A Puget Sound orca held for decades at Miami’s Seaquarium will gain the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act, a move expected to set the stage for a lawsuit from advocates seeking the whale’s release. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday the decision to list Lolita as part of the southern resident killer whales of Puget Sound, which already are considered endangered under the federal act. Whale activists, who petitioned for this status, have long campaigned for Lolita’s return to Puget Sound. They hope the listing will provide a stronger legal case to release Lolita than did a previous lawsuit that centered on alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)
Feds Not Convinced By Puget Sound Tribe To Halt Coal Project
A federal agency says a Puget Sound tribe has not made a convincing enough case to to halt the permitting process for a coal-shipping project. The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the review of plans for the train-to-ship coal facility proposed for construction near Bellingham. It said in a letter to the Lummi Nation that it would not halt the permitting process. Instead it asked for more detailed information about tribal fishing practices. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)
Company renews effort to open Raven Coal Mine on Island
A Vancouver company is once again seeking government approval for a coal mine near Buckley Bay, much to the dismay of environmental groups and shellfish growers in Baynes Sound. Compliance Energy Corp. has re-applied for an environmental assessment certificate for Raven Coal Mine nearly two years after its first attempt fell short. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office now has 30 days to screen the application, before deciding whether to reject it a second time or order a more detailed, 180-day review. The company never made it past the initial screening in May 2013 because regulators wanted more information, documents show. Lindsay Kines reports. (Times Colonist)
Outdoor enthusiasts outraged over plan to restrict state waterways
Thomas O'Keefe said when he heard about House Bill 1056 he immediately got upset. "The bill would make it basically illegal to access a public waterway if there's no parking," said O'Keefe -- who is an avid kayaker, scuba diver and canoeist. Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland) is the primary sponsor of the bill that says "the governmental entity which has jurisdiction of the land must provide adequate public parking for persons utilizing the land to access the water." If a parking lot isn't near an access point of a waterway, violators could face a misdemeanor. David Ham reports. (KIRO)
1, 2, 3 octopuses: Divers conduct underwater census
To check on the health of the giant pacific octopus population in the Puget Sound, an unusual census takes place every year. Volunteer divers, enlisted by the Seattle Aquarium, span over Washington's inland waters and look for their eight-tentacle neighbors. Weighing as much as 150 pounds with tentacles that can span up to 20 feet, the giant pacific octopus lives up to its name. It's the biggest octopus in the world and it calls the waters off Seattle home, part of its vast range over the Pacific Ocean. (Associated Press)
Shellfish growers support effort to reduce ‘bad oyster’ illness
Vibrio can be bad news for those who savor raw oysters — and the businesses that sell them. Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacteria that thrives in warm temperatures and can cause intestinal distress to those eating contaminated shellfish. While cooking can kill Vibrio in oysters, many consumers prefer them raw.... historically, closures don’t happen until after people get sick. Now, the state is proposing a change to proactive regulations that would base closures on weather conditions favorable to Vibrio parahaemoliticus bacteria, rather than waiting until illnesses are confirmed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Shoreline Master Plan nears its deadline
It was déjá vu for the Pierce County Council Monday night as the shoreline master program had a public hearing at Peninsula High School, the same place it had a similar hearing a year before. The plan was thought to be completed and sent to the state Department of Ecology last spring, but revisions and public concerns — including those of Peninsula residents — tied up the process. Now, 18 amendments have been inserted into the shoreline master program and the Council is on the road with hearings once more. Karen Miller reports. (Peninsula Gateway)
Death of gray whale found under ferry dock may remain a mystery
The gray whale found dead under Colman Dock Jan. 21 was likely killed by the propeller on a commercial vessel. "It was a large propeller, and that's the best we could estimate," said Jessie Huggins, stranding coordinator with Cascadia Research Collective. Based on the whale's wounds, the propeller that struck the whale was not a personal craft, said Huggins. Exactly what vessel killed the whale will probably never be known, which is usually the case…. Biologists are not sure why the whale entered Puget Sound, since most gray whales have already migrated south along the outer Washington Coast by this time. Kipp Robertson reports. (MyNorthwest.com)
No Keystone, No Problem for Canadian Oil Seeking Ports
While the debate intensifies over whether TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, traders are quietly setting up alternative routes to ship Canadian oil from U.S. ports. At least five rail-to-marine projects have been proposed in the state of Washington that would allow the export or domestic shipment of more than 500,000 barrels a day of oil. A terminal in Oregon is operational already and is being upgraded to handle vessels that carry more than 300,000 barrels of crude. Aaron Clark, Lynn Doan and Danie Murtaugh report. (Bloomberg) See also: Vancouver Oil Terminal Would Mean More Gorge Oil Trains Conrad Wilson reports. (EarthFix)
Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST THU FEB 5 2015
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
SE WIND 25 TO 35 KT...EASING TO 20 TO 30 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 6 TO 8 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 9 SECONDS...
BUILDING TO 11 TO 13 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN.
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 12 TO 14 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 13 SECONDS.
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