Tuesday, October 4, 2016

10/4 Bee ESA, orca kids, Jordan R., BC LNG, coal port, Shell rail, oil port, DNR plan, I-732, lost gear, bluefin tuna

Yellow-faced bee (Karl Magnacca, U of Hawaii)
Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time
Finally — some good news for the bees of Hawaii. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to the islands. These are "the first bees in the country to be protected under the Endangered Species Act," according to the Xerces Society, which advocated for the new designation. The new rule designating protections for the bees, published Friday in the Federal Register, states that yellow-faced bees are known "for their yellow-to-white facial markings." They look like small wasps, according to the rule, except for their "plumose [branched] hairs on the body that are longest on the sides of the thorax, which readily distinguish them from wasps." The yellow-faced bee is the only bee native to Hawaii, meaning that it was able to reach the Hawaiian Islands on its own… Merrit Kennedy reports. (NPR)

New photos released of 8 calves born to our local, endangered orca population since December 2014
Recent photos were released Monday of eight calves born to our Southern Resident orca population since December 2014. The Pacific Whale Watch Association said that crews in the Puget Sound are reporting that “the kids” from the “Class of 2015” appear to be healthy, active and thriving. (KCPQ)

Vancouver Island’s Jordan River salmon wiped out by copper tailings
The site where the Pacheedaht people originated — their Garden of Eden — is stunning. The Jordan River exits a 500-metre-deep canyon, then tumbles toward the sea through a jumble of immense boulders polished as smooth as beach pebbles. It was here, about 70 kilometres west of Victoria, in a past so ancient it predates legends of a great flood that inundated the world, that the Pacheedaht took their name from foam on the river. Today, there’s still foam on the river. It signals not the birth of a people, but the death of their river. Stephan Hume reports. (Vancouver Sun)

LNG approval shows Trudeau failing Indigenous campaign promises, critics say
At this time last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was campaigning on promises of a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's Indigenous peoples, but the federal government's recent approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project has critics questioning his commitment to those promises. For Don Wesley — also known as Chief Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots, part of the Tsimshian Nation — news of the project's approval was disappointing, though not entirely unexpected. "We had a feeling this might come," he told CBC Radio One's The Early Edition. "[But] my feelings as a First Nations person were that we were really slapped in the face by the announcement." Matt Meuse reports. (CBC)

Army Corps of Engineers gives coal terminal favorable review
A proposal to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming out of a port in Washington has received a favorable review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps on Friday released a draft environmental impact statement for the Millennium Bulk Terminal port in Longview, Washington, the Billings Gazette reported. The document raised concerns about train noise and rail traffic causing problems for nearby low-income neighborhoods, but it said the effects on Native American fishing areas and the proliferation of coal dust were less significant. Coal companies say they are optimistic after reading the environmental impact statement. (Associated Press) See also: More Rail Congestion And Noise Among Impacts Of Longview Coal Terminal  Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Draft environmental review for Shell rail project open for comment
The draft environmental review of Shell Puget Sound Refinery’s proposal to build a rail unloading facility is open for public comment. Skagit County Planning & Development Services is taking input on the draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, until 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Public hearings are scheduled for mid-November in Anacortes, Mount Vernon and Seattle. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Environmental Risks Identified For Grays Harbor Oil Terminal
Regulators say an oil terminal proposed for a coastal Washington state harbor poses several environmental problems. The state Department of Ecology identified those problems in its  final environmental review released Friday for the Westway oil terminal proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam, Washington. The project would expand an existing methanol facility so it can handle around 750 million gallons of crude oil a year. The oil would be delivered by train, stored on site and transported by barge to refineries. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Department of Natural Resources issues plan to guide West End forest management
The state Department of Natural Resources has released a blueprint for forest management in western Clallam and Jefferson counties. The Olympic Experimental State Forest, or OESF, Forest Land Plan will help guide DNR management of more than 270,000 acres of forested trust lands on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula, officials said. The 171-page document is available on the DNR website, www.dnr.wa.gov. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Initiative 732: A 'Carbon Tax Swap' To Address Climate Change
It’s often said that one of the most pressing issues of our time is climate change. Yet, even after years of discussion, Washington state still lacks a policy to limit the pollution that causes it. A recent clean air rule announced by the state Department of Ecology is not yet in effect and is already the subject of multiple lawsuits. So, despite its reputation as an environmentally progressive Ecotopia, the Evergreen State is left without a mechanism to reign in carbon emissions. Voters have a chance to change that with a measure on the November ballot. Washington’s Initiative 732 would impose a state tax on carbon emissions – the first of its kind in the nation. The measure comes from a grassroots group called Carbon Washington that designed it to attract bipartisan support. Perhaps ironically, the proposal is under attack, not from big business interests, but from social justice and labor groups who say the measure fails to provide enough for the state to successfully transition to a greener future. Bellamy Paithorp reports. (KNKX)

Cleaning the Sound to 105 feet
…. Fenn Enterprises has been hired by Northwest Straits Foundation to retrieve derelict fishing gear — gill nets and crab pots, primarily — as part of Northwest Straits Initiative’s Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project. “Northwest Straits Initiative was authorized by Congress in response to depleted marine resources,” said Jason Morgan, with Northwest Straits. The foundation, based in Bellingham, is on a three-year mission to address the derelict fishing gear that clots the bottom of Puget Sound. Its advisers are seven marine resource committees (MRCs) covering waters from Snohomish County to the Canadian border. The foundation also converses with stakeholders that include Native American tribes, commercial fishing companies, NOAA and recreational fishermen. Jeremiah O'Hagan reports. (Stanwood-Camano News)

Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted bluefin tuna spawning habitat in Gulf of Mexico, Stanford and NOAA researchers find
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was one of the largest environmental disasters in history, releasing roughly 4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. For Atlantic bluefin tuna, it occurred at the worst time of year, during peak spawning season, when eggs and larval fish that are particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors exist in mass quantity. In a study published in Nature: Scientific Reports, scientists from Stanford and NOAA provide the best yet analysis of how the 2010 breeding season might have been impacted by the oil spill. Although the spill encompassed a relatively small proportion of the bluefin tuna spawning grounds, which extend throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico, the authors showed the cumulative oiled tuna habitat was roughly 3.1 million square miles, representing the potential for a significant impact on eggs and larval bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico. (Stanford News)

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