The Keystone oil spill is history repeating itself. And it'll happen again. And again.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, around 210,000 gallons of oil escaped from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.

The spill happened near the town of Amherst. TransCanada, the company that operates the pipeline, says they were able to shut down the system as soon as they saw a drop in the oil pressure, but by the time the spill was stopped, more than 5,000 barrels of oil had spilled onto the ground.

Locals are worried that contamination could find its way into the local water supply.


This spill is especially notable because it's part of the same Keystone Pipeline System whose planned expansion, the Keystone XL, drew protests from environmentalists and local communities.

A meeting with the Nebraska Public Service Commission to discuss final approval of the project was scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20.

Oil spills can be devastating, and the new leak along the Keystone pipeline should be taken seriously.

But the fact is, this is not the first spill in 2017 nor is it the worst.

On Jan. 30, for instance, a road crew dug into an oil pipeline near Blue Ridge, Texas, spilling about 210,000 gallons. On April 25, a pipeline spilled about 1,050 gallons of oil and saltwater into a tributary of the Little Missouri River. And in October, a cracked pipeline southeast of Venice, Louisiana, spilled about 672,000 gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. These are just a handful of the spills this year.

The funny thing is, pipelines are actually relatively safe compared to transporting oil by train or tanker truck (although critics have pointed out that many pipelines are old, lack modern safety equipment, and are inconsistently inspected), but there are 2.5 million miles of these pipelines in the United States.

And though we are slowly increasing our production of renewable energy, America still runs very much on petroleum. The Keystone spill was not the first pipeline failure. It will probably not be the last.

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Cassie, the mother of 4-year-old Camryn, had one of the those moments when her child yelled, "Black lives matter" to a Black woman at a Colorado Home Depot.

But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

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