Monday, January 18, 2016

1/18 Tribes united, train protest, coal leases, BC coal, Phillips fine, BC LNG, Mukilteo dock, shellfish initiative, imidacloprid, underwater views, geese shoot, Edmonds pier, PCBs, green prayer, Jason-3

Cherry Point, WA (Seattle Times)
Northwest Tribes unite against giant coal, oil projects
CHERRY POINT, Whatcom County — On this last bit of undeveloped coast between a smelter and two oil refineries, SSA Marine wants to build the biggest coal export terminal in North America, to load up some of the largest ships afloat arriving up to 487 times a year, mostly from Asian ports. The blockbuster $665 million proposal is one of many fossil fuel transport projects under review in the region — from oil pipeline expansions in B.C., to oil-by-rail facilities in Southwest Washington and another coal port in Longview. And while thousands of people have turned out to protest Washington turning into one of the largest fossil fuel hubs in the country, Northwest tribes appear best positioned to win the fight. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

New blog: What Would Dr. King Do?
I’m thinking today about the terrible civil disruption black people cause sitting down in all-white lunch counter restaurants and sitting in the front seats of city buses because they wanted to be treated as equals. I’m thinking today of the inconvenience it cause people when folks in Baltimore gathered downtown to protest the death of Freddy Gray because black lives matter and forced a cancellation of an Orioles baseball game. I’m thinking today of First Nations folks occupying where the Site C dam is planned to be built in northern British Columbia because that’s sacred tribal grounds. I’m thinking today of five activist who were convicted last Friday of trespassing because they chained themselves to railroad property protesting coal trains coming through Puget Sound….

5 activists convicted of trespass on Everett tracks in protest over oil, coal trains
Five Washington activists who blocked BNSF Railway tracks were convicted of trespass Friday in a Snohomish County District Court trial that defense attorneys used to showcase the environmental and health threats posed by trains transporting oil and coal. A six-person jury reached guilty verdicts on misdemeanor trespass charges for all five defendants. The defendants were found not guilty of the additional charge of obstructing or trying to delay trains. Their protest, which lasted for eight hours, unfolded Sept. 2, 2014, on a BNSF rail yard in Everett as they sought to draw attention to the risks of coal and oil trains that travel through the state…. The trespassing count carries a sentence of up to 90 days in jail. The defendants have already spent one day in jail, and they received a suspended sentence for the other 89 days as well as two years of probation. Four of the defendants also must pay $553 in fines and fees, according to Bob Goldsmith, an attorney for Brockway. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Obama administration halts new coal leases on federal lands: Another blow to Big Coal
The federal government will stop issuing new coal leases on federal lands, mainly in Wyoming and Montana, as the Obama administration reviews coal’s impact on climate change as well as the price that big coal companies are paying America’s taxpayers. Announced by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the move is another blow to Big Coal. Four coal companies have filed for bankruptcy protection, the latest Arch Coal earlier this week. Natural gas has recently passed coal as America’s largest generator of electricity. Coal plants are being converted or phased out from the Tennessee Valley Authority in the East to the Centralia coal plant in Washington. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Coal-lease moratorium a new blow to proposed terminals here   Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Last working coal mine on Vancouver Island shuts down, marking end of era
The last working coal mine on Vancouver Island has halted production indefinitely, marking the end of an industry that established towns, a railway, and some of the province's first labour unions, says a B.C. historian. The owners of Quinsam coal mine near Campbell River suspended operations earlier this month, stating the move is in response to a decline in coal prices and market demand. (CBC)

Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery hit with $324,000 fine 
 The Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery was hit with a $324,000 fine by the state for several workplace violations revolving around fire and hazardous chemical safety. The refinery received the fine for violations that took place in 2014 and were not corrected, according to a news release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. The 2014 citations are under appeal, but state law requires employers to correct hazards even if the violations are under appeal, according to L&I. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald

B.C. LNG project poses low risk to environment, federal scientists say
Federal scientists say a proposal to export liquefied natural gas from British Columbia poses a low risk to the environment, a crucial ruling that sides with Pacific NorthWest LNG’s contention that its project won’t ruin an ecologically sensitive site. The consortium led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas wants to build an $11.4-billion terminal on Lelu Island, which is located next to Flora Bank – a sandy area with eelgrass that nurtures juvenile salmon. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Work on future Mukilteo ferry dock ahead of schedule
Demolition of a 1950s-era pier at a former military fuel storage site — the first step in building a new $129 million ferry terminal — is nearly complete. The work is expected to be wrapped up next month, a year ahead of schedule…. The pier's removal was complicated by debris on its surface which also had to be disposed. This included 12,000 feet of fuel lines, 800 40-gallon bags of asbestos, several tons of grass and other organic material that grew on the pier during the 26 years since it was closed, as well as railings, catwalks and mercury-filled lights.The pier's wooden pilings contained an estimated 7,000 tons of toxic creosote, about 4 percent of all the creosote left in Puget Sound, according to the ferry system. Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

Washington, NOAA launch next step of shellfish initiative
Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday renewed the state's commitment to protecting Washington's lucrative shellfish resources. Inslee joined federal, tribal and other leaders at the National Fish & Oyster Co. in Olympia to launch the second phase of the Washington Shellfish Initiative, which former Gov. Chris Gregoire initiated in 2011. The state, working with many partners including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will take new steps to improve water quality, restore native shellfish such as Olympia oysters, improve the permitting process for shellfish-growers and promote ways to address how ocean acidification is affecting shellfish. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Oyster growers have new plans to spray beds with pesticide
Celebrity chefs bemoaned it, two major shellfish producers backed out of it, and ultimately, a group of oyster farmers withdrew from it amid a fervor of bad publicity. But seven months after public outcry derailed a plan to spray a neurotoxic pesticide on the celebrated oyster beds of southwest Washington, a group of shellfish growers has rekindled pursuit of a proposal to control pesky burrowing shrimp that harm oyster production. Earlier this month, the Willapa Bay-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association submitted paperwork to the Washington Department of Ecology that seeks to reinstate a previously approved permit — or, if that’s not possible, apply for a new one — so that 12 local shellfish farms can spray the pesticide imidacloprid in coastal estuaries.  Lewis Kamb reports. (Seattle Times)

UW scientists capture underwater eruption with new fiber-optic array, set up HD web cam
The idea was hatched in a bar more than two decades ago. University of Washington oceanographer John Delaney and a colleague were nursing cocktails and venting their frustration with the traditional approach to studying the underwater world. The ocean and seafloor are dynamic environments, with tectonic plates pulling apart, superhot fluids gushing from hydrothermal vents and an ever-shifting cast of creatures on the move.  When his friend mentioned a new technology called fiber optics, it fired Delaney’s imagination. He grabbed a napkin and sketched out a network of sensors attached to cables that could transmit data instantly and continuously. He called it an underwater observatory. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: With new tech, scientists probe what lies beneath the Sound  Chris Winters reports. (Everett Herald)

Unwelcome Canada geese prompt push to allow hunting on Victoria farmland
There's a push to change local firearms bylaws to allow for more hunting of Canada geese on Victoria-area farmland. Farmers are currently allowed to kill a small number of geese per week if they have a crop-damage permit from the Canadian Wildlife Service. But Terry Michell, of Michell Bros. Farm in Central Saanich, said they are losing the battle with a growing number of birds in the region. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

Popular Edmonds pier will be closed 3 months for repairs
The venerable Edmonds pier, which attracts an estimated 100,000 visitors a year to the city's waterfront, will be closed for three months for repairs starting in mid-March. It won't be just strollers and bird-watchers who will feel the effect. The pier's closure means there won't be any place in Edmonds for people to cast their fishing lines into Puget Sound until the pier reopens. “It's important for people to know that there won't be an alternative,” said Jen Leach, the city's environmental education and sustainability coordinator. All waterfront shorelines in the city are part of a marine sanctuary, she said. “There is no fishing allowed.” Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

This banned toxic chemical is still putting whales at risk 30 years later
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been banned by a worldwide agreement since 1986, and were banned in some countries several years before that. But 30 years later, the toxic compound is still showing up in the wild. According to a study published Thursday in Scientific Reports, European striped and bottlenose dolphins and killer whales have some of the highest concentrations of PCBs in their blubber ever recorded worldwide. The researchers behind the study say that these concentrations are high enough to cause declines in population and make recovery from other ecological challenges more difficult. Rachel Feltman reports. (Washington Post)

Congregations come together over concern for environment
They were drawn together by their concern for the planet. Members from three Edmonds churches held a special prayer service and processional last month as world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss climate change…. A week before the pact was signed, about 100 people attended the Edmonds prayer service. Participants later braved heavy rains for a candlelight processional that stretched from the Methodist church on Casper Street to the city center. The event was organized by church members from Edmonds United Methodist, Holy Rosary and Edmonds Unitarian Universalist. They called their group Interfaith Climate Action. Diana Hefley reports. (Everett Herald)

Jason ocean height mission blasts off
US-European satellite that is fundamental to our understanding of the oceans has launched from California. Jason-3 will measure the shape of the global sea surface to an accuracy of better than 4cm. It will track currents, tides, winds, wave heights, and will help forecast the intensity of storms. But the new mission will also maintain the reference data-set on sea-level rise. This shows the world's oceans to be rising at more than 3mm per year. Jonathan Amos reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  643 AM PST MON JAN 18 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST
 THIS MORNING  SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT  

TODAY
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 14 FT AT 14 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO  12 FT AT 14 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.

TONIGHT
 E WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING SW 5 TO 15 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...SUBSIDING TO 2 FT OR LESS AFTER  MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 12 FT AT 14 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 15 FT AT  14 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT. RAIN IN THE EVENING...THEN NUMEROUS  SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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