Monday, July 21, 2014

7/21 BC beach closures, BP DEIS, coal train, BC pipe poll, East Coast oil tests, BC Park Act, sinking beach

Bald eagle attack (Debbie Martin/Vancouver Sun)
If you like to watch: Wild kingdom in North Van as newborn seal and mom attacked by bald eagle
Life on the North Shore often ends up looking like a scene from a David Attenborough documentary. That was the case for North Vancouver resident Debbie Martin, who witnessed the struggle between life and death play out as she enjoyed a summer evening on the waterfront July 13. Martin watched and snapped photos as a harbour seal gave birth to a pup aboard a float at Mosquito Creek Marina and then came under attack by a bald eagle. “The eagle was harassing the mom, trying to get to the afterbirth or trying to get to the baby. The mom was there tapping the baby and shuffling the baby around trying to keep the eagle away from it,” Martin said. (Vancouver Sun)

If you like to watch: Amphibian Explorations
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Pacific tree frogs are showing up all over our yard these days, in varying sizes and often where you least expect them. A few days ago one hopped out of a lettuce I was cutting, landing first on the toaster, then the butter dish while I tried my best to catch it. (Alas, no photos of that!) In a less extreme example, the other morning we were sipping our coffee on the deck when a frog suddenly appeared, heading straight towards my flip-flop-shod toes...." (Watch the slide show online.)

High E. coli counts detected at 3 West Vancouver beaches
Health officials are warning people against swimming at three West Vancouver beaches after routine water quality sampling turned up E.coli bacteria counts exceeding safe-level limits. “No Swimming” advisories are now in effect for Ambleside, Dundarave and Sandy Cove beaches. Health officials say the relatively high concentration of E.coli bacteria detected can increase a swimmer's risk of coming down with gastro-intestinal illness. E.coli is considered to be an indicator organism associated with fecal contamination from either human or animal sources. (CBC) See also: Environmental lobby adds pressure in Victoria raw sewage row  (Peninsula Daily News)

Could BP turn Bellingham into a Northwest oil export capital?
The microphone worked only part of the time, and occasionally the gymnasium walls bounced the words like a volley of loose basketballs. Despite that, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers got an earful last week at Shuksan Middle School in Bellingham in a meeting that echoed decades of Northwest environmental history and new fears about exports of coal and oil to Asia. One by one, three minutes at a time, unhappy citizens dismantled the Corps’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement concerning the operation of the Northwest’s largest oil terminal. Bob Simmons reports. (Crosscut)

If you like to listen: Shellfish
Massive oil spills like Odyssey in the northern Atlantic; Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska; and more recently, Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico make big headlines. But the leading source of water pollution in the world is actually water run-off. Rain falling on our streets, lawns and driveways washes contamination into our waterways. In the Puget Sound, shellfish lovers are worried. Shellfish farmers, researchers, and chefs share their concerns about water contamination in the Sound and the danger is poses to shellfish. Hillary Sanders reports.

Official: Bellingham rail traffic from coal terminal still an issue
More than two years after raising the concern, city officials still don't know whether an extra railroad track would be built along Boulevard Park and the waterfront to accommodate additional trains for a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. City Council member Michael Lilliquist drafted a letter for the full council's consideration on Monday, July 21, that would renew the city's request for more information about the additional rail traffic that would result from the Gateway Pacific Terminal. Ralph Schwartz reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Focus groups hint Conservatives out of sync on Northern Gateway
Public-opinion research for the federal Finance Department suggests key government policies are out of step with Canadians' priorities, including the Northern Gateway project. Members of focus groups consulted prior to the February budget had "little enthusiasm" for the proposed bitumen pipeline to the British Columbia coast — even those who said they support the controversial project.... The Harper government has made Northern Gateway a central plank of its energy strategy, and has pilloried environmental groups who oppose it, labelling them "radical." (CBC) See also: Industrial growth should not harm Kitimat if emissions managed, Polak says  Wendy Stueck reports. (Globe and Mail)

Feds approve oil exploration off US Eastern Coast
The Obama administration has sided with energy developers over environmentalists, approving the use of underwater blasts of sound to pinpoint oil and gas deposits in federal Atlantic Ocean waters. The regulatory decision is the first real step toward what could be an economic transformation in East Coast states, potentially creating a new energy infrastructure, thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. But it dismayed people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism, and activists said it stains President Barack Obama's environmental legacy.... The cannons will substantially increase the noise pollution in Gulf Stream waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending powerful sound waves reverberating through the deep every ten seconds, for weeks at a time. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed, but ultimately decided to approve this exploration in the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida. Energy companies need the data as they prepare to apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits expire. Jaso Dearen reports. (Associated Press)

If you like to listen: Wild Caught Cod Sizzling on the (Hospital) Grill: Making a Dent in Healthcare and Healthy Oceans
You might think locally sourced, omega-rich seafood would be a no-brainer for hospitals concerned about the health of their patients. But wild caught fisheries and the local healthy food movement have been slow to catch on in healthcare. There are notable exceptions like Seattle's Virginia Mason Hospital. In this story we visit the hospital's kitchen where mouth-watering good and sustainable seafood is available every day of the week. Martha Baskin reports.

B.C. Park Amendment Act under fire from environmentalists
Environmentalists are planning protests against new legislation they say threatens to open up parks and protected areas to pipelines and other industrial projects.  In Vancouver Friday, they unfurled a 167,000 name petition calling on the provincial government to repeal the Park Amendment Act, which was passed into law in May. The Act allows for research in provincial parks, but many fear that could lead to mining, logging, or even pipelines. Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee says the changes will only benefit corporations, some of which are already planning projects. (CBC)

Mystery still surrounds ‘sinkhole’ recesses off Port Angeles’ Hollywood Beach
Engineers at the city of Port Angeles still don’t know why recesses are forming in the sand off Hollywood Beach that has closed the beach to bathers. But they’re looking into one possible cause — rotting wood. “It’s still a mystery,” said Craig Fuller, city engineer. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

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