Monday, December 16, 2013

12/16 Kinder Morgan, coal export, quakes, sewers, sonar, WA climate, oil spill, Sustainable Thurston, salmon restoration, eagle watch, steelhead

Barred Owl (Laurie MacBride)
The Silent Intruder
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "In the night we often hear a Barred owl call out its persistent question: “Who-cooks-for-YOU?” Less frequently, we catch a dialogue between two Barred owls, sounding more like a loud gang of crazed chimpanzees than a couple of birds. The strange, hilarious caterwauling lasts for a quarter hour or more, rising and falling in pitch, speed and volume. At those times, it’s best to give up any hope of sleep and just enjoy the broadcast. But we don’t see these large birds very often, and when we do, it’s usually at a distance...."

Economic factors mean B.C. government unlikely to oppose Kinder Morgan bid
This week, Kinder Morgan is expected to file an application to build a second heavy oil pipeline across B.C. It’s a perfect bookend for the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, which is due to come out the other end of the application process any day now. The application to the National Energy Board will be more than 20,000 pages, and that is without even saying precisely what route the Kinder Morgan pipeline will travel. Justine Hunter reports.

Viability of Oregon, Washington coal export terminals threatened by falling Asian prices
Three years ago, coal was hot. Stoked by insatiable coal-fired Chinese power plants, international demand boomed. Prices soared. Phones rang frequently at Oregon and Washington ports. On the other end? Eager investors hoping to snatch up land to build export terminals to quench Asian demand. How things have changed. Rob Davis reports.

If you like to listen: BirdNote-- Why Birds' Feet Don't Freeze
Have you ever watched ducks walking around in freezing temperatures and wondered why their feet don't freeze? And how do birds, including this Northern Flicker, sit on metal perches with no problem? Birds' feet have a miraculous adaptation that keeps them from freezing. Rete mirabile - Latin for "wonderful net" - is a fine, netlike pattern of arteries that interweaves warm blood from a bird's heart with the veins carrying cold blood from its feet and legs.

When Seattle shakes from quakes, it’s going to slide, too
With its coastal bluffs, roller-coaster hills and soggy weather, Seattle is primed for landslides even when the ground isn’t shaking. Jolt the city with a major earthquake, and a new study from the University of Washington suggests many more slopes could collapse than previously estimated. A powerful earthquake on the fault that slices under the city’s heart could trigger more than 30,000 landslides if it strikes when the ground is saturated, the analysis finds. More than 10,000 buildings, many of them upscale homes with water views, sit in areas at high risk of landslide damage in such a worst-case scenario. Sandi Doughton reports.

Everett's widespread sewer challenge
Everett's cleanup and repair bill for sewer malfunctions on Aug. 29 and Sept. 6 has crept to an estimated $3.2 million. That's before factoring in longer-term fixes. By last week, the city had reported receiving 189 related claims for damage. It's accepted 164 and turned down 18, with another seven still under review. Here's a rundown of affected areas. Noah Halund reports.

Presentation on sewage plan's Clover Point pump station to be held Monday
A presentation of plans to upgrade and expand the Clover Point pump station will be made Monday. The pump station will be upgraded and expanded beginning next fall as part of the region’s sewage treatment program. A new forcemain will run from the pump station along the south side of Dallas Road to Ogden Point, then under the Victoria Harbour via a marine crossing to the treatment plant planned for McLoughlin Point. Bill Cleverley reports.

Navy to expand sonar testing despite marine-life concerns  
The U.S. Navy plans to increase sonar testing over the next five years, even as research it funded reveals worrying signs that the loud underwater noise could disturb whales and dolphins. Reported mass strandings of certain whale species have increased worldwide since the military started using sonar half a century ago. Scientists think the sounds scare animals into shallow waters where they can become disoriented and wash ashore, but technology capable of close monitoring has emerged only in about the past decade. Alicia Chang and Julie Watson report.

Majority at Olympia climate hearing make case for less fossil fuel
Climate scientists may have reached a consensus about the danger of human contributions to climate change, but getting a political consensus for how to respond will take some time at the Washington state Capitol. Friday’s third and final hearing before Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate workgroup elicited an array of messages from the environmental movement, business groups, the oil industries and a slew of individuals — including two school kids from Seattle who are part of a project planting trees and said they can’t afford to wait for action. Brad Shannon reports.

Heating oil spill damage at Colquitz Creek minimized by fast response
About 500 litres of oil leaked from a storage tank, but none of it has reached the river, officials say. An alert citizen and a quick response by Saanich public works’ crews are being credited with minimizing the impact of a home-heating oil spill near Colquitz Creek. Sandra McCulloch reports.

Thurston planning panel OKs land policies
The Thurston Regional Planning Council has approved Sustainable Thurston, a menu of policies that local jurisdictions can use in land planning, particularly in implementation of the state Growth Management Act. Sustainable Thurston next will be put to a vote in Thurston County’s local jurisdictions. Work on the document began three years ago. The planning council’s vote elicited audible disappointment from approximately 80 members of Grassroots Thurston present at the vote. Grassroots Thurston — comprising farmers and lands right advocates from Thurston, Lewis and Mason counties — had hoped to delay a vote until after the upcoming legislative session. Lisa Broadt reports.

First of nine Skagit salmon habitat projects ready to go
Salmon habitat restoration projects around the state were awarded more than $42 million in grants from the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Puget Sound Partnership last week. Of that, $3.5 million was awarded to nine Skagit County projects sponsored by state and local agencies... While some local projects may take up to two years to get off the ground, a $1.2 million project to restore fish passage in Davis Slough, across the Skagit River from Hamilton and east of Day Creek, is planned to move forward in 2014. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Bald eagles are returning: where to watch them
As chum salmon move into rivers across the Puget Sound to begin the final stage of their life cycle, you can be sure bald eagles are not far behind. The eagles have learned that the region's rivers and streams provide an ample food supply in the form of salmon carcasses. During the winter, Washington serves as the winter home to more than 1,500 bald eagles in locations including the Yakima Canyon, Lake Roosevelt, the Skagit River, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Grays Harbor and along the Columbia River.

Salmon-restoration project may start in summer
Snohomish County this week issued a final environmental impact statement for its Smith Island salmon-restoration project and said crews could be ready to break ground next summer. The $18 million, mostly grant-funded project affects about 400 acres in the Snohomish River estuary. It's immediately east of I-5 with Union Slough to the east and north. The tidal marshlands were diked up in the 1930s.

If you like to watch: Snow geese flock to Pacific Northwest  Colin Diltz shares.

Five Things You Should Know About The Art of Steelhead Fishing
Sean M. Gallagher grew up fishing steelhead. He's one of hundreds of sport fishermen who spend hours on riverbanks, seeking out the sparkling skin of rainbow trout known as steelhead. Like some salmon, they come back from the ocean in winter to spawn upriver. But while salmon turn red and die when they return to their origins, steelhead live for several years in fresh water and get bigger — as big as 40 pounds while they are traversing regional rivers. Gallagher, a first time-author, shares “the lures and lore of a Pacific Northwest icon” in his new two-volume book titled “Wild Steelhead.” Bellamy Pailthorp reports.

Geoduck industry fighting China’s shellfish-import ban
Washington geoduck harvesters and government officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee, are scrambling to overturn China’s decision to ban some shellfish exports from the Pacific Northwest. The ban has brought the geoduck industry here to a virtual halt. Jay Greene reports.

Dye test part of effort to reopen Drayton Harbor to shellfish harvest in winter
From the back of a slowly moving boat, Kay Rottell poured red dye into Drayton Harbor near the mouth of Dakota Creek. Rottell is an environmental engineer with the Washington state Department of Health. On Tuesday, Dec. 10, she was part of a team of people who went out onto the harbor to track the non-toxic dye using electronic sensors for a study. The study's goal is to gather data to better understand how Dakota Creek circulates in the harbor and to what extent the creek's water affects commercial and tribal shellfish harvesting there as it moves out into the Straight of Georgia. Kie Relyea reports.

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