Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21 Killer sponge, oil traffic, Keystone, BC LNG, fish risk, Oso clearcut, stormwater rule, sea lions killed, shellfish closures, PA trash, Ala Spit

“Killer sponge” (Canadian Press/Vancouver Sun)
4 new species of 'killer' sponges discovered off Pacific coast
They look like fuzzy fingers, waving gently from the depths of the ocean floor but make no mistake — they're stone cold killers. Scientists have discovered four new species of carnivorous sponge off the Pacific Coast, including one deadly variety found hanging from the deep-sea ridges off southern Vancouver Island. Fortunately, these killers are about the size of a piece of spaghetti and they feed only on the tiny, shrimp-like amphipods and copepods that drift through the sea. (CBC)

Surging oil traffic puts region at risk
Efforts to transform the Northwest into a fossil-fuel hub for North Dakota’s crude, Alberta’s oil sands and coal from the Rocky Mountains mean the risks of major spills and explosions in and around Washington state are rising and poised to skyrocket. Millions of gallons of oil are suddenly transiting our region by train. Barges now haul petroleum across the treacherous mouth of the Columbia River and on to Puget Sound. Oil-tanker traffic through tricky channels north of Puget Sound may well increase dramatically in coming years. “People who are paying attention are rightfully nervous about all of this,” said Martha Kongsgaard, chairwoman of the leadership council for the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading cleanup of the Sound. “It’s just scarier than heck. It makes you want to put your hands over your ears.” Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

Keystone pipeline decision delayed, likely till after elections
The Obama administration is indefinitely delaying a decision on approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, likely putting off any action until after the November midterm elections. The State Department said Friday that federal agencies needed more time to comment on the project because a Nebraska court ruling had thrown the route into question. State Department officials said they couldn’t proceed until the Nebraska issues were settled. There’s no timetable for a decision at this point. Sean Cockerham reports. (McClatchy)

B.C. environment minister warned about LNG greenhouse gas emissions
British Columbia Environment Ministry staff have warned their minister that the province's dreamed-of liquefied natural gas industry poses some big challenges with greenhouse gas emissions. Internal briefing notes prepared for Environment Minister Mary Polak since she took office last year and obtained by The Canadian Press, single out methane emissions for concern. On top of emissions from combustion and flaring of natural gas, methane and carbon dioxide escape during hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, the documents said.... "A small increase in the percentage of natural gas that escapes can have a significant impact on overall emissions." (CBC)

Inslee weighs tenfold increase in cancer risk for fish eaters
How much risk of cancer from eating fish is too much? Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has privately advanced a proposal that would likely pass legal muster but that worries Indian tribes and environmentalists. It would allow a tenfold increase in allowable cancer risk under the law. It’s either that, the governor has told a panel of his advisers, or the state will have to consider regulatory breaks for polluters that the state has not traditionally granted in the past. For example: Giving factories, municipal sewage treatment plants and others who dump pollution into waterways 20 years or perhaps even more to come into compliance with new toxic-waste limits. Robert McClure reports. (InvestigateWest)

Governor discusses environmental issues with West End tribes during first North Olympic Peninsula visit
Environmental issues dominated discussion as Gov. Jay Inslee met with leaders of West End Native American tribes in his first visit to the North Olympic Peninsula as the state’s chief executive. Inslee spoke Friday with Quileute and Hoh tribal officials about their efforts to move out of tsunami zones and with the Makah about the need for a multi-agency committee for oversight of oil and coal freight ships in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Joe Smillie reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

DNR Postpones Clear-Cuts It Approved Near Oso Landslide
Washington state officials have postponed selling 250 acres of timber on steep slopes near the town of Oso. The Washington Department of Natural Resources had scheduled the 188-acre "Riley Rotor" timber sale and the 62-acre "Home Repairs" timber sale for auction this Wednesday, a month and a day after the March 22 landslide that killed at least 39 people in Oso. The Riley Rotor site is on state land about five miles southwest of the deadly Oso slide. Much of the site is so steep that the DNR had proposed logging it with helicopters. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Washington Board Upholds Stormwater Rules
The Pollution Control Hearings Board—the legal body presiding over state environmental regulations—has upheld the stormwater permits governing Western Washington cities and counties. The decision was issued this spring by the three-person board after permittees challenged the rules. The state Department of Ecology in August last year approved the municipal stormwater permits, which aim to clean up and control polluted runoff that fouls Puget Sound and local lakes, rivers, and streams. The permits require cities and counties to update their development regulations so they require the use of green technologies that catch and soak rain water where it falls, instead of sluicing it across asphalt and roofs and into gutters and drains that dump it into sensitive waterways. The green solutions include permeable pavement that rain percolates through to the ground and extra-absorbent, souped-up rain gardens called “bioretention facilities.” Lisa Stiffler reports. (Sightline)

First Nuisance Sea Lions Of 2014 Killed At Bonneville Dam
State wildlife officers trapped and killed six salmon-chomping sea lions at Bonneville Dam earlier this week. It's part of a renewed campaign against nuisance predators who follow the spring salmon run. Wildlife managers from Oregon, Washington and Idaho have standing permission from the feds to use lethal measures to protect endangered fish runs from hungry sea lions. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)

New patrol boat to help with Puget Sound security
Island County secured a $225,000 grant to purchase a new all-weather patrol vessel. Funding for the boat was issued through the Homeland Security Grant Program under Operation Stonegarden. The purpose of Operation Stonegarden is to “increase border security in direct coordination with state and local law enforcement,” according to county documents. The vessel will be used to increase joint law enforcement marine patrols in the Puget Sound in order to gain a better grasp on cross border activity and to prevent illegal crossings. Janis Reid reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

Portage Bay shellfish areas again threatened with closure
Portage Bay is among 14 commercial shellfish growing areas in the state that could be closed to harvesting if fecal coliform pollution worsens, the Washington state Department of Health warned. The agency's shellfish program, which monitors more than 101 commercial shellfish growing areas in the state, has stopped commercial harvesting in part of Vaughn Bay in Pierce County because of unsafe levels of fecal bacteria, according to a news release. Shellfish growing areas in Portage Bay have been under "threatened" status since 2012 because of poor water quality, according to a representative for the agency's shellfish program. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald) See also: Fecal bacteria threatens Puget Sound beaches  (KOMO)

Trash pushed over the bluff: Port Angeles regional dump abuse goes back decades
The fragile landfill expected to cost taxpayers $19.6 million to fix sits on an eroding bluff where city and other Clallam County residents freely dumped garbage, cars and other trash from at least 1947 until 1971. Early disposal methods included pushing cars and other garbage over the bluff to the Strait of Juan de Fuca beach below. Paul Gottleib reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Island County outlines plan for Ala Spit
A preliminary plan for the restoration of Ala Spit County Park was approved Monday with the aim of making the area more hospitable to salmon. While the initiative has been applauded by conservationists, some say the work has created a safety hazard for park visitors. Island County removed 800 feet of rock and crushed concrete from a center portion of the spit in 2012 in order to restore it to its original state. The intent was to repair the salmon habitat made vulnerable by erosion caused by the blockage. Removal of the bridge-like rocks have made the spit, at high tide, intraversable. Last year, at least two near-drownings occurred when fishermen attempted to cross the spit at full moon high tides. Janis Reid reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON APR 21 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT THIS MORNING...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER
 MIDNIGHT.
--
"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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