Wednesday, November 16, 2016

11/16 Clean water plan, BC oil pipe, sunk tug, BNSF coal dust, DAPL, sea lion lab, BC science

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EPA approves parts of Washington clean-water plan 
Federal regulators have finalized water-quality rules for Washington state tied partly to how much fish people eat, approving many aspects of the state’s plan but also setting some stricter limits than the state wanted. The Environmental Protection Agency’s action Tuesday comes years after contentious debate over how clean the state’s rivers and bays need to be so people can safely eat fish from those waters. The EPA agreed with Washington on several factors used to regulate pollutants, including raising the fish-consumption rate to 175 grams a day, which would protect people who eat about a serving of fish a day. But the federal agency set tougher rules than the state proposed for many chemicals. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Pro-pipeline Trump not enough for Ottawa to stop Kinder Morgan move
The election of Donald Trump, who supports TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, doesn’t reduce pressure on Ottawa to approve other pipeline projects to the B.C. and Atlantic coasts, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Tuesday. It was the latest indication that the Trudeau government is poised to approve the controversial $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. The Keystone project “doesn’t get oil to export markets … in Asia, and it’s a goal of the government of Canada to expand its export markets,” he told reporters when asked about the impact of Trump’s surprise victory on the government’s pipeline plans. Peter O'Neil reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Trudeau needs pipeline 'Plan B' to Kinder Morgan route: ex-premier Harcourt
Former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, who knows first-hand what it’s like to face a massive, global-scale environmental protest, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consider a “Plan B” alternative to the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion proposal…. Harcourt said Monday he accepts the arguments of the oil industry and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley that there’s an economic need to get diluted bitumen to the West Coast. He also noted in an interview Monday that First Nations along the route through Alberta and B.C. all the way to the edge of the Lower Mainland largely support the project. But he said the federal government and Kinder Morgan need to consider an alternate route, to either Deltaport or just across the B.C.-Washington state border to the Cherry Point Refinery. That would be far more attractive than pumping nearly 900,000 barrels a day — triple the current capacity — through a densely populated urban area to the company’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby. A southern routing would also avoid the jurisdictions of key opponents like Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and the  Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations. Peter O'Neil reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Bella Bella residents frustrated by premier's trip to Buckingham Palace
Members of the Heiltsuk First Nation are disappointed that Premier Christy Clark is being honoured at Buckingham Palace as crews continue to clean up the environmental damage from the sunken tugboat in their territory. Clark was invited to the United Kingdom to attend a ceremony on Tuesday with the Queen in honour of the Great Bear Rain Forest's inclusion into the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy. The area, which falls largely in Heiltsuk Nation territory, was officially included in the environmental initiative when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the area with Clark during their September visit to B.C. Richard Zussman reports. (CBC)

BNSF to clean up hotspots, may cover train cars in agreement over coal dust
BNSF Railway will study the use of physical covers for coal and petroleum coke trains as part of a tentative agreement reached Tuesday with environmental groups that sued alleging that coal spilled from trains pollutes waterways in Washington state. BNSF denied any violations of the federal environmental law but also agreed to pay $1 million in environmental projects in the state and to clean up certain hotspots where coal has accumulated along tracks near waterways. The settlement is expected to be finalized in the next 60 days and, in the meantime, postpones a trial that began Nov. 7 in federal court in Seattle. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Developers sue to complete Dakota Access Pipeline
In a push to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline, its developers claimed in a federal lawsuit Tuesday that they have all permits needed to complete the project and accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of political interference to delay it. “Dakota has waited long enough for removal of this legal cloud over the right of way beneath federal land at Lake Oahe,” the developer claimed in its suit. The lake was formed by a dam on the Missouri River, and is where the developer seeks to cross under the river to connect the two ends of the pipeline. The pushback from Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas, comes one day after the Corps announced it needed more time to decide when or if it would grant a crucial easement for the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River. Lynda Mapes report. (Seattle Times) See also: Protesters block railroad tracks near downtown Bellingham, denounce Dakota pipeline  Kyle Mittan reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Sea lion research station scrambles as U.S. funding dries up
The University of British Columbia's Open Water Research Station in risks being shut down after losing its funding from the U.S. government. The centre, located in Port Moody, was originally created to solve the mystery of why Alaskan steller sea lions were going extinct, while B.C.'s population continued to grow exponentially.  The station's operating costs have been covered by the U.S. government since 2003, but this year the funding did not come through. The researchers are not sure why it was discontinued. The station's "floating lab" concept is unique because it allows the researchers to study the animals in their natural habitat. Michelle Ghoussoub reports. (CBC)

Young scientists call for tougher federal scrutiny of development projects
More than 1,000 early-career scientists from across Canada have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and key members of his cabinet urging the government to do a better job of assessing the environmental impacts of developments. The scientists say they are “concerned that current environmental assessments and regulatory decision-making processes lack scientific rigour,” and that the health of Canadians and the environment are being put at risk. The signatories, mostly PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers, come from nearly all of Canada’s top 50 research universities. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  257 AM PST WED NOV 16 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE
 TONIGHT  
TODAY
 S WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT  14 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.
TONIGHT
 S WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL  10 FT AT 14 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.

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