Monday, March 20, 2017

3/20 Spring!, hydraulic permit, Ericksen, White Rock water, Trump cuts, Vancouver WA oil, DAPL, 'Reaching Blue,' fish labels, false killers, deer GPS

Spring equinox 2017: Five things about the beginning of spring
It's now safe to say that spring is here. Meteorological spring began March 1. And astronomical spring began today, March 20, 2017, with the vernal equinox. There are two equinoxes each year, one in the spring and the other in the fall. The fall equinox will be on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The equinoxes nearly always fall within the same three-day period. Leigh Morgan reports. (Birmingham News)

Fish habitat protection program stirs controversy
Washington state’s hamstrung program for protecting fish habitat is overdue for a makeover. Facing potential budget cuts, lawsuits, and threats of more endangered fish species, the agency that runs the program is hoping 2017 will be be the year it gets stronger enforcement authority. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hydraulic Project Approval  program, often referred to by its acronym HPA, issues permits statewide for private, as well as government, building projects that might harm fish habitat. Established in 1943, it’s one of the state’s oldest regulatory permits, and one of its most underfunded and difficult to enforce. But the threat of legal action over the program’s jurisdiction, an attorney general’s opinion supporting Fish and Wildlife and the upcoming elimination of one of the program’s funding sources have given new momentum to a 74-year-old debate over the program’s authority. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

Records show Sen. Ericksen worked nearly full time at EPA while drawing state salary 
Sen. Doug Ericksen continues to say he doesn’t know how much he’s being paid for his temporary job with the Environmental Protection Agency, although records of his paychecks show it’s $77.58 per hour…. Records for the first month of the job show Ericksen was working full-time or nearly full-time for the EPA. He was paid for 72 hours of work between the two week period of Feb. 4-18, and 80 hours during the prior pay period — all while splitting time at the state Capitol. The federal government had paid Ericksen $11,792 for his work through Feb. 18. Kie Relyea and Walker Orenstein report. (Bellingham Herald and Tacoma News Tribune) See also: Washington Lawmaker Has 6-Figure Salary In Trump Administration, Documents Show  Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

White Rock gets millions to remove arsenic, manganese from water
White Rock has received the largest grant in its history to deal with elevated levels of arsenic and manganese in the city water supply. The money, almost $11.8 million, was announced Friday as part of a spending blitz by the federal and provincial governments aimed at water and waste water infrastructure projects in B.C. White Rock received $7.1 million from the federal government and $4.7 million from the province. Though details of the treatment plan have not been finalized, treating the city’s water is expected to cost $14.2 million, meaning White Rock will pick up $2.4 million. Jennifer Saltman reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Students get behind-the-scenes look at their water supply  Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Environmentalists warn about Trump’s Puget Sound budget cuts
State officials, environmental advocates and others are warning of dire environmental and economic consequences if President Donald Trump’s cuts to Puget Sound and other environmental programs go through as proposed. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Oil Terminal Process
The Washington Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Port of Vancouver regarding a controversial proposed oil terminal. Environmental groups had argued that the Port skirted state law by agreeing to a lease before exploring alternatives through the environmental review process. The state Supreme Court sided with lower court decisions that the Port’s lease with Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies followed Washington law. The high court agreed there are sufficient contingencies in the lease to allow for possible alternatives. Bob Manning reports. (OPB)

Appeals court refuses to stop oil in Dakota Access pipeline 
An appeals court on Saturday refused a request from two American Indian tribes for an “emergency” order that would prevent oil from flowing through Dakota Access pipeline. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois could be operating as early as Monday, even as the tribes’ lawsuit challenging the project moves forward. (Associated Press) See also: Norwegian Pension Fund Divests From Companies Behind DAPL  Camila Domonoske reports. (NPR)

Film from former Port Townsend resident deals with Salish Sea, climate change
Former Port Townsend resident Ian Hinkle hopes his film “Reaching Blue” stirs discussion on climate change… The film, which Hinkle co-directed with Andy Robertson, focuses on changes happening in the Salish Sea due to climate change…. It was shown for the first time on the North Olympic Peninsula in Port Townsend on Friday. About 225 people turned out to see the 45-minute film at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship sanctuary in Port Townsend, according to Kees Kolff, chair of the fellowship’s Green Sanctuary committee. Cydney McFarland reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Fishy labels?: Ottawa considering steps to provide more detail on seafood labels
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it is looking at ways to improve labelling for seafood after a report by environmentalists gave current rules a grade of F due to a lack of consumer information. The report released Thursday by the Seachoice group, which includes the David Suzuki Foundation and the Ecology Action Centre, says that under existing rules Canadians often aren't receiving the same information as Europeans or Americans. The coalition is advocating for Canada to begin including more details on labels, including where the fish was caught, how it was caught and, in addition to the common name, a scientific name that helps consumers identify more precisely just what they're about to eat. Michael Tutton reports. (Canadian Press)

In Search of Hawaii's Mysterious False Killer Whales
Robin Baird was down at the docks before sunrise March 7, eager to get back out on the water to search for endangered false killer whales off the coast of Lanai. It was Day 7 of a 21-day field project funded by private donations, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Species Recovery Grant to the state of Hawaii. Baird, a research biologist with the Olympia, Washington-based Cascadia Research Collective, and his four-person crew had yet to see any false killer whales this trip as they boarded their chartered 24-foot Zodiac Hurricane. Nathan Eagle reports. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

Problem deer get GPS collars ahead of Oak Bay birth control plan
Problem deer in Oak Bay, B.C.,  are are the subject a new study that will inform the district's population reduction strategy. About 20 deer will be outfitted with GPS tracking collars, while multiple surveillance cameras will be posted around the municipality to determine how large the population is, according to Steve Huxter of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  252 AM PDT MON MAR 20 2017  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
 
TODAY
 E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 4 FT  AT 9 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING 10 TO 20 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 3 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A  CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE EVENING THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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