Monday, November 21, 2016

11/21 Glaciers, oil risks, LNG, Polly Dyer, ocean drilling, warm Arctic, water rules, dead whale, beluga, king tides

South Cascade glacier, 1955 (left) and 2004 (SVH)
Study shows North Cascades glaciers have shrunk dramatically since 1950s
While melting Arctic ice makes regular headlines, glaciers in the Pacific Northwest are melting too. In the Skagit River watershed — home to the most glacial ice in the United States outside of Alaska — an estimated 12.4 square miles of ice has been lost since the 1950s, according to a recent study by staff with North Cascades National Park’s Glacier Monitoring Program. That’s an area about the size of the city of Mount Vernon. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Pipeline project poses major threat to San Juan region
There is a dichotomy that defines the Salish Sea, the network of waterways that includes Puget Sound, the San Juan region, and southwestern British Columbia. These deep, protected waters serve as habitat for a diversity of marine species and its natural harbors can accommodate even the largest ships. The waters are defined as both an estuary of national significance by the US Environmental Protection Agency and a “high volume port” by the U.S. Coast Guard, due to its status as a major oil-refining center. More broadly, the Salish Sea serves as an economic and cultural hub for the region’s more than 4.7 million people, including 19 federally recognized tribal governments. And these waters are being put at significant risk by the largest pipeline expansion currently proposed in North America. Fred Felleman and Jamie Stephens write. (Crosscut)

Stop Kinder Morgan
How might a Kinder Morgan oil spill affect the Salish Sea? New Georgia Strait Alliance and Raincoast Conservation Foundation animation.

Kinder Morgan protest draws huge crowd in Vancouver
Thousands of protesters converged [Saturday] on Vancouver to voice their opposition to a proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Shouting anti-pipeline slogans and waving placards, the protesters made their way north from city hall across the Cambie Street Bridge. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson warned that Saturday's rally could be a preview of more demonstrations to come. (CBC) See also:
Gregor Robertson warns of Trans Mountain protests 'like you've never seen before'  Marc-Andre Cossette reports. (CBC)

Squamish LNG opponents stage Howe Sound protest
About 300 people gathered in Squamish, B.C., Sunday to protest a planned liquefied natural gas terminal in Howe Sound. The protesters described the gathering as a prayer service for the area waterways, which they say could be harmed by the $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG project…. At Sunday's gathering, protesters said they feared increased tanker traffic could threaten marine life. Some said they would be willing to set up protest camps next year. (CBC)

U.S. BP president raises concern about Cherry Point http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article115817763.html
John Mingé, who grew up near Deming and attended Mount Baker High School and later Washington State University, now handles the U.S. operations for BP as chairman and president of BP America Inc…. Mingé was in Whatcom County on Nov. 17 to talk about a local concern he has, which is the recent moratorium on the shipping of unrefined fossil fuels through Cherry Point and potential changes to the Comprehensive Plan regarding that area. The moratorium does not affect the BP Cherry Point facility and other existing operations in the area, but Mingé is concerned it could be a first step in removing BP Cherry Point and other industry facilities from the area. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Polly Dyer, driving force for Northwest conservation, dead at 96
The majestic wilderness of Shi Shi Beach, an indelible sight for many visitors to the Olympic wilderness near Neah Bay, might look entirely different today if not for the cheerful tenacity of Polly Dyer, a conservationist icon who died Sunday in Shoreline. She was 96. Equally at home testifying before Congress or entertaining a new generation of environmentalists in her Lake City living room, Pauline “Polly” Dyer came from modest means to become a driving force in Northwest wilderness and conservation circles. While unable to attend college as a young woman, she would grow up to count governors and Supreme Court justices among her friends. Claudia Rowe reports. (Seattle Times)

Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean
The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming. A five-year offshore drilling plan announced on Friday blocks the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan allows drilling to go forward in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage. The blueprint for drilling from 2017 to 2022 can be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years. Besides Cook Inlet, the plan also allows drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, long the center of U.S. offshore oil production. Ten of the 11 lease sales proposed in the five-year plan are in the Gulf, mostly off the coasts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. Matthew Daly reports. (Associated Press)

Study finds widespread land losses from Gulf of Mexico spill
Dramatic, widespread shoreline loss is revealed in new NASA/U.S. Geological Survey annual maps of the Louisiana marshlands where the coastline was most heavily coated with oil during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Phys.org)

Deepwater Horizon oil shows up in sparrows
Scientists have identified the first evidence of Deepwater Horizon oil in a land animal - the Seaside Sparrow. The scientists analyzed the diet and feathers of sparrows collected more than a year after the oil spill. The birds that were captured in habitats that were exposed to the oil had a different chemical signature in their tissues than the birds that were found in areas of the marsh that were not exposed to the oil. (Science News)

The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends
Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic. It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed to grow and thicken. But in fall of 2016 — which has been a zany year for the region, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice — something is totally off. The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia. Chris Mooney and Jason Samenow report. (Washington Post)

What comes next under water-quality standards imposed by the EPA?
The Environmental Protection Agency approved new water-quality standards for Washington state this week, overriding a plan approved by Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Ecology. It was a rare posture for the EPA. Now the state will be pressured to appeal the EPA standards to federal court. Cities and counties as well as some industrial organizations are clearly unhappy with the EPA’s action, while environmental and tribal representatives got most of what they wanted. The EPA action is especially unusual, given that this state is known for some of the strongest environmental regulations in the country. After much dispute, Ecology finally agreed to much higher fish-consumption rates without increasing the cancer-risk rate, leading to more stringent standards for many of the chemicals. But Ecology had its own ideas for the most troublesome compounds with implications for human health. They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic and mercury. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Dead whale found entangled in empty aquaculture lines
A dead humpback whale was found entangled in empty aquaculture lines near Campbell River Tuesday — the second time a whale has been trapped at the fish farm since September. The dead whale was discovered as staff from aquaculture company Marine Harvest Canada were in the process of dismantling the farm’s anchoring system after a previous whale entanglement, said a company statement. In September, another whale became trapped in the anchor lines and was eventually released. Glenda Luymes reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver Aquarium's last remaining beluga 'perking up' after illness
The Vancouver Aquarium says its last remaining beluga appears to be on the mend after displaying symptoms of illness earlier this week. Aurora, a 29-year-old beluga, fell ill after her 21-year-old daughter Qila died Wednesday of unknown causes…. The aquarium said the team will continue to monitor Aurora closely.  Maryse Zeidler reports. (CBC)

King tide possible wave of the future, according to group
Naturally occurring king tides, which are unusually high tides, can be a harbinger of normal tides to come, said a member of Washington Sea Grant. On Friday morning, nearly 70 community members gathered at the Salmon Club boat ramp in Port Townsend to eat snacks and observe the high tide, which reached nearly 10 feet, the highest of the year so far. Bridget Trosin, the coastal policy specialist for Seattle-based Washington Sea Grant, was on hand to explain what causes the king tide and to say these tides show the future for coastal towns. Cydney McFarland reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PST MON NOV 21 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH TUESDAY
 MORNING  
TODAY
 W WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SW TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 9 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO  6 FT AT 8 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE  MORNING...THEN A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...RISING TO 20 TO 30 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 3 TO 5 FT. SW SWELL 4 FT AT 7 SECONDS. A  CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE EVENING...THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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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 at salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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