Thursday, January 14, 2016

1/14 First Nations rights, fish catches, restoration tax, oil prices, Colstrip, poop study, Vic sewer, poached crab, Way of Whales

If you like to watch: Healthy dippers follow salmon return to the upper Elwha River
The American dipper, a chunky songbird able to walk on the bottom of swift-moving streams, is one of the many species benefitting from removal of the Elwha dams, according to a new study. You might see this bird bobbing up and down at the edge of a stream or pecking away at bugs in shallow water. They are memorable for repetitive diving or simply walking along as water rushes over and around them. Their transparent second eyelid allows them to search for tiny invertebrates and small fish, including juvenile salmon. They can close their nostrils under water, and their feathers produce extra oil to protect them from the cold water. (The video from YouTube does not say where it was filmed.) As for dippers in the Olympic Mountains, the arrival of salmon far upstream from the Elwha dams could boost the population of these marvelous birds, said to be America’s only true aquatic songbird. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

B.C. government failed to properly consult First Nations on Northern Gateway pipeline, court rules
The B.C. Supreme court has ruled that the province "has breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult" with the Gitga'at and other Coastal First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The court challenge — one of many on the controversial proposed pipeline — stemmed from the B.C. government's agreement with Ottawa to hold a single environmental assessment process, under the National Energy Board, rather than parallel federal and provincial reviews. In 2014, the federal government approved the controversial pipeline that would bring heavy Alberta oil to B.C.'s north coast, for international shipment by tanker. But First Nations opponents of the pipeline argued the province wasn't living up to its own duty to consult with them, and today, the court found in their favour. (CBC) See also: Ruling could affect more than Northern Gateway  Brian Morton reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New study predicts significant declines in B.C. native fish catches due to climate change
Climate change will slash aboriginal fishing catches by as much as about 50 per cent by 2050 as marine species move farther north along the B.C. coast in search of cooler waters, a new study concludes. Published on Wednesday in the online journal PLOS ONE, the study of 98 species of fish and invertebrates utilized by 16 First Nations communities along the coast suggests that the average catch will drop by 4.5 to 11 per cent at a loss conservatively estimated at $6.7 million to $12 million annually in commercial fisheries values alone. The ranges are based on low-and-high greenhouse-gas-emission scenarios calculated by the International Panel on Climate Change. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

1st-ever parcel tax to restore San Francisco Bay headed to voters
A first-of-its-kind ballot measure that would use a parcel tax to pay for a suite of wetlands and habitat restoration projects on San Francisco Bay will be put before voters in all nine Bay Area counties, a government authority decided Wednesday. The unprecedented move by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is an attempt to bring back some of the historic marshlands that once ringed the bay — and to shore up bay communities against expected sea level rise in future decades. The authority, a special district formed by the state in 2009, agreed to ask voters on June 7 to approve a $12-a-year parcel tax for 20 years to fund clean water projects, pollution prevention programs and the restoration of some 35,000 acres of wetlands along the bay. Peter Fimrite reports. (SF Chronicle)

What’s so significant about oil prices at $30 per barrel 
The seemingly unending early 2016 plunge of oil prices continued Tuesday — with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude briefly dropping below $30 per barrel and Brent crude, the global benchmark, falling as low as $30.34 before settling at $30.86. For comparison, WTI crude closed at over $38 on the day before Christmas — and Brent crude was at similar levels. Brent crude has now fallen from a recent peak of over $114 in June 2014. The declines aren’t as steep as on prior days this year, but what’s significant is the new move toward $30 per barrel oil — with WTI crude breaking briefly below $30 at $29.93 before closing at $30.44 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That represents a key psychological level for investors, said Peter Pulikkan, an energy analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, one that would cause traders to “reassess their perceptions of the oil market.” Chris Mooney reports. (Washington Post)

Could The Dip In Oil Prices Affect Vancouver's Proposed Oil Terminal?
U.S. oil dropped below $30 a barrel during trading Tuesday. That’s the lowest price since December 2003. The dip in price happened on the same day Washington state held a public hearing about a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. Oil was more than $100 per barrel when the Vancouver Energy Project was first announced back in the summer of 2013. Still, backers of the oil terminal said the joint venture, between oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, is insulated from current market conditions. Conrad Wilson reports. (OPB)

Colstrip owners write bills putting plant’s future in doubt
Three of the six utilities that own southeastern Montana’s Colstrip power plant have helped write legislation in Washington state and Oregon that could threaten future operations of the second-largest coal-fired plant in the West. That has started a debate among Montana lawmakers on whether to focus on protecting a major state employer and economic driver or to lobby Washington state’s Legislature to create a fund to lessen the blow of a potential partial shutdown of Colstrip. “We’re in a war,” said state Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte, of protecting Colstrip’s workers and community. “I’m not going to Washington on my knees to say please put this in the bill.” Matt Volz reports. (Great Fall Tribune)

WSU seeks retraction, says researcher faked poop-to-power study data
A researcher exploring ways to convert cow poop into electrical power faked data and claimed his laboratory notebook blew into a manure pit, according to a Washington State University investigation. The university also concluded that Craig Frear, who was an assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Biological Engineering, failed to declare a conflict of interest based on his patents and links with makers of dairy-waste digesters. Frear has since resigned, WSU spokesman Robert Strenge said in an email. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Despite lack of detail on options, CRD turns to public on sewage
The public will be asked to weigh in on a variety of sewage-treatment options over the next month — even though specifics such as technologies to be used, sites and costs have not been firmed up. The hope is to have a site or sites selected by the end of March so as not to jeopardize $84 million in federal funding for the mega-project, now estimated to cost between $1 billion and $1.3 billion. Some members of the Capital Regional District’s sewage committee, such as Saanich Coun. Vic Derman, argued consultation is premature and likely to frustrate the public because there are too many unknowns. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Transportation Safety Board issues report on ill-fated Leviathan II; Examination phase of investigation is now complete
The Transportation Safety Board has completed its initial examination of a whale-watching boat that capsized in the waters off Tofino in October, killing six people. The 65-foot-long Leviathan II, operated by Jamie's Whaling Station and Adventure Centre in Tofino, capsized at Plover Reefs, about 15 kilometres northwest of Tofino, at about 3:45 a.m. on Oct. 25. Of the 27 people on board, there were 24 passengers and three crew. In total, 21 were rescued. Six died. (Cindy E. Harnett reports. (Times Colonist)

Accused crab poachers arrested in Marysville
Two Tulalip tribal members are accused of poaching possibly thousands of crab from Puget Sound. The two men were arrested after selling the crab at a Marysville nail salon. There are seasonal and catch limits for taking dungeness crab from Puget Sound, but officers with the Department of Fish and Wildlife say Robert Fryberg and Nicholas Edelman ignored state law and tribal rules when they spent weeks poaching crab near the Tulalip shores. Matt Markovich reports. (KOMO)

Way of Whales Workshop 2016
Ways of Whales brings together the best researchers in the region to discuss cetaceans of the Salish Sea, how they are faring, and the latest research and actions to help cetaceans, their prey and their habitats. This workshop is for anyone who loves whales and wants to learn more, with each session covering a different topic/species, and all presentations geared toward a diverse audience. January 23, Coupeville Middle School Performing Arts Center. (Orca Network)

Hey, Washington state: Try to tune out that endless gloom
Sunny Jay Inslee tried to bring a little sunshine into the state Capitol Tuesday. But our strange gloom blocked any light. Danny Westneat writes. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PST THU JAN 14 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM PST THIS MORNING
 THROUGH LATE TONIGHT  

TODAY
 S WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING SE 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 11  SECONDS. ISOLATED SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.

TONIGHT
 E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT  14 SECONDS SUBSIDING TO 6 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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