Wednesday, June 11, 2014

6/11 Anchor, oilsands, oil trains, BC LNG, drones, pipeline blast, blame game, Skagit land, river study

(PHOTO: Steve Ringman/Seattle Times)
Anchor Recovered In Puget Sound May Have Been Lost In 1792
More than two centuries after one of the ships in British Capt. George Vancouver's flotilla lost an anchor in Puget Sound, a group of amateur divers are convinced the object they've brought to the surface is the very same. The loss of the anchor by the HMS Chatham in strong currents in the Sound on June 9, 1792, is well-documented in contemporary logbooks from the famous expedition to explore the Pacific Northwest. And the barnacle-encrusted anchor, weighing 900 pounds, that was recovered Monday appears like it could be a match: It's the right size, shape and style to be from the Chatham. Scott Neuman reports. (NPR)

B.C. firm has $10B plan to refine oilsands for Asia
A Vancouver company is pitching a $10-billion oilsands refinery on British Columbia's north coast that aims to connect Alberta's vast energy resources with Asian markets, while avoiding some of the pitfalls others have encountered. Pacific Future Energy Corp. says the refinery would be the "world's greenest" and built in full partnership with B.C. First Nations, many of whom are vehemently opposed to proposals to ship crude to the West Coast for export....The Pacific Future proposal — and another one being floated by B.C. newspaper magnate David Black — would mean refined products, rather than heavy oil, would be shipped on tankers to Asia, making a potential spill much less environmentally damaging. (CBC) See also: Christy Clark recuses herself from oil refinery proposal over conflict of interest  B.C. premier's former husband Mark Marissen has ties to a $10-billion proposal in northern B.C. (CBC)

Fight could be looming over secrecy of oil shipments by rail
A requirement from the U.S. Department of Transportation last month to limit the release of information about Bakken crude oil shipments by rail has set up a conflict between railroads, states and the federal government that could wind up in court. DOT and the railroads want state agencies to keep the information confidential, but some states have not agreed to comply, citing their open records laws. Washington state is among the states that did not sign a nondisclosure agreement with railroads. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy) See also: Railroads disclose Oregon oil train routes but state undecided whether to share publicly  Rob Davis reports. (Oregonian)

Bobby Jindal signs bill to kill lawsuit against oil, gas companies
Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed legislation aimed at killing a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area regional levee board against 97 oil and gas companies, despite concerns that the new law could negatively affect state and government claims against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.... The oil and gas industry, which lobbied heavily in favor of the bill, cheered Jindal's decision to sign it. But Louisiana's Attorney General and local officials in parishes that have sued BP expressed renewed concerns. Environmentalists decried Jindal's action, saying it could have long-lasting negative consequences for the state.  Julia O'Donoghue reports. (Times-Picayune)

Capital costs in B.C. threaten to out-weigh savings from proximity to Asian markets
The high capital costs of building liquefied natural gas plants on British Columbia’s coast threaten to out-weigh the savings from shorter shipping distances to Asian markets, which underlines the need for proponents to negotiate solid prices, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Pricing is listed as one of the key challenges to development of the LNG industry in B.C. in the 2014 edition of the IEA’s Medium-Term Gas Market Report. Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

US to allow first commercial drone flights over land
The US Federal Aviation Authority has granted its first commercial drone licence over US land to British oil giant BP and unmanned aerial vehicle firm AeroVironment. The drones will patrol pipelines, roads, and equipment in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska - the largest oil field in North America. (BBC)

Vermont is first US state to create long-term climate plan
And here is next century's weather… Size-wise, Vermont may be a minnow, but it can boast the only long-term plan of any US state to prepare for climate change. "We are small, but we're trying to be a role model for the other states," says climate scientist Gillian Galford at the University of Vermont, lead author of the Vermont Climate Assessment, released this week.  Andy Coghlan reports. (New Scientist)

Bellingham remembers pipeline explosion 15 years later
It's been 15 years of slow healing since the Olympic Pipe Line ruptured June 10, 1999, setting off an explosion that tore through the landscape of Whatcom Creek and claimed the lives of two boys and a teenager. About two dozen people gathered at Whatcom Creek Tuesday to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the pipeline explosion, which killed 10-year-olds Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas and 18-year-old Liam Wood. A service of remembrance and healing also was scheduled at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Bellingham Tuesday evening. Zoe Fraley reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Blame game in the mystery of the fish kill
It’s a classic environmental murder mystery: endangered fish dying by the bucket load on Fraser Valley farmland, the B.C. government pointing the finger at compost from an organic winery owner loosely tied to a former Canadian prime minister, and the winery blaming a massive provincial soil dump site next door. The only thing lacking is a satisfying ending — the true perpetrator brought to justice. The saga begins with University of B.C. students conducting research in a series of ponds in a private field at King Road and Lefeuvre Road in south Abbotsford and sounding the alarm after finding dead: 18 endangered Salish suckers, five bullfrog tadpoles, and more than 50 three-spine sticklebacks. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Skagit Land Trust continues to expand ownership
The Skagit Land Trust is continuing to grow, gaining nearly 65 acres so far this year and getting very close to securing the 16-acre Bell property on Nookachamps Creek. Each acre that comes under the trust’s protection is set aside to maintain valuable fish and wildlife habitat and unique Skagit Valley scenery for future generations. So far this year the organization has gained property along the Skagit River and Cascade River.  Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Skagit River GI study report open for public comment
The General Investigation Study for the Skagit River is again moving forward, this time with an opportunity for the public to comment on a draft feasibility report and Environmental Impact Statement... They include an evaluation of flood risk, the process of developing alternative plans, the recommended plan and the potential environmental impacts of the plan alternatives.  Kimberley Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Free The Deschutes!
The once healthy and vital Deschutes estuary is now a public and environmental health hazard known as Capitol Lake. Recreational access is closed until the area is restored, and the water is of poor quality and full of invasive species - unhealthy for people and wildlife. The Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT) leads the campaign for clean water, public access, ecological stewardship, and a renewed economy through the restoration of South Puget Sound. You and DERT can make a difference. Check this out.

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