Monday, November 9, 2015

11/9 Keystone, BC unmuzzled, NW tribes, Asarco, port races, Wisconsin derail, bag ban, Navy jets, Elwha

Citing Climate Change, Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline
President Obama announced on Friday that he had rejected the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ending a seven-year review that had become a symbol of the debate over his climate policies. Mr. Obama’s denial of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, comes as he seeks to build an ambitious legacy on climate change. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times) See also: Justin Trudeau 'disappointed' with U.S. rejection of Keystone XL  Kathleen Harris reports. (CBC)

Keystone pipeline rejection means oil tankers could multiply in Strait of Juan de Fuca
President Obama’s decision Friday to reject the Keystone XL pipeline puts a fresh spotlight on other efforts to bring Canadian crude to market, including a $5.4 billion project to boost oil flows to British Columbia. The oil piped from Alberta would be targeted for maritime export, dramatically increasing the number of oil tankers traversing the Strait of Juan de Fuca and raising environmental concerns among Washington state Department of Ecology (DOE) officials.  Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Kristi Miller, muzzled fisheries scientist, felt like a second-class citizen
A federal edict that prevented government scientists from talking publicly about their work turned them into "second-class citizens", a B.C. based molecular geneticist told CBC news Friday. Kristi Miller, a scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told CBC News Friday that she was excited at news the newly elected federal government had lifted the muzzle from its researchers. Kristi Miller was prevented from talking to media about the results of her study. (CBC) See also: Scientists, ministers get green light to speak under Trudeau  Pauline Dakin reports. (CBC)

Exxon Mobil accused of climate change cover-up
Oil giant Exxon Mobil is being investigated for misleading the public about the impact of climate change. The New York attorney general has sent a request for emails and financial records to the company. Allegations surfaced last month that the company's own scientists raised concerns about global warming decades ago and that Exxon had worked to suppress that information. (BBC) See also: Oil companies and climate change: who should pay?  Environmentalists say an investigation into ExxonMobil may open the door to tobacco-style lawsuitsJason Proctor reports. (CBC)

UW Symposium: Ocean Acidification Pushing Boundaries Of Environmental Law
The University of Washington held its first annual symposium on environmental law last week. The idea is to choose a topic and examine how it fits into current and future regulations. This year’s focus—ocean acidification.  It is sometimes called the evil twin of global warming. Ocean acidification is caused when carbon pollution from fossil fuels dissolves into our waterways. Scientists say it may cause serious harm to life on the planet; some say it is already damaging the local shellfish industry. It is also pushing the envelope of current environmental law. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Northwest tribal leaders fight for government to uphold treaties
A proposed coal terminal and affiliated railway for Cherry Point, Wash., has sparked concern about treaty violations and environmental degradation for many Pacific Northwest tribal leaders, 10 of whom rallied together in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning against what they said is government disregard for their treaties. Grace Toohey reports. (McClatchy)

Three decades after the Asarco smelter shutdown, its toxic legacy surprises Tacoma newcomers
Tacoma’s industrial history confronted Alex Stillman on a late spring morning while she was up to her wrists in front-yard dirt. A neighbor saw the 27-year-old school nurse, part of the city’s influx of new homeowners, digging to plant a hedge outside her North 40th Street house and walked over to share some friendly insight about the neighborhood. The conversation sent Stillman inside to start learning things no real-estate agent or inspector had explained to Alex or her husband, Bryce, when they bought the place in fall 2014. It fell to Google to tell her about the long-gone Asarco copper smelter that operated less than a mile from where her tidy 1940s bungalow stands, and that the lead and arsenic emitted from its 571-foot-tall smokestack for several decades had polluted her yard and thousands of others with agents linked to cancer and other serious health problems. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Dangerous, tasty fishery resumes off B.C. coast
One of British Columbia's most unusual and dangerous fisheries is poised for a comeback. Gooseneck barnacles, which grow on the rocks below the high tide line off the west coast of Vancouver Island,.are prized in Spain and served as appetizers by high-end restaurants across North America. With a shell-like top and stubby stalks of rich meat beneath, goosenecks resemble clumps of asparagus. However, the best ones are hard to reach and risky to harvest. Chris Brown reports. (CBC)

Port Commissioner: The Race We Can No Longer Afford To Ignore
As election results continue to filter in, most eyes focus on the big-ticket races—city council members, state ballot measures, and levies. Yet way down near the bottom of the ballot is one of the most important votes that we cast in the Northwest: the races for port commissioner. Historically overlooked by voters and pundits alike, the Northwest’s recent controversies over coal and oil have begun to shift some attention to the leadership of public ports. It’s an entirely appropriate shift, because the elected leaders of the region’s ports play a more important role—for good or for ill—in determining the fate of the thin green line than almost anybody else. (…. Running for an empty seat vacated by outgoing Commissioner Bill Bryant, environmental advocate Fred Felleman, who was an outspoken critic of the Port’s decision to host Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet this summer, defeated Marino Yoshino. Felleman raised $86,000 to Yoshino’s $29,000.) Eric de Place and Nick Abraham report. (Sightline)

2nd Train Derails in Wisconsin in 2 Days, Spills Crude Oil
Canadian Pacific Railway says less than 1,000 gallons of crude oil has spilled after a train derailment that prompted evacuations in southeastern Wisconsin. Thirteen cars derailed around 2 p.m. Sunday in Watertown. Canadian Pacific said in a statement late Sunday night one car was punctured and it leaked some oil. The company says it's working to determine the exact amount, but it's no more than 1,000 gallons…. The derailment Sunday was the second in the state in as many days. On Saturday, a freight train derailed near Alma in western Wisconsin, spilling thousands of gallons of ethanol. (ABC)

California lawmaker plans law to end killer whale captivity
A California congressman announced Friday that he is planning federal legislation that aims to phase out the captivity of killer whales by banning breeding, importing and exporting the animals for public display. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said he will introduce the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act to ensure that orcas now at aquatic parks such as SeaWorld are the last ones and that when they die, no other whales will replace them. The bill also would ban taking any whales from the wild. Although no orca has been captured in U.S. waters since 1976, Schiff says captive killer whales are bred. (Associated Press)

Construction site washout kills salmon on Burnaby Mountain
Water thick with sand and sediment has fouled a fish-bearing creek after heavy rain washed out an active construction site on Burnaby Mountain last week. The silty water poured into Stoney Creek from a tributary, killing spawning Chum and Coho salmon and smolts, said John Preissl, a local streamkeeper. Salmon had been absent from the once polluted creek for half a century, but returned about a decade ago, thanks to decades of rehabilitation work by foundations, government agencies and hundreds of volunteers, Preissl said. Before the accident, streamkeepers had counted nearly 200 salmon in the creek. Matthew Robinson reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Rain causes more problems at Burnaby Mountain construction site  Joanne Lee-Young and Matthew Robinson reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Victoria council backs ban on single-use plastic bags, staff to study
The days of plastic bags in Victoria could be numbered. Victoria councillors Thursday took the first steps in developing a bylaw that would ban retailers from providing single-use plastic bags. Several councillors said they support the proposal provided the public is properly consulted and the city works in concert with retailers so that the change, if implemented, is even-handed. Bill Cleverely reports. (Times Colonist)

Navy, National Park Service to work together to monitor jet noise over Olympic National Park
The Navy and National Park Service are coordinating efforts to monitor jet noise over Olympic National Park during training missions. “I'm glad the Park Service — the staff who are charged with protecting the visitor experience at Olympic National Park — and the Navy will work together to monitor noise issues and evaluate any increase in noise from Navy training activities,” said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer in a news release issued Thursday. A Democrat from Gig Harbor, Kilmer represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula. He had requested that the Park Service and the Navy work together on monitoring jet noise. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Taking the pulse of Puget Sound
The state’s effort to improve the health of Puget Sound is moving slowly, even with a variety of fish-focused projects in motion throughout the Skagit River watershed, from major dike setbacks to minor culvert replacements. In a State of the Sound Report released last week, the Puget Sound Partnership describes the progress to restore this inlet of the Pacific Ocean as largely stagnant. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also:  Puget Sound restoration: two steps forward, one back — or vice versa?  Chris Dunagan blogs. (Watching Our Water Ways)

With dams down, restored Elwha River mouth 'a treasure'
No one, not even among those studying the ecology of the Elwha River mouth, expected the degree of change seen there after the dams came down, according to a woman who has researched it for years. An area that once was little more than large cobbles is now a vast tract of quiet, sandy beach speckled with hundreds of seabirds and brushed by ocean waves. It contains pools constantly dimpled by the jumping of fish. Sometimes, looking at the acres of new beach — and the new life it now supports — she nearly cries, said Anne Shaffer, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Coastal Watershed Institute of Port Angeles. Arwyn Rice and Leah Leach report. (Peninsula Daily News) See also:  Who owns new Elwha River land? Discussions begin about ownership, responsibility  Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 228 AM PST MON NOV 9 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM PST THIS MORNING
TODAY
NE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 14 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 8 FT AT 14 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.
TONIGHT
NW WIND TO 10 KT IN THE EVENING...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.

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