Wednesday, June 12, 2013

6/12 Hood Canal, state budget, King Coal, Janine Boire, humpbacks, quakes, barge dump, bird threat app

Fisgard Light (Laurie MacBride)
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "For mariners trying to safely navigate their way along the rugged and often foggy southwest coast of Vancouver Island, Fisgard Light is vital. The oldest lighthouse on Canada’s west coast, it was built in 1860 on little Fisgard Island, just off the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (the passage separating British Columbia and Washington State)..." Fisgard: A Guiding Light

Chris Dunagan blogs on the conservation easement being negotiated between the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Navy in the underwater area from the Hood Canal Bridge south into Hood Canal. While the easement could spell the end of a controversial pit-to-pier project for mining and shipping gravel, Dunagan writes, the easement agreement is complicated by having to appraise the revenue that the State will lose as a result of not allowing the land to be leased. "Under the Washington State Constitution, the state cannot relinquish its property without fair compensation. I’ll probably be accused of getting ahead of this story, but what first sounded like a great idea to preserve Hood Canal and protect the Navy’s operations may not be so easy to pull off." Navy easement could block industry on Hood Canal

New blog: Water pollution rules updated by a stakeholder process to protect human health when consuming Puget Sound fish were quashed by former Governor Chris Gregoire. Yesterday, Nina Bell of Northwest Environmental Advocates, the remaining environmental representative on the stakeholder panel, resigned and in a pointed letter to Ecology said why. When Should We Eat More Fish?

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday called for a second special legislative session to start Wednesday as lawmakers prepare to conclude their first overtime session without a deal on the state budget. Inslee said the newest special session will start the day after the current 30-day special session is set to adjourn Tuesday night. Both the House and Senate have passed their own budget proposals within the past week, but have been unable to agree on a final deal. It's not clear how negotiators are going to find agreement before the end of June, when the current budget cycle ends. Senate leaders have insisted on the passage of some policy bills in exchange for some revenue sought by the House. Rachel La Corte reports. Gov. Inslee calls second special session

Coal mining companies are saving tens of millions of dollars that should be going into state and federal treasuries, according to a new report by the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Interior. The report paints a picture of inadequate oversight, poor record-keeping and frequent undervaluing of coal on public lands. Its authors concluded that means mining companies aren’t always paying the fair market rate for the coal they extract on public land. The report also shows that the BLM does not fully factor in the export potential of the coal when calculating the fair market value. And that, in turn, means they may not be paying the full amount for leases and royalties that the government should be charging. Bonnie Stewart and Ashley Ahearn report. Government Report: Coal Companies Are Pocketing Millions At Taxpayers’ Expense  

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead plans to tour port facilities in British Columbia as he looks for ways to help export coal produced in the state overseas. Mead will be leaving Wednesday on a weeklong trade trip to Canada. Coal companies are looking at shipping coal mined in Montana and Wyoming to Asia through ports in Oregon and Washington. However, the idea has drawn opposition from people concerned about the environment and other effects. Bob Moen reports. Wyo. governor tours B.C. ports looking for ways to export coal

Cherry Point gave Ferndale new life more than half a century ago. The site’s two big oil refineries, aluminum plant and co-generation facility turned the struggling farm town into a bedroom community with acres of attractive suburban homes for the new commuters traveling back and forth to nearby Bellingham. Over the years, Cherry Point has pumped millions into the city and its school system. No surprise then that Ferndale officials — and most of its residents — support the giant coal-export facility that is being proposed for the Cherry Point site. Floyd McKay reports. Tale of Two Cities: Ferndale welcomes Big Coal

A new director of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center will take over Aug. 1. Janine Boire — who has served as executive director of the Discovery Science Center in Boise, Idaho, since 2004 — was selected by the nonprofit's board of directors last month to replace Anne Murphy, who announced in January that she would retire at the age of 61. Murphy served as the head of the center for 24 of its 30 years of existence. Charlie Bermant reports. New director to take over Port Townsend Marine Science Center

When you think of whales in Puget Sound, the legendary black and white orca seen often in local waters is what usually comes to mind. But lately, whale watchers say it’s the huge humpback that has taken center stage in the Pacific Northwest, by showing up throughout the Sound and straits. The whales have been providing spectacular shows above the water, breaching the surface, and splashing down again. John White reports. Humpbacks returning to Puget Sound in big numbers

A new study says the Pacific coast has experienced 22 major earthquakes over the last 11,000 years, and is due for another. The study looked at sediment disturbance in Effingham Inlet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Study author Audrey Dallimore, of Royal Roads University, says researchers using state-of-the-art radiocarbon dating determined the last so-called megathrust earthquake in the zone that stretches from northern Vancouver Island down to California happened more than 3,000 years ago. Dene Moore reports.  B.C. is `in the risk zone' for mega-eathquake along the coast: study

More than three months after a listing barge dumped 36 scrap vehicles into Commencement Bay, crews have brought the cars to the surface. It took time to get the necessary permits to start the recovery on the state land near Browns Point, but the operation itself took only days. The state Department of Ecology said June 4 that the company contracted to remove the cars had gotten the necessary state permits, and by Wednesday evening all the vehicles had been removed, according to Global Diving & Salvage. Alexis Krell reports. 36 scrap cars removed from Commencement Bay after being dumped from listing barge in February

A smartphone app has been released that can measure the impact of construction work on waterbirds in protected areas. The software offers advice on how development projects, in the guise of noise levels and other disturbances, can affect birds' behaviour. Researchers from the University of Hull, UK, developed the app that built on a study carried out on behalf of the Environment Agency. Mark Kinver reports. Smartphone app highlights disturbance threat to birds

The growing number of nonprofit news websites say they need more help from business experts than journalists. Many of the reporting sites relied on large startup grants and haven’t effectively broadened their fundraising sources or extracted promises from their original funders to continue support, said a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center. Pew looked at the 172 nonprofit news sites that have emerged since 1987. Pew study shows nonprofit news sites need help in business more than in journalism  

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