Monday, December 23, 2013

12/23 Hydraulic permit, Mar Vista, BC oil, Estuarium, Navy jets, Bertha, beavers, jellies, climate risks

December Light (Laurie MacBride)
If you like to watch: December Light
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Two years ago almost to the day, I took this photo, looking northwest from Descanso Bay Park on Gabriola Island. The low angle winter sun, combined with the sea and the furrowed sandstone so characteristic of Gabriola’s shores, formed a tapestry of light, shadows and subtle colours that I found visually irresistible. And now, here in the northern hemisphere we are once again at winter solstice: the day that holds the least light and the longest darkness of the entire year..."

Groups put pressure on Fish and Wildlife’s hydraulic permit process
Two groups representing Skagit area tribes and a group of 11 environmental organizations have voiced concern over proposed changes to the state Hydraulic Code, which regulates construction work in and around water to protect fish and their habitat. The organizations raised questions about the update’s focus on improving the permitting process for applicants, rather than emphasizing habitat protection. Tribal groups assert that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is the regulatory agency that evaluates in-water project proposals for compliance with state law to protect fish habitat under the code’s hydraulic permit application review process, could fail to meet treaty rights under the proposed update. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Waterfront clearcut prompts 'stop work' order on Mar Vista remodel
An emergency order to "immediately stop all clearing and grading activity" was posted Dec. 17 by the San Juan County Code Enforcement Officer at the False Bay property purchased earlier this year by Dave and Nancy Honeywell. The 40-acre property was formerly the Mar Vista Resort, one of the larger contiguous waterfront properties on Haro Strait on the west side of San Juan Island. The Honeywells, winners of a nine-figure Powerball jackpot in February of this year, purchased the property in early spring. Steve Wehrly reports.

Jack Knox: If oil hits the beach, it’ll be here in B.C.  
Let’s start with the assumption — and I may be going out on a limb here — that no one actually wants an oil spill, and that it’s in everyone’s interest to keep Alberta bitumen out of the waters off B.C.’s coast. What’s still up for debate is how much chance there is of that happening, should the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat be built, and at what point it’s worth the risk. This week, the National Energy Board’s joint review panel tilted in Enbridge’s favour, finding that even if there were a large spill from a tanker spill — an event it said was highly unlikely — permanent, widespread damage to the environment would not occur. That conclusion will be a hard sell up the coast, where they like to point out that improbable doesn’t mean impossible...  See also: Northern Gateway is a war that Ottawa can’t win

Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain: how two pipeline projects compare
The Trans Mountain expansion and Northern Gateway pipeline projects are at different stages in the regulatory process, involve different players and have different price tags. But they also have much in common, including the shared purpose of getting land-locked Alberta oil to Asian markets. Here is how the two stack up... Wendy Stueck reports.

New home could turn tide for South Sound Estuarium
The South Sound Estuarium is seeking an affordable, permanent home in downtown Olympia where it can foster public knowledge about marine life. Now located near the Olympia Farmers Market, the educational facility features sea stars and other aquatic life clinging to glass panels in saltwater aquariums. The estuarium’s current lease with the Port of Olympia began in July and was extended through March... On Saturday, the estuarium hosted a Turn of the Tides Festival to celebrate the winter solstice. The event included an oyster stew lunch, Native American storyteller Harvest Moon, and arts and crafts for children. Andy Hobbs reports.

Roaring controversy over Navy jets on central Whidbey Island
For the past six years, Babette Thompson has lived in a brown, cedar-sided house on Whidbey Island overlooking Saratoga Passage. Sometimes Navy planes flew past. Then there were more. And more. One day as a Navy Growler flew overhead, the vibrations were so intense the glass covering a watercolor in her hall shattered.... Since the Growlers, which are used to suppress radar, arrived in 2008, the tolerance many of the residents once had for the Whidbey Island air station has turned to outrage. Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe & Peaceful Environment filed a lawsuit against the Navy in July. Despite the complaints about an increase in noise from continuous take-off-and-landing training flights skimming over roof tops, the Navy is working on an environmental-impact statement to bring in two more squadrons of Growlers by 2015. The last day of the public comment period for the EIS is Jan. 3, 2014. Nancy Bartley reports.

Bailing Bertha: Water rushes in ahead of cutting face, behind it
So much groundwater is flowing into the front end of Highway 99 tunnel machine Bertha that officials said Friday it will take two more weeks for workers to dry the area enough to view and measure an object that’s blocking the route. The world’s largest rotary drill, at 57 feet, 4 inches diameter, has been stuck near Terminal 46 since Dec. 6. The clog is thought to be a loose boulder, or perhaps a giant “glacial erratic” rock that migrated to Seattle atop an ice sheet in prehistoric times. The piece isn’t secured enough by surrounding soil for Bertha’s cutting tools to dig in and crack the object apart. Mike Lindblom reports.

City to employ ‘beaver deceiver’ against dams that create work, floods
Beaver dams cause flooding on roads and properties across Thurston County, but cities like Olympia are learning to co-exist with the buck-toothed critters by controlling their habitats. Beavers have built dams up and down the Woodard Creek corridor, which stretches north to Henderson Inlet. The dams raise the surrounding water levels several feet and often block culverts... But in 2014, the city plans to install a device that prevents blockage in the culvert. Known colloquially as a “beaver deceiver,” the wire mesh fencing helps maintain water flow and allows migrating fish to pass through. The device costs from $700 to more than $1,000, depending on size. Andy Hobbs reports.

Boneless and brainless jellyfish a popular draw at Vancouver Aquarium
The jellyfish has drifted the seas for at least 650 million years and the boneless, brainless and heartless animals have become a major draw for the Vancouver Aquarium. The facility just wrapped up its "Jelly Invasion" promotion, which included 17 species from around the globe, but the majority will remain in 2014. Bill Graveland reports.

Oregon could lose millions for coastal streams as feds target logging pollution
Federal regulators are proposing to overturn the state of Oregon’s program for reducing coastal pollution runoff, saying while they see progress, the state is inadequately protecting streams that provide coho salmon habitat and drinking water. The threat is backed up by a counterintuitive stick: If the rejection is finalized next May, the federal government would withhold up to $2 million annually the state uses to reduce coastal water pollution – the very problem the feds say needs fixing. Federal law requires coastal states like Oregon to adopt plans to cut water pollution from indirect sources such as logging and agriculture. While the federal Clean Water Act has reduced pollution from specific sources, including factories and sewage plants, indirect sources remain a significant problem.

Food for millions at risk
A remote Indonesian village highlights the threats facing millions of people who depend on marine creatures susceptible to souring seas and ocean warming. Craig Welch reports.

Warming has boosted Pacific's nitrogen levels, corals reveal
Using deep-sea corals collected north of Hawaii, California scientists have determined climate change has produced a long-term rise in nitrogen in the Pacific Ocean. Nitrogen in the North Pacific has increased by about 20 percent since the mid-1800s and the trend appears to be continuing, according to a study published Dec. 15 in the journal Nature. Scientists can look for clues to past conditions in the oceans by studying seafloor sediments, collected in cylindrical cores several feet long. But that approach is not very useful for the past several thousand years. Sediment accumulates so slowly in the open North Pacific that the past 12,000 years or so, a span of time called the Holocene epoch, is represented by less than 4 inches of sediment which has been stirred up by organisms living on the seafloor. So the California scientists turned to deep-sea corals, including the Hawaiian golden coral, collected by the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory's Pisces V submersible. Jim Borg reports.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST MON DEC 23 2013
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON PST TODAY
TODAY
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 14 SECONDS. RAIN THIS
 MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
--
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