Friday, April 17, 2015

4/17 First Nations rights, Squamish fire, Shell drill, BC CG, LA spill, Woodard Bay, sewer beer, organic seafood, climate suit

“Common” seagulls (PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
In Praise of the “Common” Seagull
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Here on Gabriola Island people are still talking about what a great herring season we had last month – those boisterous sea lions… made quite an impression, as did the eagles, who came in massive numbers to take in the bounty. It was a daily show of profusion and feasting. But just as interesting, to me, were the seagulls – those much-maligned birds with their unforgettable calls and complex social interactions…."

B.C. First Nations can sue over property rights, court rules
Industrial giants, from forestry companies to mining operations, must respect aboriginal territorial claims in British Columbia just as they would heed the rights of any other Canadian landowner, the province's highest court has ruled. A decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal paves the way for First Nations to launch lawsuits to protect their territory from private parties, even without proving aboriginal title. Two northwestern First Nations expressed vindication on Wednesday after a panel of three judges overturned a lower court ruling that denied them opportunity to sue the aluminum producer Rio Tinto Alcan. (Canadian Press)

Squamish Terminals on fire at Nexen Beach
A fire at the dock at Squamish Terminals at Nexen Beach in Squamish, B.C., was reported to be mostly contained by early Friday morning. "They haven't evacuated us, and it smells horrible!" Cheryl Bester told CBC. "The thick smoke has filled the entire town and north past Brackendale." The fire started shortly after 6 p.m. PT Thursday, and Squamish residents reported large plumes of smoke in the area. Squamish Terminals is a deep-water facility in Howe Sound that has two berths and three warehouses with about 47,000 square metres of storage.  Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman said residents were still being asked to clear the downtown core and stay indoors. Maryse Zeidler reports. (CBC)

Polar Pioneer oil rig expected to arrive in Port Angeles this morning — protesters say they'll be on hand
Today's early morning arrival of a huge semi-submersible offshore drilling rig from Asia will be met by a cadre of local, state and national environmental activists opposed to its use in the Arctic. The exact time that the Polar Pioneer, a 400-foot-tall rig owned by Transocean Ltd., is expected to anchor in Port Angeles Harbor to tower over the city for the next two weeks has not been specified, but a Shell Oil representative said it would be early in the morning. When it does arrive and is placed at Anchorage Site Two in the western portion of the harbor, the rig — which is being transported on the MV Blue Marlin, a semi-submersible heavy-lift ship — will be greeted by protesters from Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim and Seattle. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Coast Guard budget cuts roil the water in B.C. oil-spill controversy
Oil companies seeking a pipeline path for Alberta crude to open water and new markets breathed a sigh of relief when the ballots were counted in the 2013 provincial election and B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark was still in charge. It seemed there was still a way forward for oil with a pro-resource-development government in power. Last week’s heavy oil spill in English Bay, however, has pushed the provincial government further away from getting to “yes,” and the oil companies can thank Ottawa for making their already difficult sales job to British Columbians even harder. Ms. Clark has repeatedly warned that B.C. is not ready for additional oil tanker traffic, and had demanded that Ottawa reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard base as a starting point. She was ignored, and the payback was delivered on Friday when she slammed the federal government for its “unacceptable” neglect of marine safety on Canada’s West Coast. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

Secrecy shrouds decadelong oil spill off Louisiana
A blanket of fog lifts, exposing a band of rainbow sheen that stretches for miles off the coast of Louisiana. From an airplane, it’s easy to see gas bubbles in the slick that mark where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy, few people even know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak’s extent and environmental impact. An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor and the government have publicly reported during their secretive, and costly, effort to halt the leak. Presented with AP’s findings, that the sheen recently averaged about 91 gallons of oil a day across eight square miles, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company. Michael Kunzelman and Jeff Donn report. (Associated Press)

Completed restoration makes Woodard Bay a must-see location in the South Sound
On a gray, drizzly morning last week, the raucous sounds of the neighbors brought a smile to Michele Zukerberg’s face. Off in the distance, the screeching of nesting great blue herons could be heard from the tall forest trees. A pair of Canada geese seemed to object to the presence of several human visitors. Visually, harbor seals could be seen lounging on old log booms. Buffleheads rippled the water of Chapman Bay as they dove beneath the surface while feeding. A heron casually flew overhead, toward the rookery that is home to about 100 herons…. To Zukerberg, the sights and sounds are all part of what makes the Woodard Bay Natural Conservation Area north of Olympia so special. It is even better now, said the area’s manager, with the completion of the environmental education and interpretive facilities at Weyer Point. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Sewer Water Beer Wins Oregon Regulators' Approval
A wastewater treatment operator wants to give its recycled sewer water to a group of home brewers so they can turn it into beer.  On Wednesday, state environmental regulators approved the idea.  The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously to allow the Hillsboro-based utility Clean Water Services to use recycled sewage for brewing beer. Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Standards for organic seafood coming this year, USDA says
After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don’t expect it in the grocery store anytime soon. The Agriculture Department says it will propose standards for the farmed organic fish this year. That means the seafood could be available in as few as two years — but only if USDA moves quickly to complete the rules and seafood companies decide to embrace them. Mary Clare Jalonick reports. (Associated Press)

Landmark Dutch Lawsuit Puts Governments Around the World on Notice
…. Where I live, in the Netherlands, a landmark case will be heard in the Den Haag District Court on Tuesday. The Urgenda Foundation is suing the Dutch government for knowingly endangering its citizens by failing to prevent dangerous climate change. It comes at a time when an increasing number of legal experts around the world have come to believe that the lack of action represents a gross violation of the rights of those who will suffer the consequences. They also argue that the failure of governments to negotiate international agreements does not absolve them of their legal obligation to do their share in preventing dangerous climate change. These arguments are at the core of the Dutch lawsuit and will undoubtedly be put to the test in other countries before too long. Kelly Rigg writes. (Moyers & Company/Huffington Post)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
 WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 246 AM PDT FRI APR 17 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM PDT THIS MORNING
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING NW 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS AFTER MIDNIGHT. W
 SWELL 7 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
SAT
W WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
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"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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Thursday, April 16, 2015

4/16 Chum, oil spill, Shell drill, WA ferries, tank cars, Shell EIS, new refinery, glacier melt, orcas, septics, city bird

Dog and chum ( Mark Harrison/Seattle Times)
Let’s hear it for chum: The underdog salmon has a serious drive to thrive
The undervalued fish will do absolutely anything it can to get upstream. The life-and-death journey is the survival specialty of the tiger-striped, snaggletoothed spawning chum. Ron Judd reports. (Seattle Times) See also: No summer king fishery in central Puget Sound for first time in years  Mark Yuasa reports. (Seattle Times)

Vancouver oil spill: Vancouver Aquarium gathering oil samples from ocean floor
Scientists from the Vancouver Aquarium are currently analyzing oil, water, sediment and shellfish samples from the shoreline to determine the recent impact of an oil spill from the bunker of a grain ship near English Bay…. According to the Aquarium, its analysis is taking place independently, alongside the work being completed by government agencies. (CBC) See also: 10 vessels in Vancouver Island fleet could tackle oil spill  (Times Colonist)

Coast Guard decides against plans to accommodate protests of giant oil rig's visit to Port Angeles  
The Coast Guard said it has no plans to set up a “voluntary First Amendment area” in Port Angeles Harbor for activists to protest Friday's expected arrival of a huge semi-submersible offshore drilling rig from Asia. The Coast Guard, in detailing security measures Wednesday, said it will set up such an area for protesters who plan to launch boats and kayaks in Seattle's Elliott Bay when the oil rig is moved from Port Angeles to Puget Sound later this month or in early May. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Washington’s ferry reservation system breaks down on first day for summer bookings
Washington State Ferries  kicked off the summer vacation planning season with online reservations for summer ferry travel, including to the popular San Juan Islands. But the system failed on the first day of the new reservation season Tuesday and, because of technical difficulties, summer reservations won’t be available for at least a week, said WSF. The technical failure knocked out reservations, by phone or online,  for summer travel on the San Juan Islands route, Port Townsend/Coupeville ferries and Anacortes/Sidney, B.C. route. (Associated Press and Settle Times) See also: Ferry briefly loses power in Puget Sound with 173 people aboard  (Associated Press)

U.S. House bill seeks ban on DOT-111 tank cars for oil trains
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, on Wednesday introduced a bill to address safety issues with crude oil trains following a series of recent derailments, including an immediate ban on tank cars that are vulnerable to punctures and fire damage. Matsui cited the multitude of railroad tracks passing through Sacramento, some of which have been used to transport crude oil. The oil shipments have declined recently, but could rise again once new terminals are approved and constructed. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Skagit County asked court to dismiss Shell lawsuit over EIS decision
Skagit County filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Shell Puget Sound Refinery in March on the grounds that the legal action is premature, said county civil prosecuting attorney Will Honea. Shell filed a lawsuit last month against the county and Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford, seeking a review of Dufford’s decision to require a comprehensive environmental impact statement before Shell could build a crude oil unloading facility at the refinery in Anacortes. Shannen Kuest reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Refinery Proposed Last Year For Columbia River, Records Show
Washington’s Port of Longview says it is in talks with an energy company that last year submitted plans for a crude oil refinery on the Columbia River. Details of the company’s planned refinery surfaced Wednesday through public records obtained and released by Columbia Riverkeeper. A potential agreement between Riverside Energy, Inc. and the port, outlined in an unsigned memo of understanding dated July, 2014, described plans for the development of the first refinery on the Columbia River and the first on the West Coast in 25 years. The refinery would have a capacity of 30,000 barrels per day and produce a mix of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel all primarily for regional use, according to the documents, which were sent Wednesday to media organizations. Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick report. (EarthFix)

Frozen giants retreat: Glaciers fading away in Olympic Mountains, national park audience shown
The pictures tell the story: Glaciers are receding in the Olympic Mountains and around the world, a team of University of Washington researchers told an overflow audience at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus, the largest and most studied glacier in the national park, is being monitored for clues it may reveal about long-term changes in snowfall and temperature, said Michelle Koutnik, a UW research professor. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Spectacular Oregon Coast Orca Visitation Caught on Camera
While much of the world is captivated by the inundations of purple jellyfish to the Oregon coast, there are much bigger creatures wandering these waters as of late, ready to make an even bigger splash. Literally. It's clear as day that the annual spring visits by Killer Whales have arrived. (Pacific Coast Beach Connection)

Maybe the World's Loneliest Whale Isn't So Isolated, After All
Some evidence indicates that the singer of a higher-pitched whale song may not be alone. Marissa Fessenden reports. (Smithsonian)

When septic systems go bad: There’s help for homeowners
Snohomish County has launched a new initiative to replace and repair aging septic systems by providing homeowners with convenient financing options. The county launched its Savvy Septic program earlier this month. The three-year pilot program offers loans, grants and rebates for work to make septic systems cleaner, safer and better-functioning. (Everett Herald)

Vote early, vote often for next City Bird of Vancouver
The birds have been chosen and the tweeting has begun in the annual campaign for the next City Bird of Vancouver. Members of the public can vote as often as they want for the bird of their choice: the western grebe, the barn swallow, the peregrine falcon, or the barn owl. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 246 AM PDT THU APR 16 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
E WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 10 FT AT
 19 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 16 SECONDS.

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"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, April 15, 2015

4/15 Spilled oil, Navy tow, Shell drill, oil tax, toxic fish, Saanich bylaw, Bainbridge SMP, Kply, climate, protected puffins, orca noise, Deschutes cleanup, kelp study, Dick Goin, tsunami

English Bay oil (Vancouver Aquarium/CBC)
Vancouver oil spill was small but 'nasty' and spread quickly
The oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay last week was relatively small, but the highly toxic bunker fuel spread quickly, and will keep washing up on beaches, said city manager Penny Ballem in an update to council. Ballem said it's still not clear exactly how much Bunker C fuel oil spilled from the grain ship Marathassa on April 8, despite estimates from the coast guard that approximately 2,700 litres were released. But Ballem said the fuel is highly toxic and very viscose or thick, so it forms globs that are carried to distant beaches, including some 12 kilometres away from the spill site at New Brighton Park in East Vancouver. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC) See also: Vancouver oil spill stops recreational shellfish and groundfish fishing  Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC) See also: B.C. minister says Coast Guard took more than a day to take control of Vancouver fuel spill  Sunny Dhillon and Justine Hunter report. (Globe and Mail)

Navy cargo ship towed into Port Angeles Harbor after losing power in Strait
A Navy Military Sealift Command cargo ship was towed into Port Angeles on Saturday after it lost power overnight in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The 685-foot Cape Intrepid was undergoing sea trials after a long period docked in Tacoma when it lost power about 2:30 a.m. Saturday north of Clallam Bay in Canadian waters, according to the Coast Guard. Clallam Bay is 50 miles west of Port Angeles. Coast Guard Lt. Ben Weber said the Cape Intrepid drifted about two miles before the emergency tug Jeffrey Foss reached it approximately two hours later. (Peninsula Daily News)

Coast Guard creates ‘First Amendment zone’ in Puget Sound for anti-Shell protests
he U.S. Coast Guard, with help from activist groups, has identified an informal  “First Amendment Zone,” just north of Terminal 5, where protesters can take to the water against Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet when it arrives at the Port of Seattle. “I didn’t choose this area:  I gave them a chart and asked them where they wanted to be,” Capt. Joe Raymond, captain of the port, said Tuesday. Raymond initiated a meeting on Monday with organizers of a “sea of kayaks” protest. He described the zone as “an excellent place” for protesters wishing a high-visibility presence while not interfering with ferries, tugs and other marine traffic in the harbor. Still, a key player in the anti-Shell protests — Greenpeace — says no accord was reached at the meeting on where sea-borne protests can take place. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Headed to Seattle, controversial Arctic drill rig will stop in Port Angeles on Friday  Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

House OKs bill to increase tax on oil shipped through state
The state House on Tuesday passed its version of a bill to impose new safety regulations on the increasing amount of oil that is shipped through Washington by rail, boat and pipeline. A modified version of a bill that cleared the Senate in March passed the House with a 58-40 bipartisan vote. The Senate version extended a barrel tax to fund oil cleanups. In that version, the barrel tax is applied to all oil that enters Washington by train but exempts oil that travels by pipelines. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Associated Press) See also: Rules on oil train, pipeline safety not moving fast enough, lawmakers say  Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Reducing toxics in fish involves politics, maybe more than science
When it comes to eliminating toxic pollution from our waterways and the foods we eat, almost everyone agrees that the best idea is to track down the chemicals, find out how they are getting into the environment and then make decisions about how to handle the situation. It’s all common sense until politics comes into play. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Lobby group opposes Saanich environmental protection bylaw
About a dozen Saanich residents have created a lobby group against an environmental protection bylaw they say might reduce property values for no reason. The Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw intends to protect sensitive natural areas by requiring homeowners to obtain permits for everything from disturbing soil to building a deck. The goal is to protect areas of high biodiversity, as well as require restoration to damaged and degraded ecosystems during development. But Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA, as the newly formed lobby group is called, says the process for identifying land was flawed. Areas with little ecological value are protected, while others might not have been flagged, they say. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Hearings board rejects challenge to Bainbridge SMP
A growth management hearings board has ruled in favor of the city of Bainbridge Island in a challenge over the city's controversial Shoreline Management Master Program. A group of shoreline property owners had filed a challenge to the city's updated plan in October, and claimed it violated state law, conflicted with Bainbridge's development regulations and also ran afoul of the city's and the park district's comprehensive plans. In the April 6 decision, the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board said the group did not prove its case. (Bainbridge Review)

State Department of Ecology: Cleanup of former plywood mill site in Port Angeles could be finished by September 2016
Cleanup of the former KPly mill site on the Port Angeles Harbor could be finished as soon as September 2016, although pollutants could linger there another three decades. Those contaminants, however, will be capped, excavated and trucked off, consumed by bacteria or ventilated away by any future user of the 19 acres at 439 Marine Drive in Port Angeles, about two dozen people at a community meeting were told Wednesday. James Casey reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Cliff Mass Explains How Climate Change Will Impact Northwest Weather In the Next Century
Cliff Mass is one of the region’s clearest communicators about the weather. We talked this week about the impacts of climate change in the next century. He has indicated in the past that we are relatively lucky when it comes to climate change. But there will be changes, in the future. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Warm ‘blob’ off our coast may explain weird weather
A gargantuan blob of warm water that’s been parked off the West Coast for 18 months is part of a larger pattern that helps explain California’s drought, Washington’s snow-starved ski resorts and record blizzards in New England, according to new analyses by Seattle scientists. The researchers aren’t convinced global warming is to blame, which puts them at odds with other experts who suspect Arctic melting upset the “polar vortex” and contributed to the misery on the East Coast the past two winters. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

New Ferry Ready To Serve San Juans Beginning June 14
The brand new, 144-car ferry Samish is set to officially take its place amid Washington state’s world-class ferry system. The new ferry will begin service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route Sunday, June 14, just in time for the start of the summer sailing season. On Friday, April 10,  2015 Washington State Ferries accepted the Samish from builder/contractor Vigor Industrial following two months of sea trials and crew training. (San Juan Islander)

State protection changes for puffins, sea lions
Tufted puffins will soon get more protection on the state endangered species list, while Steller sea lions will be removed from the list. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the changes last week. Tufted puffins are native seabirds once considered common along parts of the coast, according to a Fish and Wildlife news release. In recent decades, the population has significantly declined. Now that the bird is listed, Fish and Wildlife will develop a plan to help the species recover. Steller sea lions are being removed from the list because the population has rebounded in recent years. Some protection will be maintained at the state level and under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, but the sea lions will no longer be listed as threatened. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Orcas Are Shouting Over Boat Noise – And It Might Be Making Them Hungry
Picture yourself at a noisy bar. You realize that you have been shouting at your date all night in order to be heard. Well, orcas in Puget Sound are in kind of the same situation. Marla Holt, a research biologist with NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, has found that loud boat noise forces endangered orcas to raise the volume of their calls. But the question, Holt says, is "so what? What are the biological consequences of them doing this?” To answer that question, Holt and her NOAA colleague, Dawn Noren, a research fishery biologist, studied captive bottlenose dolphins. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

Input sought on draft plan to clean up Deschutes watershed
Thurston County's growing population has contributed to a decline in Deschutes River water quality. The Department of Ecology has released a draft water cleanup plan for the river, and is hosting public meetings to gather comment over the next six weeks. The draft plan looks at the daily load of pollution that enters the river above Tumwater Falls and on streams flowing to Budd Inlet. A second phase later will look at water quality in Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet. The report found a number of factors contributing to a decrease in water quality, including warmer water temperatures, high bacteria and sediment levels, and low levels of dissolved oxygen. (Olympian)

Our lives and livelihoods depend on saving the Salish Sea
Over the past 200 years, humans have drastically altered the Salish Sea to a degree previously associated only with the geological creation of ecosystems. As a result, we have diminished the ecosystem’s ability to provide for us. Audrey DeLella Benedict and Joseph K. Gaydos authors, “The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest.” (Seattle Times)

Hood Canal kelp studied for future of ocean life
Researchers are planning to grow 3 acres of sugar kelp north of the Hood Canal Bridge in an effort to save shellfish, and thereby larger ocean life. "Sugar kelp is a native species. It grows naturally here in Puget Sound," said Puget Sound Restoration Fund Executive Director Betsy Peabody. PSRF received a $1.5 million grant from the Paul Allen Family Foundation to conduct the research in partnership with NOAA and the Washington State Department of Resources. (KING)

Dick Goin, defender of Elwha River salmon, dies at age of 83
Dick Goin, who gave voice to the Elwha River's salmon, has died. Services are pending for Goin (pronounced GOH-in), 83, who died of natural causes Sunday night at his Port Angeles home surrounded by family members, said Marie, his wife of 64 years, on Tuesday. The Goins received the Clallam County Community Service Award in 2007 and the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in September 2011. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Fast walking could spare thousands from NW tsunami, study says
A new analysis shows more than 100,000 people are at risk from a tsunami on the Northwest coast — but the outlook isn’t uniformly grim. In many communities, residents should be able to make it to high ground in time simply by walking at a brisk pace. Tsunami surges are expected to slam into some parts of the coast within 15 to 30 minutes of an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the offshore fault where two tectonic plates collide. Published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the analysis takes the most comprehensive look yet at the threat along the 700-mile-long coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California — and finds surprising variability. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 230 AM PDT WED APR 15 2015
TODAY
SW WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
S WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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"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

Follow on Twitter.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Salish Sea Communications Will Be Off Line For A Few Days



Salish Sea Communications  will be off line for a few days. The news and weather posting will return on Wednesday, April 15. Mike Sato.

4/9 Bird worth, Vic sewer, owl ESA, BC LNG, tribe treaty, fishing whales, water price, flatfish, BC spill, coral reefs

(PHOTO: Bari Bookout/Flickr)
Surveys Put A Price Tag On Urban Birds
Rather than asking people about the economic value of charismatic or endangered species, a new study asks city-dwellers about birds in their backyards and parks. Researchers compared two types of common birds—finches and corvids—in Seattle and Berlin, asking residents how much they would pay to conserve the species and what they spend, if anything, on bird food. In Seattle, the answer is $120 million a year and in Berlin, $70 million. Michelle Ma reports. (UW News)

Federal funding extended for Greater Victoria sewage and bridge
Greater Victoria’s two biggest infrastructure projects have been granted extensions on federal funding offers, giving local government officials a bit of relief. Both the Johnson Street Bridge and the Capital Regional District’s wastewater-treatment projects were given an extra year to meet deadlines before losing a combined $104.4 million in support. Nils Jensen, chairman of the CRD core-area liquid-waste management committee, said the extension was crucial to wastewater treatment plans. The extension was granted based on an aggressive work plan with key objectives and milestones. Amy Smart and Lindsay Kines report. (Times Colonist)

Wildlife Officials Consider Endangered Listing For Spotted Owl
The Northwest’s most iconic bird could get a conservation boost in the coming years. On Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing it will review the protection status of the Northern Spotted Owl. The result could be an endangered species listing. The owl was first listed as threatened in 1990. It was the height of the “Timber Wars” in the Northwest and the listing became a pivotal moment in the region’s cultural and economic history. It led to a temporary ban on logging in federal old growth forests and eventually to the Northwest Forest Plan, which cut logging on national forests and other federal land by more than 80 percent. Jes Burn reports (EarthFix)

Opposition to Woodfibre LNG heats up in Squamish
Opposition to the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant is escalating in Squamish and Howe Sound, where a protest — not the first — involving hundreds of opponents marched through downtown Squamish Sunday venting their rage at the plan. Although the plant’s supporters value the project’s potential tax base and promised jobs, critics believe the future of Squamish — recently cited as one of just two Canadian destinations in the New York Times’s list of 52 best places in the world to visit in 2015 — is largely in tourism and outdoor recreation, and that Woodfibre LNG’s alleged negative environmental impacts don’t square with that.  Brian Morton reports. (Vancouver Sun)

First Nations to sign tentative treaty deal but future of process in doubt
A group of five First Nations on southern Vancouver Island is expected to sign a tentative treaty settlement on Thursday – even as some of the key participants reconsider the slow and costly process of settling modern-day treaties. The agreement-in-principle between the Te’Mexw Treaty Association, Ottawa and Victoria is being inked in the B.C. capital with all the ceremony that is expected after almost 21 years of negotiations. But the talks are not over – the parties will now move to the “final agreement” stage. Meanwhile, the future for other First Nations that are further behind in the treaty process is in question. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

Fish-stealing whales take bite out of black-cod harvest
Frustrated Alaska fishermen have tried tactics like blasting heavy metal music from their boats to keep whales from stealing fish from their lines. To protect their catch, they are now talking about abandoning hooks and lines in favor of baited traps. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Putting A Price On Water
When you turn on the tap and water comes out, there’s a tendency to think it’s free. But increasingly, there’s a push to recognize water as the precious commodity it is, by putting a higher price on it. Water as the oil of the 21st Century was the headline on an event in Seattle put on by the Clean Tech Alliance. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Plan would reopen fishing for flatfish in Hood Canal
Flatfish have recovered enough in Hood Canal that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing a limited renewal of fishing for flounder, sole and other species in Quilcene Bay and the northern portion of Dabob Bay. Recreational fishing would be opened for flounder, sole and other flatfish except halibut. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will hear public testimony on the proposal at 10:15 a.m. Friday during its meeting at the Capital Events Center, 6005 Tyee Drive S.W. in Tumwater. The commission meeting begins today. This issue is on Friday’s agenda. (Peninsula Daily News)

Crews investigate apparent oil spill in English Bay
Crews are working to clean up what appears to be an oil spill in English Bay. An emergency response team was called in to deal with an oily substance coating the water on the east side of the bay at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Port Metro Vancouver received multiple reports about the spill before calling in the coast guard. The coast guard and marine response teams worked into the night co-ordinating efforts to recover the substance and pinpoint its source. (Canadian Press)

Recipe for saving coral reefs: Add more fish
Fish are the key ingredients in a new recipe to diagnose and restore degraded coral reef ecosystems, according to scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, WCS, James Cook University, and other organizations in a new study in the journal Nature. For overfished coral reef systems, restoring fish populations that perform key roles will in turn restore ecological functions critical to recovery. For moderately or lightly fished reefs, the recipe requires knowing which fish to catch, how many, and which to leave behind. (Science Daily)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT THU APR 9 2015
TODAY
W WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SW AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
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"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, April 8, 2015

4/8 Allen grant, oil train suit, train safety, LNG glut, pontoons, septic death, Green Porno

Olympia oyster (OR DFW)
Paul Allen’s Foundation grants $1.5M to Puget Sound Restoration Fund project
Puget Sound is absolutely vital to the health of the Pacific Northwest, but the ever-increasing acidification of ocean waters is taking its toll on our lovely waters. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has granted $1.5 million to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund so researchers can “investigate seaweed cultivation” as one potential strategy to lessen acidification of the Sound. The project will be led by Dr. Jonathan Davis and Betsy Peabody at Puget Sound Restoration in collaboration with partners at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Molly Brown reports. (GeekWire)

Puget Sound Tribe's Lawsuit Aims To Keep Oil Trains Off Its Reservation
The Swinomish Tribe has filed a lawsuit against BNSF Railway to stop oil trains from traveling through its reservation. BNSF train tracks cross the top of the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County. In recent years they’ve been used to move oil from North Dakota to two refineries in Anacortes. In 1990 BNSF and the Swinomish reached a settlement that required BNSF to regularly update the tribe on the type of cargo moving through the reservation. It also limited traffic to two 25-car trains per day. Now, the tribe says BNSF is running several times that many train cars through the reservation each day (an estimated six oil trains of more than 100 cars per week). Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

Cantwell, Fire Chiefs Pressing For More Regulation Of Oil Trains
Highly volatile Bakken  crude oil poses a serious threat to the safety of communities located along rail lines. Just since February, there have been four fiery derailments in the US and Canada.  Now Democrats in the U.S. Senate are pressing for more regulation. Speaking at the the Emergency Operations Center near a downtown Seattle rail tunnel, U.S. Sen. Maria  Cantwell (D- Wash.) said it’s frustrating to see how slowly federal officials are moving when so much explosive oil is coming through. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU) See also: First responders likely wouldn’t fight oil-train fire in Seattle rail tunnel  Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Global supply glut threatens British Columbia’s LNG projects
Most liquefied natural gas export projects are at risk of being cancelled in North America as a result of a looming global glut of LNG, putting a damper on British Columbia’s energy dreams. Moody’s Investors Service Inc. issued a stark outlook for the fledgling North American LNG industry, arguing it doesn’t make economic sense to invest billions of dollars on each venture especially as Asian buyers slow down their LNG orders for new LNG supplies. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Floating bridge pontoons being towed through Strait; contest underway to capture best image of their travels
The final three pontoons for the state Highway 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington near Seattle will make their way through the Strait of Juan de Fuca this week. Three tugboats — the Western Ranger, Arthur Brusco and Nancy M — are towing the giant floats from Grays Harbor on the Pacific coast, around Cape Flattery and through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound, then through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard and finally into Lake Washington. There, they'll join the 74 previously constructed pontoons that together will support the world's largest floating bridge. Just when the football-field-size floats will pass points on the Strait is uncertain. They are expected to be in Seattle's boat channel Thursday. (Peninsula Daily News)

Inspection overdue on septic tank where child died
King 5 has uncovered the Skagit County property where a two-year-old boy fell into a septic tank with an insecure lid and died Monday was overdue for an inspection. The little boy who died, Orion Fenstra, was at the property with his parents who knew the caretaker of the lot. Danielle Leigh reports. (KING)

Isabella Rossellini, former supermodel, stages play about sex lives of animals
Internationally renowned supermodel and actress Isabella Rossellini is bringing her one-woman show Green Porno to Vancouver's PuSh festival, educating audiences about the sex lives of animals. "For basically just being a pet lover, I became more interested in biology and zoology and conservation, and so lately I went back to university to study ethology, which is animal behaviour in particular," Rossellini told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. The focus of her one-woman show is reproduction, Rossellini said. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED APR 8 2015
TODAY
W WIND 10 KT...BECOMING NW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 9 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 3 FT AT 8 SECONDS.
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"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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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

4/7 Radiation, Shell drill, oil train, fuel exports, WA budget, carbon tax, forage fish, toxics law, glacier melt

Turkey Vulture (Brian Zeiler/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Turkey Vulture, A Poem  
Vultures are an avian clean-up crew, removing carrion from the landscape. When Turkey Vultures circle low, you can see their naked red heads and deeply slotted black primary feathers. With their wings canted in a dihedral "V," they tilt upwind from side to side. The Turkey Vulture's keen sense of smell enables it, even high aloft, to locate dead animals on the ground. (BirdNote)

Fukushima radiation measured on B.C. shore for 1st time
Trace amounts of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been detected on North American shores for the first time, but researchers say the amount of radiation is not a concern.  Radioactive forms of the element cesium that could only have come from Fukushima were detected in samples collected on Feb. 19 in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, with the help of the Ucluelet Aquarium, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reported today. (CBC)

Greenpeace boards Seattle-bound Shell drilling platform in mid-Pacific
A half-dozen Greenpeace activists have boarded Shell Oil’s Seattle-bound drilling platform as it crosses the eastern Pacific, but say they will make no effort to interfere with the navigation of the ship. The Shell drilling platform “Polar Pioneer.” Six Greenpeace activists, equipped with supplies, are now aboard the Seattle-bound rig.  They are protesting  Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic…. And, Greenpeace being Greenpeace, the “Polar Pioneer Six” intend to unfurl a large banner denouncing Shell’s proposed drilling. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

NTSB: Equip oil trains with fire protection within 5 years
The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday called for the nation’s fleet of railroad tank cars hauling crude oil and ethanol to be equipped with fire protection within five years, half the time some industry groups would prefer. The NTSB cited the performance of tank cars in four recent oil train derailments, two in the U.S. and two in Canada, where fire exposure weakened the bare steel tanks and increased the pressure inside the cars beyond what they were designed to sustain. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Guest Opinion: Dirty fuel exports darken NW’s Earth Day
Some hailed President Barack Obama’s recent veto of the Keystone pipeline authorization legislation as an early Earth Day gift, spelling the project’s death knell. However, his decision was actually based on process, not policy. While Obama has articulated the science behind climate change better than any predecessor, his all-of-the-above energy strategy has opened the floodgates to unprecedented levels of domestic fossil fuel extraction with lax oversight. Fred Felleman opines. (Crosscut)

Washington Senate passes two-year state budget plan
The Senate on Monday passed a budget plan that relies, in part, on modifying a class size ballot measure and asking voters if they agree with the decision. The $38 billion, two-year budget passed the Republican-controlled chamber on a 26-23 vote. It doesn't include any new taxes, mostly relying on existing revenue, fund transfers and redirecting tax income from recreational marijuana. Rachel La Corte reports. (Associated Press) See also: Stand-Off In Olympia Before Budget Negotiations Even Begin  Austin Jenkins reports. (KUOW)

Climate Group Launches Initiative For A Carbon Tax In Washington
…. The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal. The Initiative would phase in a $25-per-ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions from certain fossil fuels and fossil fuel-generated electricity, starting in July, 2017. The proceeds would go into the general fund and be directed to offset reductions in the state sales tax and the business and occupation tax on manufacturing. Gas prices would eventually go up by 25 cents per gallon but rebates of up to $1,500 per year would be provided to 400,000 families in Washington to make the tax "revenue neutral." Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

Fishing amplifies forage fish collapses
A new study shows for the first time that fishing likely worsens population collapses in species of forage fish, including herring, anchovies and sardines. Some of the largest fisheries in the world target these species, and these “baitfish” are also a key source of food for larger marine animals, including salmon, tuna, seabirds and whales. Scientists have long known about wide fluctuations in the abundance of forage fish, including the occasional population collapse. But they had not figured out whether collapses were entirely natural or related to fishing. The study, published April 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, implicates fishing in the collapse of forage fish stocks and recommends risk-based management tools that would track a fishery’s numbers and suspend fishing when necessary. Michelle Ma reports. (UW Today)

Senate Committee Guts Inslee Plan to Clean Up Toxics in Fish
With the feds pressing Gov. Jay Inslee to better protect consumers from toxic chemicals in fish, a Senate committee gutted a potentially pivotal bill to allow the state to set up a new toxic-cleanup program. Inslee now opposes the legislation, saying it would leave him without tools he needs to head off federal intervention in Washington’s water-pollution-control system…. Originally, the governor’s legislation would have required the Department of Ecology to develop these so-called “chemical action plans,” including ideas for removing toxic substances from the environment. The agency could also order chemical manufacturers to consider safer alternatives and even ban chemicals when safer ones are available. But the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Telecommunications on Tuesday voted to take away Ecology’s ability to ban chemicals and limited the number of toxic substances Ecology could study. Chris Dunagan reports. (Investigate West)

How Western Canada glaciers will melt away
Wonder what your favourite glacier to ski or hike will look like in 20 or 40 years? A new study makes detailed predictions about how the glaciers in B.C. and Alberta will melt and shrink between now and 2100. Glaciers are melting rapidly around the world, including in Canada, and human-caused climate change is now considered to be the main driver. Thousands of glaciers in B.C. and Alberta are expected to lose 60 to 80 per cent of their combined volume compared to 2005, depending on how much CO2 gets added to the atmosphere between now and the end of the century. Emily Chung reports. (CBC) See also: Skiing, salmon spawning may be casualties of glacial melt: report  Tamsyn Burgmann reports. (Globe and Mail)

Now, your tug weather---
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 258 AM PDT TUE APR 7 2015
TODAY
NE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 3 FT AT 9 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
NW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
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"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

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told