Thursday, June 2, 2016

6/2 Tug escorts, carbon cuts, BC greenhouse gas, wetland ruling, Skokomish fish, Elwha junk, oil train rules, Navy pier, BC birds, mantis shrimp

South Sound could hit 90-plus degrees by Sunday
The Puget Sound region could see its first 90-degree days of 2016 this weekend as a ridge of high pressure brings clear skies and high temperatures. Tacoma is expected to reach 89 degrees Saturday and 91 on Sunday, said Johnny Burg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle. Olympia is expected to reach 90 on Saturday and a record-breaking 94 on Sunday. Kenny Ocker reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Juan de Fuca tugs to escort oil tankers, Kinder Morgan says
Escort tugs would accompany a wave of new oil tankers bound for the Juan de Fuca Strait, giving some comfort to coastal communities but not dispelling fears of a spill. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline extension is expected to result in a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic off Vancouver Island. The tankers will be escorted from Burrard Inlet to the entrance of the shipping lane at Buoy Juliet, about 16 kilometres off Vancouver Island, the company says. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Washington to force state’s biggest carbon polluters to cut emissions
With some concessions to business concerns, Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration is pushing ahead with a plan to force greenhouse-gas cuts by some 70 of the state’s biggest industrial emitters. The state Department of Ecology on Wednesday rolled out a new Clean Air Rule, replacing a draft withdrawn by the agency in February after criticism from industry and environmentalists. Like the earlier proposal, the rule would require dozens of affected industries — ranging from Anacortes oil refineries to Boeing’s Everett plant and an Othello food processor — to reduce carbon emissions by an average 1.7 percent a year. Jim Brunner and Hal Bernton report. (Seattle Times) See also: Wash. State Says Updated Rule To Cap Carbon Pollution Will Be More Effective   Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

B.C. signs on to Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement
The B.C. government has signed on to the Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement, which includes "slashing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing a clean-energy economy" as its goals. The partnership with the governments of California, Oregon and Washington, along with five other major cities along the West Coast — Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland — could lead to some innovations in B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak, who represented the province at the meeting in San Francisco this week, said one of the ideas that arose was a shared electricity grid across the West Coast. (CBC)

Supreme Court rules for landowners fighting the government over wetlands
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for landowners Tuesday who are fighting the government over whether their property includes protected wetlands. In a unanimous decision, the justices said property owners may go to court and obtain a “prompt judicial review” of claims by federal environmental regulators that their dry land may in fact be a wetland. This issue, while procedural, has arisen around the nation when home builders or companies announce plans to develop their land. Sometimes, the Army of Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency assert the land contains protected wetlands and cannot be developed. David Savage reports. (LA times)

Tribe blocks salmon fishing on Skokomish River
Recreational anglers are getting the boot from one of Hood Canal's most popular fishing spots. Backed by the federal government, the Skokomish Tribe is reasserting control over its namesake river and will block public access for the upcoming salmon fishing season. "We've always known the river was ours," Skokomish Tribe Chairman Charles "Guy" Miller. "We never doubted that for a minute." The state doubts it. For now, though, it will go along with a recent legal opinion issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The department's solicitor agrees with the tribe that the portion of the Skokomish River running alongside its reservation is part of the reservation and falls under the tribe's control. Tristan Baurick reports. (Kitsap Sun)

After the dams: A river of junk runs through unleashed Elwha
The two dams have been removed, but the work isn’t done on the Elwha River, on the Olympic Peninsula. Debris endangers boaters, a rock fall threatens fish passage upstream, and a once-again-wild river has washed out campgrounds and a road. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Oil train rules under review
A year after Gov. Jay Inslee signed an oil train safety bill into law, the state Department of Ecology is working toward finally putting it into practice. The process is known as rule-making. It sets the procedures for enforcement and will pass through public review before becoming part of the Washington Administrative Code. The department convened public hearings in Everett last week on the new rules. The new law mandates that cities, counties, tribal governments and fire departments be given weekly advance notice of crude oil shipments arriving by rail. Pipelines that transport crude oil also are required to submit biannual reports to Ecology. Chris Winters reports. (Everett Herald)

County commissioners seek environmental impact study on Navy pier project in Port Angeles
Clallam County commissioners have concerns about the planned Navy pier on Ediz Hook. In a letter to Navy officials in Silverdale, the three commissioners Tuesday suggested an environmental impact study (EIS) for the $25 million Transit Protection System at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles. The Navy plans to build a ballistic missile submarine escort vessel dock and support facilities on the south side of the Coast Guard base to provide a staging area for vessels and crews escorting submarines from Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Hundreds of B.C. crow attacks tracked with new online map
People with ornithophobia have a new tool to fight their fear of birds — a map that tracks crow attacks. Instructors at Langara College in Vancouver used open-source software to create the online map, which allows anyone with an Internet connection to pinpoint where they were attacked and add details, such as how aggressive the bird was. Gemma Karstens-Smith reports.  (Canadian Press) Meanwhile: UBC researcher roughing it in the bush to save endangered woodpeckers  By combining new technology with old-fashioned hard work, a University of British Columbia researcher is gaining insights into the habits of a rare and endangered species of woodpecker that experts are fighting to save. The findings by Julien St-Amand are expected to play a key role in plans to protect the critical habitat of the Williamson’s sapsucker, a bird with a high, haunting call that is in danger of vanishing from Canada by 2025 because of logging. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Scientists crack mystery of shrimp packing such a punch it can split your thumb
In tropical shallows the world over, a peculiar sort of creature scurries along the sea floor, unassuming except for the fact that it sports one of the most powerful biological appendages known to science — its spring-loaded claws. The mantis shrimp, which typically grows no more than 6 inches in length, is an aggressive, burrowing crustacean that looks a bit like a crayfish dipped in neon spray paint. Fishermen call the animals “thumb-splitters” — at least one man has had a finger amputated after a mantis shrimp strike — and a blow from the crustacean’s truncheon can crack a pane of stock aquarium glass. The mantis shrimp, only distantly related to the species you would find covered in tempura batter, come in two types, which marine biologists divide into “spearers” or “smashers.” The spearers impale prey with a javelin strike of a pointed claw, whereas the smashers use their fist-like appendages to pop the shells of their food. Smashers, and their shrimply hammers — technically known as dactyl clubs — are of particular interest to researchers because of the blistering blows the animals can deliver. Ben Giarino reports. (Washington Post)

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