Thursday, February 19, 2015

2/19 Sea lion, bag ban, geoduck farm, bird counts, Vashon septics, gas tax, WY coal, refineries

Sea lion rescue (SeaDoc Society/Islands Sounder)
SeaDoc scientists rescue Steller sea lion
Rescuing a wild animal is no easy feat. Rescuing a 1,400-pound sea mammal is an entirely different feat. A few weeks ago, Joe Gaydos found himself facing a Steller sea lion entangled by a piece of plastic packing strap off Fanny Bay in British Columbia. Cali Bagby reports. (Islands Sounder)

Kirkland City Council passes ordinance banning plastic bags
The Kirkland City Council voted to approve a proposed ban on most plastic bags at city businesses, despite a 2013 survey of residents that showed overwhelming opposition. The ban prohibits single-use plastic bags while allowing exemptions for plastic bags such as those used for transporting bulk food, hardware items, frozen foods, meats, and newspapers. It also requires retail stores to charge customers at least five cent fee for recyclable paper bags. The new policy is scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2016. It is estimated that the new regulation will affect approximately 170 retail businesses in Kirkland. Mayor Amy Walen, who voted in favor of the ordinance, has said a ban is necessary for environmental reasons. TJ Martinell reports. (Kirkland Reporter)

Taylor Shellfish Farms officials present plan for Dungeness Bay
Taylor Shellfish Farms officials continue to move forward with plan for a 30-acre geoduck farm in Dungeness Bay, but not without community questioning. The later half of the Dungeness River Management Team meeting Feb. 11 was devoted to Taylor officials in order to answer public inquiries pertaining to the geoduck farm anticipated in Dungeness Bay. About 50 interested residents came with questions for Bill Dewey, the Taylor Shellfish Farms spokesman, and Marlene Meaders, senior marine biologist with Confluence Environmental Company, representing the largest producer of farmed shellfish in the United States, Taylor Shellfish Farms. The company already has about 80 acres of geoduck-specific aquaculture in Puget Sound, but the farm in Dungeness Bay would be its largest – trumping its 16-acre geoduck farm in Discovery Bay. Alana Linderoth reports. (Sequim Gazette)

Bluebirds rebuilding colony on southern Vancouver Island
A flock of 14 Western bluebirds spotted on Mount Tzouhalem, near Duncan, have conservationists hopeful that a once common species is returning to the Island. It’s an auspicious sign that repopulation efforts are on track and could also mean the birds chose not to migrate this season. While the long-term implications of staying home for a season are unknown, it bodes well in the short term, said Gemma Green, project co-ordinator for the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, which leads the Bring Back the Bluebirds Project. “We think it’s great in the sense that these bluebirds, if they survive the next few weeks, will be here to start the breeding season,” Green said. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist) See also: It's early, but rising sea bird populations a good sign  Kari Bray and Noah Haglund report. (Everett Herald)

County pushes for septic fixes, hoping to open harbor to shellfishing
After working for years to get waterfront homeowners to update their failing septic systems, King County says it nearly has something to show for its effort. If 18 more homes along a stretch of Quartermaster Harbor can prove their septic systems are up to code and not polluting the water, that shoreline could be opened for shellfishing — something officials say would indicate a healthier harbor and open the way for millions in revenue from tribal and commercial geoduck harvesting. (Vashon Beachcomber)

Ad hoc hazardous waste dump on Renton property prompts jail sentence
The former owner of an oil-spewing hulk anchored off Whidbey Island has been sentenced to two months in jail for keeping leaking barrels of hazardous waste on a Renton property. Facing felony charges in King County Superior Court, Rory Westmoreland was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail and ordered to pay $127,300 in clean-up costs. He pleaded guilty to unlawful dumping and violating state environmental laws. Westmoreland was previously fined $301,000 for violations related to the Deep Sea, a fishing vessel he owned that burned and sank off of Penn Cove. The sinking cost more than $3 million to contain and imperiled mussel beds in the area. Levi Pulkkinen reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

‘Poison pill’ in gas tax plan worry enviros
Some environmental groups objected to a “poison pill” that could hurt state funding for transit. Other people at a hearing on a proposed state transportation package praised the plans for new highways and bridges…. But representatives from a half-dozen Puget Sound environmentalist organizations — plus an adviser to Gov. Jay Inslee — objected to the “poison pill” provision in the package. That provision says that if Inslee installs low-carbon fuel standards, a pet project of his, then the Senate would shift transit, pedestrian and bike-path money to work on roads. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Wyoming bill would help finance coal ports in the Northwest
Wyoming lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow the state to issue $1 billion in bonds to support possible construction of a Northwest port for shipping Wyoming coal to Asia. Wyoming, the nation's leading coal-producing state, has been stymied so far in its fight to get access to Asian markets. State officials are facing slumping domestic demand for coal because of tough federal rules for power plant emissions and cheaper natural gas. The bill pending in Wyoming's ongoing legislative session would expand the authority of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, a state agency. Ben Neary reports. (Associated Press)

Tesoro to invest $390M in Anacortes refinery
The Tesoro Corp. Board of Directors approved two major construction projects planned for its Anacortes refinery, the company announced in a news release Wednesday. Included are a $90 million naptha isomerization project to allow the refinery to meet 2017 federal requirements for lower-sulfur gasoline while reducing production costs, as well as a $300 million project to facilitate the extraction of xylene — a product high in demand in Asia to make polyester fibers and films, according to Tesoro news releases. Mark Stayton reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: Explosion rocks Southern California oil refinery  Tami Abdollah reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST THU FEB 19 2015
TODAY
SW WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. SW SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.
TONIGHT
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT BECOMING 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS BUILDING TO 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

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