Monday, December 1, 2014

12/1 Sockeye, Burnaby pipe, climate warming, mercury, ozone rule, L. Whatcom, Grace Islet, de-icing, Everett sewer, Chehalis floods

Sockeye (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Endangered species success: Idaho salmon regaining fitness advantage
Endangered Snake River sockeye salmon are regaining the fitness of their wild ancestors, with naturally spawned juvenile sockeye migrating to the ocean and returning as adults at a much higher rate than others released from hatcheries, according to a newly published analysis. The analysis indicates that the program to save the species has succeeded and is now shifting to rebuilding populations in the wild. Biologists believe the increased return rate of sockeye spawned naturally by hatchery-produced parents is high enough for the species to eventually sustain itself in the wild again. (Science Daily)

Pipeline review ‘fatally flawed,’ First Nations say
The National Energy Board’s review of Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline project is “fatally flawed,” say 12 B.C. First Nations in an open letter to the federal government. “We’ve been invisible on our land for far too long and this process perpetuates that void by not allowing cross-examination,” said Ian Campbell, chief of the Squamish Nation. He spoke outside the Victoria Conference Centre Friday, where the National Energy Board was hearing its last day of oral evidence from First Nations groups. The 12 include two Island First Nations: the T’Sou-ke from the Sooke area and the Tsawout from the Saanich Peninsula. Katie Derosa reports. (Times Colonist)

Kinder Morgan pulls equipment from Burnaby Mountain
Kinder Morgan has begun dismantling its drilling site on Burnaby Mountain and will not complete the planned testing on a second bore hole, a company spokesperson told CBC News Friday. Ali Hounsell said that it had taken several days for the company to helicopter in the heavy equipment, and that removal work needed to begin now in order to be off the site by Monday's deadline. (CBC) See also: Kinder Morgan may pick up tab for policing during protests  Ian Bailey reports. (Globe and Mail)

As climate warms, more outbreaks of disease for sea life
The shellfish pathogen that hit California’s Channel Islands in the 1980s began to quickly kill one of the tideland’s most important animals — black abalone. But what unnerved scientists was what they learned next: Whenever ocean waters grew warmer, the deadly infection known as withering syndrome spread and killed even more abalone. By the 2000s, this phenomenon had helped transform black abalone into an endangered species — and a symbol of how much climate change may one day influence the spread of marine diseases. Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Rules on Mercury From Power Plants
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a major challenge to the limits set by the Obama administration on emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. It is the latest effort by industry groups to roll back regulations that would reduce emissions like mercury, soot, sulfur, smog and carbon dioxide. The case also threatens to undermine one of the administration’s most significant victories and chip away at President Obama’s legacy. Adam Liptak and Coral Devenport report. (NY Times)

E.P.A. Ozone Rules Divide Industry and Environmentalists
The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which are aimed at smog caused by power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, is the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Lake Whatcom pollution report still imposes strict cleanup requirement
The state soon will require strict controls on runoff from developed properties around Lake Whatcom as a way to reduce pollution. Bellingham and Whatcom County must reduce the excess phosphorus coming off developed lots around the lake by 87 percent, according to a state Department of Ecology report published in November. Phosphorus is a natural element found in soil, and only the excess known to come from developed areas needs to be treated. Lake Whatcom is the drinking-water source for nearly 100,000 county residents. Ralph Schwartz reports. (Bellingham Herald)

B.C. moves to resolve Grace Islet dispute
It has taken months for the provincial government to respond to public outcry over a luxury home being built on a First Nations cemetery on Grace Islet, near Saltspring Island. Now, a notice of title claim has been announced by Cowichan Tribes and the Ministry of Forests has confirmed it has a mandate to resolve the issue with First Nations and the landowner. It has also appointed two mediators to work with landowner Barry Slawsky and First Nations leaders. Sarah Petrescu reports. (Times Colonist)

Road De-Icing Researchers Say Hold The Salt, Pass The Vodka By-Product
The search is on to find an alternative to salting the roads in winter. Salt helps melt the ice, but it also builds up in stream beds and drinking water. Some cities, like Portland, have already moved away from salt and are opting for chemicals like calcium magnesium acetate. De-icing researcher Xianming Shi says at one point that was thought of as the silver bullet. “Later on we learned a lot more about it,” he said. “The degradation in the water can also cause some water quality concerns. And also they’re not very effective when you’re dealing with colder temperatures.” A study Shi did for the Oregon Department of Transportation found that a cold-temperature alternative to salt, magnesium chloride, corrodes concrete bridge decks. Jessica Robinson reports. (NW News Network)

Museum discovers previously unknown clam species
From deep oceans to dense forests, there are many places you might expect to discover new species. Museums likely aren’t one of them. But that’s where a newly identified clam species was recently found. Melissa Frey, curator of invertebrates for the Royal B.C. Museum, said she was sorting through specimens in 2011 when she found a clam that didn’t fit with the others….. This clam was originally collected in 2004 from about 1,000 metres below the surface off Quatsino Sound on the northwestern tip of the Island by researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who passed it on to the museum. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Slow start for Everett sewer valve program
The city of Everett’s program to install flood-prevention devices in the city’s north end has gotten off to a slow start. In 2013, sudden severe storms Aug. 29 and Sept. 6 caused scores of homes and businesses in Everett’s older neighborhoods to be flooded. This year the city enacted a program to install backwater valves in 1,800 of the most vulnerable buildings to prevent that from happening again. But only 15 of the devices were installed the first six weeks of the city’s program, said Grant Moen, a senior engineer in the city’s Public Works department. Chris Winters reports. (Everett Herald)

Chehalis Basin Work Group celebrates ‘historic step forward' on handling flooding
The Chehalis Basin Work Group has toiled for 16 months to come up with a solution to address persistent flooding and restoration of fish habitat, and now they have an ally in Washington’s governor. The group announced last week that Gov. Jay Inslee has endorsed its recommendation to take specific courses of action the group says will save more than $650 million in flood damage and $70 million in fish habitat restoration…. The Chehalis Basin Work Group has worked since Inslee first tasked them with creating a proposal to reduce major flood damage in the basin. The proposal is perhaps the closest any group has ever come to a basin-wide solution to a flooding problem that has historically affected thousands of people, destroyed millions of dollars worth of property, and obliterated untold numbers of fish and wildlife. Christopher Brewer reports. (Centralia Chronicle)

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