Friday, April 17, 2015

4/17 First Nations rights, Squamish fire, Shell drill, BC CG, LA spill, Woodard Bay, sewer beer, organic seafood, climate suit

“Common” seagulls (PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
In Praise of the “Common” Seagull
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Here on Gabriola Island people are still talking about what a great herring season we had last month – those boisterous sea lions… made quite an impression, as did the eagles, who came in massive numbers to take in the bounty. It was a daily show of profusion and feasting. But just as interesting, to me, were the seagulls – those much-maligned birds with their unforgettable calls and complex social interactions…."

B.C. First Nations can sue over property rights, court rules
Industrial giants, from forestry companies to mining operations, must respect aboriginal territorial claims in British Columbia just as they would heed the rights of any other Canadian landowner, the province's highest court has ruled. A decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal paves the way for First Nations to launch lawsuits to protect their territory from private parties, even without proving aboriginal title. Two northwestern First Nations expressed vindication on Wednesday after a panel of three judges overturned a lower court ruling that denied them opportunity to sue the aluminum producer Rio Tinto Alcan. (Canadian Press)

Squamish Terminals on fire at Nexen Beach
A fire at the dock at Squamish Terminals at Nexen Beach in Squamish, B.C., was reported to be mostly contained by early Friday morning. "They haven't evacuated us, and it smells horrible!" Cheryl Bester told CBC. "The thick smoke has filled the entire town and north past Brackendale." The fire started shortly after 6 p.m. PT Thursday, and Squamish residents reported large plumes of smoke in the area. Squamish Terminals is a deep-water facility in Howe Sound that has two berths and three warehouses with about 47,000 square metres of storage.  Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman said residents were still being asked to clear the downtown core and stay indoors. Maryse Zeidler reports. (CBC)

Polar Pioneer oil rig expected to arrive in Port Angeles this morning — protesters say they'll be on hand
Today's early morning arrival of a huge semi-submersible offshore drilling rig from Asia will be met by a cadre of local, state and national environmental activists opposed to its use in the Arctic. The exact time that the Polar Pioneer, a 400-foot-tall rig owned by Transocean Ltd., is expected to anchor in Port Angeles Harbor to tower over the city for the next two weeks has not been specified, but a Shell Oil representative said it would be early in the morning. When it does arrive and is placed at Anchorage Site Two in the western portion of the harbor, the rig — which is being transported on the MV Blue Marlin, a semi-submersible heavy-lift ship — will be greeted by protesters from Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim and Seattle. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Coast Guard budget cuts roil the water in B.C. oil-spill controversy
Oil companies seeking a pipeline path for Alberta crude to open water and new markets breathed a sigh of relief when the ballots were counted in the 2013 provincial election and B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark was still in charge. It seemed there was still a way forward for oil with a pro-resource-development government in power. Last week’s heavy oil spill in English Bay, however, has pushed the provincial government further away from getting to “yes,” and the oil companies can thank Ottawa for making their already difficult sales job to British Columbians even harder. Ms. Clark has repeatedly warned that B.C. is not ready for additional oil tanker traffic, and had demanded that Ottawa reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard base as a starting point. She was ignored, and the payback was delivered on Friday when she slammed the federal government for its “unacceptable” neglect of marine safety on Canada’s West Coast. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

Secrecy shrouds decadelong oil spill off Louisiana
A blanket of fog lifts, exposing a band of rainbow sheen that stretches for miles off the coast of Louisiana. From an airplane, it’s easy to see gas bubbles in the slick that mark where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy, few people even know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak’s extent and environmental impact. An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor and the government have publicly reported during their secretive, and costly, effort to halt the leak. Presented with AP’s findings, that the sheen recently averaged about 91 gallons of oil a day across eight square miles, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company. Michael Kunzelman and Jeff Donn report. (Associated Press)

Completed restoration makes Woodard Bay a must-see location in the South Sound
On a gray, drizzly morning last week, the raucous sounds of the neighbors brought a smile to Michele Zukerberg’s face. Off in the distance, the screeching of nesting great blue herons could be heard from the tall forest trees. A pair of Canada geese seemed to object to the presence of several human visitors. Visually, harbor seals could be seen lounging on old log booms. Buffleheads rippled the water of Chapman Bay as they dove beneath the surface while feeding. A heron casually flew overhead, toward the rookery that is home to about 100 herons…. To Zukerberg, the sights and sounds are all part of what makes the Woodard Bay Natural Conservation Area north of Olympia so special. It is even better now, said the area’s manager, with the completion of the environmental education and interpretive facilities at Weyer Point. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Sewer Water Beer Wins Oregon Regulators' Approval
A wastewater treatment operator wants to give its recycled sewer water to a group of home brewers so they can turn it into beer.  On Wednesday, state environmental regulators approved the idea.  The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously to allow the Hillsboro-based utility Clean Water Services to use recycled sewage for brewing beer. Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Standards for organic seafood coming this year, USDA says
After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don’t expect it in the grocery store anytime soon. The Agriculture Department says it will propose standards for the farmed organic fish this year. That means the seafood could be available in as few as two years — but only if USDA moves quickly to complete the rules and seafood companies decide to embrace them. Mary Clare Jalonick reports. (Associated Press)

Landmark Dutch Lawsuit Puts Governments Around the World on Notice
…. Where I live, in the Netherlands, a landmark case will be heard in the Den Haag District Court on Tuesday. The Urgenda Foundation is suing the Dutch government for knowingly endangering its citizens by failing to prevent dangerous climate change. It comes at a time when an increasing number of legal experts around the world have come to believe that the lack of action represents a gross violation of the rights of those who will suffer the consequences. They also argue that the failure of governments to negotiate international agreements does not absolve them of their legal obligation to do their share in preventing dangerous climate change. These arguments are at the core of the Dutch lawsuit and will undoubtedly be put to the test in other countries before too long. Kelly Rigg writes. (Moyers & Company/Huffington Post)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
 WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 246 AM PDT FRI APR 17 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM PDT THIS MORNING
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING NW 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS AFTER MIDNIGHT. W
 SWELL 7 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
SAT
W WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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