Monday, May 13, 2013

5/13 State lege, climate change, oilsands, BP, Bainbridge shores, Thurston plastics, stormwater regs, Liberty Bay, fin and killer whales, GBH, seabirds, Foss Museum

BirdNote (Mike Hamilton)
If you like to listen: Who's in the neighborhood today? It's amazing how many birds you can see – and hear – when you go for a walk. There's a towhee... and a Steller's Jay ... now, a junco ... There's the "tin trumpet" sound of this Red-breasted Nuthatch. And the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is warming up, all because it's spring. Oh, and the Song Sparrow! What a song! Consider taking a walk in your neighborhood. Find out what you can see – and hear! From BirdNote:  Birdsongs near Home  

Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol Monday to finish their work on a two-year state budget, but with no deal reached during their two-week interim, the special legislative session could take its full allotted 30 days, if not longer. State lawmakers returning to Capitol to finish budget  

This year was supposed to be different. After Republicans took over the state Senate in December, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, spoke of an "unprecedented opportunity to change the way Olympia operates." The Senate, controlled by a coalition of all 23 Republicans and two Democrats, would pass bills on their policy merits, not for political reasons, he said. Ericksen and his rival, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, showed signs early in the session of working together to pass environmental legislation. With the regular session over and a locally important environmental bill still alive for the special session that starts Monday, May 13, that cooperation appears to have unraveled. Ralph Schwartz reports. Whatcom County's senators try unity, end up in discord on environment

An instrument near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii has recorded a long-awaited climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there has exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history. The last time the concentration of Earth's main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world. The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future. Robert Kunzig reports. Climate Milestone: Earth’s CO2 Level Passes 400 ppm  And, from Bill McKibbon and 350.org: 400 ppm CO2: What It Means

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mark Jaccard will be travelling to Europe (Saturday), to argue for an end to the expansion of the Alberta oilsands. Jaccard, who is a professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University, says the building of oil pipelines are preventing the country from significantly reducing greenhouse gases, despite a pledge from the government to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and again in 2050. SFU's Mark Jaccard speaks out against oilsands

With spring fully sprung and another Earth Day past, it is critical the public stay alert to corporations that wrap themselves in a green patina while acting to the contrary. King among the “green-washers” is British Petroleum, BP — going as far as to assert to having gone “Beyond Petroleum.” In future years — on future Earth Days — BP should forever be associated with this nation’s largest oil spill, caused by the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig. While the Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20 three years ago, it was not until two days — Earth Day — later that a five-mile slick was reported. That was attributed only to the 700,000 gallons of fuel carried on the rig at the time. It wasn’t until April 25 that a gusher over a mile subsurface was revealed. Fred Felleman writes. BP greenwashes as climate dangers grow

An increasingly warm climate means — among other things — the chance to grow new plant varieties previously unheard of. The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium predicts a two-degree increase in temperature and 20 more frost-free days by 2070. But warmer winters are already being felt in garden beds across southern B.C. Gardening expert Wim Vander Zalm, who owns Art Knapp nurseries in Port Coquitlam and Vancouver, believes the Lower Mainland has changed from a Zone 7 to a milder 7B, a designation based on plants’ hardiness. Zoe McKnight reports.  Changing weather and changing crops on the south coast http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Changing+weather+changing+crops+south+coast/8369788/story.html

Bainbridge’s update to its Shoreline Master Program will soon leave the island’s shores and move into the next phase toward completion, but not before the community and the council has had one last opportunity to weigh in. Donning badges stating “Send it on,” a large contingent of supporters of the updated but controversial Shoreline Master Program showed up for Wednesday’s public hearing on the updated plan. It was perhaps the largest show of support for the SMP in the wake of considerable opposition that has consumed past meetings on the plan. Islanders pack Bainbridge city hall for last hearing on new shoreline rules

Thurston County is seeking residents and businesses to help draft language for an ordinance to reduce the estimated 90 million plastic shopping bags used countywide each year. The deadline for signing up for the stakeholders group is June 10. Since December 2011, Thurston County Solid Waste staff members have worked with the community to explore ways to reduce the use of plastic bags. A report proposing a plastic bag ban and seeking recommendations from each city and town in the county was approved last year by the Thurston County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which is made up of city, citizen, and industry representatives. John Dodge reports. Thurston County eyes plan to curb plastic bags  

In a little less than three months, Washington State’s largest cities and counties must start following new rules on how to manage dirty runoff that washes toxic metals, oil and grease, fertilizers, and other pollution into our streams, lakes, and ocean.... The updated rules of the road are contained in the state’s new Municipal Stormwater Permits, which are administered by the Washington Department of Ecology. The permits cover everything from reducing construction pollution to educating citizens on good stormwater practices as they wash cars to adopting green low-impact development techniques like roadside rain gardens, permeable pavement, and green roofs. In this blogpost, we’ll focus on updates to the Phase I permits, which go into effect on August 1, 2013 and will remain in force for five years. The permits cover discharges from large and medium municipal separate storm sewer systems, commonly known as “MS4s,” found in the most populated areas of the state. (We’ll get into the details of the Phase II permits for smaller municipalities in a subsequent post). Ashley Pedersen and Jennifer Langston explain. The Skinny on WA’s New Stormwater Permits (#1)  

The Capital Regional District has taken a step closer to locating a sewage treatment plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point. CRD directors agreed that building a treatment plant at the proposed McLoughlin Point site is consistent with the Regional Growth Strategy. Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins was opposed, saying the sewage plan does not fulfil objectives of the growth strategy, especially in the area of sustainability. Bill Cleverley reports. CRD directorys say sewage plan is in line with growth strategy  

As the pollution-cleanup plan for Liberty Bay nears completion, officials in Kitsap County and elsewhere are beginning to speak out, saying there must be a better way of complying with federal pollution laws.... The Liberty Bay plan, which cost about $600,000, was written by the state Department of Ecology to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The plan includes an extensive analysis of how much pollution gets delivered to Liberty Bay from various streams. It assigns “total maximum daily loads,” or TMDLs, which are numerical limits of bacteria for each stream. Stuart Whitford, manager of the health district’s Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program, says the report has been of limited help in the way his agency goes about cleaning up Liberty Bay. Furthermore, the water-quality standards imposed by the federal process are almost impossible to meet, and the standards have little meaning in the real world. Chris Dunagan reports. Is there a better way to deal with Liberty Bay pollution?  

At first, the whale chatter was just a nuisance. When Seattle scientists set out to monitor earthquakes off the Northwest coast, they expected their underwater seismometers to occasionally pick up the booming voice of the fin whale — the second-largest creature on Earth. But what they wound up with was such a cacophony that they had trouble zeroing in on the actual tremors. Sandi Doughton reports. Scientists track giant whales by their earthshaking calls  

The squeaks, whistles and occasional grunts speak volumes to Amalis Riera. The different dialects of killer whales, transmitted through acoustic monitors at Swiftsure Bank, 35 kilometres off Vancouver Island’s west coast, and Cape Elizabeth, off the coast of Washington State, tell her which whales are in those areas. The monitors pick up conversations of southern residents, northern residents, B.C. transients and California transients. Riera’s research has shown that Swiftsure Bank is a killer whale hotspot, where all four populations spend time. A question Riera wanted her research to answer was whether critical habitat for endangered southern residents should be expanded to include Swiftsure Bank. Judith Lavoie reports. Killer whale habitat could be expanded to Swiftsure Bank  

The great blue heron is one of Washington’s most iconic birds. So is the bald eagle. Now, it seems eagle attacks on heron nests are driving herons to abandon the largest colony in Seattle. And volunteers are asking local residents to help them figure out where the herons have gone. For more than a decade, Pam Cahn has monitored the dozens of heron nests at Kiwanis Ravine near Discovery Park in northwest Seattle. The volunteer citizen-scientist has kept track of eggs laid, chicks hatched and fledglings flown, then sent the data to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for record-keeping. But Cahn says this season, eagles have wreaked havoc on the approximately 90 heron nests in Kiwanis Ravine. Martha Kang and Liam Moriarty report. Eagles return, drive entire colony of herons out of Kiwanis Ravine  

New evidence from the UW's Burke Museum shows why the iconic NW marbled murrelet is declining. And what it might mean for seagulls, herons and other seabirds. Eric Scigliano reports. The case of the vanishing seabirds

Hundred-pound sacks of wheat stacked taller than a man once filled warehouses that ran for a mile between the rails of the Northern Pacific and the ships moored along City Waterway. Tacoma fed the world back then as a city intimately connected to global commerce. Now, one of those warehouses is open again — not for the export of wheat but for the education, enjoyment and edification of the public. The Foss Waterway Seaport Museum closed for remodeling 18 months ago. Now a glass-enclosed entryway welcomes guests to its front gallery. Exhibits have been set into place. An esplanade stands above the water, and boats are again on display. C.R. Roberts reports. Tacoma's Foss waterfront museum ready to shine

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 220 AM PDT MON MAY 13 2013
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM PDT THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
S WIND 10 TO 15 KT...RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT IN THE
 AFTERNOON. SW SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS AND ISOLATED TSTMS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS. SHOWERS AND ISOLATED TSTMS...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY
 AFTER MIDNIGHT.
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