Monday, January 6, 2014

1/6 Eagles, Bakken crude, oil train, native solar, coal dust, tracking orcas, murrelet count, starfish, Navy jets, Mima mounds

Bald eagle (Skagit Valley Herald)
An Endangered Species Act success story
With the forested North Cascades in the east, coastal waters to the west, and the Skagit and Samish rivers delivering snow melt from the peaks along winding paths to the bays, Skagit County is an ideal home for bald eagles. Some eagles nest and breed in trees near the river banks year-round. Hundreds more swoop in from Alaska and Canada for a winter stay timed around salmon that climb the rivers each year. Of the state’s rivers that attract the foraging raptors, the Skagit usually draws the highest numbers with abundant chum salmon and some coho and steelhead, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2007 Status Report for the Bald Eagle. Kimberly Cauvel reports. See also: Annual eagle count shows healthy population

Bakken Crude Pegged as More Dangerous Imperils Boom in Shale
Safety rules will probably be tightened on crude oil shipments from North Dakota following a string of railway explosions, threatening to damp an energy boom that has boosted the region’s economy. U.S. regulators yesterday issued a safety alert after a train carrying oil crashed and caught fire earlier this week in North Dakota, where surging production has helped lead a renaissance in domestic energy and driven the state’s unemployment rate to the nation’s lowest. The type of oil pumped from the shale formations of North Dakota may be more flammable and therefore more dangerous to ship by rail than crude from other areas, the Transportation Department said in the alert. Regulators are considering imposing tougher rules on railcar construction, among other things, potentially raising the costs of moving the crude to market. Mark Drajem, Angela Greiling Keane and Lynn Doan report.

Oil by rail? B.C. and Alberta report done, not yet public
A task force report that examines the idea of transporting crude oil from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast via rail has been handed in to the British Columbia and Alberta governments. The joint provincial working group was announced by premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford in July to develop recommendations related to energy exports and the opening of new export markets for products like bitumen for the two provinces, including pipeline and rail transport.

Monitor: Island First Nation grasps potential of alternative power
While oil pipeline debates, anti-fracking protests and increasing fossil fuel demands embroil the country from coast to coast, a small Vancouver Island First Nation is leading the way on a different path. In the past five years, the seaside T’Sou-ke nation has become a world-renowned leader in solar energy. Their projects are the model for others in the capital region and around the province. They also have a massive wind-energy partnership in the works that could augment power for all of Vancouver Island, on a power grid connected to the mainland. Sarah Petrescu reports.

Environmentalists win a round in coal dust lawsuit vs. BNSF
While it may not be the "major victory" that environmental groups are trumpeting in their press release, the Thursday, Jan. 2 ruling by a Yakima federal judge certainly avoids a major defeat in their lawsuit targeting coal dust emissions from BNSF rail cars rolling through Washington state. Lonny Suko, Senior U.S. District Judge, denied a motion to dismiss the July 24, 2013 lawsuit filed against BNSF by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Bellingham-based Re Sources for Sustainable Communities. The lawsuit charged that BNSF coal trains were discharging coal dust into Washington waterways. Those discharges are a violation of the Clean Water Act because the railroad has no permit for them as the act requires, the lawsuit says... Crina Hoyer, ReSources executive director, hailed that ruling and contended that coal dust pollution could increase dramatically if the Gateway Pacific Terminal project is built to export coal from Cherry Point. John Stark reports.

Killer whale tracking study continues this year
Killer whale researchers are using satellites to track the movements of J pod this year, as part of an ongoing effort to understand where Puget Sound’s orcas travel in winter. The day after Christmas, a satellite transmitter was attached to L-87, a 22-year-old male. The whale, named “Onyx,” has been traveling with J pod for at least three years. Researchers caught up with the pod Dec. 26 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where the satellite tag was attached by shooting a dart into L-87’s dorsal fin. Chris Dunagan reports.

New mission, new manager, new $325K grant for derelict vessel removal program  
.... Marc Forlenza is taking over (San Juan) county's derelict removal program from Joanruth Baumann, who founded the program as a county employee and ran the program for the past three years under contract with the county. He's also charged with coordinating a new Derelict Vessel Prevention program, using a $325,000 grant from the Puget Sound Partnership. After the county defunded the program during the fiscal crisis, Forlenza, as then-commander of the Friday Harbor Power Squadron, raised $6,500 from boaters and other private sources as part of the matching fund, which Baumann used to convince the county to chip in $5,000, which in turn convinced the state's Department of Natural Resources to resume funding the program in San Juan County. Steve Wehrly reports.

Marbled Murrelets Show 30 Percent Decline? It’s Not That Simple
A couple of years ago, a research team from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report showing marbled murrelet populations declined 30 percent between 2000 and 2010.... But after three more years of monitoring and gathering data, those researchers no longer claim that same downward trend. When they run the numbers for 2000-2010, they do get the 30 percent decline, according to Martin Raphael, a wildlife ecologist with the Forest Service and member of the monitoring team. But when they run the numbers for a longer period of time, 2000-2012, the statistical significance of that trend disappears. Instead, they’re left with data that could be a trend or could be just the natural ups and downs of a population that is not in the midst of a larger decline. Tony Schick blogs.

Devastating starfish disease turns up in Nanaimo area
A sea star-wasting disease that decimated the population of sunflower stars in the Vancouver area in a matter of weeks has been recently uncovered in Nanaimo. Researchers are still puzzled about what is causing sea stars, commonly known as starfish, to go limp, have limbs fall off and crawl away, and within a matter of days or weeks, essentially turn to "goo" and rot. The melting sea stars were first spotted in September in the Burrard Inlet/Howe Sound area, and then spread up the Sunshine Coast, said Dr. Jeff Marliave, vice-president of marine science at the Vancouver Aquarium. Julie Chadwick reports.

Jet noise expected in Port Townsend, other areas of Peninsula, as Navy tests resume next week  
Jet noise from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is expected Monday and Thursday when field carrier landing practice is planned at the Outlying Landing Field in Coupeville. It may be heard in Port Townsend or other areas of the North Olympic Peninsula. The practice involving EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler jets will take place during the late afternoon and early evening hours Monday and Wednesday, the Navy said. The schedule for the flights, which are expected to continue through the summer, will be released a week ahead so residents can know when — or if — tests are scheduled for community planning purposes, said Mike Welding, naval base spokesman. Charlie Bermant reports.

Virtual gophers dig up Mima mounds mystery
A California geology professor says he’s solved one of the enduring geological mysteries of the Pacific Northwest. Emmanuel “Manny” Gabet, a geomorphologist at San Jose State University, says prehistoric generations of pocket gophers created the vast fields of Mima mounds found in south Puget Sound and in other locations around the world. Gabet’s findings, aided by two co-researchers, were presented in December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The conclusions have been reported by dozens of media outlets around the world, including the BBC, The Economist, Der Spiegel, Popular Science and public radio. Not so fast, say local geologists and wildlife researchers. Craig Sailor reports.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 854 PM PST SUN JAN 5 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT PST TONIGHT THROUGH MONDAY MORNING
MON
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING TO 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...SUBSIDING TO 2 FT OR LESS IN THE AFTERNOON.
 W SWELL 3 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
MON NIGHT
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY...THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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