|Harbour seal (Benjamin Nelson/Vancouver Sun)|
A bountiful population of harbour seals is a prime suspect in the decline of coho and chinook in the Strait of Georgia, according to a new study…. The population of harbour seals has grown steadily with federal protection, from fewer than 5,000 in 1970 to about 40,000 in 2008 in the Strait of Georgia — a period that corresponds with marked declines in coho and chinook. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)
US Tribes Oppose Massive Pipeline Expansion in Canada
A proposed pipeline-expansion project in Canada will put the fishing rights and cultural heritage of U.S. tribes at risk, a lawyer representing several Washington state tribes told Canadian energy regulators. Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project would nearly triple pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude oil a day. It would carry oil from Alberta's oil sands to the Vancouver area to be loaded on to barges and tankers for Asian and U.S. markets. The project would dramatically increase the number of oil tankers that ply Washington state waters. This project will harm the cultures of the US tribes," said Kristen Boyles, an Earthjustice attorney who spoke against the project Friday on behalf of the Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Lummi tribes. She made final arguments to Canada's National Energy Board at a hearing in Burnaby, British Columbia, which was broadcast online. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)
Stormwater ruling favors builders, local governments
A legal argument about stormwater requirements for new construction was resolved last week in favor of homebuilders and local governments, but the outcome disappointed clean-water advocates. Tuesday’s 2-1 ruling from the state Court of Appeals Division II affects a new federally mandated drainage code that took effect Friday. Instead of adhering to new low-impact design requirements to reduce storm runoff in urban areas, the decision will allow projects to be built under rules in place when permits were submitted, even years earlier. The same principle applies to land-use regulations in Washington and is known as vesting. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)
Green groups brace for attacks in Olympia
Stung by the defeat last year of their efforts to pass legislation to fight climate change, environmentalists this year are back on their heels and bracing to fight off attacks on state policies governing water, public lands and the fight against climate change, among other areas. In fact, for the first time since the state’s major environmental lobbying groups started laying out annual priorities a dozen years ago, they have made it formal: This year, they are pretty much just playing defense. Last year they not only couldn’t get the climate legislation approved, but they also saw a transportation bill pass that tied the state’s hands on mandating more-efficient fuels for cars and trucks. And they endured passage of a law to regulate oil transport by trains that was largely seen as a win for industry. Robert McClure reports. (InvestigateWest)
Next Generation Toxic Flame Retardants Under Scrutiny
In 2007, the State Legislature banned certain chemicals used to fire-proof things like mattresses and children’s car seats. But a study from an advocacy group suggests the replacements may be more harmful than previously believed. The study found the new generation of flame retardants are floating around in the air we breathe. They’re easy to inhale, unlike the now-banned substances which were primarily ingested through household dust. The findings could inform an important conversation this week – as legislators explore a bill on toxic flame retardants. The bill would shift responsibility for monitoring these chemicals to the Department of Health. Monica Spain reports. (KPLU)
Challenges remain as Port Gamble Bay cleanup progresses
Russ McMillan admits his first count was way off. Looking across Port Gamble Bay from where a lumber mill operated for more than a century, the toxic site cleanup manager said he thought he'd need to remove about 1,400 tar-coated pilings from the narrow waterway. "But that number jumped to 2,300 and it keeps growing," he said. At last count, 3,014 pilings had been plucked from the bay and its shores since the state Department of Ecology and the mill site's owner began an ambitious cleanup program in September. It's a staggering number of pilings, but that's probably not even the half of it, according to McMillan, who works for Ecology. Tristan Baurick reports. (Kitsap Sun)
Eagles on the move
The bald eagles typically found this time of the year along the upper Skagit River are instead being seen in western Skagit County and along the Nooksack River in Whatcom County. They have been spotted in large numbers in the Samish Flats and on Fir Island, areas they don’t typically frequent until February and March. “In the Samish Flats, we’ve had an amazing number of eagles ... I think there’s more eagles than ever,” state Department of Fish & Wildlife Biologist Paul DeBruyn said. “I counted 50 eagles in one tree.” Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood to divert stormwater runoff from Irvine Slough
City leaders have decided to kick off a 10-year project to better manage stormwater and floodwater so downtown doesn’t get inundated when the Stillaguamish River rises. On Jan. 14 they reviewed a study of options for redirecting the city’s stormwater runoff from the flood-prone Irvine Slough and for speeding up drainage when it does flood. They voted to accept the study and its recommendations, which include two longterm projects expected to cost $18.9 million total. Design work should start soon on a pump station and stormwater pipe, the first pieces of the projects, city administrator Deborah Knight said. Kari Bray reports. (Everett Herald)
Black Press closes Nanaimo Daily News after 141 years of publishing
The Nanaimo Daily News will stop publishing next week, ending 141 years in business. The newspaper on Vancouver Island made the announcement Friday on Facebook and Twitter, thanking its advertisers and readers for their support. The paper, which publishes five times a week, will close on Jan. 29. Its website lists 10 staff members on its news team, including three reporters and a photographer. Black Press bought the paper from Glacier Media in December 2014. The media company also owns the Nanaimo News Bulletin, which publishes twice a week. (Canadian Press)
Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 244 AM PST MON JAN 25 2016
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
TONIGHT SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 17 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY AFTER MIDNIGHT.
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