Wednesday, June 3, 2015

6/3 L121, oil train, Shell drill, octopus, herring, poaching, BC mine ponds, rain gardens, septics

L-121 (Marcie Callewaert/Victoria Marine Science Association)
Killer whale baby boom: 4th calf spotted near Tofino
Whale watchers on Canada's West Coast are celebrating the confirmed sighting of a fourth killer whale calf born to the endangered southern resident population this year. The calf, named L-121, was spotted on June 1 with L-Pod near Cox Beach south of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The sighting was welcome news, because L-Pod lost one calf and a three-year-old female in recent years, and L-121, which was first spotted in February, wasn't seen the last time the pod was observed off the coast of Oregon by NOAA Fisheries scientists....  After years of population decline, the recent sighting combined with three other calves born to J-Pod this spring, puts the population of wild southern resident orcas at 81. (CBC) See also: Fake Baby Orca Joins Astoria's Sea Lion Scare Event Thursday  Lizzy Duffy reports. (KUOW)

Shell v. Skagit; Court Rules The Public Is Entitled To More Information About Oil Train Transport
Shell Oil didn’t get far last week in its effort to head off a study of Bakken oil transport in the Skagit Valley. Its lawsuit rolled backward down a legal slope, like the unattended oil train that blew up in Quebec in 2013. Nobody got hurt when the rhetorical brakes failed in Skagit County Superior Court last week. The world’s second-biggest oil company (or biggest, depending on how you measure it) emerged with smudges on its corporate profile. There may have been some gains in people’s right to know the hazards of living in the midst of a frantic rush to extract and sell fossil fuel. A lawsuit filed by Shell over Skagit County’s plans to conduct an environmental impact statement on Shell’s proposed unloading oil facility in Anacortes was dismissed on Thursday by a Skagit County Superior Court judge. Bob Simmons reports. (Cascadia Weekly) Event: Oil Trains in Anacortes. Depot Arts Center, Wednesday, June 3 - 7:00pm  Eric De Place, Sightline Institute, will speak on the costs and consequences of increased oil train traffic for the city of Anacortes and the larger regional picture of the Northwest grappling with an unprecedented influx of coal, oil, and gas export schemes.

Railroad And Oil Refineries Sign Mutual Aid Agreement To Respond To Accidents
BNSF Railway and oil refineries in Washington are teaming up to better respond to accidents.  The railroad and BP Cherry Point, Phillips 66, Shell Oil Products US, Tesoro Companies and U.S. Oil Refining Company have all signed the agreement. But, environmentalists say it doesn't address safety problems with oil trains. Courtney Wallace, spokeswoman for BNSF Railway, says the mutual aid agreement formalizes what the railroads and refineries have already been doing informally. Paula Wissel reports. (KPLU)

New blog: Let’s Talk About Sex For A Change
How about that Bruce Jenner? Makes that trans-sex transformation to female and gets the exclusive and the cover of Vanity Fair which is then picked up by every major and minor news outlet in the world. Reminds me of the time a few years back when the ribbed Mediterranean limpet (Patella ferruginea) was found to be able to change its sex from male to female and back again…

Enviros Suing Shell Over Arctic Drilling Leases, 2015 Exploration Plans
Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic prospecting plans have sparked two new lawsuits. An alliance of environmental and Alaska-based community groups is challenging the sale of leases in the Chukchi Sea. The second suit takes issue with Shell’s exploration plan, which was recently approved by a federal agency. Eric Grafe is with Earthjustice, which filed the suit against Shell’s Arctic exploration plan in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Grafe is representing ten other groups, including the Alaska Wilderness League, Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Octopus relationship 'expands the moral universe,' says researcher Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery spent three years getting to know octopuses at the New England Aquarium. Little did she know her time with the animals would change the way she lives and sees the world. The author and naturalist, who has written about the experience in her new book The Soul of An Octopus, is in Vancouver for a talk at the Vancouver Aquarium. (CBC)

Why Is Herring So Hard to Find?
When Lexi, who owns Old Ballard Liquor Co. and goes by only her first name, was a kid growing up in the 1970s, herring was abundant in Seattle. She remembers when you could pull it out of Puget Sound yourself and grill it over a beach fire. But when she tried to find fresh herring to serve at her Nordic-inspired pop-up restaurant, Tumble Swede, earlier this year, she was surprised to find that it was nearly impossible. "I had to hunt high and low to try to find herring for the restaurant," said Lexi. "It was super frustrating. People assume that it's around, but it's not." Tobias Coughlin-Bogue reports. (The Stranger)

Poach Fish, Get Caught, Keep Your License
Get caught poaching fish one too many times in Northwest waters and you’re likely to lose your sport fishing license. Do the same under a commercial license, on a much larger scale, and you’ll likely avoid the same fate. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has suspended thousands of recreational fishing licenses since 2003 because of rule violations, according to agency data. It has revoked zero licenses for commercial fishing violations since then. They’re almost as uncommon in Oregon. Tony Schick reports. (EarthFix)

B.C. mine tailings ponds pose serious risk to water sources: report
Thousands of kilometres of salmon-rich waterways and the drinking water of hundreds of communities in central and Northern British Columbia are at risk of mining-related environmental disasters, a new report warns. The survey from the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council is being released just ahead of a decision by the provincial government on the application to restart the Mount Polley gold and copper mine after the catastrophic tailings pond collapse last August that spilled 10 million cubic metres of contaminated water into the waterways below. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

New Fund Will Help More Seattle Residents Build Rain Gardens
Seattle’s RainWise rain garden program is spreading green stormwater solutions across the city, but the rebate program has been out of reach for some homeowners with more modest incomes. While RainWise offers generous reimbursements—$4,600 on average for the installation of rain gardens and cisterns—the homeowner has to pay for the work upfront, then wait up to two months for the program to pay them back. It’s an expense that not everyone can shoulder. A new financial program called the Green Infrastructure Rebate Advance Fund (GIRAF) should remove that hurdle by bridging the payment gap. Lisa Stiffler reports. (Sightline)

County slowly cracks down on septic systems polluting local beaches
When Rhoni Grimshaw and her husband rented a home on outer Quartermaster Harbor a year and a half ago, they were happy to find a place on the water and didn’t think much about the home’s sewage. But now, according to Grimshaw, they’ve moved out because they could no longer handle a septic system they found to be unpermitted and smelly…. Public health officials say the situation at Grimshaw’s rental is not uncommon on Vashon. And though Grimshaw’s main concern was the smell, King County is slowly but surely cracking down on old and ineffective septic systems on Vashon because of the pollution they send into the water. Recently there’s been a special emphasis on the 5-mile stretch of beach where Grimshaw lives, a highly polluted shoreline on southern Vashon Island that the county hopes can be opened to shellfishing if enough homeowners fix their systems. A similar effort is planned next for the Spring Beach neighborhood. Natalie Martin reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

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