Thursday, February 26, 2015

2/26 WA pipe, oil train queries, Shell woes, BC LNG, salmon status, non-tangible fish, OR marine life, Howe Sound ship, Barnaby Reach, grizzlies, H2O2, Matlock farm

(PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
Emerging from the Decay
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "I love crocuses. They pop up all over the garden every February, bright and cheerful no matter what the weather might be doing. Our yellow crocuses come first, followed a week or two later by their paler, but no less beautiful purple cousins. Both serve as a reminder that spring is just around the corner, helping to bring a smile and a lighter step after the wet, dreary months of winter…."

Senate bill would look to install crude oil pipeline across Washington state
A state senator introduced a bill today that would require Washington to look at building pipeline to move crude oil through the state. “We need to move oil across our state and there is a lot of concern about oil-by-rail,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, in an announcement Wednesday, Feb. 25. “It’s time to look at a trans-Washington oil pipeline.” Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would require a study of the safest pipeline route to the state’s oil refineries from the Midwest, e.g. the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Unanswered questions about oil trains
Two questions popped up Tuesday at a Washington House committee hearing on an oil train safety bill. No one could answer them. The first came from Bob Rudolph, a resident of Steilacoom, a Pierce County city where a railroad line lies next to Puget Sound. He asked: Are there any plans to deal with a possible train accident spilling oil into Puget Sound? The hearing room held railroad, oil industry and government emergency officials, none of whom could answer. The other question at the House Finance Committee hearing came from Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland. He asked: If an oil train wrecked in an area crisscrossed by the jurisdictions of several local and state agencies, how long would it take to get a unified command in place? Six hours? Three days? Barnaby Dow, representing the King County Office of Emergency Management department, said the county has the resources to deal with such an emergency. But he did not know how long it would take to set up a unified command structure. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Anacortes refinery plan may hit another roadblock
An environmental review isn't the only challenge Shell faces with its Anacortes refinery. Betting on the long-term viability of Bakken oil is risky. Jon Talton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Shell Puget Sound getting new general manager Tom Rizzo, site general manager of Shell Puget Sound Refinery, will leave his position March 1 and will be replaced by Shirley Yap, who comes to Anacortes with 20 years of experience. Shannen Kuest reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

B.C. LNG projects unlikely to produce by 2020: analysts
Just a week into the new year, Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman declared British Columbia’s nascent liquefied natural gas industry would “take flight” in 2015. He said he expected to see three plants in production by 2020 as the province had set the “playing field” for development of the new industry. Measures included a new LNG income tax that had been cut in half and rules that set benchmarks for greenhouse gas emissions. Last week, the federal government sweetened the pot, announcing it would introduce an accelerated capital tax allowance measure that would provide savings to companies. But despite the latest tax measure from Ottawa, there is little likelihood that three plants will be in operation by 2020, say industry analysts. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New Report Shows Status of Salmon Recovery
Salmon recovery efforts in Washington are making a difference – more salmon are returning home in some areas, although significant work remains – according to a new report released by the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office. The newly released State of Salmon in Watersheds Executive Summary and interactive Web site show Washington’s progress in trying to recover the 15 populations declared as at risk of extinction by the federal government and listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Web site puts online live data from many sources around the state and offers interactive story maps from efforts statewide. (San Juan Islander)

In Overturning Conviction, Supreme Court Says Fish Are Not Always Tangible
A narrowly divided Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a Florida fisherman, throwing out his conviction for tossing evidence — undersize grouper — back into the Gulf of Mexico under a federal law aimed mostly at white-collar crime. The fisherman, John L. Yates, was convicted of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which imposes a maximum sentence of 20 years for the destruction of “any record, document or tangible object” in order to obstruct an investigation. In two opinions, five justices accepted Mr. Yates’s argument that fish were not the sort of tangible objects with which the law was concerned. Their analysis was based on a close reading of the words and structure of the law. Adam Liptak reports. (NY Times)

Japanese Fish Found Alive In Oregon Waters
Oregon scientists are trying to figure out how a fish, native to Japan, was pulled out of a crab pot on the Oregon coast - alive. “I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard about it,” says John Chapman, an invasive species expert at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He says there’s only a handful of ways the striped knifejaw could make it here: in the ballast water of a ship; someone could have dumped their aquarium into the ocean; or the fish survived under debris washed out to sea after the Japanese tsunami. Kristian Foden-Vencil reports. (OPB) And, oooh: Great white shark lurking near Washington State's Ocean Shores (CBC)

Permit to sink former warship in Howe Sound questioned in Federal Court
A lawyer for a group opposed to the sinking of a former warship off the coast of British Columbia says Environment Canada failed to adequately consider whether the vessel contained toxic chemicals. Martin Peters represents the Save Halkett Bay Marine Park Society, which is fighting in Federal Court to quash a permit that Environment Canada issued last October to the Artificial Reef Society of B.C., allowing it to sink the ship. The reef society is aiming to tow the 1960s vessel from Long Bay to Halkett Bay Marine Park on Gambier Island, where it would be sunk to create an artificial reef for divers and marine life. (Canadian Press)

Concerns raised over Barnaby fish proposal on Skagit
A proposal to restore fish passage in a section of the upper Skagit River was met with heated discussion at a public meeting Monday evening. While landowners and families that live in the potential project vicinity say they have abundant concerns and frustrations with the proposal’s direction so far, project proponents say Monday’s discussion was a good place to start. Their goal over the long term is to improve fish habitat in the area near Rockport, known as the Barnaby Reach, with the least impact to nearby residents. But for now they aim to work with the people who live there to develop a project all parties can support. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Agencies are working to restore grizzlies to their natural range
There's an effort under way to help ensure grizzly bears don't become extinct in the North Cascades. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working with other agencies on a plan to bring grizzly bears back to this part of their natural range. That includes many of Snohomish County's prominent peaks, such as Mount Pilchuck and Whitehorse Mountain. The grizzly bear restoration effort comes 40 years after the animals were listed in 1975 under the Endangered Species Act as threatened in the lower 48 states. Amy Nile reports. (Everett Herald)

Ecology: 9,600 gallons of hydrogen peroxide spilled from tank at Port of Olympia
A recent chemical spill at the Port of Olympia was larger than first reported, according to state Department of Ecology documents obtained through a public records request. The documents also shed light on the strength of hydrogen peroxide that spilled from a tank at the port’s marine terminal about noon on Jan. 28. The spill led to a large emergency response. S everal businesses within a quarter-mile of the marine terminal were evacuated; some employees were asked to stay indoors. Rolf Boone reports. (Olympian)

In Record-setting Deal, More Than 153 Acres Of Farmland Preserved In Pierce County
More than 153 acres along the Puyallup River will be preserved forever as farmland and wildlife habitat. It's the biggest agriculture conservation deal in the history of Pierce County. The farmland has been in the Matlock family since the mid-1940s. During the height of operation they grew more than one million pounds of berries a year and hired thousands of school children to help bring in the harvest and learn what a day’s work on a farm felt like. For the last 16 years, the family has leased out the land to other farmers. A few years ago, Ivan Matlock, who is now 81, was looking to get the family out of the agriculture business for good and put in a call to Forterra, a nonprofit conservation group. Jennifer Wing reports. (KPLU)

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