Wednesday, July 22, 2015

7/22 Robertson in Rome, LNG Act, tribal coal, closing coal plants, oil train risk, tidal energy, LWCF, drought trout, Lpod, Rayonier cleanup

Pope Francis
Vancouver’s mayor joins Pope Francis in push for action on climate change
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson joined a host of other environmentally-friendly mayors Tuesday in signing a joint declaration with Pope Francis on pressing for action on climate change. The group is part of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, an alliance of cities around the world determined to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 or sooner. They were invited by the pontiff as part of his agenda to make climate change and modern slavery the two most important issues to overcome during his term. (Vancouver Sun)

BC Liberals passes 25-year LNG act promising billions in revenue
B.C. passed the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act late Tuesday after holding an unusual summer legislative sitting to push through the bill.  BC Premier Christy Clark says the act sets the stage for "unprecedented levels of investment, job creation and economic activity." (CBC)

In dispute over coal mine project, two ways of life hang in the balance
Neither tribe created the modern energy economy. They did not build the railroads or the power plants or the giant freighters that cross the ocean. But the Crow Tribe, on a vast and remote reservation here in the grasslands of the northern Plains, and the Lummi Nation, nearly a thousand miles to the west on a sliver of shoreline along the Salish Sea in Washington state, have both become unlikely pieces of the machinery that serves the global demand for electricity — and that connection has put them in bitter conflict. The Crow, whose 2.2 million-acre reservation is one of the largest in the country, have signed an agreement to mine 1.4 billion tons of coal on their land — enough to provide more than a year's worth of the nation's coal consumption. The Lummi, on a 13,000-acre peninsula north of Seattle, are leading dozens of other tribes in a campaign that could block the project. They say it threatens not only the earth's future climate, but also native lands, sacred sites and a fragile fishery the Lummi and others have depended on for thousands of years. William Yardley reports. (LA Times)

State regulators look at cost of retiring coal plants
Washington utility regulators say they are looking into how much it would cost to retire Puget Sound Energy's two older coal-fired electric generating plants in Colstrip, Montana. The two power plants were built in the 1970s and are jointly owned by Bellevue-based Puget County Energy and Talen Energy Corp. of Allentown, Pennsylvania…. The commission is seeking comments and questions on the idea by Sept. 15. (Associated Press)

One Year After Derailment Under Seattle Bridge, City Takes Aim At Oil Train Risk
It's been nearly a year since a train derailed under a busy Seattle bridge, tipping three oil tanker cars off the tracks in Magnolia during the morning commute. No one was hurt in the accident but the near-miss spurred city officials into action.  A new resolution is going before the city council that outlines Seattle's wish list for regulations of crude oil shipments by rail.  Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Nova Scotia and British Columbia partner on tidal energy development
Nova Scotia and British Columbia are partnering to develop tidal energy on Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. A memorandum of understanding, signed by representatives from both provinces Tuesday at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Halifax, says the provinces will share research and technology related to tidal energy. Aly Thomson reports. (Canadian Press)

Death-by-inertia for top conservation fund
In Congress, it’s death-by-inertia. Rip an institution down to its studs and allow the clock to run out….  in less than seventy days, Congress’ make-policy-by-not-making policy may halt reauthorization of the country’s bipartisan, wildly popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)…. For half a century, the LWCF has been the nation’s trademark outdoor recreation and conservation program. The formula is basic: Apply a portion of lease royalties from offshore oil development to pay for wildlife habitat, parks, trails and sustainable forests. No need for taxpayer dinero. Pete Jackson reports. (Crosscut)

Trout In Drought: ‘You Almost Feel Sorry For The Fish’
The fishing aisle at Swain’s General Store is stocked with tackle for catching salmon and trout on nearby rivers. But something is missing among the rows of lures, floats and ornately-tied flies: customers. “Not much has moved off the shelf,” Wally Butler says as he walks down the river-fishing aisle... Butler estimates that fishing gear sales are down 50 percent because of drought. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

‘Missing’ L-pod orcas spotted; all Southern Residents accounted for
Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research has confirmed that Paul Pudwell of Sooke Whale Watching located the five missing killer whales that have not been seen in U.S. waters this year. The whales were spotted July 15 off Sooke, B.C., which is west of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Christopher Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Official: Cleanup at Rayonier pulp mill site in Port Angeles to be completed in another five years
Cleanup that began on the former Rayonier Inc. pulp mill site in 2000 should be completed by 2020, a top state Department of Ecology cleanup official said Tuesday. Rebecca Lawson, southwest regional section manager for Ecology’s toxics cleanup program, updated the project to 30 participants at the Port Angeles Business Association’s weekly breakfast meeting. She said the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company’s parcel 2 miles east of downtown is largely free of dioxin and other contaminants that were contained in 34,000 tons of dug-up soil. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Tesoro disputes findings in appeal of deadly 2010 refinery accident
A judge heard opening statements this morning in Tesoro Corp.’s appeal of safety violations and more than $2 million in fines from the 2010 explosion of the company’s refinery in Anacortes that killed seven workers. Following a six-month investigation, the state Department of Labor and Industries issued 39 willful violations and five serious violations of state and workplace safety and health regulations. The agency said the explosion was one of the worst industrial disasters in state history. Tesoro contests the characterization of its operations and the conclusions of Labor and Industries’ investigation. Evan Marczynski reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

2 groups to sue over federal fish hatchery near Leavenworth
Two conservation groups say they will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging its fish hatchery near Leavenworth violates federal clean-water rules. The Wild Fish Conservancy and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy on Tuesday filed it required 60-day notice of intent to sue the agency. The groups allege the hatchery is discharging pollutants into nearby Icicle Creek without a necessary permit and that it has not had a permit for 35 years. They also say the hatchery releases chemicals, phosphorus, antibiotics and other pollutants into the waters. (Associated Press)

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