Monday, September 16, 2013

9/16 Lummi coal, wetlands, BC LNG, ocean acid, Samish wetlands, Skagit bridge, open science, Oly shores, Quadra park, L-119, Vendovi Is., Dungeness slaughter, climate conflict

Swallow (BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Once nesting season ends, swallows know it's time to party! Whether they nest as single pairs or in large colonies, both adults and juveniles now gather on electrical wires by the dozens, socializing before they migrate. Migrating by day - and foraging for insects as they go - swallows (including this Violet-green Swallow) head south to Mexico and Central and South America. Your local Audubon chapter can help you get a good look at swallows – and other birds, too! BirdNote: Swallows on Wires

The Lummi Nation's position on the Gateway Pacific coal terminal seemed crystal clear in a July 30, 2013, letter to Col. Bruce Estok, district engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle. "The Lummi Nation has unconditional and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal," says the letter, signed by Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Tim Ballew.... Despite the letter, Muffy Walker, Army Corps of Engineers regulatory branch chief in Seattle, said the Corps still doesn't see Lummi Nation's position against the project as firm enough to stop her agency's review process. She said tribal officials are still discussing the project with the Corps. "Lummi (Nation) has not stated that they have requested us to go to permit denial," Walker said. "They (Lummi Nation) are continuing to talk to us in a government-to-government consultation." John Stark reports. Feds still see wiggle room in Lummi Nation position on coal terminal

So far, wetlands have not been a central part of the public debate over coal exports. But concern over these ecologically sensitive areas are familiar to the federal regulators who will decide whether to permit coal export terminals. In fact, according to government documents obtained by EarthFix, the Army Corps of Engineers has already studied the issue. And in at least one instance, it’s reached a conclusion: Coal trains are bad for wetlands. In 2007, TransAlta Centralia Mining applied for a permit to expand rail capacity to deliver coal from the Powder River Basin straddling Montana and Wyoming to its plant in Centralia, Wash. The company proposed building two 8,500-foot by 40-foot railroad sidings where waiting coal trains could pull over to prevent blocking rail traffic. The corps acknowledged in permitting documents obtained by EarthFix under the Freedom of Information Act that the project would destroy nearly three acres of wetlands outright and potentially contaminate more wetlands with coal pollution along four miles of a rail line that services the plant. The project was designed with the expectation that coal traffic to the plant would more than double. Ashley Ahearn reports. Documents Reveal Army Corps’ Earlier Concerns About Coal Trains And Wetlands

In the global race to capture billions of dollars of investment to develop liquefied natural gas, British Columbia has started to tout its natural advantage: a northern climate. The B.C. government has been aggressively pursuing an LNG industry for two years, as part of the B.C. Liberal jobs plan. But it has only recently begun to talk up the economic benefits of producing LNG in a colder climate as an edge over some of the province’s prime competitors. Justine Hunter reports.  B.C. touts cold climate in bid to land LNG investment  See also: Clark hits the road to beat the LNG drum

Sea Change: Ocean acidification, the lesser-known twin of climate change, threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom. Craig Welch reports. The Pacific's Perilous Turn

Sea Change: Scientists fear ocean acidification will drive the collapse of Alaska’s iconic crab fishery. Craig Welch reports. Lucrative crab industry in danger  

Sea Change: A Washington family opens a hatchery in Hawaii to escape lethal waters. Craig Welch reports. Oysters dying as coast is hit hard

A fallow agricultural field at the mouth of the Samish River shifted to public ownership when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife purchased it in 2004. Now, the 100-acre plot known as the Welts property is enjoyed as a public access point for walking, bird-watching, fishing and hunting. Fish and Wildlife recently proposed a wetland restoration project to improve wildlife habitat at the popular site and install a parking lot to make it more accessible. Neighbors responded with a slew of concerns about public use of the area. Kimberly Cauvel reports. Battle brews over Samish wetlands

Less than four months after I-5 was severed when a bridge over the Skagit River collapsed, traffic is flowing over a permanent replacement for the failed span. The temporary bridge that was quickly put into place over the Skagit River near Burlington after the accident last May was closed at about 7 on Saturday night, and all vehicles on this major highway linking Seattle with Vancouver, B.C. were detoured onto local streets... A cheer went up as the first cars started crossing the new bridge at about 2 p.m. Sunday. Liam Moriarty reports. Less than Four Months after Collapse, Skagit Bridge Replaced

A group that says Canadian government scientists are being hampered from talking to the public about their taxpayer-funded research will be holding rallies across the country on Monday. The Evidence For Democracy is organizing events in 17 cities including Vancouver, trying to pressure Ottawa to be more forthcoming about communicating what government-funded scientific research is uncovering in fields such as public health, crime prevention, fisheries management and climate change. Scientists rally protesting alleged muzzling

The Olympia City Council will consider one aspect of its Shoreline Master Program on Tuesday that it was unable to on Aug. 27, when it deadlocked 3-3 because a council member was absent. The item left to consider is whether to allow “water-dependent” uses in the Marine Recreation shoreline designation or allow them conditionally, which requires extra processing. The “marine recreation” zone takes in the Port Peninsula side facing East Bay, including Swantown Marina. Water-dependent uses include marinas. The council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave. E. Matt Batcheldor reports. Shoreline Master Program back on agenda in Olympia

A new provincial park on Quadra Island is one step closer to reality after an American forest company has tentatively agreed to sell a chunk of waterfront land to the B.C. government. Merrill & Ring, a forestry company based in Portland, Ore., said it has reviewed offers for 395 hectares of waterfront land it owns on Quadra Island and decided to enter into a sales agreement with the government. The deal would preserve the land as a provincial park, linking it with Octopus Islands and Small Inlet provincial parks to form one large protected area. Rob Shaw reports. Park deal a step closer for Quadra Island

The ballots are in. Votes have been counted, and the killer whale calf known in the scientific realm as L-119 has a new name. Oh, Joy. The competition was close. But with more than 2,500 votes were cast in The Friday Harbor Whale Museum's most recent naming contest, in which Joy edged out the pack by roughly 100 votes. A year old, a new name.... oh, Joy!

Orca Watcher Monika Wieland visits Vendovi Island

While walking near Dungeness Landing County Park, a retired Port Angeles police detective discovered a grisly scene Saturday — 18 Canada geese and 12 salmon, killed and left on the beach after being disemboweled. Ken Fox, who served with the Port Angeles Police Department for more than 20 years, 15 as a detective, was taking visitors to see the sights at about 4 p.m. Saturday when he found the dead animals on the beach north of Sequim at the end of Oyster House Road... “From my experience, it's one of these situations where someone is illegally harvesting,” he said. Arwyn Rice reports. Geese, fish found slaughtered on Dungeness beach

Can we even talk anymore? Maybe not, discovered Cliff Mass. Mass is an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington. He has been troubled for years by the way the subject of global warming can turn typically even-headed scientists into politicized, tribal warriors... It bugs Mass that a vital scientific and technical issue has morphed into such a political and social battle, with rigid, competing camps — even within science. So one day he thought: “Can’t we talk this out?” He proposed a seminar, in which scientists would discuss the science of global warming only with other scientists. It was going to be at the UW this fall. Danny Westneat reports. Uncivil scientists thwart Cliff Mass’ climate-change debate

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