Monday, February 20, 2017

2/20 Octo Week, Pruitt, SeaSewer, oyster biz, Howe Sound, seagrass, oil pipes, LNG ferry, Massey Tunnel

Odie the octopus at Seattle Aquarium (Alan Berner)
Seattle Aquarium salutes creature bound to grab your interest 
Octopus Week is happening now through Feb. 26 at the Seattle Aquarium. The giant Pacific octopus will have daily feedings, and there are daily talks and hands-on activities for kids. Alan Berner reports. (Seattle Times)

Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt as E.P.A. Head
The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt on Friday to run the Environmental Protection Agency, putting a seasoned legal opponent of the agency at the helm of President Trump’s efforts to dismantle major regulations on climate change and clean water — and to cut the size and authority of the government’s environmental enforcer. Senators voted 52 to 46 to confirm Mr. Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has built a career out of suing to block the E.P.A.’s major environmental rules and has called for the dissolution of much of the agency’s authority. One Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, crossed party lines to vote against Mr. Pruitt, while two Democrats, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, both from coal-rich states where voters generally oppose environmental rules, voted for him. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times) See also: Longtime EPA foe now the boss. Ex-staffers in Seattle predict chaos.  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Crippled Seattle sewer plant getting by at half capacity
Despite some weekend drizzle, the damaged West Point regional sewer plant is avoiding the sorts of emergency overflows that polluted Puget Sound twice this soggy month, managers say. Incoming sewage is undergoing “limited wastewater treatment,” according to an update by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which operates the facility in Seattle’s Magnolia area. Mike Lindblom reports. (Seattle Times)

Feds investigating as B.C. oyster norovirus outbreak spreads
An outbreak of norovirus linked to B.C.-harvested oysters is now under federal investigation. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it has taken on a leadership role in the investigation, now that cases have been reported in Alberta and Ontario, as well as B.C. As of Feb. 14, the agency says it's aware of 221 reported cases of norovirus connected to B.C. oysters. Matt Meuse reports. (CBC) Taylor Shellfish acquires oyster business on Willapa Bay  Taylor Shellfish has acquired an oyster business on Willapa Bay with a 35-year history, the Shelton-based company announced. The purchase of Ekone Oyster Co. closed last week, but Taylor won’t officially take over operations until March 1. As part of the deal, Taylor acquires Ekone’s property, equipment, nursery, processing facilities, smokehouse and 350-acres of tidelands on Willapa Bay. Rolf Boone reports. (Olympian)

Howe Sound sea life still at risk from contaminants, report says
The sea life in Howe Sound is still vulnerable to contamination from shipping, fishing and development in the region — despite a "remarkable" ecological recovery over the past few decades, according to a new report. The Vancouver Aquarium's Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI) said pollutants from the old Britannia Mine still linger in the area. Remediation efforts have been underway since 2001, bringing some good news: pink salmon populations are rising and whale counts are the highest they've been since 2003. (CBC) See also: Howe Sound ecology improving but remains under threat  Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Disappearing Seagrass Protects Against Pathogens, Even Climate Change, Scientists Find
Every continent save Antarctica is ringed by vast stretches of seagrass, underwater prairies that together cover an area roughly equal to California. Seagrass meadows, among the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, play an outsize role in the health of the oceans. They shelter important fish species, filter pollutants from seawater, and lock up huge amounts of atmosphere-warming carbon. The plants also fight disease, it turns out. A team of scientists reported on Thursday that seagrasses can purge pathogens from the ocean that threaten humans and coral reefs alike. Carl Zimmer reports. (NY Times)

Dakota pipeline protesters to Bellingham: Pull money out of U.S. Bank  Opponents of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline want the city to pull its money out of U.S. Bank. They recently went before the City Council to ask that Bellingham government take its banking business elsewhere. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald) Jury convicts more Break Free PNW protestors  A jury has convicted four more Break Free PNW protestors of second-degree criminal trespass for being on BNSF Railway property in May. Three of the four defendants are from Oregon, and one is from southwest Washington. Kimberly Cauvel reports. Enbridge pipeline leaks 200,000 litres of oil condensate in Strathcona County - Edmonton  Andrea Ross reports. (CBC)  (Skagit Valley Herald)

BC Ferries unveils first LNG-powered vessel in its fleet
BC Ferries unveiled its newest vessel on Friday, the first in the fleet capable of being powered by liquid natural gas. The Salish Orca has three engines and can switch from natural gas to diesel if needed, But LNG is the preferred fuel because of cost savings and its smaller environmental footprint. Peter Scobie reports. (CBC)

Feds say no to environmental review of Massey Tunnel replacement
The Massey Tunnel replacement project will not be subject to a federal environmental review, according to a letter sent to Metro Vancouver’s board of directors. The board wrote to Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna early last year, urging her to order an environmental assessment for the $3.5-billion bridge project (under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act)…. The board said the bridge could have an impact on the area’s air quality, utilities, parks and environment. There was also a lack of transparency and consultation about the bridge’s design and business case, the board said. Jennifer Saltman reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
 WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  216 AM PST MON FEB 20 2017  

TODAY
 E WIND TO 10 KT BECOMING NW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES  1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 15 SECONDS SUBSIDING TO 8 FT AT 14  SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN LIKELY.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING NW TO 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT.  WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF  SHOWERS.

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