Tuesday, January 16, 2018

1/17 Molehill, WA carbon tax, Timothy Ballew II, dispersants, pesticides & salmon, Nat'l Park Panel, pulse fishing

A molehill (or mole-hill, mole mound) is a conical mound of loose soil raised by small burrowing mammals, including moles, but also similar animals such as mole-rats, kangaroo moles, and voles. The word is first recorded in the first half of the 15th century. Formerly the hill was known as a 'wantitump', a word still in dialect use for centuries afterwards. The common phrase "making a mountain out of a molehill", meaning to exaggerate a minor problem, is an ironical reference to these small features. (Wikipedia)

Some businesses backing Washington carbon tax measure
Microsoft Corp., REI and other businesses joined environmental and other groups Tuesday in testifying in support of Gov. Jay Inslee's ambitious proposal to tax fossil fuel emissions to fight climate change.Inslee has proposed a new tax of $20 per metric ton of carbon emissions that would start in 2019 and increase over time. Money raised pay for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage stormwater and reduce wildfire risks. Some money would offset taxes to energy-intensive businesses and help low-income families. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press) See also: Washington State Senators  Hear Testimony On Carbon Tax  (NW News Network)

29 applied for a vacant seat on the Whatcom County Council. This is who got the job.
The former chairman of Lummi Nation has been appointed to fill the remainder of Todd Donovan’s vacant seat on the County Council. Council members picked Timothy Ballew II, a commercial fisherman, from a field of seven finalists on Tuesday night. Ballew was picked by a vote of 5-1, with Council member Tyler Byrd voting no. kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Oil spills are bad, but dispersants are worse for deep-sea coral
An oil spill's effect on deep-sea corals is bad enough. But the chemicals used to clean spills are worse.  A spate of research is finding that the dispersants used to break up the 2010 BP oil spill, Nalco's Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527, are more toxic to the Gulf of Mexico's corals than oil alone.  "You can see it visually in the disintegration of the corals," marine scientist Dennise Ruiz-Ramos said. "They degrade faster with dispersants." Ruiz-Ramos, who works for the University of California's School of Natural Sciences in Merced, published research last month that compared the reaction of black coral, a common species in the Gulf's deep water, to oil, dispersant and a combination of dispersant and oil in a laboratory setting. Coral declined after each treatment, but the decline was faster in corals exposed to dispersants alone. Tristan Baurick reports. (Times-Picayune)

Pesticides and salmon: Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel?
Once again, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined in official findings that three common pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — raise the risk of extinction for threatened and endangered salmon. By extension, for the first time, the agency also concluded that those same pesticides threaten Puget Sound’s endangered orca population by putting their prey — chinook and other salmon — at risk. This politically and legally charged issue — which has been around for more than 15 years — has gone beyond a debate over potential harm from pesticides. It also raises uncomfortable questions about whether our society will follow science as we try to solve environmental problems. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Citing ‘Inexcusable’ Treatment, Advisers Quit National Parks Panel
The majority of members of the National Parks System Advisory Board, which advises the federal government on management of the country’s national parks, have jointly resigned to protest Trump administration policies that the board members say have ignored science, squelched efforts to address climate change and undermined environmental protections. The advisory board was established in 1935 to advise the secretary of the interior, who oversees management of the country’s national parks and monuments. Since taking office last year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has come under criticism from environmental advocates for promoting President Trump’s agenda of opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to fossil-fuel exploration, and for reducing the protection of public monuments. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Pulse fishing: MEPs vote for ban on controversial method 
Members of the European Parliament have voted to ban commercial fishing using an electric current in EU waters, so-called pulse fishing. Opponents say the method is equivalent to putting a Taser in the water. The European Commission and the Dutch government say it is better for the environment than traditional trawling.nThe Netherlands has been testing the controversial technique as part of scientific research. This is about a technique called pulse fishing, where trawlers use nets that generate an electric current. Fish - particularly sole - are stunned, which forces them to float upwards, making them easier to catch. Adam Fleming reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  900 PM PST Tue Jan 16 2018  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 10 ft at 13  seconds building to 12 ft at 12 seconds in the afternoon. Rain.
 S wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 17  ft at 13 seconds. Rain in the evening then showers after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

1/16 WA climate action, nitrogen trifluoride, Zinke's Interior, Sanchi sinking

Song sparrow (Eugene Beckes/BirdNote)
Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick
If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles — the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In each forward jump, the bird lightly hooks leaf litter with its toes. Each return jump pulls the litter aside to expose the food underneath. Other species of birds, like robins, use their bills to simply grab leaf litter and toss it aside. Two strategies, one goal: expose and grab that food! (BirdNote)

Enviro Groups Cite Strong Support For Multiple Climate Action Policies In Wash.
A public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to tax fossil fuel emissions takes place Tuesday in Olympia. A coalition of environmental groups is urging people to go and organizing carpools to ensure a strong turnout. They say the governor’s carbon tax is just one of at least three climate policies they want to see action on this session. And two groups have new polling data to back that up. The groups say Inslee’s carbon tax, which would impose a $20-a-ton price on carbon emissions that would go up over time, is a good step forward but not enough. The think tank Climate Solutions teamed up with Audubon Washington to study the feasibility of two additional policies. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Province to examine source of potential new harmful greenhouse gas emissions
The British Columbian government is hoping to get a handle on the province's emissions of a greenhouse gas that is 17,200 times more harmful than carbon dioxide and commonly used to manufacture everyday electronics. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is a colourless, odourless, non flammable gas used in the manufacturing of high tech goods, especially liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and thin solar panels. "It's one of the most potent [greenhouse gases] that we know of," said Tim Lesiuk, executive director and chief negotiator for the B.C. Climate Action Secretariat, a branch of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

The Damage Done by Trump’s Department of the Interior
On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, last March, Ryan Zinke rode through downtown Washington, D.C., on a roan named Tonto. When the Secretary is working at the department’s main office, on C Street, a staff member climbs up to the roof of the building and hoists a special flag, which comes down when Zinke goes home for the day. To provide entertainment for his employees, the Secretary had an arcade game called Big Buck Hunter installed in the cafeteria. The game comes with plastic rifles, which players aim at animated deer. The point of the installation, Zinke has said, is to highlight sportsmen’s contribution to conservation. “Get excited for #hunting season!” he tweeted, along with a photo of himself standing next to the game, which looks like a slot machine sporting antlers. Nowadays, it is, in a manner of speaking, always hunting season at the Department of the Interior. Elizabeth Kolbert reports. (The New Yorker)

Huge oil spill left after burning tanker sinks off China
Chinese ships are racing to clean up a giant oil spill after an Iranian tanker sank in the East China Sea. The 120 sq km (46 sq mile) oil slick is thought to be made up of heavy fuel that was used to power the vessel. The Sanchi oil tanker sank on Sunday and officials say all its crew members are dead. It was carrying 136,000 tonnes of ultra-light crude oil from Iran which generates a toxic underwater slick that would be invisible from the surface. Both the fuel and the ultra-light oil could cause devastating damage to marine life. (BBC

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  900 PM PST Mon Jan 15 2018  
TUE  SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 11 ft  at 13 seconds. Showers.
 SE wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 11  ft at 13 seconds. A chance of showers in the evening then a chance  of rain after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

1/15 MLK Day, WA culverts, save BC forest, MV Marathassa, coastal drilling, Sanchi sunk, Princess Sophia, Polley mine, B'ham waterfront

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2018
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Would Go. You In?

U.S. Supreme Court steps into Washington's long-running culvert case
The U.S. Supreme Court has stepped into Washington’s culvert case, accepting it for review and heating up a 17-year legal battle over the state’s duty to protect and restore salmon habitat as part of its obligation to respect tribes’ treaty fishing rights. The case, Washington v. U.S. et al., initially was filed by 21 Washington tribes with treaty-protected fishing rights in 2001. At issue is the state’s obligation to repair road culverts that block salmon from their spawning habitat. Culverts that are too small, or pitched too high above the stream bed, or in other ways are unsuitable for fish passage destroy miles of habitat above the culvert. That depletes fish runs that tribes rely on and are entitled to by treaties. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Environmentalists seek to protect an endangered B.C. landscape
Environmentalists in B.C. want conservation-minded people to spend Sunday writing letters of support to protect one of the province's most beautiful but endangered landscapes. The province is currently collecting feedback until Monday on its proposal to protect 1,125 hectares of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem (CDF) on parts of southern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. The landscapes feature soaring Douglas fir trees, Garry Oak trees, grassy meadows and unique reptiles and birds. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

Crown gets go-ahead to prosecute Greek shipping company in B.C. fuel spill
A Greek shipping firm accused of operating a vessel that spilled thousands of litres of fuel into Vancouver's English Bay will be prosecuted regardless of whether it participates in the legal proceedings. A decision filed Friday in British Columbia's provincial court says it is "abundantly clear" that Alassia NewShips Management Inc. knew it faced 10 pollution-related offences. The charges followed a Transport Canada investigation into the MV Marathassa, which leaked 2,700 litres of bunker fuel in April 2015. (Canadian Press)

Cantwell, industry leaders voice concerns over national offshore drilling expansion plan
More state leaders are urging the Trump administration to rethink its plans to expand offshore drilling in federal waters, including off the coast of Washington. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined tribal, fishing, and tourism leaders during a press conference at the Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood Sunday to speak out against the plan. Looking out from the terminal, Brent Paine couldn't help but think about the impact drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Washington could potentially have on industries here. One major disaster would have profound consequences on the coast to the waters of Puget Sound, Paine said. (Associated Press & KOMO)

Hope Fades for Missing Crew Members as Iranian Oil Tanker Sinks
An Iranian oil tanker that collided with another vessel in the East China Sea and that had been burning for more than a week sank on Sunday, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation said. “There is no hope of finding survivors,” Mahmoud Rastad, the chief of Iran’s maritime agency, said of the missing crew members, according to The Associated Press. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran expressed his condolences and called on government agencies to investigate the tragedy and to take any necessary legal measures, according to state television. The 899-foot vessel, the Sanchi, sank at 4:45 p.m., the Chinese ministry said. Javier C. Hernandez reports. (NY Times)

Exhibit recalls worst marine disaster on West Coast
One hundred years since the worst maritime disaster in B.C. history, a new exhibit is resurfacing the story of the largely forgotten tragedy. The Princess Sophia sank off the West Coast near Juneau, Alaska after it drifted off course and hit a reef on a voyage from Skagway to Victoria.  It sank the following day after rescue efforts were delayed by bad weather and rough seas. All 340 people on board died…. The Maritime Museum of British Columbia's SS Princess Sophia exhibition runs until March 11. (CBC)

20 months remain to lay charges in Mt. Polley mine dam collapse
The clock is counting down on the time remaining to lay environmental charges in Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine dam failure, which took place nearly 3½ years ago in the B.C. Interior. One of the largest mining-dam failures in the world in the past 50 years, it shook the industry and caused concern among the public, First Nations and environmental groups that aquatic life would be harmed, particularly salmon that use the Quesnel Lake system to spawn. The three-year deadline to lay charges under B.C.’s environmental laws passed last summer. Under federal law, there is a five-year window to lay environmental charges, leaving 20 months to do so. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

They want to pick a plan for Bellingham’s waterfront; here’s how you can weigh in
With a revamped commission in place after November’s election, the Port of Bellingham is running a full-court press to settle its long-term design for the downtown waterfront. The port is hosting an open house from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday to talk about proposed changes to the waterfront district master plan, which involves much of the former Georgia-Pacific property near downtown Bellingham. The open house will be at the Granary Building at 1208 Central Ave. The event will include several breakout information stations where the public can talk to officials from the port, city and the Harcourt, the Irish-based developer working on the project. You can also send written comments to waterfront@portofbellingham.com or speak at the upcoming port commission meetings on Tuesday and Feb. 6. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  900 PM PST Sun Jan 14 2018  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 11 ft at 14  seconds. A chance of rain in the afternoon.
MON NIGHT  SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 10  ft at 13 seconds. Rain.
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

1/12 WA water rights, Site C dam, chlorpyrifos kills, sea rise, WA coast drilling, Interior moves, barred owl kills, ocean acid plan, Andeavor permit appeal, Trump's energy plan

Panther amanita (George Chernilevsky/Flickr)
Panther amanita Amanita pantherina
Found spring and fall, or throughout te winter in mild seasons, on the ground, conifer or mixed forests, often under Douglas fir trees, especially abundant in the Puget Sound area. The panther amanita is so named because of the panther-like spots on the cap. In the Pacific Northwest it has caused more cases of poisoning than any other mushroom. Its characteristics should be carefully memorized in order that it may be avoided. Remember: white warts on a brown or tan cap, white gills, and a distinct close-fitting cap at the base of the stem-- these are danger signals. (The New Savory Wild Mushroom)

Salish Sea Communications blog: Martin Would Go. You In?
Deport the Dreamers. Kick the Salvadoran refugees out. Raid Motel 6 and 7-11s for undocumented immigrants. Cut medical funding for poor children. Cut medical subsidies for poor people. Build The Wall and hire 100,000 more ICE agents. Give big tax breaks to corporations, banks, oil companies and the super-rich. Remove financial safeguards. Open up Alaska wilderness and coasts for oil drilling. Deregulate to make profiteering easier. Reverse gay and lesbian rights. Bust pot users. And, oh yeah, remember that the ‘genius’ has a bigger nuke button than ‘rocket man’... Had enough? Don’t say you can’t believe it’s happening— because it is. Don’t say it will all work out somehow— because it won’t. Don’t say you just can’t deal with all this shit—because there is more, a lot more, to come. All in the name of Making America Great Again….

Water rights bill clears first legislative hurdle
A bill to resolve a protracted dispute over water rights policy cleared a state Senate panel on a unanimous vote Thursday. The legislation is in response to the 2016 Supreme Court Hirst decision making counties responsible for ensuring there is an adequate supply of water before allowing drilling of new wells for homes and residential tracts. As a result of the decision, some rural area property owners have found themselves unable to drill wells or facing the potential threat of not being able to drill in the future. With Senate Bill 6091, property owners will be able to drill new wells. The fee for connection will be $500, down from $1,500 in the original bill. Communities will be given three years to craft management plans for water resource inventory areas identified in the legislation. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Half of British Columbians say Site C completion is right choice
More than half of B.C. residents think Premier John Horgan and his government made the right call to finish the dam project. In a new Angus Reid Institute survey, 52 per cent of respondents agree that the NDP government was right to proceed with the Site C project after reviewing the mega dam that was started under Christy Clark’s Liberal government. Just 26 per cent said it was the wrong decision, while 23 per cent said they were unsure. The controversial project had been a major campaign issue leading up to last year’s provincial election, with Horgan promising to send the project to a review if the B.C. NDP was elected. Stephanie Ip reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Government Scientists Say A Controversial Pesticide Is Killing Endangered Salmon
The federal government’s top fisheries experts say that three widely used pesticides — including the controversial insecticide chlorpyrifos — are jeopardizing the survival of many species of salmon, as well as orcas that feed on those salmon. It’s a fresh attack on a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency was ready to take off the market a year ago — until the Trump administration changed course. Chlorpyrifos is widely used by farmers to protect crops like strawberries, broccoli and citrus fruit from insect pests. In recent years, though, scientists have found evidence that exposure to chlorpyrifos residues can harm the developing brains of small children, even in the womb. Dan Charles reports. (NPR)

Sea levels will rise, and maps show which Seattle neighborhoods are in danger
Jack Block Park seems like an unlikely leisure spot, tucked among railroad tracks and Port of Seattle cranes. But it also provides a panoramic view of West Seattle, downtown and Harbor Island. In maps created by Seattle Public Utilities, parts of Jack Block Park in West Seattle are colored red. Those are the areas that meteorologist and mapmaker James Rufo-Hill said could someday be underwater as sea levels rise due to climate change. Climate change warms the oceans, causing water to expand, and melting ice adds to the volume. “The most likely amount of sea level rise we’ll see is about two feet —  24 inches —  by the end of the century,” Rufo-Hill said. Amy Radil reports. (KUOW)

Climate Countdown
300+ people from around the state, including tribal members, descended on the State Capital in Olympia this week to instigate a campaign called “Climate Countdown”. They say time is running out to pass groundbreaking climate legislation and are demanding the legislature take meaningful action in the 2018 session. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Inslee seeks meeting with interior secretary to try to shield Washington waters from drilling 
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week removed Florida’s coastal waters from a draft plan for oil and gas drilling. Now Gov. Jay Inslee wants the same consideration for Washington’s offshore waters. In a letter sent Thursday to Zinke, Gov. Jay Inslee requested his own meeting with Zinke to make a case for protecting Washington’s waters from oil and gas exploration. “I believe that every state should be granted a similar opportunity to protect its marine and coastal water,’’ he wrote. He noted that Washington, like Florida, has a strong coastal tourism and recreation economy that could be harmed by an oil spill, and that he previously requested Washington not be included in new lease sales. Zinke last week released a sweeping plan to open nearly all waters off the nation’s coastlines to oil and gas drilling, including a new lease sale off Oregon and Washington proposed for 2021. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Interior plans to move thousands of workers in the biggest reorganization in its history
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched an unprecedented effort Wednesday to undertake the largest reorganization in the department’s 168-year history, moving to shift tens of thousands of workers to new locations and change the way the federal government manages more than 500 million acres of land and water across the country. The proposal would divide the United States into 13 regions and centralize authority for different parts of Interior within those boundaries. The regions would be defined by watersheds and geographic basins, rather than individual states and the current boundaries that now guide Interior’s operations. This new structure would be accompanied by a dramatic shift in location of the headquarters of major bureaus within Interior, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation…. The department has 70,000 employees…. Former interior secretary Sally Jewell was one of several people with knowledge of the department who expressed doubt that such a sweeping reorganization can work.  Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears report. (Washington Post)

Killing barred owls to see impact on spotted owl approved
A federal appeals court in San Francisco has upheld a plan by wildlife officials to kill one type of owl to study its effect on another type of owl. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the experiment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t violate a federal law aimed at protecting migratory birds. The court says that law doesn’t prevent killing one species to advance the scientific understanding of another. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by advocacy groups Friends of Animals and Predator Defense challenging the agency’s plan to kill barred owls to assess their effect on the threatened northern spotted owl. (KXRO)

State updates plans to combat ocean acidification
The state’s Marine Resources Advisory Council has released an update to the state’s 2012 strategy to tackle ocean acidification — reporting progress made, new focus areas and a renewed commitment to tackle the issue through a number of research, education and climate mitigation and adaptation solutions. Marine Resources Advisory Council officials said they saw a need to re-evaluate the 2012 Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification’s report, resulting in this 2017 addendum. The addendum is a companion report meant to expand on the 2012 work. The advisory council is made up of gubernatorial appointees representing science, public policy, tribes, shellfish growers, agencies and nonprofit groups…. The latest report highlighs new research that justifies more concerted efforts to combat ocean acidification. (South Beach Bulletin)

Appeal hearing set for refinery permit
A public appeals hearing on a permit for a proposed oil refinery project has been set for Feb. 27 with the Skagit County Board of Commissioners. The hearing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the commissioners hearing room, 1800 Continental Place in Mount Vernon. The Andeavor Anacortes Refinery at March Point (formerly Tesoro) has proposed upgrading and building new equipment at its facility in order to extract the chemical compound xylene during the oil refining process for shipment overseas and reduce sulfur emissions from its fuel products…. In December, a coalition of environmental groups appealed Skagit County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford's approval of a shoreline substantial development permit for the project and his determination that the EIS for the project was sufficient. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

As Trump's fossil-fuel 'energy dominance' plan founders, a crucial solar energy decision nears
During his first year in office, President Trump has guided the nation’s energy course directly into the headwinds of market instability, civic opposition, unstable finance and environmental risk in order to fortify the domestic coal and oil industries. But this week, the administration’s plan to achieve what it termed “American energy dominance” has foundered amid obstacles of law, economy, technology and political miscalculation. Keith Schneider reports. (LA Times)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PST Fri Jan 12 2018  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less. W  swell 9 ft at 12 seconds. Showers likely in the morning then a  chance of showers in the afternoon.
TONIGHT  SE wind to 10 kt becoming E 10 to 20 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft after  midnight. W swell 8 ft at 14 seconds. Rain.
 E wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 15 seconds. A chance of rain.
 SE wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft building to 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8  ft at 13 seconds.
 SE wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 9 ft at  16 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

1/11 Nudibranch, Gregor Robertson, coast oil drill, rising seas, salmon genes, bad disease study, beaver kills

Opalescent nudibranch (Minette Layne/Flickr)
Opalescent Sea Slug (Hermissenda crassicornis)
Nudibranchs are snails without shells and without the coiled body of their near relatives. One of the more obvious nudibranchs along Pacific shores, including Puget Sound, this species can be found crawling slowly in tide pools and on pilings, dock floats, and even open bottom substrates. With its opalescent body adorned with an orange midline and red, white and blue markings all over, this beautiful little animal always attracts attention. Opalescent Sea Slugs grow to about 8 cm in length, although most encountered are smaller than that. They look as if they are four-horned, with a pair of large sensory tentacles (the simple eyes, composed of five cells each, are at the bases) followed by a pair of rhinophores. The rhinophores are specialized olfactory tentacles with corrugated surfaces to increase surface area for chemoreception…. Hermissenda is a fierce predator on hydroids, cruising over their colonies and nipping off the polyps. It also eats other colonial animals and even scavenges on carcasses. It is aggressive toward other sea slugs of its own species, perhaps to reduce competition for prey, but it also eats them! (Slater Museum of Natural History/University of Puget Sound)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson not seeking re-election
In what he called "one of the hardest decisions of [his] life," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has announced he will not run for re-election on Oct. 20. "Ten years is a long time in politics," he said, speaking at a press conference staged outside Vancouver City Hall on Wednesday. "An important part of leadership is to know when to make space for new voices and leaders." Robertson, 53, said the decision was "intensely personal" and that he would not remain in politics in any capacity: municipal, provincial or federal. He said he had no concrete plans for when his term ends at the end of October. (CBC)

Surprise oil fight may be part of the method to Trump's madness
Now they’re saying King Donald is mad. But is there maybe a method to what ails him? That’s the big question of the moment among environmental advocates around here, who admit they are reeling from the Trump administration’s unexpected announcement last week it plans to sell oil-drilling rights off the Washington and Oregon coasts. The idea is so off the charts almost nobody saw it coming. For starters the oil industry has shown no interest in the Oregon coast. And in Washington, where it’s believed there are some oil and gas deposits, the general area of drilling overlaps in large part with the 4,000-square-mile Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary — where oil drilling currently is barred. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

Florida Is Exempted From Coastal Drilling. Other States Ask, ‘Why Not Us?’
At 5:20 on Tuesday evening, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted a photo of himself at the Tallahassee airport with Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, announcing that he had decided, after meeting with Governor Scott, to exempt the state from a new Trump administration plan to open up most of the nation’s coastline to offshore oil drilling. It was a sudden and unexpected change to a plan that President Trump had celebrated just five days before, and it took lawmakers and governors from both parties by surprise. It also gave Governor Scott, a Republican who is widely expected to run for the Senate this year, a clear political boost in that race. Florida lawmakers of both parties have long opposed offshore drilling, especially after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill sent tarballs to the shores of a state where the economy relies heavily on tourism. Mr. Zinke’s sudden flip-flop on Florida drilling allows Governor Scott to tout the decision as evidence of his influence with the White House. Mr. Trump’s critics say the move highlights the president’s willingness to blatantly use the nation’s public lands and waters as political bargaining chips. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

OIL DRILLING Hearing, comments
You can comment online, regulations.gov/docket?D=BOEM-2017-0074, or attend a hearing from 3-7 p.m. Feb. 5 at Landmark Convention Center, Tacoma.

'Water in the streets': a glimpse of the Northwest's watery future
…. Across the Pacific Northwest, the sea's already at the doorstep of homes, businesses, infrastructure, and habitat - and the problem's only going to get worse as the sea continues to rise. In the winter, king tides give us a glimpse of what might be at risk.  In Washington and Oregon, nearly 40,000 people live in homes that are likely to get flooded during the next few decades. And it's not just houses that are at risk; it's billions of dollars of infrastructure. Sewage treatment plants in Olympia and other cities could be destroyed by salt water unless they are modified or moved.  EilĂ­s O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Salmon Are Losing Their Genetic Diversity. That's A Big Problem
Researchers had long suspected salmon have lost huge amounts genetic diversity over the years. But they’d never tested the hypothesis. Now, technology has finally caught up with scientists’ questions. Researchers were able to compare ancient salmon DNA to modern salmon. They collected a wide range of ancient bones to study the fish’s DNA. One sample about 7,000 years old — that’s  3,000 years older than the first pyramid. The most recent was about 150 years old. And thanks to the DNA from those samples, scientists are able to conclude that Columbia River chinook salmon have lost two-thirds of their genetic diversity since ancient times. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Radio/EarthFix)

Scientist pans fish disease review, says it lacked transparency
A conservation scientist is questioning the integrity of a federal review of salmon viruses and diseases, saying there wasn’t enough transparency around industry practices. Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, says scientists were not allowed to read a document on how fish-farm companies manage fish health — even though the document helped inform the Department of Fisheries and Oceans risk assessment of a deadly virus. “That’s contradictory to the peer review process, whereby scientists come together and review the information in detail with full transparency,” Proboszcz said. “To evaluate this at a scientific peer review level, peer reviewers need access to the details.” Proboszcz said he became concerned while serving on a DFO steering committee that gives scientific advice on various fish and habitat issues. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Government Agency Says It Will Stop Killing The Beaver State's Beavers To Help Its Salmon
It took the threat of a lawsuit, but a federal agency is no longer killing the Beaver State’s beavers. Environmental groups had challenged the practice in Oregon because, they said, it’s a threat to more than just the state animal. Beavers just can’t help themselves — they have to build dams from sticks and mud. Those dams can create really good habitat for other species, like imperiled salmon. “The slow moving waters created by the beavers provide ideal cover and food for endangered fish,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. But Wildlife Services (a program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that deals with human-animal conflicts) has been culling Oregon’s beavers. The environmental groups said the program killed more than 400 Oregon beavers in 2016. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Radio/EarthFix)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  247 AM PST Thu Jan 11 2018  
 E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 8 ft  at 18 seconds. Rain.
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  8 ft at 17 seconds building to 10 ft at 16 seconds after  midnight. Showers likely.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1/10 Marbled murrelet, killer whales, dam water, carbon tax, rural water, net pen ban, Vic sewage, coast drilling, oil port lease

Marbled murrelet (Rick & Nora Bowers/Audubon)
The Unsolved Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet
Despite years of conservation efforts, endangered marbled murrelet populations are not increasing. These Oregon researchers aren’t giving up hope. Eric Wagner reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Kayakers are disturbing our orcas, study finds
Kayakers are encroaching on orca whales, new research shows, and they are not being ticketed like other boaters. A paper published recently in the scientific Journal PlosOne finds kayakers are a fast-growing segment of the $50 million whale-watch industry, which brings at least 500,000 people out every year to the trans boundary waters of the Salish Sea, according to estimates by the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. But while incidents of getting too close to the charismatic orca whales are down among commercial whale-watch vessels, some types of violations by kayakers, with or without guides, are growing, and those are met with the least amount of action by law enforcement, according to analysis in the paper of data compiled by the Soundwatch Boater Education Program, run by the Whale Museum since 1993. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

New Legislative Protections Proposed for Killer Whales and Puget Sound
A senator from Orcas Island has set out to protect two of his hometown’s defining natural elements during the 2018 legislative session. Namely, Sen. Kevin Ranker, a Democrat, is seeking to secure provisions for orca whales and Puget Sound as a whole through the new Salish Sea Protection package…. The Salish Sea Protection package includes new legislation that would commit the state to making drastic improvements to its oil spill response plans, strengthening protections for orcas, banning net pen aquaculture of invasive species and prioritizing toxic cleanups in the nearshore and marine environment. (Centralia Chronicle)

Court Approves Plan To Help Salmon By Spilling More Water Over Columbia River Dams
A federal judge has approved a plan to spill more water through dams in the Columbia River Basin this spring. It’s part of an ongoing lawsuit over how to manage dams to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ordered dam managers to develop a plan to spill more water on the Columbia and Snake rivers to help fish. Spilling more water means generating less power, which could raise the price of electricity. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Inslee’s carbon tax would raise costs for consumers, polluters to fund environmental projects
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday unveiled details of his new plan to charge polluters, a centerpiece of the Democrat’s drive to combat climate change and address a court order to speed up a fix for the K-12 school system. The plan would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton starting in July of 2019. After that, the tax would increase by 3.5 percent each year, plus inflation. The governor’s office estimates the tax would raise $1.5 billion over its first two years, and $3.3 billion over four years. Much of the money from the tax would initially be used to replenish the roughly $1 billion in reserves Inslee hopes to spend on education. Walker Orenstein reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Bill would allow more rural wells, but landowners, tribes object
 The Legislature’s latest attempt to revise state water law to allow more wells in rural and suburban areas got support from the head of the agency that would help make it work but strong criticism Monday from property owners and tribal representatives. The measure, which sponsor Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, acknowledged was that Senate Bill 6091 “not a perfect bill” and subject to change, would make it much easier to get a permit for a well that would supply 400 gallons of water per day for indoor domestic use. The legislation also would provide $200 million for mitigation and related efforts to restore and enhance stream flows and aquatic habitat….guidelines known as Watershed Restoration and Enhancement Plans. Jim Camden reports. (Spokesman Review)

Future of Washington's Salmon Net Pen Aquaculture Debated At Hearing In Olympia
Washington is the only west coast state in the U.S. that allows Atlantic salmon net pen farming in open water. That may change in the wake of a summer spill of more than 300,000 of the non-native fish into Puget Sound. A bill that would phase out the practice got a first hearing in Olympia Tuesday. SB 6086 would prohibit new leases or extensions of leases on net-pens for non-native finfish aquaculture. It would also add new regulations on existing operations. Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced it before the short legislative session began. He told a packed committee hearing that the industry poses too many risks to the state’s investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in native salmon recovery. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX) See also: Puget Sound fish farmers say banning Atlantic salmon operations would be unfair  Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Switching how sewage sludge is handled would save millions, mayor says
In a move that could save taxpayers millions of dollars, Capital Regional District directors are being urged to reverse course on how they deal with sewage sludge. CRD staff and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps are independently recommending the region abandon its plans for integrated resource management, or IRM.  Biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, are left over when sewage is treated. IRM can involve mixing biosolids, garbage and food scraps, and processing that mix to generate electricity, which in turn produces revenue. Instead of IRM, they are recommending the region process kitchen food scraps and yard waste into compost at Hartland Landfill. And the CRD should issue a separate request for proposals for reuse of dried sewage sludge that doesn’t involve spreading it on land. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Keep oil drilling rigs off coasts, senators tell Interior secretary
Oil drilling is not healthy for America's coastal waters, nor is Trump administration policy that rides roughshod over states, 37 Democratic senators said Tuesday in a blunt reprimand to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The letter to Zinke comes less than a week after Zinke announced that 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, including waters off the West Coast, would be opened to oil and gas leasing. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are on the letter, along with senators from California, Oregon and Hawaii. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Interior Secretary Zinke: Florida Offshore Oil Drilling Is 'Off The Table'  A week after announcing a dramatic expansion of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Trump administration will grant an exception for the state of Florida. Richard Gonzales reports. (NPR)

Vancouver Port Votes To End Oil Terminal Lease In March
The Port of Vancouver’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to put an end date on a lease with Vancouver Energy, the company behind a controversial project to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the nation. At the board’s first meeting of the year, commissioners set a deadline of March 31 for Vancouver Energy to have all necessary permits and licenses in place. If the company fails to get its paperwork in order, the Port will allow its lease with the company to expire, essentially ending the project. Molly Solomon reports. (OPB)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  246 AM PST Wed Jan 10 2018  
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of rain.
 E wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft building to 2 to 4 ft. W swell 5  ft at 20 seconds. Rain likely in the evening then rain after  midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

1/9 Imidacloprid, Ericksen no EPA, green lege agenda, salmon scan, Sanchi tanker, WA utility tax cuts

Burrowing shrimp (Protect Our Shorelines)
Ecology completes shrimp pesticide review, expects permit decision soon
The multimillion-dollar Willapa Bay oyster industry is getting closer to finally getting a decision on its use of a controversial pest-control chemical after the state released a final environmental review on the pesticide Friday. The state Department of Ecology study found that using imidacloprid to control the burrowing shrimp has “little known direct risk” on the health of humans, fish, birds and marine mammals. However, it might have other negative impacts on the ecosystem at the base on the food chain. The agency said it will announce a decision on the industry’s application to use imidacloprid in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor “in about a month,” a press release states. Jackson Hogan reports. (Longview Daily News)

Sen. Doug Ericksen staying in Olympia, won’t join Trump administration
State Sen. Doug Ericksen said Monday he will not join the Environmental Protection Agency, contradicting a federal official who said the Ferndale Republican had been appointed to the agency. An executive assistant for Chris Hladick, the regional administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Region told the Bellingham Herald on Friday that Ericksen was to be the senior adviser to the Region 10 administrator in Seattle. On Monday, Ericksen said that information was incorrect…. Ericksen largely declined to give details about whether he was offered the job and specifically turned it down. But he said he has had “job offers over the past year” from the Trump administration he decided not to take. Ericksen said he plans to run for reelection to the state Senate in 2018. Walker Orenstein reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Environmental Concerns Top Of Mind As Lawmakers Reconvene In Olympia
As the state legislative session begins Monday, climate activists are out in full force in Olympia. They’re urging lawmakers to take bold steps to slow global warming. Climate action is one of four legislative priorities for 2018 put forth by a statewide coalition of environmental groups. Each year, the Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington Environmental Council put out legislative priorities based on the input of more than 20 organizations working statewide…. Also on their list is finding a sustainable solution to the water management crisis known as the Hirst Decision, which held up the capital budget last year. And there are two specific bills they want passed. The first is the Healthy Food Packaging Act, which would ban toxic non-stick chemicals used in everything from microwave popcorn bags to pizza boxes and muffin wrappers.  Finally, a new Oil Spill Prevention Act would extend the barrel tax on oil to pipelines and raise it by 2 cents to protect the state from evolving risks in oil transportation.  Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Rapid Scan for Salmon Sickness
Until now, a pathologist seeking to determine a salmon’s cause of death might scrutinize a set of tissue samples under a microscope or culture a bacterial or viral sample over several days to isolate the cause of the disease. All of that is changing fast at the federal Pacific Biological Station (PBS) in Nanaimo, British Columbia, where researchers have created a novel, game-changing shortcut that sleuths out systemic infectious diseases—even before the fish is obviously sick. “It’s really going to be powerful,” says Kristi Miller, who heads the salmon genetics section at PBS. Using little more than a tiny tissue sample from a salmon’s gill, researchers can identify the presence of unique biological markers that reveal not only if a fish is suffering from an infectious disease, but whether it harbors a disease agent that is not yet obvious. A new technique lets scientists spot disease-carrying fish, even before they’re visibly sick. Larry Pynn reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Sanchi oil tanker: 'No big spill' off China coast
No large oil spill has been detected so far from a tanker that has been burning since Saturday evening off the coast of China, Chinese officials say. The Sanchi is still alight and bad weather - with waves of up to 4m (13ft) - is hampering the rescue work. The vessel collided with a cargo ship about 260km (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai. (BBC)

Washington state regulators: Pass corporate tax cuts on to customers of investor-owned utilities 
Customers of Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Northwest Natural Gas and other regulated private utilities operating in Washington could see rate reductions due to corporate tax cuts passed last month by Congress. In a directive released Monday, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission asked all utilities to report the tax savings expected by the new law that lowered corporate rates from 35 percent to 21 percent. Dave Danner, the state commission’s chair, said that “utilities are on notice that we expect customers will reap the benefits.”  Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  243 AM PST Tue Jan 9 2018  
 W wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 9 ft  at 14 seconds. A slight chance of showers.
TONIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. W  swell 8 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of showers in the evening then  a chance of rain after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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