|44 Years A Captive (PHOTO: Associated Press)|
The federal government wants Lolita — the orca snared 44 years ago in Penn Cove by whale hunters who sold her to a Florida aquarium — protected under the Endangered Species Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Friday reversed itself and recommended the killer whale held by the Miami Seaquarium be governed by the same law that protects Puget Sound’s wild southern resident killer whales. The move could have implications for other endangered species held by zoos and aquariums and almost certainly will lead to a re-evaluation of the conditions of Lolita’s captivity, which activists have complained about for years. Craig Welch reports. See also: Feds Seek Public Comment on Captive Orca Lolita
Puget Sound conservation group intends to sue state over introduced steelhead
Wild Fish Conservancy, a Puget Sound conservation group, has sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, claiming the agency’s planting of “Chambers Creek” steelhead in Puget Sound watersheds violates the federal Endangered Species Act. “It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s a known fact these fish are harmful to wild steelhead, and they have no authority to plant them,” Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy, said Friday after the intent to sue was sent Thursday. The suit seeks to have the practice stopped, saying the plantings harm wild Puget Sound steelhead, wild Puget Sound chinook and bull trout, all three listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Joe Smillie reports.
Railroad tank-car safety woes date decades before crude oil concerns
Long before crude oil and ethanol were transported by railroads in large quantities in minimally reinforced tank cars, other flammable and poisonous materials were riding around the country in the same cars, threatening major cities and waterways. Federal regulators might be weeks away from issuing new safety guidelines for tank cars carrying flammable liquids, after a series of frightening rail accidents over the past six months. But the type of general-service tank car involved in recent incidents with crude oil trains in Quebec, Alabama and North Dakota – the DOT-111-A – has a poor safety record with hazardous cargoes that goes back decades, raising questions about why it took so long for the railroad industry and its federal regulators to address a problem they knew how to fix. Curtis Tate reports.
The scientific view on Fukushima radiation in Washington waters
Al Bergstein writes: "Over the last year, and accelerating in the last week, we’ve seen a flurry of articles on the radiation from the leaking Fukushima plant, and it’s supposed effects on west coast sea life. As I personally am very concerned about it, and I represent the environmental community on the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, I decided to look into this myself. Through contacts I was able to reach Mike Priddy, of the Washington State Department of Health. My contacts all said that Mike is a person who can be trusted to provide honest and thorough information about issues he is involved in.... Mike has yet to find any radioactivity that can be traced to Fukushima in Washington waters. That includes washed up debris..."
State legislators like chances for toxics bill in Senate
The three North Olympic Peninsula legislators are hopeful a bill banning certain carcinogenic flame retardants from child products and upholstered furniture will make it through the state Senate after a strong showing in the House last week. House Bill 1294, also dubbed the toxics bill or the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, passed the state House of Representatives 72-25 last Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of children’s products and upholstered furniture containing a type of chemical flame retardant known as Tris. Jeremy Schwartz reports.
State takes over cleanup effort of Asarco-tainted properties
The area surrounding the old Asarco smelter in Ruston will see a renewed cleanup effort this year now that the state Department of Ecology has officially been given control of the project. For 20 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency controlled restoration efforts, including sampling soil and spearheading cleanup of residential yards in Ruston and north Tacoma that were contaminated by the former copper smelter. The handoff to the state means people living in the affected area can expect a publicity push soon about the next round of cleanup and how to sign up to have soil tested. Brynn Grimley reports.
China’s appetite for coal appears healthy, for now
It was only last November that Greenpeace turned to a new weapon in fighting the proposed coal export-related projects in the Pacific Northwest (including those in B.C.): economic analysis. That was when Calvin Quek, Greenpeace East Asia’s head of sustainable finance program, warned North American media that China’s decade-long march toward higher coal consumption may be coming to an end — and Canadian projects intending to export to that market may be at risk of becoming obsolete. This month, Quek and fellow environmental trends researcher Clark William-Derry (programs director with the Sightline Institute) spoke to Vancouver media, again stressing that economic reality in China may not support more coal exports intended for the Asian giant (which accounts for half of world’s coal consumption). But as the latest data shows, coal exporters may have plenty of analytical ammunition to fire back at critics — at least when it comes to the economic viability of exporting coal to China. Chuck Chiang reports.
deChadenedes named manager of SJIs National Monument
Marcia deChadenedes is now the full-time manager of the San Juan Islands National Monument. She was named manager of the nation's newest national monuments Jan. 23 by Bureau of Land Management Spokane District Manager Daniel Picard... deChadenedes earned a master's degree at the University of Oregon, in Eugene. The BLM manages 980 acres of lands within the San Juan Archipelago, which became one of the nation's newest National Monument through a Proclamation signed by President Obama on March 25, 2013. The National Monument includes BLM lands in San Juan, Whatcom and Skagit Counties. deChadenedes is scheduled to report to the Lopez Island BLM office March 9.
River-delta stink: Humans, sensors smell it differently
A study of odors in the Snohomish River Delta — including the target of many complaints in recent years, Cedar Grove composting — has yielded mixed results. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's $375,000 study was conducted over 13 months through November using electronic odor monitors and the observations of 11 volunteers. The volunteers and the monitors differ in their impressions. Bill Sheets reports.
Developing A Taste For Geoduck In The Northwest
The Locavore movement is thriving in the Northwest — with one big exception. When it comes to Puget Sound geoduck clams, the shellfish industry and local chefs are still trying to create a demand for them at home. Geoduck clams from Washington state are prized in Asia, creating a lucrative market for the Puget Sound region’s tribal and commercial shellfish harvesters. But two months ago, China banned all shellfish imports from most of the West Coast after finding high levels of arsenic in a sample from Washington. The move has hit Washington hard, particularly the geoduck industry. And that has the industry turning to local chefs to help boost demand close to home. Ashley Ahearn reports.
Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA 300 AM PST MON JAN 27 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 14 SECONDS.
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 6 FT AT 14 SECONDS. A
CHANCE OF RAIN...THEN RAIN LIKELY AFTER MIDNIGHT.
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