Thursday, May 5, 2016

5/5 Dam salmon, closed season, Polley mine, state ferries, climate kids, coal ports, droughts

Columbia and Snake River dams (bluefish.org)
Judge: Salmon recovery requires big dam changes
A federal judge has called for a new approach to Columbia and Snake River dam operations to preserve salmon and steelhead, with all options on the table for consideration, including dam removal on the Lower Snake River. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in Oregon on Wednesday invalidated the U.S. government’s 2014 Columbia Basin biological opinion, under which federal agencies operate the Columbia River hydropower system. It’s the fifth time a biological opinion written by the agencies permitting operation of the dams has been struck down by the courts. In his sweeping, 149-page ruling, Simon sounded about out of patience, quoting rulings over two decades by his predecessors denouncing a system that “cries out for a major overhaul,” and urging consideration of breaching one or more of the four dams on the Lower Snake River.  Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Fishermen protest tribal fishery as Puget Sound closure begins
With the closure of Puget Sound salmon fisheries this week and the possibility of no summer fishing season, about 20 fishermen gathered Wednesday morning in La Conner to protest the start of a tribal fishery. Nontribal fishermen at the protest said if they can’t fish, the tribes shouldn’t either…. Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chair Lorraine Loomis said Swinomish Indian Tribal Community fishermen are gathering chinook salmon this week in preparation for annual ceremonies, including the tribe’s Blessing of the Fleet. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: Sport fishermen protest ‘broken’ program as tribe gillnets chinook  Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Mount Polley: Mines minister accepts scathing report but won't resign
B.C.'s minister of energy and mines said he will consider the recommendations from a damning report by the province's auditor general that concluded his ministry's regulation of the mining industry does not adequately protect British Columbians from significant environmental risks. However Bill Bennett did not agree with Auditor General Carol Bellringer's finding that his ministry failed to carry out its own regulatory oversight in the case of the tailings-pond dam at the Mount Polley mine which failed in August 2014. Gavin Fisher reports. (CBC) See also: Alaska raises concerns with B.C.’s mining oversight after audit  Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

State says more ferries needed for aging fleet
Washington state is moving closer to adding a new ferry to its fleet. But before that, one of its older vessels will likely enter retirement. The state hopes to have a 144-car Olympic class ferry on the waters of Puget Sound by next year. By then the much smaller Hiyu ferry will likely be gone, according to state transportation officials. Even with the future additions to the fleet, the state will still need more vessels to accommodate a record amount of ridership. Michael Konopasak reports. (KING)

Climate Kids Win
A judge’s ruling on Friday in a lawsuit filed by eight kids forces the state of Washington to get serious about the threat of climate change. In what the activist teens and preteens called a surprise decision, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill ordered the state Department of Ecology to create rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. The judge said the urgency of climate change and the state’s responsibility to protect citizens required that Ecology be held to a deadline, rather than make its own timeline… The ruling reversed a November decision that left the timeline to craft emissions-reducing rules to the state. Hill said then that the state has a “mandatory duty” to “preserve, protect and enhance the air quality for the current and future generations.” But because Ecology was already working on new regulations ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee, additional rules weren’t necessary, she said then…. he judge ordered the state to produce rules cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the year, and to make recommendations to the state legislature during its 2017 session to align emission-reduction goals with current science. She also ordered Ecology to consult with the youth petitioners as they draw up the plans. Peter Hart reports. (Cascadia Weekly)

How economics turned NW coal ports into the walking dead
Those dominos just keep falling. Not so long ago, it seemed as if every time you turned around, somebody new was proposing to ship fossil fuels through the Pacific Northwest. The Salish Sea and the Columbia River were going to become greenhouse gas central. Now, a lot of those proposals have floundered and others look less plausible. Last month, Oregon LNG abandoned its effort to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at the mouth of the Columbia River. Four days later, Northwest Innovation Works scrapped its lease for a site to build a methanol plant at the port of Tacoma. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

B.C. has seen worse droughts than previously thought, tree rings reveal
Residents on B.C.'s South Coast will likely have to endure worse droughts in the coming decades than previously thought according to a new study from the University of Victoria. Researchers used tree ring data to reveal centuries of B.C.'s water history — much further back than the 50 or so years that humans have been keeping stream-flow records. Looking at more than 350 years of tree ring data from B.C.'s South Coast, the study found 16 historical droughts that were worse than the benchmarks used today by water managers in the region, said Bethany Coulthard, paleoclimatologist and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Hydrology. She said B.C. should expect future droughts to reach the extremes of the past — and then some, due to added factors including human-caused climate change. Wanyee Li and Lisa Johnson report. (CBC)

Whatcom County beaches closed to recreational shellfish harvesting
Health officials have closed all Whatcom County beaches to recreational shellfish harvesting after tests showed unsafe levels of marine biotoxins. The closure is for all molluscan shellfish including clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, and all beaches, including at Larrabee State Park and Point Roberts. The ban was put into place after unsafe levels of the toxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning were detected in recent sampling in Bellingham Bay. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  248 AM PDT THU MAY 5 2016  

TODAY
 W WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 8 SECONDS.

TONIGHT
 W WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 5 FT  AT 12 SECONDS.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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