Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4/26 Green crab, Trump science, fracked fuel, 'What's Upstream?', monuments, West Point, biochar, wax worm

Pea crab (Walla Walla University)
Pea Crab Pinnixa faba
The pea crab lives harmlessly and symbiotically within large edible clams like the horse and gaper clams and lives off their hosts' filtering of organic material. Its tiny carapace is about a little more than half an inch long and about a third of an inch wide. (Wikipedia) Note: Yesterday's critter feature is correctly identified as a house finch, neither a robin nor a red-head sparrow; the bird outside the window has been notified accordingly and is taking the news well… Thank you, Shawn, Connie, Jeff and Herb.

Invasive European green crab found in Dungeness Bay
An invasive crab species scientists and locals feared to find on the North Olympic Peninsula was discovered in traps last week in Dungeness Bay. Staff and volunteers at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge found at least 13 European green crabs in Graveyard Spit across from Dungeness Landing and continue to investigate just how prevalent the species might be there. (Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Science takes a back seat in Trump’s first 100 days
…. Three months into his presidency, Donald Trump has yet to appoint a science adviser. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, which grew to 135 employees under Obama, is at just one-fourth that level. Trump’s proposed federal budget, prepared without the input of a science adviser, calls for deep cuts in federal science agencies, particularly those involved in climate-change research. Stuart Leavenworth reports. (McClatchy)

Fracked Fuel Exports Come to Whatcom County
Northwest fossil fuel export schemes have brought a flood of coal and oil proposals to the region’s shores. But the fossil export tsunami has a third wave as well: fracked fuels, including the massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export proposals in British Columbia, as well as several projects that would export liquid petroleum gases (LPGs) such as propane and butane. In fact, West Coast propane exports have increased six-fold in the past year—most likely because a Canadian energy company called Petrogas recently expanded a fracked fuel export facility at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, Washington. The risks posed by this facility are a direct threat to the interests of the Lummi Nation, who have lived and fished in the area for millennia, and consider Cherry Point a site of central cultural and economic importance. Eric de Place reports. (Sightline)

‘What’s Upstream?’ ad campaign funded by EPA did not break federal lobbying rules, investigation finds
A controversial clean-water campaign funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not violate federal lobbying rules, an Inspector General audit has determined. The What’s Upstream? campaign included billboards and ads to raise awareness of clean-water issues surrounding agricultural pollution in the Puget Sound region. Some Republican lawmakers accused What’s Upstream?, which included a form letter on its website for people to contact their legislators, of being an “anti-farmer campaign.” ….The campaign’s funding came from a five-year EPA grant made to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. The commission then awarded about $570,000 of that to the Swinomish Indian Tribe, which decided to create the What’s Upstream? campaign. The EPA Office of Inspector General found that neither agency broke lobbying rules, because the form letters did not push for specific legislative action to address pollution.  Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Trump To Sign Executive Order That Could Shrink National Monuments 
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that could end up shrinking — or even nullifying — some large federal national monuments on protected public lands, as established since the Clinton administration. Kirk Siegler reports. (NPR) See also: Trump Targets National Monuments, Including Papahanaumokuakea  President Donald Trump is ordering a review of the designations for more than two dozen national monuments, including ecologically rich marine preserves in the Pacific such as Papahanaumokuakea, Marianas Trench and the Pacific Remote Islands. Kirstin Downey reports. (Civil Beat) And also: Trump Is Expected to Sign Orders That Could Expand Access to Fossil Fuels  After moving last month against Barack Obama’s efforts to limit fossil fuel exploration and combat climate change, President Trump will complete his effort to overturn environmental policy this week, signing two executive orders to expand offshore drilling and roll back conservation on public lands. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Coming out of retirement to fight Trump on monuments
Danny Westneat reports: "I interrupted Rich Steele, 82, while he was out hunting turkey. So he didn’t have his thoughts fully formed. “I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, because I thought we were long done with this,” Steele, of Richland, fumed. “But I can tell you, we’re gonna fight.” Sally Reeve, of Lopez Island, also couldn’t talk long, because her sheep were at that moment giving birth. But she said her fellow San Juan islanders already are mobilizing the troops. “We’re pretty worried up here,” Reeve, 61, said Tuesday. “There’s going to be a heckuva fight if they come after this monument.” Steele and Reeve live on different sides of the state. But as two of the key citizens who campaigned for years to establish separate national monuments, here, they now find themselves united. In resistance to President Trump. (Seattle Times)

King County Launches Investigation Of Waste Treatment Facility
The King County Council has formally launched an investigation into what caused the catastrophic failure of its largest wastewater treatment facility in early February. During the failure, about 30 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into Puget Sound. At 2 a.m. on February 9, catastrophic flooding shut down the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. A unanimous vote by the council has confirmed selection of a team of wastewater experts from the global engineering firm AECOM for the investigation. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Biochar
At the Port Angeles Science Day over the weekend, reader Norm Baker reported that, in spite of the rain and wind, many were in attendance and he went home with a voice hoarse from spending the day explaining "biochar." What's biochar? According to Norm: "…Biochar is nothing more than charcoal (basically carbon) made from biomass at a specific temperature - 450°C. This temperature is much different than charcoal made for cooking (250C) or activated carbon made at 900 centigrade. The term biochar came from the fact that it is made from unpolluted biomass hence the term bio-….The really short story about biochar is that incorporated into soil, it adsorbs and releases plant nutrients and improves crop production about 25%. Since the biochar has a half-life of eleven hundred years, it is the principal contender for fighting global warming since it is sequestering carbon back into the soil. If we were to take a piece of firewood, about 30% can be made into biochar. The remaining 70% is a mixture of organic oils and gases which can now be made directly into renewable fuels. This is only the tip of the iceberg however. This whole story about biochar is simply the most amazing thing I have encountered as an environmental activist in a very long time. If you have a gardening group or environmental group or climate group that needs a good speaker, let me know. I love talking about this issue…."

A Worm May Hold The Key To Biodegrading Plastic
People around the world use more than a trillion plastic bags every year. They're made of a notoriously resilient kind of plastic called polyethylene that can take decades to break down. But a humble worm may hold the key to biodegrading them. It was an accidental discovery. Scientist and beekeeper Federica Bertocchini was frustrated to find that her beehives were infested with the larvae of Galleria mellonella, commonly known as a wax worm. Bertocchini, who works at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, tells NPR that she was cleaning out the hive and put the worm-infested parts in a plastic bag. But shortly afterward, she noticed that "they were all crawling around my place and the plastic bag was riddled with holes." Merrit Kennedy reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PDT WED APR 26 2017  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING
 
TODAY
 W WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT  AT 8 SECONDS BUILDING TO 8 FT AT 10 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.  NUMEROUS SHOWERS IN THE MORNING THEN SCATTERED SHOWERS IN THE  AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 15 TO 25 KT BECOMING NW 10 TO 20 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 4 FT SUBSIDING TO 1 TO 3 FT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 11 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE EVENING  THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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