Monday, February 27, 2017

2/27 J2, WA green bills, Ericksen recall, Trump BC, sewage woes, BC climate, Rayonier cleanup, Pt Gamble cleanup, False Creek, cougar kill, Trump regs

J2 (from Jeanne Hyde)
Thoughts run to an orca called Granny and her clan of five generations
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "Looking back on the various comments that followed the death of the killer whale named Granny, I realized that there were a couple of thought-provoking tributes that I never shared with readers of this blog…. [A] multi-media slide show … was created by Jeannie Hyde, a longtime orca observer…. I think Jeanne does a wonderful job of capturing the family orientation of killer whales and recounting Granny’s life story. It got me to thinking about these intelligent animals with whom we share a place on Earth."

Dead or alive? How green bills are faring in Olympia in wake of Trump, more
An abruptly canceled meeting, a moonlighting state senator and the nascent Trump administration all had something to do with killing several high-profile attempts to protect the environment and promote clean energy before the Washington Legislature could even reach the halfway mark in its 2017 session.  Among the measures considered dead as of this week are a push to regulate toxics in children’s electronics, a measure to provide more charging stations for electric vehicles and steps to propel forward the state’s transition to cleaner energy sources. All died because they failed to make it out of a committee by the end of last week. But many major issues still are on the table, including oil transportation safety, toxic lead exposure in kids, and the debate over whether thousands people who want to build rural homes should be allowed to do so if sinking water wells to serve those homes will hurt nearby streams and the creatures that live in them. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

Hearing for Sen. Ericksen recall goes before Whatcom judge Thursday 
A hearing for the effort to recall Sen. Doug Ericksen is set for Thursday before Whatcom Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis. The judge will decide whether there are grounds for the recall, which would allow its supporters to continue to the next stage of collecting enough signatures to put the issue before voters. The recall effort was started Feb. 9 by some voters in Ericksen’s 42nd District who said the Ferndale Republican wasn’t adequately doing his job as a state senator while also working in Washington, D.C., as part of President Donald Trump’s transition team. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Trump tower opens in Vancouver but the welcome isn't warm
he furies unleashed by Donald Trump's rise to the U.S. presidency are shaking Vancouver, where a gleaming new Trump International Hotel and Tower is about to open. The mayor wants its name changed. A city councilman calls it "over the top, glitz and glamor" that clashes with Canadian values. And the property developer who built it sounds traumatized by the whole affair. The 69-story building designed by one of Canada's most renowned architects has drawn praise for its sleek, twisting design. Prices for the condominiums have set records. But Trump's politics, especially his criticism of immigrants, has caused such outrage that the mayor won't attend the grand opening next week. Even the Malaysian developer has had second thoughts about the partnership. Jeremy Hainsworth And Rob Gillies report. (Associated Press)

After the sewage flood: cleaning up at West Point treatment plant 
It could be at least April before catastrophic damage to the West Point treatment plant is repaired. Meanwhile the plant’s wastewater treatment capacity is crippled…. An investigation is underway into the flood and its cause. Meanwhile, the work of cleaning and sanitizing and repairing the plant goes on around the clock. In dark and cold rooms with emergency lighting or flashlights and head lamps, the work is difficult and dangerous, with tripping and fall hazards amid a stomach-churning, ripe stench. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Emergency vote Monday on speeding cleanup of sewage plant  The Metropolitan King County Council will take an emergency vote Monday to expedite the clean up of a flooded wastewater-treatment plant that is dumping raw sewage into Puget Sound. The vote would allow the county to forego the traditional competitive-bidding process for contractors in the interest of time. The motion would extend a waiver of that process put in place by Executive Dow Constantine shortly after the flood. Rachel Lerman reports. (Seattle Times)

Climate change would transform Vancouver into San Diego
Goodbye Vancouver, hello San Diego. A major climate-change study predicts temperatures in Metro Vancouver will exceed those of present-day Southern California in the coming decades. Frost and ice will become virtually a thing of the past, heating bills will drop, and farm crops will flourish virtually year-round in the Fraser Valley. That’s the good news. On the down side — and there is plenty of it — the region can expect: air-conditioning costs to soar; worsening smog and associated health problems; increased forest fires and water shortages; summer droughts followed by severe fall rain events; and an influx of invasive species threatening forests and agriculture. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Rayonier: 20-year anniversary sees site still dormant, with 2026 as cleanup target
Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the Rayonier Inc. pulp mill’s demise, the death of what was Clallam County’s largest employer, the final work whistle for the plant’s 365 employees. The 75-acre parcel 2 miles east of downtown on Port Angeles Harbor has lain dormant since Feb. 28, 1997, awaiting final cleanup of harbor waters, which state Department of Ecology Southwest Region Manager Rebecca Lawson said Friday might not be completed until 2026. The closure slashed an estimated $1.4 million from the city general fund in sales, utility and property taxes in 1997 and the same amount in 1998, then-City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said. But many former Rayonier employees quickly found jobs and moved on, two of them said last week. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

The cleanup of Port Gamble Bay is now complete
In January, crews — who began working on the site in 2015 — finished the cleanup work, which was being managed by Port Gamble’s owner, Pope Resources, and overseen by the state Department of Ecology. Over the two-year cleanup, 70,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and wood waste were dredged and removed. The project also broke records as one of the biggest creosote piling removal projects in the Puget Sound with more than 6,000 piles removed from the waters of the bay. Jeromy Sullivan report. (Kitsap Daily News)

A False Creek full of dolphins and orcas could soon be reality, says conservation group
Imagine Vancouver's False Creek teeming with dolphins, orcas and salmon — all swimming among the stand-up paddleboarders and dragon boat racers commonly seen there now.  That's what conservationist Jonn Matsen is working towards with his group, the Squamish Streamkeepers.  First, the society is making new attempts to bring herring back to the downtown inlet. So far, their efforts have been met with great success. (CBC)

'Big pool of blood': Redmond man shoots cougar in research cage
Biologist Brian Kerston saw right away that something was wrong with the live trap he had set to capture a cougar for research purposes. The door of the cage was sprung, but there was no big cat inside. Looking closely, Kerston realized that the floor of the trap was smeared with blood…. It didn’t take wildlife officials long to piece together an evidence trail that led them to a 53-year-old Redmond man who killed a young male cougar in the trap, then tried to pass it off as the product of a legitimate hunt. Ronald Dean Wentz initially denied that the animal, which was wearing a GPS collar, was in the trap when he shot it. Wentz later admitted he had lied. He pleaded guilty to a related charge and was fined $1,300. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Trump administration blocks changes on coal mining royalties
The Interior Department has put on hold changes to how it values coal extracted from public lands after mining companies sued in federal court to challenge the rules. Interior officials say in a Federal Register announcement, due to be published on Monday, that current rules will remain in place pending a court decision. The changes, crafted under the administration of President Barack Obama, were aimed at ensuring companies don’t shortchange taxpayers on coal sales to Asia and other markets. (Associated Press)

Trump Orders Agencies To Reduce Regulations
President Trump signed an executive action on Friday aimed at reducing red tape. It directs each federal agency to set up a task force to identify costly regulations that could be scaled back. "Every regulation should have to pass a simple test," Trump said. "Does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers? If the answer is no, we will be getting rid of it — and getting rid of it quickly." Scott Horsley reports. (NPR)

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