Water thieves -- likely working for illicit marijuana operations -- had pulled water from remote filling stations and tapped into fire hydrants, improperly shutting off valves and triggering a chain reaction that threatened the water supply of nearly 300 homes.
Bandits in water trucks are backing up to rivers and lakes and pumping free water they sell on a burgeoning black market. Others, under cover of darkness, plug into city hydrants and top up. Thieves also steal water from homes, farms and private wells, and some even created an elaborate system of dams, reservoirs and pipelines during the last drought. Others are MacGyvering break-ins directly into pressurized water mains, a dangerous and destructive approach known as hot-tapping. [...]
But, again, the thieves are a step ahead. When it became clear that law enforcement was on the lookout for suspicious water tankers, thieves shifted to putting 275-gallon water cubes in the back of their pickups or on trailers. More recently, they have taken to renting U-Haul vans to hide their cargo. Any conveyance with space to carry is put to work: Bostwick said someone in the area is driving around an old fire truck, and another guy is using what appears to be a converted airline fuel tanker.
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Oregon's largest wildfire so far this season, the Bootleg Fire, has burned nearly 400,000 acres spreading approximately four square miles a day across the southern parts of the state. At the time of this report, the flames spread through one fifth of forests set aside for carbon offsets in the immediate area. [...]
A carbon offset can take many forms, but the large majority in the United States are created under the designation: Improved Forest Management. To be considered as this type of offset, the landowner must show that their forest performs above average as a carbon reducer when compared with other forests. Once approved, they earn a credit for every ton of CO2 their forests absorb. Those credits can be sold to a company looking to compensate for their own emissions, allowing them to claim carbon neutrality. The company can then hold or trade the credits until they are submitted to the government for compliance purposes. Credits aren't like traditional currency; once it's submitted, it is considered "retired" and cannot be used again. [...]
When wildfires burn up carbon offsets, it's not the responsibility of the landowner, the buyer of the credit, or the seller of the credit to evaluate whether that carbon credit still represents a metric ton of CO2 absorbed by trees. In reality, those trees represented by the credit may have burned up in the Bootleg Fire or the Chuweah Creek and Summit Trail fires burning on the Eastern Washington offset.
And if in only one or two seasons of wildfires, these wildfires strip away at the offset buffer pool, climate change will likely collect more of these carbon credits than CARB is prepared for.