Thursday, March 30, 2017

3/30 Spilled oil, HB1611, Vic sewer, Blanchard logs, water use, jet stream, king coal, border wall, info war, health rank

[National Geographic Kids]
Raccoons
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a native mammal, measuring about 3 feet long, including its 12-inch, bushy, ringed tail…. Raccoons prefer forest areas near a stream or water source, but have adapted to various environments throughout Washington. Raccoon populations can get quite large in urban areas, owing to hunting and trapping restrictions, few predators, and human-supplied food. Don't feed raccoons and don't make food available to raccoons: garbage, pet food, compost or barbecue/picnic scraps. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Ship owner charged for 2015 oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay
The owner of the MV Marathassa, the bulk grain carrier that spilled thousands of litres of bunker fuel into Vancouver’s English Bay and revealed cracks in Canada’s marine-response system, has been charged with 10 pollution-related offences and could face fines in the millions of dollars. The spill occurred in April, 2015, amid a heated debate over major pipeline projects and the risks associated with the increased tanker traffic they would bring. It set off a cleanup effort that was beset by delays and miscommunication as fuel washed up at prized Vancouver beaches, including those around Stanley Park. Justine Hunter and Sunny Dhillon report. (Globe and Mail)

If Canada ups its oil shipping, should we worry?
.... The House Finance Committee in Olympia is set to vote Thursday on a measure to require tug escorts for articulated oil barges. HB 1611 aims to address some shortcomings in the state’s oil spill prevention program. It would improve safety requirements for water transport, including mandating tug escorts for oil-transporting vessels. It also would tighten safety standards for pipelines and provide additional funding for the oil spill program administered by the Department of Ecology. Strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate means the bill faces a steep uphill climb, its sponsor, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, acknowledges. She failed to get similar legislation passed two years ago, instead passing a bill that improved safety only for oil transport by rail. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

Meeting to air worries about sewage-treatment project
Victoria residents, worried their concerns over noise, odour and traffic during sewage-treatment plant construction and operation are falling on deaf ears, will gather at the Coast Victoria Hotel Thursday to gather information and plot action…. The meeting was organized by residents of James Bay, Fairfield, downtown and Vic West who will be exposed to months of construction traffic and loud noise as drilling is done to run a sewage line from Ogden Point in to McLoughlin Point. If there are odours once the plant is operating, prevailing winds will carry them across the harbour to James Bay, they say. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Will 1,600-acre ‘core’ on Blanchard Mountain be saved from logging?
The state’s new commissioner of public lands is hopeful that when the House of Representatives budget is released early next week, it will include the remaining $7.7 million needed to protect all of a 1,600-acre “core” of Blanchard Mountain in Skagit County from being logged. If it doesn’t, the state Department of Natural Resources has put two other options as backup before the Legislature, Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said Wednesday. “We’re doing everything we can to come up with strategies with the goal of trying to be successful in protecting Blanchard,” Franz said during an interview at the Skagit Valley Food Co-Op. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Lawmakers seek solution to Whatcom County fight over rural water uses
More construction would be possible in Whatcom County and other rural areas if state lawmakers can agree on a way to rewrite Washington’s water law to address a recent Supreme Court ruling critics say keeps families from building their dream homes. But supporters of the ruling told a legislative committee Tuesday one attempted rewrite doesn’t do enough to make sure all residents will have the water they need. Although the ruling involved a Whatcom County case, it has statewide implications. (Spokesman-Review, Bellingham Herald)

Changing jet stream, extreme weather linked to humans: study
From the heat and drought that led to explosive fire conditions in Fort McMurray to non-stop rain before the disastrous Calgary flooding — these are perfect examples of how too many days of any kind of weather can lead to catastrophic extremes. Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports strongly suggests that human activity is linked to these types of prolonged summer weather events. "We came as close as one can to demonstrating a direct link between climate change and a large family of extreme recent weather events," said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State. Johanna Wagstaffe reports. (CBC)

Trump's Interior Secretary: The 'war on coal is over'
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in a one-two Trump administration bid to boost America's beleaguered coal industry, has lifted the Obama administration's moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land. "It is certainly a signal that the war on coal is over," Zinke, a former Montana congressman, said during a Wednesday telephone briefing for journalists…. But Zinke did not predict a comeback for coal.... Zinke need only look to his native state, and the Pacific Northwest, for supporting evidence.  Washington is phasing out its only coal plant, at Centralia. Oregon's only coal plant will permanently shut its doors before the end of President Trump's term. Puget Sound Energy is on a path to shut two dirty, 1975-vintage coal plants, Colstrip 1 and 2, in Montana. Montana's legislature is considering putting out taxpayer dollars to keep two other units, Colstrip 3 and 4, on life support. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Trump's repeal of Clean Power Plan gets mixed Montana reception  Tom Lutey reports. (Billings Gazette)

Zinke: Border wall ‘complex,’ faces geographic challenges
Geographic and physical challenges — including the Rio Grande and threatened wildlife — will make it difficult to build the “big, beautiful wall” that President Donald Trump has promised on the U.S.-Mexico border, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said today. Building a wall “is complex in some areas,” including Big Bend National Park and along the river, which twists through nearly half of the 2,000-mile border, Zinke said. (Associated Press)

UW professor: The information war is real, and we're losing it 
A UW professor started studying social networks to help people respond to disasters. But she got dragged down a rabbit hole of twitter-boosted conspiracy theories, and ended up mapping our political moment. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, provides a 2017 ranking of Washington state counties by length of life and quality of life. The top 10 ranking counties, in descending order, are San Juan, King, Island, Jefferson, Whatcom, Snohomish, Thurston, Kittitas, Skagit and Kitsap. the lowest five ranking counties, in descending order are Grays Harbor, Wahkiakum, Ferry, Pend Oreille and Garfield.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  257 AM PDT THU MAR 30 2017  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING
 
TODAY
 NW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 8 FT  AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 15 TO 25 KT EASING TO 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT.  WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS AFTER MIDNIGHT. W  SWELL 8 FT AT 13 SECONDS.

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