Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2/10 Clean power, carbon tax, Esquimalt claim, pricing nature, karst, snowpack, cable ferry, big ship, Vic sewer, foot found

(Space Needle Cam/Weather Blog)
Super-Inversion Over Western Washington
Cliff Mass on Tuesday reported on one of the strongest inversions he's ever seen in Seattle: "The inversion is so strong because temperatures have warmed up aloft, a very strong offshore pressure gradient developed (producing strong subsidence/compression warming on the western slopes), and cool/foggy air is trapped at low levels.  The Space Needle Cam this morning showed the shallow cold/foggy layer very well. (Weather Blog) See also: Seattle breaks record high Tuesday; Forks hotter than Miami  Scott Sistek reports. (KOMO)

Supreme Court puts Obama’s Clean Power Plan on hold
A divided Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to halt enforcement of President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan to address climate change until after legal challenges are resolved. The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations “an unprecedented power grab.” By issuing the temporary freeze, a 5-4 majority of the justices signaled that opponents made strong arguments against the rules. The high court’s four liberal justices said Tuesday they would have denied the request for delay. The Obama administration’s plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030. Michael Biesecker and Sam Hananel report. (Associated Press)

Washington Lawmakers Consider Putting A Price On Carbon
State lawmakers this week began discussing a measure that could make Washington the first state to tax residents and businesses on their carbon emissions…. More than 350,000 voters signed Initiative 732. Under state law, Washington's legislators must either authorize the carbon tax themselves, or send it to a statewide vote in November. It would tax polluters $25 for every metric ton of CO2 they emit in Washington.  Ken Christensen reports. (KUOW)

Esquimalt First Nation claims land, water
The Esquimalt First Nation is claiming lands and water around Greater Victoria, saying the Crown unlawfully seized the property. In a notice of civil claim filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Tuesday, the Esquimalt Nation is seeking an order of possession for the lands and water in question, and compensation. The area covers waterfront land in Esquimalt that is now held by the Department of National Defence, running roughly north to Lyall Street in Esquimalt and west to Clifton Terrace near Macaulay Point. Plumper Bay and Inskip Islands are also claimed, as is a chunk of land from the shoreline on the west and across Admirals Road and past Seenupin Road on the east. Hallowell Road is the northern border. (Times Colonist)

Economists keep saying we should put a price on nature. Now they’ve finally done it
Putting a price on nature may seem like an impossible task, but economists believe that finding a way to calculate the value of natural resources is crucial when it comes to deciding whether our use of a resource is sustainable. Natural resources are capital assets, economists have argued, in the same way that land, buildings and stocks are considered assets — and spending money to protect these resources should be viewed as an investment in the future rather than just another cost. The problem is that, so far, no one has developed a good way to estimate the monetary value of natural resources. But now, a group of scholars may have finally come up with a solution. In a paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they’ve published a formula for computing the price of what they refer to as “natural capital” — including everything from groundwater to forests. And they argue that using this formula will allow policymakers to compare the value of natural capital with the value of more traditional forms of capital, thus encouraging better investments and more sustainable decisions in the future. Chelsea Harvey reports. (Washington Post)

Agreement fails to protect rare karst landscapes, expert warns
The newly signed Great Bear Rainforest agreement is under attack for failing to adequately protect of one of the world’s most fragile landscapes — subterranean karst, including features such as caves and sinkholes. The agreement “does not address karst specifically, it’s left to chance,” warned Paul Griffiths, a karst authority and scientist based in Campbell River. “If you have a cave in the Great Bear Rainforest it is not automatically protected. They need to address karst directly with a specific objective.” Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Mountain snowpack above normal across Washington state
Mountain snowpack came in above normal in Washington state, raising hopes the normally soggy state will not repeat last year’s drought conditions that helped fuel the worst wildfire season in its history, a federal agency said Monday. Winter snowpack was 109 percent of normal across the state, but the numbers varied by location, according to a Feb. 1 report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Some areas came in just below 70 percent, while others ranked close to 150 percent of normal. Nicholas Geranios reports. (Associated Press)

New Denman Island cable ferry officially in service
BC Ferries says a controversial new cable ferry from Vancouver Island to Denman Island has officially gone into service. The Baynes Sound Connector is the first cable ferry in the fleet and replaces the Quinitsa, the current boat on the route. Existing schedules remain the same. According to a release from BC Ferries, the new ferry uses less than half the fuel of the Quinitsa, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 480 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. (CBC)

Container ship larger than the Empire State Building will visit Seattle waters this month
The largest container ship to ever visit a North American port and the most immense vessel that has ever called in the Western hemisphere is heading to Seattle later this month. The Benjamin Franklin, a giant 200,000 ton mega container ship is owned by France-based shipping company CMA CGM Group, and was built in China where it is based. Patti Payne reports. (Puget Sound Business Journal) See also: One million cruise ship passengers will head to Alaska from Seattle this year  (Puget Sound Business Journal)

Victoria Sewer: Protect our oceans, and get it done already
Former BC premier Mike Harcourt writes: "Greater Victoria’s daily flush of 130 million litres of raw sewage and 40,000 kilograms of solids into Haro Strait and toward Race Rocks is neither environmentally nor politically sustainable. Just ask Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, who wrote to Premier Christy Clark on June 10, 2014, noting that: “It is now more than 20 years since your province agreed to implement wastewater treatment in Greater Victoria.” It’s clear that our neighbours’ patience is running out. And here at home, fatigue is setting in. The issue has dragged on far too long. It’s long past time to put a shovel in the ground and start work on a wastewater treatment facility…."  (Times Colonist)

Human foot found in shoe at Botanical Beach
A human foot has been found inside a shoe on Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew. Charlotte Stephens of Duncan said that her husband spotted it on Sunday…. Matt Brown, regional coroner, told CHEK that the left New Balance shoe was manufactured some time after March 2013…. B.C. Coroners Service spokeswoman Barb McClintock said an investigation is underway to determine whose foot it is and the cause of death. It’s at least the 12th foot found washed up on the B.C. coast since 2007. McClintock said of the previous instances, coroners have been able to identify 10 feet, belonging to seven people. Carla Wilson reports. (Times Colonist)

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