Thursday, May 12, 2016

5/12 Break Free, coal ports, Vic sewer, fish season, snowpack, Colstrip, spot prawn, land use code

Tesoro at March Point (John Hagen/ZUMA)
Protestors To Converge On Anacortes For Direct Action Against Fossil Fuels
Hundreds of activists are gathering in Anacortes this weekend for protests aimed at keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The Pacific Northwest “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” event is part of two weeks of actions that have been taking place in dozens of cities all over the globe. Other U.S. cities on the list include Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Local authorities are warning residents to prepare for congestion. Anacortes is home to two oil refineries that are the focal point of the protests. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU) See also: Anacortes Climate Protest Clashes With Heron Nesting Season  Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Environmentalists worry more U.S. coal will come through B.C. after Wash. port proposal rejected
Local environmentalists are worried more coal could end up coming through B.C. after the U.S. government rejected a proposed coal terminal near Bellingham, Washington on Monday. The rejection came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined the terminal would negatively impact the treaty-based fishing rights of the Lummi Nation. "We're excited for our allies in the United States," says Arie Ross, a Beyond Coal campaigner for the Dogwood Initiative. But Ross is worried that the decision could mean a renewed reliance on B.C. terminals by U.S. coal companies: "[They] are looking to export through whatever means they can, and the fact that another coal port has been cancelled means that there's [only] two more opportunities to get their coal to market." Ross is referring to proposed coal terminals in Fraser-Surrey and Longview, Washington. (CBC)

Politicians bow to pressure, accept independent sewage board
Greater Victoria politicians bowed to provincial pressure Wednesday and agreed to set up an independent panel of experts to oversee sewage treatment plans for the region. The Capital Regional District board made the decision following a private meeting with B.C. Community Minister Peter Fassbender, who essentially told the politicians to get moving or risk losing more than $500 million in federal and provincial money this fall. “The minister made it very clear that there was just too many committees, too many interests and what we need to do is focus,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, a CRD board director. “So what we’ve done today is essentially accepted the recommendation of a very lean, very pointed governance structure which will come up with recommendations.” Lindsay Kines reports. (Times Colonist) See also: B.C. makes offer the CRD board couldn’t refuse  The politicians might paint it in prettier colours but have no doubt, this was the day the provincial government lost patience with Dysfunction-by-the-Sea…. Jack Knox writes. (Times Colonist)

State fishery submits proposal back to tribes hopefully ending stalemate on setting salmon seasons 
State Fish and Wildlife submitted their fishing proposal late Wednesday afternoon back to tribal fishery managers, and many in the sport-fishing industry are hopeful that an agreement on the 2016-17 salmon fishing seasons will be announced in the next day or two. On May 6, the Puyallup Tribe submitted a proposal letter to Michael S. Grossman, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office with a list of agreed fisheries for sport and tribes. This comes after talks failed during a meeting on April 27 in Fife with around 60 representatives from state, tribal, NOAA Fisheries, and officials from the governor’s and attorney general’s office. The positive signs in recent days will hopefully end a month-long dispute on how to share the burden of forecasted poor Puget Sound coho and Puyallup River chinook returns. Mark Yuasa reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Halibut opener a bumpy ride in windy weather for most anglers  Michael Carman reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

B.C. snowpack reaches record low for May
Snow in B.C. has melted early and quickly this spring, leaving a record-low amount of snowpack on B.C. mountains for May. Many regions have snow levels less than half of normal for this time of year, according to the latest bulletin from the River Forecast Centre, released this week. The provincial average is 53 per cent of normal — the lowest level since 1980 when record-keeping began…. Overall, conditions as of May 1 look more like June 1 — meaning snow is disappearing three or four weeks early, the report said. It's largely gone from low and mid-elevations already. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC) See also: Specialist: Rapid melt of Olympic snowpack could prompt water worries in late summer  Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Bullock meets with Colstrip stakeholders about fate of coal-fired plant
Three owners of Montana’s much-discussed Colstrip coal-fired power plant sat down with Gov. Steve Bullock in Helena on Wednesday to start talking about what happens to the aging power plant as forces seem to push the eventual closure of its two older units. Kimberly Harris, CEO of Puget Sound Energy in Washington; Paul Farr, CEO of Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy; and Bob Rowe, CEO of NorthWestern Energy discussed the future of the plant, which sits about two hours east of Billings. The ownership picture in Colstrip is complex. Six companies have a stake in the plant. Talen owns 50 percent of Units 1 and 2, a 30 percent share of Unit 3 and also operates the entire four-unit Colstrip complex. The plant and the town that exists mostly because of it and a nearby coal mine face challenges from laws passed in Washington and Oregon to push utilities based in those states with ownership in Colstrip to drop coal from their portfolio. The market is also favoring the low price of natural gas. Holly Michels reports. (Independent Record)

B.C. spot prawn numbers could fall with loss of kelp as starfish die off
About half of all the kelp in Howe Sound has disappeared, thanks to the starfish die-off over the past two or three years, and that could affect the spot prawn harvest in future. As prawn lovers await the first batch of B.C.’s tasty, short-lived B.C. shellfish delicacy — expected to hit the shore Friday, a day after the 2016 fishing season opens — a Vancouver Aquarium researcher is warning the current loss of kelp could hurt baby prawns in future years. The size of this year’s harvest won’t be known until Friday, according to Steven Richards of the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, but “it’s looking good, everyone’s pumped.” But the depleted kelp beds are “nursery habitat” for the reddish-brown shrimp known for its sweet flavour and firm texture, and popular around the world. Susan Lazaruk reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Anacortes looking to streamline land use code 
The city of Anacortes is looking to clean up its messy land use code within the next several years, a move city officials say will create a less confusing, more streamlined process. In its current state, the code is divided into multiple sections, called titles. The proposed change would gradually move all the provisions from those titles into one title, called Title 19. During that process, the city will fix confusing and redundant provisions. Aaron Weinberg reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  236 AM PDT THU MAY 12 2016  

TODAY
 W WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW 10 TO 20 KT IN THE  AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 1 TO 3 FT.  W SWELL 4 FT AT 9 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING.

TONIGHT
 NW WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING W TO 10 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS.  W SWELL 3 FT AT 12 SECONDS.

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