Tuesday, March 29, 2016

3/29 Freighters, Elwha, light rail, Salish Sea, climate plan, septic fee, Tesoro, bag ban, Kply site, Wild Pacific Trail

Dry, Sunny and Getting Warmer (Puget Sound)
Lawmakers reach deal on state budget
More than halfway through a 30-day overtime legislative session, lawmakers Monday announced an agreement on a state supplemental operating budget. Joseph O’Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Jack Knox: Gabriola residents fear disaster from anchoring freighter traffic
A sea battle is raging off Gabriola Island. On one side, the commercial shipping sector, which is eyeing the island’s northeast coast as overflow parking for the port of Vancouver. On the other, island residents who don’t want 300-metre-long freighters plunked outside their picture windows, ruining their view and — they fear — the environment. That’s the issue on a micro level. More broadly, though, there’s the question of where our little Pacific paradise fits into the global supermarket. Vancouver is, based on the tonnage it handles, the third-largest port in North America. You can see that in the thousands of freighters that pass Victoria each year, all that grain bound for Asia and all those iPhones heading to your pocket. (Times Colonist)

Washington's Olympic Peninsula loses 2 dams and gains a wild river – plus a new beach
The United States is expanding. That was not among the goals when the Elwha River was set free. With the removal of two concrete dams that blocked the river for a century, the Elwha has released a wave of sand that has pushed the shoreline here north toward Canada. William Yardley reports. (LA Times)

King County Executive Says $27 Billion Light Rail Extension Is Answer to Growth
King County Executive Dow Constantine used his State of the County address to make a pitch for a massive expansion of public transportation. A $27-billion-dollar Sound Transit 3 tax proposal is on this fall’s ballot. Under the proposal, light rail would extend to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and, eventually, run from Everett to Tacoma. The completion date would be 25 years from now. Critics who oppose the transit proposal cite the cost, $400 a year for the average homeowner, and the length of time for completion. But Constantine says not approving it would be a mistake similar to what happened in the region in the 1970s. Paula Wissel reports. (KPLU)

Event celebrates the Salish Sea
Oak Bay’s Barbara Adams and Jacques Sirois join a sea of guest speakers celebrating the Salish Sea and the name change of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney. The special event this Saturday, April 2, marks the official change to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and raises money for programs. “Our new focus is on the entire bioregion, so that includes now the watershed, the land and also the culture and people, so it’s really trying to elevate the awareness of the Salish Sea as it goes along with our new name,” said Mark Loria, the centre’s executive director…. Headlining the event is Bert Webber, a marine biologist and retired Western Washington University professor who coined the term Salish Sea and helped form WWU’s Salish Sea Studies Institute. Webber joins environmentalist, author, educator and broadcaster Briony Penn to talk about how the name Salish Sea came to be. Carlie Connolly reports. (Oak Bay News)

Metro Vancouver raises concern about B.C.'s climate leadership plan
B.C.’s commitment to a new climate leadership plan is being questioned by Metro Vancouver staff, who say the provincial initiative doesn’t adequately reflect the region’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. In a report going to Metro Vancouver’s board on Friday, staff say they are concerned the province’s decision not to issue a draft plan as promised for additional comment is watering down the concerns of local governments and the public. Instead, the province has said it will issue a final plan later this spring. Jeff Lee reports. (Vancouver Sun)

King County considering fee for septic systems 
The possibility of a new fee for septic system owners throughout King County has some Woodinville residents worried. Last month, the King County Board of Health voted unanimously to approve a resolution that includes developing a list of all septic systems in King County and finding a stable funding source to oversee management of septic systems. A staff report about the resolution states that failing septic systems contribute to surface and groundwater pollution in streams, lakes, aquifers and Puget Sound. The report estimates there are at least 40,000 septic systems in King County, half of which could be polluting because they were installed prior to safe design and installation standards. Briana Gerdeman reports. (Woodinville Weekly)

Open house set for Tesoro refinery project
Skagit County Planning and Development Services will hold an open house and take public comment Thursday on the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery’s Clean Products Upgrade Project, which includes potential xylene production. Xylene can be extracted from crude oil and used to create products such as polyester fabrics and plastics. Skagit County announced March 17 that it is requiring an environmental impact statement for the proposal under the State Environmental Policy Act. Comments on the scope of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. April 15. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Tacoma council moving to ban plastic grocery bags despite mixed survey
Tacoma City Council members are ready to take steps to phase out plastic grocery bags even though a recent informal survey suggests many residents aren’t ready for the change. That survey of almost 2,200 people showed no clear majority in support of a ban. About 48 percent of respondents want the city to outlaw disposable bags, 42 percent opposed the proposal and the remainder indicated they were on the fence. Adam Ashton reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Port of Port Angeles eyes marine industrial park plans for former KPly site
The former KPly mill site, on the cusp of final pollution cleanup, would see new life as an edge-of-downtown marine trades industrial park for yachts and other large ships under plans that were given a first run-through Monday by Port of Port Angeles commissioners. The industrial park could cost $8.2 million to develop by 2018, according to long-range port budget estimates. To that end, an estimated 52,000 tons of earth laden with benzene, dioxins and other pollutants have been removed from the excavated, 18-acre Marine Drive site, located about three blocks from the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

B.C.'s Wild Pacific Trail, a magical, powerful edge-of-ocean hike
Oyster Jim says walking Vancouver Island's Wild Pacific Trail is a journey along the edge of the open Pacific Ocean, with its majesty, power and beauty in full view. Many agree, as the eight-kilometre nature trail near Ucluelet, about 300 kilometres northwest of Victoria, has been ranked the top outdoor attraction in the province by TripAdvisor and among the travel ranking site's top 10 in Canada. Waves as high as houses crash against the rocks at the iconic Amphitrite Point lighthouse, once toppled by a massive wave. Migrating grey whales are spotted from easy-access trail-viewing areas, and huge cedar trees, hundreds of years old, reach for the sky. Dirk Meissner reports. (Canadian Press)

Complaint over Saanich eco-bylaw thrown out
The Office of the Ombudsperson of B.C. has thrown out a complaint that Saanich failed to adequately notify owners of the Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw it passed in 2012. The bylaw, aimed at preserving biodiversity, has affected most of Saanich’s homeowners on waterfront property, preventing the alteration of land, subdivision and construction unless an exemption applies or a development permit is issued. Katherine Dedyna reports. (Times Colonist)

How caucuses disenfranchise voters
If you live in a caucus state, like I do, you’ve heard party officials talk about how the caucus system is more democratic, more small-government, more conducive to building party unity than holding a big primary. Here’s Washington Democratic Party spokesman Jamal Raad, touting the system to me over the phone: “We’re not trying to be representative of the Washington State electorate. We’re trying to be representative of Washington State Democrats. And we actually make it very easy. You just have to show up and affirm that you’re a Democrat to participate. … It’s like a block party.” But it’s a block party that not everyone can attend. And that’s a problem, especially for the environment, because the people left out tend to be those who care more about it. Katie Herzog reports. (Grist)

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