Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12/21 Solstice, oil lease ban, BC tow boats, pipeline, WA carbon, seawalls, Swinomish action

Stonehenge (Gail Johnson/Fotolia)
Winter Solstice, Dec. 21
Those living in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the mark of increasingly longer days, those in the Southern Hemisphere will transition to shorter days, and those at the equator won't notice much of a difference at all…. For many ancient civilizations that struggled to subsist through harsh winter months, the winter solstice marked a time of spiritual rejoice and celebration…. Stonehenge — one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world — is an arrangement of rocks carefully positioned on a barren ground in southern England…. When the sun sets on the winter solstice, its rays align with what are known as the central Altar stone and the Slaughter stone — an event that … researchers believe was an important spiritual event for those responsible for creating the monument. (From LiveScience.com)

Obama bans future oil leases in much of Arctic, Atlantic 
President Barack Obama on Tuesday designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. The move helps put some finishing touches on Obama’s environmental legacy while also testing President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s untapped energy reserves. The White House announced the actions in conjunction with the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which also placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in its Arctic waters, subject to periodic review. Kevin Freking reports. (Associated Press)

Trudeau promises two emergency towing vessels to protect B.C. coast
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says two emergency towing vessels that were promised as part of a federal plan to protect Canada’s oceans will operate on the West Coast. Trudeau toured a Canadian Coast Guard tug in Vancouver on Tuesday to highlight the announcement. The vessels will help the coast guard tow large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and the marine environment. This is the prime minister’s first visit to the city since his government announced its support late last month for the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver area. (Canadian Press) See also: Kinder Morgan: Justin Trudeau says pipeline part of climate plan  Scott Brown reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Environmentalists file court challenge of Ottawa's Trans Mountain pipeline approval
Conservation groups have filed a new court challenge to the federal government's approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline. The request for judicial review filed with the Federal Court of Appeal late Monday in Calgary is at least the eighth legal test of the controversial project, which will almost triple the capacity of an existing, 1,150-kilometre pipeline from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. Bruce Cheadle reports. (Canadian Press) See also: Justin Trudeau still in strong position in polls, but recent drop suggests vulnerability  √Čric Grenier reports. (CBC)

Ecology Department Recommends More Stringent Targets For Carbon Emissions In Washington
The Washington State Department of Ecology is recommending more aggressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the state. The agency has submitted new targets to the Legislature. A law passed in 2008 set an initial goal of reducing Washington’s carbon emissions to half of what they were in 1990 by the year 2050. Now, the department says we need to get to an 80 percent reduction by that time. They also recommend getting to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2035. Air quality program manager Stu Clark says state law requires that the goals be regularly reviewed. And the new targets are in line with the latest science and recent international reports and agreements. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Seattle Seawalls No Longer a Shore Thing 
On a sunny autumn morning, an ebullient Pat Collier steps down to the beach and waves her hand at the expanse of sand below her Maury Island home. “Look how much I’ve gained!” the 80-year-old says. She’s referring to her beach, which has been expanding since 2006, when she removed most of her bulkhead—a retaining wall built to stop beach erosion. The beach is still 288 feet long, but it’s been transformed from a narrow strip of gravel to something much deeper and more natural-looking. Over time, a bulkhead, which blocks the erosion of bluffs, tends to create a rockier beach, starved of sediment. In exchange for more beach, the Sound has stolen some of her land, but she’s OK with that. The beach near the water is coarse and cobbled, but the new strand above it is soft sand, fringed with bleached driftwood logs, which form natural benches with a view of Mount Rainier. Collier says that friends who see the new beach often exclaim at her land loss, but many people, including her great-grandkids, prefer spending time on the beach rather than in her yard.  A former schoolteacher who retired to the island in 1992, Collier removed the bulkhead rather than repair it when it began to fail in 2006. “I had been learning more and more about the effects of bulkheads on this ecosystem,” she says. Maria Dolan reports. (Seattle Magazine)

Swinomish chairman tells residents not to fear
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Brian Cladoosby told the Anacortes City Council on Monday night that local residents need not fear tribal action as portrayed in a recent letter written by Skagit County commissioners. The county released a letter in early December that said should the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs approve amendments to the Swinomish constitution, it could give the tribe regulatory power over the Anacortes refineries on March Point, erode the refineries’ ability to operate under consistent regulations and violate their constitutional rights to due process. Cladoosby, who spoke to the council for about a half-hour, said the county misrepresented what is really going on. The purpose of the amendments is to remove any need to have the federal bureau approve official actions made by the tribe’s governing body, he said.  Colette Weeks reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  238 AM PST WED DEC 21 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH
 THURSDAY AFTERNOON  
TODAY
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 13 FT  AT 14 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 11 FT AT 15 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.  A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL  12 FT AT 15 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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