Monday, March 18, 2013

3/18 BC review, Port Gamble revival, WA lege, bay cleanups, Elwha mud, Tethys water, Woodard Bay, BC fish, gravel mining bill, BC trees, Shell drill, boo BP, dying Lk Erie

Governor Booth Gardner (AP)
Farewell, Governor. Booth Gardner, Washington state’s 19th governor, has died from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Former Gov. Booth Gardner dies at 76

The B.C. and federal governments have signed a deal that will eliminate duplicate environmental assessments of major resource projects. Under the agreement, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, with the help of some federal experts, will conduct a single review of specific projects, including ensuring the proper consultation with First Nations. The results will be given to the federal and provincial environmental ministers to make separate decisions on the impacts of the projects. B.C., federal governments eliminate duplicate environmental reviews

Plans to revive the town of Port Gamble by building 176 new homes and commercial buildings are moving forward with a public meeting scheduled for Monday. The meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at Poulsbo City Hall, is for people to describe what issues they think should be examined in an upcoming environmental analysis. Chris Dunagan reports. Meeting will review plans for Port Gamble development

If you like to watch: Aurora turns Washington skies green for St. Patrick's Day

Last December, Sen. Rodney Tom announced that he would leave his caucus to helm a majority consisting of himself, another like-minded Democrat and 23 Republicans. The Medina lawmaker said the new coalition would focus on a discrete set of goals. “This is about jobs, education and the budget,” Tom said. With the session halfway gone, the biggest fight remains on the horizon: how to plug an estimated $975 million budget hole while adhering to a state Supreme Court decision requiring more money for public schools. At halfway point, big state budget hole still looms  

A bill advanced by a local state senator would make it easier to fund slow-moving cleanup projects on Bellingham Bay. Part of the solution, said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, would be to change the way the agency overseeing the cleanups does its job. The bill, which is still being debated in the Senate, would make money more readily available to projects that have passed all reviews and are ready to begin. It also would benefit projects still under review by creating an incentive for the Department of Ecology to review projects more efficiently. Ecology would be required to commit to a 10-year funding plan. Ecology, which is supposed to be a partner in the cleanup program, has become more of a barrier, Ericksen said. Ralph Schwartz reports. Senator: Bill would fund cleanup projects on Bellingham waterfront this year   See also: Bellingham waterfront plan ready for community feedback

A mother lode of mud is making its way down the Elwha River, and with it, an armada of floating and waterlogged debris. Contractors are taking two dams out of the Elwha River as part of a watershed and fishery recovery project that is the largest of its type ever in the world. The first, Elwha Dam, came out a year ago. Glines Canyon dam is about two-thirds gone. Scientists recently learned there was about 41 percent more sediment trapped behind the dams than originally thought — and that the river is transporting more mud and wood than they expected. As the river, dammed for 100 years, comes back to life, the other surprise is a forest of waterlogged wood and other organic debris the Elwha is muscling out of the former lake beds of the reservoirs. Lynda Mapes reports. Elwha gnaws away at a century of sediment See also: Kelp armageddon at the mouth of the Elwha

A proposal by the city of Anacortes to include into its urban growth area about 11 acres of county land where Tethys Enterprises Inc. hopes to build a massive beverage bottling plant will have its first county-level public meeting Wednesday. The regional Growth Management Act Steering Committee will consider including a petition from the city of Anacortes to change its urban growth boundary as part of the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan Amendment process. If fully constructed, the Tethys bottling plant could use up to 5 million gallons of city owned water per day. Kate Martin reports. Committee to hear urban growth expansion proposal  

The Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area is now open after being closed for the winter as contractors completed $700,000 worth of restoration, part of a long-term project to restore the closed log dump to its natural state. The conservation area was purchased by the Department of Natural Resources from Weyerhaeuser and transformed from its timber-harvest operations to a natural resource reserve. The state declared the area eight miles north of Olympia a wildlife sanctuary in 1987. The area closed to the public in October while contractors removed 16,000 cubic yards of earthen fill and 500 tons of creosote-soaked materials at Woodard Bay and Chapman Bay Pier. Chelsea Krotzer reports. Woodard Bay reserve reopens  

B.C. has decided that "Pacific salmon," an umbrella group of seven salmon and trout subspecies, will be its official provincial fish emblem. The announcement, which came Saturday, adds a ninth entry to B.C.'s collection of representative symbols. 'Pacific salmon' named B.C.'s official fish

A Senate bill to fast-track approval of a gravel mining project near Hood Canal stalled this week amid opposition from lawmakers convinced it would speed up permitting of a controversial coal export facility in Whatcom County. Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said his Senate Bill 5805 sought to simply bring the gravel mining operation under a state law allowing expedited permitting of major industrial projects. But environmental groups said the bill's wording was broad enough to also enable speedier approval of other mega-projects such as the coal export pier at Cherry Point. Jerry Cornfield reports. Bill to fast-track gravel mining project dies

British Columbia is the last place in Canada where you can still find ancient, monumental trees standing outside parks. We are not talking here just about big, old trees, but about trees 250 to 1,000 years old, that tower 70 metres in height. If one grew on the steps of Parliament, its tip would block out the clock face on the Peace Tower. And set down in Vancouver, they would be as tall as many office towers. Mark Hume reports. The fight to protect what’s left of old-growth forests  

Interior Department officials, in a report released Thursday, faulted Shell Oil for poor oversight of contractors during a troubled season of exploration in the Arctic last year off Alaska. The problems included an oil-spill-containment system that initially failed to pass a Coast Guard inspection, an oil drill ship cited for safety and environmental violations and a drill rig that broke loose from a tow line in a December storm and went aground off Kodiak Island. Hal Bernton reports. Interior cites Shell’s contractor oversight in Alaska oil troubles

Oil giant BP is taking legal action in the US to limit payouts by a fund set up to compensate those affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP said some of the claims being paid by the scheme's administrator were "fictitious" and "absurd". BP appeal over 'absurd' Gulf oil spill payouts

For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself. Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually. Michael Wines reports. Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie

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