Thursday, December 10, 2015

12/10 Fuel fight, RR crossing, green crab, 'Puget Sound,' Shell appeal, spotted owls, tangled whales

(PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
The Laughs Were on Me
Laurie MacBride in Eye On Environment writes: "As you can tell by the elongated shadows under their bills, it was close to noon when we paddled past these seagulls, standing on a rocky point at low tide. The sun was high in the sky, and fittingly, the birds appeared to be in high humour. Like stand-ups at a comedy festival, they seemed to single me out for special abuse. I can imagine the dialogue that ensued:…."

The Northwest’s coming clashes over fossil fuel exports
Big Energy’s rush to the Pacific will hit some serious roadblocks next month, kicking off a year that will be full of big-time politics over coal and oil exports. The decisions about energy and politics in 2016 could begin to decide the face of the Pacific Northwest for generations to come. Next year, three huge export terminals — including the largest coal and oil export terminals in the nation if they are built — go into the next chapter of their long process, and elections at the national and state level will coincide with emotional debate at the local level. Floyd McKay reports. (Crosscut)

Crossways with the Railroads
Before Whatcom County citizens had a chance to speak their minds about closing Valley View Road, state and federal agencies appeared to have settled the matter. It now seems likely that the north county road connecting town to country since the 1800s will be closed, to make way for a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad siding for oil trains and other freight. Citizens spoke passionately at a state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) hearing in the County Council chambers last week, lamenting the proposed road closure and suspecting the motives behind it. Too late, it would seem. Actions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology have taken away the county’s best legal argument. Bob Simmons reports. (Cascadia Weekly)

Tracking a voracious invasive predator
Washington Sea Grant (WSG) is responding to a possible threat from an invasive crustacean, with monitoring sites across Puget Sound, including in Jefferson County. The European green crab, a small but highly efficient and adaptable predator, has colonized waters and threatened native shellfish from South Africa to Australia to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. First found on the West Coast in San Francisco Bay in 1989, the green crab has been blamed for the collapse of the softshell clam industry in Maine, according to a press release. The European green crab has appeared in other West Coast bays, including Coos Bay in Oregon, and Willapa Bay in Washington, and in 2012, the first known colony in the inland Salish Sea was discovered near Victoria, British Columbia. (Pt Townsend Leader)

Is it Puget Sound or 'The' Puget Sound?
There's too much weird name-calling going on in Seattle and KIRO Radio's Dave Ross is sick of it. To his ears, anyone who puts a "the" before Puget Sound has it wrong. The Columbia River, the Pacific Ocean - those makes sense. But put the definite article before Puget Sound and you've been influenced by all the Californians who define freeways as "The 405" or "The 10." "There's no real logical reason to hate the 'The,' except that it makes us more like California if we let this continue," Dave said.
Eric Mandel ponders. (MyNorthwest.Com)

Shell plans to appeal L&I fines
Shell Oil Products plans to appeal $77,000 in fines from the Department of Labor & Industries for workplace health violations in connection with an uncontrolled toxic release in February at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery. Shell spokesman Cory Ertel said Friday the specifics of the appeal are still being worked out…. L&I began its investigation at the March Point refinery after learning of an incident during which the refinery’s main flare released contaminants into the environment, prompting numerous odor complaints from the community nearby. Joan Pringle reports. (Anacortes American)

Spotted Owls Still Losing Ground In Northwest Forests
Northern spotted owl numbers are declining across the Northwest, and the primary reason is the spread of the barred owl, according to a new analysis published Wednesday.   Federal scientists have been keeping tabs on spotted owls for more than 20 years now. “We have a lot of data that suggests that they’re in real trouble,” said study co-author Eric Forsman, a retired U.S. Forest Service biologist. Jes Burns reports. (EarthFix)

Whales entangled at an alarming rate along California coast
An unusual warming in the Pacific Ocean might be having disastrous consequences for the majestic whales that use the waters off California as a migratory super-highway. This year alone, more than 60 whales entangled in fishing gear have been spotted along the coast — a more than 400 percent spike over normal and a pattern that began in 2014. Scientists believe the whales might be following prey closer to shore as warm water influences feeding patterns, putting them on a collision course with fishermen, crabbers and lobstermen. Gillian Flaccus reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PST THU DEC 10 2015  
 GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING  

TODAY
 E WIND 25 TO 35 KT...BECOMING S IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED  SEAS 13 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 15 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 16 TO  17 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 15 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN IN  THE MORNING...THEN SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON. SCATTERED TSTMS.

TONIGHT
 S WIND 25 TO 35 KT...BECOMING SE 20 TO 30 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 28 TO 29 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF  18 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 25 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 17 SECONDS  AFTER MIDNIGHT. SHOWERS IN THE EVENING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY AFTER  MIDNIGHT.
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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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