Thursday, January 9, 2014

1/9 B'ham Bay toxins, Canada ESA, Roberts Bank port, oil train fire, B'ham coal, China coal, crab bust, GOP on WA climate, Vic sewage, Naki Stevens

PHOTO: Pacific Northwest Seasons
If you like to watch: Seattle Sunsets: Many Shades of Awe  
Jill at Pacific Northwest Seasons blogs: "Do you ever stop to watch the sunset? While we don't see so many here in western Washington during winter, when we do it's often a spectacular display. (For you early birds, same can be said for the sunrise.) Throughout the year I'm drawn to Puget Sound beaches to witness the sun slipping behind the jagged spine of the Olympic Mountains.  Like a serrated knife facing skyward, these mountains slice the western horizon and provide a dramatic backdrop for day's end. I can't get enough."

Study shows alarming decline in Bellingham Bay marine life
Creatures that live on the bottom of Bellingham Bay are showing clear signs of stress that is probably linked to toxic pollution. So says a new report from the Washington Department of Ecology, relying on extensive survey of bay sediments and the creatures that live in them. The survey tests found "unusually low" numbers of clams, snails, sea stars, crabs, shrimp and other sea life, according to an Ecology press release. The surveys also found that organisms least sensitive to pollutants were the most abundant, while the most sensitive organisms were scarce. "This is a strong indicator that the sediment quality in the bay is declining," said Valerie Partridge, lead author of the Ecology report. The survey involved samples of the top inch of sediment at 30 locations in the bay. The sediment samples were checked for chemical content, toxicity, and population of marine life. About two-thirds of the samples had some degree of toxicity, Partridge said. John Stark reports. Sediment study pdf.

Failure to protect endangered species lands feds in court
Environmental groups are in federal court in Vancouver today trying to force the federal government to abide by its own Species At Risk Act. Ecojustice is arguing on behalf of five other groups — including the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club B.C., Wilderness Committee and Wildsight — that Ottawa has failed to prepare timely recovery strategies for endangered wildlife threatened by proposed resource development projects, including the Northern Gateway pipeline.

If you like to watch: A Confounding Beauty
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "In the summer, overnight fog forms frequently along much of the BC coast, and it often doesn’t dissipate until the next afternoon. Even if you have radar and GPS, navigating is tricky, especially when time constraints or distance require you to make a morning passage...."

Environmental review ordered for Roberts Bank port expansion
An independent panel will review plans by Port Metro Vancouver to build a major shipping-container facility in Delta. The port wants to build a three-berth, marine-container facility next to the existing Deltaport and Westshore terminals that can handle an additional 2.4 million units every year at Roberts Bank. Current capacity is 1.8 million units.  Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says the panel will have 14 months to submit a report to the minister, who will have five months to make a decision.

Train carrying oil derails, catches fire in Canada
Officials in Canada said a derailed freight train carrying crude oil and propane continued to burn Wednesday, and about 150 residents remained evacuated from their homes. There were no deaths or injuries. Of the 17 cars that derailed late Tuesday in New Brunswick province, five contain crude oil and four contain liquefied petroleum gas, officials said. Later Wednesday, the Canadian National Railway said two of the cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas and one car carrying crude oil were on fire. "It is contained, but it is evolving," said Claude Mongeau, the chief executive of CN. The derailment in a sparsely populated region, roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the U.S. border and northern Maine, again raised concerns about the increasing use of rail to transport oil throughout North America. In July, 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train carrying crude oil derailed. See also: Oil-train accidents prod regulators to look at tank-car safety

Bellingham coal port: One financial giant exits, another enters
Ownership of the proposed coal port at Cherry Point north of Bellingham shifted abruptly Tuesday, with a Goldman Sachs subsidiary dropping out and a major Mexican businessman stepping in. The developments led opponents of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal to point to questions about the financial viability of exporting coal for power generation in Asia. But the supporters of the project appear to be moving forward. Floyd McKay reports.

Meanwhile: China approves massive new coal capacity despite pollution fears  
China approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity in 2013 - six times more than a year earlier and equal to 10 percent of U.S. annual usage - flying in the face of plans to tackle choking air pollution. The scale of the increase, which only includes major mines, reflects Beijing's aim to put 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity into operation over the five years to 2015, more than the entire annual output of India. While efforts to curb pollution mean coal's share of the country's energy mix is set to dip, the total amount of the cheap and plentiful fuel burned will still rise. David Stanway reports.

The Magnuson Line
‘"Congress passes Senator Warren Magnuson's amendment banning supertankers in Puget Sound." That was the headline on Oct. 5, 1977. Sen. Warren Magnuson had, just a day before, taken to the United States Senate floor and quietly proposed "a little amendment" to the reauthorization of his 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.... I was thinking about Magnuson's "stealth bill" (as it came to be known) the other night as I watched our third string of cheap, Chinese-made Christmas tree lights go kaput while listening to the whistle of the 110-car coal (or oil) train leaving from downtown. From here, it's over to the north Puget Sound and then — lots of it, anyway — off to China. I had one of those "let me get this straight" moments: We put our environment at risk (remember the aquifer); we completely throw Amtrak's Empire Builder line off schedule (two to four hours is typical) during the year when Amtrak is showing its best ridership ever; we permit noise pollution throughout the downtown, night after night; and we do all this so corporate America can make big bucks while we get to buy these cheap Christmas tree lights from China?’  Robert Herold reflects.

Wildlife cops bust black market crab ring
Washington State Fish and Wildlife officers and Lummi Tribal police teamed up this week to bust an alleged illegal seafood ring that involves distributors, commercial outlets and fishermen in three counties. Officers simultaneously swooped in on 16 commercial fishermen, two wholesale fish companies and 10 retail establishments in Whatcom, Snohomish and King Counties. Investigators said the fishermen captured undocumented and undersized crab and sold them through the back doors of businesses that included some restaurants and nail salons. The crab were taken before they could mature enough to spawn, stealing a future generation from a delicate and wild population. Gary Chittim reports.

Republicans on climate panel want more time  
After a state climate panel missed a deadline to deliver recommendations on reducing carbon emissions, two Republican members on the group said Wednesday they want another year to study the economic costs of proposals. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the five-member panel should continue to meet to examine the costs and benefits before undertaking some costly carbon-reducing proposals, such as a cap-and-trade program or carbon tax. Phuong Le reports.

Greater Victoria politicians debate extension of sewage project deadline
Greater Victoria politicians are once again debating whether to extend the deadline for the region’s sewage treatment megaproject. The Capital Regional District should ask the B.C. government if it will consider pushing back a 2018 deadline for the $783-million project until 2020, Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto said Wednesday. The extra two years may not be needed, but formally asking the province would “explore the notion of having a bit of a cushion” on the controversial project, Alto told the CRD sewage committee during a meeting. Rob Shaw reports.

And if you missed it: Veteran Puget Sound activist Naki Stevens will join the environmental watchdog group Sound Action as a lobbyist this upcoming Washington state legislative session. Sound Action.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 900 PM PST WED JAN 8 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT
THU
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING S IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.
THU NIGHT
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 13 SECONDS. RAIN...THEN SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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