Friday, March 7, 2014

3/7 Oil trains, Navy hands, tidal energy, L112 review, Lolita, bog fight, stormwater, eco-village, SJI Monument meet

Crow at work (Science Daily)
If you like to watch: Genius Crow Solves Eight Complex Puzzles in Amazing Video
Researchers at the University of Cambridge say they've proven crows aren't just the one of the smartest birds in the world, but even smarter than most preschoolers. A video shows a crow solving eight complex puzzles in a row in order to reach food. Jen Markham reports. (Science Daily)

Eleven oil trains a day “is a big deal”: Cantwell
Aging, 1964-vintage tanker cars must be quickly phased out as oil trains move through downtowns of Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver and other cities, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., told a senior executive of the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday. “About 11 trains a day, to our population centers, is a big deal,” Cantwell said at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee. “We’ve gone from four years ago — having basically nothing on rail by crude — to now having something like 408,000 carloads of crude.  Knowing when those DOT-111 cars are going to be off those rails — those cars that the NTSB has said are unacceptable — that is the key issue.” Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Navy crew steps into muddy project to protect Everett wetland
They spent months at sea in the pressure packed world of air traffic control on an aircraft carrier. So how do they relax? By grabbing hand tools, boots and rain gear and heading into the bog. A crew from the Air Traffic Unit from the USS Nimitz is wading through deep mud into the deep urban woods of southeast Everett. They are being instructed on how to pull and replant native plants that are in the path of a new walkway that will be built at the Northwest Stream Center. The Adopt-A-Stream program is organizing the nature walkway that will take visitors into a classic northwest lowland wetland. Gary Chittim reports.

Tribes challenge PUD tidal turbine proposal
The Island County hearing examiner will listen for two days to arguments regarding permits for a proposed tidal turbine pilot project in waters off Whidbey Island. The Tulalip Tribes and the PC Landing Corp. are appealing permits issued by Island County for the temporary installation of two tidal energy generators in Admiralty Inlet and related onshore equipment structures. The project is proposed by Snohomish Public Utility District. The hearing starts Thursday, March 6. Jessie Stensland reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Ken Balcomb calls for further review of orca’s death
Ken Balcomb, the dean of killer whale research in Puget Sound, is asking federal authorities to reopen the investigation into the death of L-112, a young female orca who died two years ago of mysterious causes. Ken maintains that an underwater “blast” remains the mostly likely cause of death for the whale, who was known as Sooke — or Victoria, as Ken originally named her. A draft final report (PDF 2.3 mb) by the National Marine Fisheries Service, dated Feb. 24, states that “blunt trauma to the head and neck is the prime consideration for the cause of mortality. Despite extensive diagnostic evaluation, the cause of the head and neck injuries could not be determined.” Chris Dunagan blogs. (Kitsap Sun)

Decision gives whale advocates new hope
A 20-year quest to bring home Lolita, the last of seven orcas captured from Penn Cove decades ago, has resulted in a small but significant victory. In late January, National Marine Fisheries, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced that the whale is considered a member of the Southern Resident orca population, which is listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The decision is not yet official, nor is there any guarantee that Lolita will be released from captivity, but it would afford her all the same protections as her Puget Sound relatives. “This is the best shot Lolita’s ever had for returning home,” said Howard Garrett, a founder of Whidbey Island-based Orca Network, a group that has lobbied for the whale’s release for two decades. Justin Burnett reports. (Whidbey News Times)

Peat repeat: Appeals court to hear Lynnwood bog preservation fight
A rare sphagnum-moss bog in Snohomish County could be a bit closer to being preserved. The Court of Appeals Division 1 decided this week to take on the issue because it appears that the trial-court judge erred when developers were given the OK to get a grading permit for a road through sensitive wetlands. The road was the first step to building five luxury homes at the edge of Hooven Bog. Attorneys for developers Rodney Loveless and Robert Dillon, Snohomish County and a private citizen, Randy Whalen, will get a chance to argue their positions before the Court of Appeals, probably in the fall. A decision will likely come several months later. Nancy Bartley reports. (Seattle Times)

America’s Best Stormwater Monitoring?
Polluted runoff is bad. Green stormwater infrastructure is good. But as rain gardens proliferate like frogs after a rainstorm and development continues to creep across the landscape, it’s time to flesh out those generalities with solid data. And stormwater folks in Washington state are poised to do just that with a new stormwater monitoring program. “We have completely changed the paradigm for Clean Water Act permit monitoring,” said Karen Dinicola, the state Ecology Department staff lead for the project, called the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program Stormwater Work Group. Lisa Stiffler reports. (Sightline)

If you like to listen: It Takes An Eco-Village
In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference? To answer these fundamental questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillages – intentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. Martha Baskin reports. (Public Radio Exchange)

Meet-n’-greet with National Monument manager
The manager of San Juan Islands National Monument will be in Friday Harbor for a “meet-and-greet” with islanders, March 12. A veteran administrator with the Bureau of Land Management, Marcia deChadenedes was recently named manager of the newly created national monument following an earlier four-month appointment as interim manager. She joins the BLM Spokane office March 9. The meet-and-greet, hosted by Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument, is 3-6 p.m. at the San Juan Preservation Trust office, 468 Argyle Ave. Daniel Picard, district manager of the BLM Spokane region, will also attend. (San Juan Journal)

Climate consultant refutes cost assumption
A consultant to Gov. Jay Inslee’s bipartisan work group on climate change is disputing Republican and oil-industry claims that a clean-fuels standard in Washington could tack $1 or more to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. In a memo dated Feb. 3 but made public this week by Inslee’s office, staffers with the Leidos consulting firm said actual effects on Washington fuel prices would be far lower. The firm estimated they would be in the range of 6 cents to 8 cents per gallon if Washington moved, as California has, to phase in a 10 percent mix of ethanol in fuel stocks. Leidos outlined an alternative scenario costing 4 to 6 cents. In that scenario, low-carbon ethanol would immediately start replacing high-carbon ethanol from corn rather than displacing gasoline or diesel. Brad Shannon reports. (The Olympian)


Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST FRI MAR 7 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM PST THIS MORNING THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
 GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON
TODAY
S WIND 10 TO 20 KT RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT THIS AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 8 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A
 CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS...THEN A CHANCE OF RAIN AFTER
 MIDNIGHT.
SAT
S WIND 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS 8 TO 11 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS. RAIN.
SAT NIGHT
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 11 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING W TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 14 SECONDS.

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