Monday, February 29, 2016

2/29 J55 dead, carbon rule, BC refineries, sardines, Vic boycott, sewage spill, steelhead, goats, methanol

Elwha, 2/24/16 (Tom Roorda/Coastal Watershed Institute)
Youngest orca dies; ocean research goes on
The youngest orca among the Southern Residents was missing when J pod returned to Puget Sound this week. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research delivered the sad news of the calf’s passing. “After an extended encounter with all members of J pod on Feb. 25, 2016, Center for Whale Research reluctantly announces that the newest member, designated J55, is missing and presumed dead,” Ken stated in a news release issued yesterday (2/26). Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

State withdraws Inslee’s proposed carbon-emissions rule
Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration is hitting the pause button on a rule capping carbon emissions in Washington state. The state Department of Ecology on Friday withdrew the proposed Clean Air Rule, with officials saying they’ll rewrite it in coming months to address criticisms and feedback from businesses and environmentalists. The carbon regulation, touted by Inslee and supporters as a major action on climate change, would have required the state’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases — from power plants to refineries and manufacturers — to gradually cut emissions over the coming decades. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

State considers nation’s first carbon emissions tax
Washington could become the first state in the nation to impose a direct tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline and natural gas. A ballot measure before the Legislature would create a carbon tax of $25 per metric ton of fossil fuel emissions burned in Washington, while reducing taxes. Lawmakers have until the end of the session March 10 to enact Initiative 732, offer an alternative proposal or automatically pass the carbon-tax measure to voters in November as written. It’s not clear whether lawmakers will approve an alternative by the end of the session. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Refinery plans in B.C. and Alberta seek to tip over conventional wisdom
Pipeline projects may be stalled, but that hasn’t stopped other proposals from coming forward – including some that were once dismissed as unworkable. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

West Coast sardine populations, long sinking, look even worse in forecast
Sardines off the West Coast have continued on a steep decline, with populations this summer forecast to be down 93 percent from a 2007 peak, according to a draft assessment from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The sardines are a key forage food for sea lions, salmon and many other species, as well as a source of income for commercial fishermen. In some years, sardines have been worth from $10 million to more than $20 million annually to a West Coast fleet. Last year, the sardine implosion was so severe that the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to call off the season that was scheduled to start in July for West Coast fleets, including those in Washington state. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Washington turns up heat for Victoria sewage plant, eyes travel curbs
The lack of sewage treatment in the capital region has the Washington state Senate considering travel restrictions to Victoria for state workers. Under the proposal, costs for travel to Victoria would not be reimbursed unless a catastrophe or other serious situation is involved. The self-described “prime instigator” is Rep. Jeff Morris, whose district includes the San Juan Islands opposite the Saanich Peninsula…. On Thursday, the Washington House of Representatives voted 50-47 in favour of restricting travel to Victoria. The state’s 49 senators will now have until March 10 to make amendments. If passed by Washington’s Senate, the measure would be in effect until the completion of a primary sewage treatment system for Victoria and region, according to the state’s budget deliberation documents. Katherine Dedyna reports. (Times Colonist)

Up to 300,000 gallons of raw sewage spills into Padden Creek
As much as 300,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Padden Creek over 48 hours, prompting officials to warn people to stay out of a stretch of the creek as well as south Boulevard Park beaches. The spill started Tuesday afternoon, during work to replace sewer pipes in the Happy Valley Neighborhood. The discharge was stopped Thursday afternoon. The creek has been closed from 17th Street down to Padden Lagoon, which also should be avoided by people and their pets because of unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria, the city of Bellingham said Friday, Feb. 26. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Uncertainties remain for Puget Sound steelhead management
The future of Puget Sound steelhead fisheries remains uncertain, including for steelhead management on the Skagit River. The state Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee, chaired by Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, heard Thursday from state, tribal, conservation and recreation representatives. No steelhead hatchery program is operating on the Skagit River as a result of a lawsuit agreement the state Department of Fish & Wildlife agreed to in 2014. The agency is also considering designating the Skagit River as a wild steelhead gene bank, which would prohibit steelhead hatchery operations indefinitely in an effort to restore the wild fish population. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Oregon scraps goat landscaping scheme due to cost and smell
Oregon will not be renewing a scheme which uses goats to eat invasive species due to rising costs and complaints over the animals' odour. Salem, the state capital, hired a herd of 75 goats to munch their way through plants like Armenian blackberry in the city's largest park. But costs came to more than five times the city would have spent on human landscapers, a report found. The goats also ate native plants among the invasive species, the report added. (BBC)

Some answers to the methanol-plant questions fueling impassioned debate
Intense public scrutiny of a China-backed company’s plan to build the world’s largest methanol plant in Tacoma’s Tideflats shows no sign of abating despite a pause in the regulatory process. Northwest Innovation Works has asked the city of Tacoma to put review of the plant on hold, citing vocal public opposition. The company says it will restart its application to build the facility after several months of public outreach. Meanwhile, groups on each side of the debate over the plant are moving ahead with their causes. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  311 AM PST MON FEB 29 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH 10 PM
 PST TONIGHT
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING
 THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING  

TODAY
 S WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND  WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 12 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS  IN THE MORNING...THEN A SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.

TONIGHT
 SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING E 15 TO 25 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 14 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 8 FT AT 13  SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT. RAIN.

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