Monday, March 27, 2017

3/27 EPA power, orca water, Puget Sound $, cetacean ban, Growlers, Trump budget, BC pipe, KXL, Ecology café

Squirrelly [Laurie MacBride]
Cirque du Matin
Laurie MacBride in Eye On Environment writes: "Our morning coffee has been served up with entertainment over the past week: a small, lively and highly agile acrobat has been performing right outside our living room window…." (more photos)

EPA chief: Trump to undo Obama plan to curb global warming 
resident Donald Trump in the coming days will sign a new executive order that unravels his predecessor’s sweeping plan to curb global warming, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday. EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the executive order to be signed Tuesday will undo the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The 2015 rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-led states and more than 100 companies. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Pruitt said Trump’s intention is to bring back coal-mining jobs and reduce the cost of electricity. (Associated Press) See also: Earth Hour B.C.: residents flip the switch for electricity savings, halts on climate change  BC Hydro says British Columbians saved 24 megawatt hours of electricity and reduced the provincial electricity load by 0.3 per cent during Earth Hour Saturday night — the equivalent of turning off about 1.1 million LED lightbulbs. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC) And also: South Sound Climate Action Convention held in downtown Olympia on Saturday Amelia Dickson and Stacia Glenn report. (Olympian)

Plants providing limited wastewater treatment add to risk for orcas
Pity the poor orcas. They’re already stressed from pollution, noise from vessel traffic and lack of food because of declining salmon runs. And now scientists, in the first study of its kind, have identified a fourth risk factor: pathogens that could hurt the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population — possibly from human sewage. Down to 78 animals, the orcas are in an uphill battle for survival. In research over four years, scientists found yet another reason why, detected in their exhaled breath. In their paper published Friday in Nature’s Scientific Reports, scientists detailed their research using petri dishes extended on 25-foot-long poles to capture samples of orcas’ breath as they came to the surface in the wild and exhaled. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Bad breath: Study find array of bacteria when orcas exhale  Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press) And also: Seattle plant failure dumps millions of gallons of sewage  Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Trump is not the only one cutting Puget Sound funding
President Trump’s proposed $28 million cut of Puget Sound restoration funding has provoked an outcry. But Gov. Jay Inslee himself is proposing a $29 million cut to the program. Loss of federal funding for Puget Sound restoration is not the only cause for concern. State funding, which pays for a much larger share of the restoration costs, also is facing cuts. Citing loss of federal dollars and income from hazardous substance tax revenues, Inslee is proposing to spend $29 million less on the Sound cleanup and restoration than in the previous bi-annual budget. The Legislature is set to follow suit with cutbacks of its own. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

Gov. Inslee, Oregon governor vow to fight Trump environmental proposals
The Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon struck a defiant pose Saturday, vowing to fight proposals they expect soon from President Donald Trump that they say would weaken environmental protection. Govs. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown offered no new tax or policy announcements during their 21-minute news conference in downtown Seattle. They couched the coming showdown between the Trump administration and the Northwest as a third chapter, following Trump’s efforts to ban travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries that was blocked by a lawsuit by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and the proposal that failed in Congress on Friday to repeal Obamacare. Mike Lindblom reports. (Seattle Times)

Proposed cetacean ban could harm marine mammals, DFO says
The Vancouver Park Board's move to ban cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium could spell bad news for some of the stricken marine mammals that are saved by fishery and aquarium teams, says the aquarium. Each year, the federal fisheries department's Pacific Region receives more than 600 calls about distressed marine mammals, including whales, sea lions and porpoises. Some are sick or stranded or entangled in fishing net. John Ford, who heads marine mammal research for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said if a proposed cetacean ban is approved, some types of rescue marine mammals might not be saved. (CBC)

EPA faults study on expanding Growler jets at Whidbey, seeks on-the-ground noise monitoring
The Environmental Protection Agency rates as “insufficient” a draft study of the impacts of adding up to 36 additional aircraft to the EA-18G Growler fleet at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The EPA wants more information about what the expansion would do to the environment and local communities, and recommends a monitoring program to measure the noise effects of the Growler jets. The findings were conveyed to the Navy in a letter sent earlier this month from R. David Allnut, an EPA official in Seattle. According to the EPA policy manual, the final Navy study on the Growler expansion should include additional information on the noise impacts. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: State: Jet noise a public health concern  Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Trump's Hiring Freeze Could Be Felt By Recreation Seekers On Public Lands 
The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River rushes over 40 miles from the North Cascades down into Puget Sound. It’s a big river, with enough rapids and undercurrents that only expert kayakers can navigate it…. The Middle Fork Valley is publicly owned forest land less than an hour from downtown Seattle…. But, now, a newly paved road could bring tens of thousands — or even hundreds of thousands – of visitors to the valley every summer. But the valley might not be ready for them. That’s because, as more and more people use publicly owned lands for recreation, public agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand for rangers, trail maintenance – even the need to restock toilet paper in outhouses. And the problem could get even worse under President Trump’s hiring freeze. Eilís O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

B.C. reports 64 pipeline benefit deals with 29 northern First Nations
The British Columbia government says it has completed benefit agreements with 90 per cent of the eligible First Nations along four proposed natural gas pipeline routes across northern B.C. The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations says 64 natural gas pipeline benefits contracts have been signed with 29 First Nations and that most include financial payments worth over $1 million, although the ministry says only $13 million has been paid out so far. Most of the agreements also have separate milestone payments, covering when construction begins or gas starts to flow. (Canadian Press)

Trump approval for Keystone pipeline doesn’t guarantee it’ll be built
Completion of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline is still far from a done deal, despite the Trump administration’s approval of a key permit on Friday that reversed a decision by the Obama administration…. But it’s still anything but clear when work can begin on uncompleted sections of the pipeline, which is designed to carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The Nebraska Public Service Commission still must issue a crucial permit so the pipeline can cross state boundaries, and that decision may not come until September. Farmers, landowners and Native American tribes are battling the pipeline, as are national environmental groups and climate activists. They’ve pledged to deploy a variety of strategies – including litigation and civil disobedience – to derail the pipeline, as they did during the Obama administration. Stuart Leavenworth reports. (McClatchy)

Thurston County health inspectors rang up 75 points of high-risk violations in a February visit to the Department of Ecology cafeteria
About 900 workers file into the state Department of Ecology’s building in Lacey each day with a mission to — according to the agency’s website — “protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s land, air and water for current and future generations.” A February health inspection found imperiled segments of the food chain very near the workers’ desks. The Thurston County Health Department found 75 points of red-level “high risk factor” violations in the agency’s cafe — which is open to the public — on a routine surprise visit Feb. 14. Derrick Nunnally reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

Event: Welcome the Whales Festival and Parade
Orca Network presents the annual, all-day welcome of the gray whales and celebration of all marine life on April 8, 11 AM - 5 PM, in Langley on Whidbey Island. Join in the whale parade, hear about saving Baja's San Ignacia Lagoon and its gray whales, and take part in the festivities. Info here.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival back on normal schedule
The tulips are set to bloom on time for the 34th annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which runs during the month of April. Warm winters have led to mid-March blooms the past two years, throwing off the festival’s schedule, said festival Executive Director Cindy Verge. That won’t be the case this year. Aaron Weinberg reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--


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