouge, the river starts
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its final dash to the ocean, through a 233-mile manmade channel that snakes its way into the gulf of mexico. along the way, the ports of baton rouge, new orleans, and south louisiana rm the greatest trading hub in the westn hemisphere. steven hathorn is president of the new leans-baton rouge steamship pilots association. >> i believe the economic effect is around $730 billion per year. one out of every six jobs in louisiana is from the mississippi river. i like to say it's one of our greatest-- probably our greatest natural resource. >> reporter: hathorn has navigated large ships up and down the channel for decades. >> our area is one of the most treacherous pilotage areas in the world-- very congested, with tens of thousands of barges, hundreds of tow boats. we have i think seven bridges in between new orleans and baton rouge to navigate through. it can be very trying on a person. >> reporter: even in normal
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conditions, navigating the mississippi is so challenging that a specially-trained local pilot must steer every international freighter safely to port. but the unpredictable high water season is making that job tougher. 2019's flooding was record- setting for both its duration and volume. >> we've had twisted anchors, broken anchors, brok chains. ten, 15 years ago, you didn't see that. >> reporter: captain jared ruiz of the east baton rouge sheriff's office deals with the aftermath of broken chains and twisted anchors. >> we'll come out here and make su during a high water event that these tugs are secured and they-- they don't look like, you know, they're going to come off and t the levy, because if they do, that's-- that's what happened during katrina. >> reporter: heeding the lessons from that hurricane, captain ruiz now keeps a close eye on parked barges and on the city's landmarkast bank.
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>> i-- i use the sign to gauge how high the water is. well, you know, it'll be-- i'll say, well, it's covering half of baton rouge, or it's covering all of baton rouge. >> reporter: earlier this year, did it cover it? >> it covered it. it was totally covered ts year. >> reporter: the challenges of high water levels on the mississippi are many. >> right here is where these tugs have hit this pylon of the bridge structure, and you'll see, like, the little scrape marks and gouges. you have some tugs that have such, you know-- like i said, three football fields long. >> reporter: so, as wide as this is, it's kind of a tight squeeze when the river's going. >> yes. >> reporter: and high water here can join forces with powerful storms in the gulf. this spring, hurricane barry left cities like new orleans on the brink of disaster. >> hurricane season, high water season, when you have those overlap each other, you have trouble. and there was a great fear here that when the hurricane came, it would cause the river to back up and come up. and it was already so high that it would flood new orleans. >> reporter: 17 feet of high river water left the city with only three feet of remaining levee protection. that's a safeguard the height of
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a garden fence against the storm surge of a hurricane. >> we were lucky. i think it came up six inches or less than a foot. and so, we were good. but katrina, i believe it rose, like, ten feet. >> reporter: torrential rains and widespread flooding ambushed baton rouge in 2016, submerging almost 75% of homes in livingston parish. the catastrophic damage reshaped the way many citizens thought about the threat of floodwaters, including mayor of the city, sharon weston broome, who is also president of east baton rouge parish. >> if it never happens to you, you often think, “oh, i'll be okay, i don't need to do anything.” >> you would go in one area one day, and it would be no water. and then, within, you know, hours, it would be up on rooftops, and you'd have river current going through it. you know, i've never seen anything like that. >> i thought, for sure, “oh, it's going to go down. it'll go down.“ >> reporter: then, orders came to evacuate. >> leaving thasaturday, i
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thought, i'll be back sunday. i didn't get back into my house unl a year and a half after that. that impact was very profound. what we now understand, we have to think about water in everything that we do, everything that we develop, everything that we build. water has to be in the fabric of our planning. and so, that'shat we're doing. >> reporter: in a deep-red state where talk of climate change can still polarize, broome does addresses the issue head on. >> i have learned not to debate climate change with people. i have just pointed the facts to them. water is warmer in the gulf. that is having-- scientists are telling us that it is having an effect on a lot of the showers and downpours that we're experiencing. i'm not going to debate it; i'm just going to address it. >> reporter: according to nasa, earth's average surface temperature has increased more than 1.5 degrees fahrenheit,
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mainly as a result of burning fossil fuels. warmer air holds more moisture, leading to more extreme rain and snow. warmer waters provide more fuel for hurricanes, which scientists say are getting more powerful. all of this adds up to regions like the mississippi delta being trapped by fuller rivers and rising seas. steven hathorn, who knows this part of the river better than almost anyone, has noticed the change. >> i think it's probably a lot of little things adding up to get us where we're at. the river is diked, dammed. it increased the current in it. you also have a lot of development along the river, which probably pushes e water back into it. i'm not going to discount climate change, either. there's no doubt that some-- that could have something to do with it, too. we're undethe gun on that. what happens if this becomes the new norm, you know? i mean, everybody i think is
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saying a little prayer that it won't. >> sreenivasan: that's all for this special edition of pbs newshour weekend. for the latest news updates, visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo- smith. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. rosalind p. walter.
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barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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♪ hey, i'm rick steves. and like you, i've been pretty much locked down for the last year. in fact, for the first time in 30 years i've been unable to travel to europe to make our shows for public television. we've all been dreaming abt traveling again once this pandemic is history. to stoke those travel dreams, we've assembled an amazing journey. for the next couple hours, we'll be travel partners, you and me. we'll explore sicily, mykonos, england's cotslds, northern portugal, tuscany, and the remote corners of romania. our theme: europe awaits! we'll start in sicily. if you like italy, i like to say, "go further south, it just gets better." we'll join a capuchin monk for a coffee named after him, a cappuccino. we'll feast on sicilian treats. holy cannoli! and we'll see vividly why an italian word


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