Monday, May 8, 2017

5/8 Monuments, sewer pipe, stormwater, BC LNG, xylene, biofuel plant, Columbia salmon, sablefish, spartina, tree killler, cetacean breeding, Georgia Straight

Opalescent nudibranch [Monterey Bay Aquarium]
Opalescent nudibranch Hermissenda crassicornis
Opalescent nudibranchs are one of the prettiest and most colorful species of nudibranchs. Though their colors vary, they always have bright orange areas on their backs and blue lines along each side. Cerrata (fingerlike projections) on their backs are brownish yellow, with white and gold tips…. Opalescent nudibranchs are aggressive fighters. When two of them meet head-to-head, they're likely to lunge into a biting battle…. Because opalescent nudibranchs live less than one year, they have to grow and reproduce quickly—they can't lose time looking for a mate. A meeting between two or more can be a mutual mating session, since these creatures are hermaphroditic (they have both male and female sexual organs). (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Protections for 27 national monuments may be curtailed, cut
Twenty-seven national monuments, mostly in the West, face the curtailing or elimination of protections put in place over the past two decades by presidents from both parties, the Interior Department said. President Donald Trump ordered the review last month, saying protections imposed by his three immediate predecessors amounted to "a massive federal land grab" that "should never have happened." A list released Friday includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11, mostly Western states, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Nevada's Basin and Range and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. The review also targets five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, including a huge reserve in Hawaii established in 2006 by President George W. Bush and expanded last year by President Barack Obama. Matthew Daly reports. (Associated Press) See also:  Comment Period Announced For For Hanford Reach, Cascade-Siskiyou, Other Monuments 'Under Review'   Courtney Flatt reports. (NWPR/EarthFix) See also: With National Monuments Under Review, Bears Ears Is Focus Of Fierce Debate  Kirk Siegler reports. (NPR) And: For a list of all monuments under initial review, see DOI news release: Interior Department Releases List of Monuments Under Review, Announces First-Ever Formal Public Comment Period for Antiquities Act Monuments

Any danger to Bellingham Bay after the wastewater treatment plant flooded when a pipe broke? Here’s what a city official said
 Wastewater from a broken pipe that flooded the city’s sewage treatment plant waist deep has been pumped out, and discharges are not polluting Bellingham Bay, a city official said Sunday morning. But the plant at Post Point west of Fairhaven at 200 McKenzie Ave. remains in emergency operations after a 30-inch pipe broke and fell from the ceiling at 1 a.m. Saturday, flooding underground sections of the plant and forcing a shutdown of the secondary treatment process, said Eric Johnston, assistant director for public works operations. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Belligham Herald)

Snohomish County stormwater policies need reform, official says 
Snohomish County’s approach to stormwater could use some patching up. At least, that’s what the director in charge of county drainage and flood-control programs has concluded. Surface Water Management director Will Hall is pushing a reform plan he believes will save nearly a half-million dollars per year in bureaucracy, and put that money toward culverts, catch basins and other actual projects. “The current utility is obsolete and inefficient, wasting resources and taxpayer dollars,” Hall said. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

No Gov’t Safety Process for Siting Liquefied Natural Gas Plants: Report
There is no government process for ensuring LNG plants are safely located or the ships serving them won’t meet with disaster, says a new report. Liquified natural gas is highly compressed and flammable and potentially powerfully explosive if leaked. Specially designed super tankers transport the gas in amounts large enough to heat London for a week. But a 92-page study published by Vancouver-based Voters Taking Action on Climate Change finds no federal or provincial agency is now tasked with asking two basic questions: Is this a secure place to build an LNG terminal? And, is this water passage safe for LNG traffic? Andrew Nikiforuk reports. (The Tyee)

La Conner officials: Xylene production warrants own EIS
La Conner town officials are calling for a second environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery’s proposed clean products upgrade project. Officials say a second, separate EIS is needed to focus on the refinery’s proposed production of xylene. The refinery proposes upgrading existing equipment and adding new equipment to its facility at March Point to reduce emissions from vessels at its dock, reduce sulfur emissions from fuels it produces, and extract xylene during the refining process for sale overseas. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

What’s happening with EPA cleanup of old biofuels plant near Ferndale?
The Environmental Protection Agency will resume its cleanup of an abandoned biofuels processing plant northwest of Ferndale in July. Located on 34 acres, TreOil Industries Biorefinery is no longer operating. It was used to process distilled tall oil, as a biodiesel refinery and for other small-scale miscellaneous industrial operations, according to EPA. EPA was on site in March for an emergency cleanup, expected to cost $1 million, after regulators found hazardous substances leaking from containers. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Heald)

Epic snow and rain help salmon now, but conflicts with hydropower lie ahead on Columbia River 
This year’s strong spring flows through the Columbia River come amid a high-stakes conflict over how much water should be used to help salmon migrate over the dams rather than run through hydroelectric turbines. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Researchers Seek Better Ways To Farm Popular Pacific Fish
The dark gray fish prized for its buttery flavor live deep in the ocean, so researchers keep their lab cold and dark to simulate ideal conditions for sablefish larvae.... At this federal marine research station near Seattle, scientists are studying sablefish genetics and investigating ways to make it easier and more efficient to commercially grow the fish. It is part of a larger effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support marine aquaculture as a solution to feed a growing demand worldwide for seafood. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Season to Treat Invasive Spartina Starts in June
This year’s treatment season for spartina, an aggressive noxious weed, starts in June and will continue through November. The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced that survey and eradication efforts will take place in multiple areas, including Grays Harbor, Hood Canal, Willapa Bay, Puget Sound, the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula and at the mouth of the Columbia River. (KBKW)

The Jet City agrees to better share the skies with birds
In a new environmental action by the Jet City, officials in Seattle have committed to protecting the "Pacific Flyway" — the route migratory birds take from Alaska to Mexico, on which Seattle is a stopover. Friday, Seattle lawmakers signed a treaty to become an Urban Bird Treaty City. It's an agreement between the city, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Seattle Audubon and other agencies to protect bird habitats and do a better job connecting people with nature. Seth Shteir with Seattle Audubon said together they'll bring forward changes that can help migratory birds in Seattle. Paige Browning reports. (KUOW)

A Disease That’s Felled Forests in California and Oregon Shows up in Washington
It’s a sunny spring morning at the Bloedel Reserve, a public garden on Puget Sound’s Bainbridge Island. Roads lead to paths lined with blossoming bushes and trees. Darren Strenge, the reserve’s plant health manager, is showing me the rhododendron glen. That’s where a gardener first spotted a problem back in 2015: a plant that wasn’t healthy…. Strenge took a sample and sent it into a lab. The answer came back: the plant had the pathogen that causes sudden oak death. The disease has decimated forests in California and infected forests in southwestern Oregon. And now it’s made a return to Western Washington, where rhododendrons, Douglas firs, and western larches are most susceptible. It has the potential for such disastrous effects that agencies, scientists, and citizens are working together to try to keep it under control. EilĂ­s O'Neill reports. (KUOW/EarthFix)

France bans captive breeding of dolphins and killer whales
France has banned the breeding in captivity of dolphins and killer whales, in a move hailed by campaigners as a major victory. The government also banned the keeping of all whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity, except for orcas and bottlenose dolphins already held. The association of French zoos complained they had not been consulted on the ban. But animal rights activists said it was a "historic French advance". (BBC) See also: Dead orca found with extremely high levels of PCBs  A killer whale found dead on the Scottish island of Tiree had one of the highest levels of PCB pollution ever recorded, scientists say. John Bacon reports. (Tribune News Service)

'Hippie newspaper' celebrates 50 years covering counterculture, environment, arts
If you look back to the turbulent times of 1967 when the Georgia Straight was born in Vancouver, it would be hard to say that it would be alive and well 50 years later. The newspaper was a product of its time. Baby boomers were coming of age and looking for alternative news sources to report on issues that were important to them…. While the Straight took on serious issues, such as citizens' rights and police harassment, it also included personal ads and artwork considered scandalous at the time, such as a a photo of Jimi Hendrix's penis cast in plaster. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

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