Thursday, April 20, 2017

4/20 Deepwater Horizon, WA funding, Trump $, EPA coal, water wells, fish barging, farmlands, beaches, Arctic plastic

Deepwater Horizon [USCG]
Deepwater Horizon Blowout and Explosion April 20, 2010
Seven years ago an uncontrollable blowout in the deepest vertical drilled well in the Gulf of Mexico caused an explosion that killed 11 men and set fire to the rig. The rig sank two days later and 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed at the seabed causing the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. (Wikipedia) See also: The Pacific States – British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force Deep Water Horizon Updates  (Thanks to Sarah Brace)

Conservationists guardedly optimistic about funding to restore forests, coasts and flood-prone areas
Bipartisan. Unanimous. Two words not heard often in contemporary politics describe a pair of bills passed by a divided Washington Legislature to revitalize forests in the face of climate change and megafires that have killed firefighters and cost the state millions of dollars. Now comes the real test: Will the Legislature provide the money needed to carry out these plans? The same test confronts high-profile efforts to restore Washington ecosystems in coastal and flood-prone areas. Most at risk is the restoration program for flood-prone regions, which could lose more than half of its funding under the Senate’s budget plan. n yet another difficult year for legislators beset by a court order to spend more on education and plaintive pleas to shore up a decrepit mental-health system, environmentalists are surprisingly upbeat based on what they’ve seen so far in the House and Senate budget proposals. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

How would San Juan County look if Trump’s budget proposal was passed?
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal suggests cutting funds to most major federal agencies and departments while increasing military and border patrol spending. On Monday, April 10, the League of Women Voters of the San Juans held a panel to predict what San Juan County would be like if Congress, who has the final decision, adopts Trump’s plan. Hayley Day reports. (San Juan Journal) See also: Washington state gets a lot of federal money for science  Kara McDermott reports. (KUOW)

EPA seeks to scuttle cleanup of coal power plant pollution
The Trump administration is once again seeking to scuttle cuts to pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court in Washington to postpone consideration of 2012 rules requiring energy companies to cut emissions of toxic chemicals…. It is the latest in a string of moves by President Donald Trump’s appointees to help companies that profit from burning of fossil fuels. Last week EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would seek to rewrite Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power plants. The agency also sought to roll back tighter restrictions on pollution from coal mines. Michael Biesecker and Sam Hananel report. (Associated Press)

Whatcom County Council curbs building that relies on wells for another 6 months
The County Council is restricting new rural developments that rely on domestic wells in Whatcom County for six more months. The measure replaces the temporary six-week restriction that was ending. On Tuesday, the council voted 5-2 for the six-month extension. Council members Barbara Brenner and Ken Mann were the “no” votes. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Conservation Groups Ask To Stop Barging Sockeye Around Dams
Helping juvenile salmon migrate out to sea has long been difficult and controversial. Barging is a common way to get the fish around dams. The salmon are hauled around eight dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Idaho Conservation groups say this practice harms fish — and needs to stop now. Seven groups sent a letter to NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agencies to this spring stop sending salmon along their migration route in barges. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Radio/EarthFix)

Pierce council rejects changes to county farmland zoning
A proposal to reclassify and preserve Pierce County farmland died in County Council chambers this week, much as it died two years ago. One key difference in Wednesday’s version of the demise was a number: $230,000, the price of a county-commissioned study of “Agricultural Resource Land.” The study recommended changes to the county’s current designated ARL stock, including the correction of a longstanding mapping error and the reclassification of 942 land parcels that didn’t meet the definition of commercial farmland. In the end, none of it mattered. After months of debate and public hearings, council members settled for the status quo since 2004, which sets the county’s ARL stock at 22,951 acres, though the study found about 50,000 acres are actively farmed. Sean Robinson reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

Sunken Pleasure: California Will Need Mountains of Sand to Save Its Beaches 
Southern California’s beaches are an essential part of the state’s identity. The sandy, blond shorelines are like Hollywood or the towering redwoods—iconic. They are also an important piece of California’s more than $40-billion annual coastal and ocean economy. But scientists have bad news: Without human intervention, many of the region’s beautiful beaches may disappear by 2100 as sea levels rise. If the Golden State wants to save its golden shores, it will have to add sand to them—and lots of it. Annie Sneed reports. (Scientific American)

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters  
The world’s oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic. In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, a group of researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions show that a major ocean current is carrying bits of plastic, mainly from the North Atlantic, to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there — in surface waters, in sea ice and possibly on the ocean floor. Because climate change is already shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover, more human activity in this still-isolated part of the world is increasingly likely as navigation becomes easier. Tatiana Schlossberg reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  301 AM PDT THU APR 20 2017  

TODAY
 VARIABLE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL  7 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND A SLIGHT CHANCE OF  TSTMS.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING SW AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND  WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A SLIGHT CHANCE  OF SHOWERS IN THE EVENING.

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