Monday, October 2, 2017

10/2 BC pipe, pollution suit, prairie restoration, Baynes Sound, land conservation, kelp, Navy seals, acid oceans, EPA climate, energy policy

Merlin [Gregg Thompson/BirdNote]
Here Come the Merlins
Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States. Merlins will take over old crow nests, especially in conifer trees, in parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods. (BirdNote)

First Nations, environmental groups to voice Trans Mountain pipeline opposition at hearings
Several First Nations, municipalities and environmental groups that are opposed to the approval process of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia will be arguing their position in the Federal Court of Appeal over the next two weeks. The hearing beginning Monday in Vancouver consolidates numerous lawsuits filed by seven First Nations applicants, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Living Oceans Society, which claim the National Energy Board's approval process was flawed and First Nations weren't adequately consulted. (Canadian Press) See also: Lawyer explains B.C.'s strategy to quash Kinder Morgan pipeline approval  Mike De Souza reports. (National Observer)

Kinder Morgan asks for relief on pipeline condition to avoid project delay
Kinder Morgan Canada has asked the National Energy Board to waive an approval condition of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion because it might delay completion of the project. Shawn Denstedt, a lawyer at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt representing Kinder Morgan Canada subsidiary Trans Mountain, said in a letter to the NEB that it needs to be allowed to install mats to deter fish spawning as soon as possible to have them in place before spawning season. The NEB told the company last week that it had to stop installing the deterrent mats because they're considered construction activity, and the company does not yet have all conditions approved for pipeline construction. (Canadian Press)

Environmental Groups Sue Oregon Over Industrial Water Pollution
Environmental groups are suing Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality over its regulation of stormwater pollution from over 900 industrial sites like lumber yards, scrap metal yards and truck depots. Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center claim the state’s permit for stormwater pollution allows for pollution levels that violate the Clean Water Act and imperil public health and salmon.… Facilities in Washington, and those regulated directly by the EPA, are required to report their monitoring results four times per year, while Oregon’s DEQ requires that reporting once per year. Washington’s Department of Ecology is also currently facing legal challenges over its regulation of stormwater pollution into Puget Sound. Nationally, stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution. Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Return to the Salish Sea: Prairie Restoration Expert Robert Pelant
When you think of the Salish Sea, the image that first comes to mind probably doesn’t include grassy plains and meadows. But, in fact, the concept of this shared ecosystem that unites the U.S. and Canada extends to the entire basin of the watershed. A small nonprofit on Whidbey Island is working to restore 175 acres of prairie lands that were once farmlands in the center of the Salish Sea. One technique they use was shunned for centuries. “The loss of fire here was one of the critical, if not the most critical factor in the degradation of our ecosystems,” says Robert Pelant, Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Rim Institute in Coupeville. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Baynes Sound cleanup highlights concern over B.C. shellfish industry debris 
In a farmer's field on Denman Island, a pile of plastic baskets, rope, netting and buoys stands as tall as Dorrie Woodward. It's all marine debris that has been collected from the beaches around the northern Gulf island. "Most of what you see here, unfortunately, is from the shellfish industry. You don't see a lot of water bottles or chip bags," said Woodward, co-chair of the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards…. The volunteer group has organized a cleanup of the beaches of the island each year for more than a decade. It has also long been calling on the growing shellfish industry to do more to get a handle on debris that breaks free from tenures. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

Guemes Island valley to be preserved
Across the road from Guemes Mountain a valley stretches out to the west. The valley includes farmland where cattle graze, wetlands that feed into Cayou Creek and forest lands that provide a sanctuary for wildlife. The majority of the valley — a 127-acre chunk of it — is now protected under the ownership of the Skagit Land Trust after the land was donated to the trust by Sarah Werner. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Navy, partners conserve 3,100 acres in Chimacum Valley
The U.S. Navy has partnered with the Trust for Public Land and the Jefferson Land Trust to conserve more than 3,100 acres in the Chimacum Valley. The conservation efforts are part of the Defense Department’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program, which sets aside land for preservation, public recreation and naval operations, according to a press release from Phillip Guerrero, a spokesperson for Navy region Northwest. Cydney McFarland reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Neighbors resume 12-year rally cry against Picnic Point Creek development
After fighting a proposed Snohomish County housing development for 12 years, neighbors are resuming their rally cry. The developer of Frognal Estates, Integral Northwest, has asked for a separate permit to start logging even though the development is stuck in appeals court. Along with nearly a thousand petition signatures, the city of Mukilteo as well as the Tulalip Tribes have spoken out in opposition. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Volunteers take to water to survey kelp
With its roots in the seafloor and baseball-sized bulbs that float like buoys, bull kelp and its ribbon-like leaves can be found swaying in the water in many parts of the Salish Sea. On Aug. 23 a three-person team slid its boats into the water at a time when there were no tides and paddled from the shore of Bowman Bay to a kelp bed near Coffin Rocks just outside the bay. Those on the team circled the kelp bed and took notes, photos and GPS coordinates from along its perimeter before making their way back to shore. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Exhibit gives the public a peek into Navy's marine mammal program
The U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Museum-Keyport opened its doors on Friday to a new exhibit that highlights a little-known and little-discussed part of naval history. In 1963, the Navy created the Marine Mammal Program "to see if animals could perform tasks difficult or dangerous to human divers," according to the exhibit. Since then, "marine mammals have performed these missions with better accuracy, greater speed and safety, and lower costs than human divers of undersea vehicles." Navy dolphins and sea lions undertake three types of missions: mine detection, intruder defense and object recovery…. Today, there are about 140 animals in the program — approximately 60 percent are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and 40 percent are California sea lions. Julianne Stanford reports. (Kitsap Sun)

What Scientists Are Learning About the Impact of an Acidifying Ocean
The effects of ocean acidification on marine life have only become widely recognized in the past decade. Now researchers are rapidly expanding the scope of investigations into what falling pH means for ocean ecosystems. Matthew O. Berger reports. (News Deeply/Oceans Deeply)

An Absent EPA Climate Report, And A Tale Of Two Flooded Superfund Sites
Hurricane Harvey flooded more than a dozen Superfund toxic waste sites when it devastated the Texas coast in late August. An EPA report predicted the possibility of climate-related problems at toxic waste sites like those in Texas, but the page detailing the report on the agency's website was made inactive months before the storm. The Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plan warned that those in charge of cleaning up Superfund sites should explicitly plan for more rain, bigger floods and "increased intensity of hurricanes." Based on earlier EPA climate change research, the report authors recommended that the agency change how it protects people from toxic chemical releases as sea levels rise and storms get more severe. The report was removed from the EPA website when President Trump took office in January — it last appeared on the site the day before his inauguration. Rebecca Hersher reports. (NPR)

Rick Perry just proposed a massive change in electricity policy to help coal and nuclear plants
Energy Secretary Rick Perry took sweeping steps on Friday to buttress a pair of financially-strapped nuclear plants under construction and redefine how coal and nuclear plants are compensated for the electricity they provide — a move that, if agreed to by independent federal energy regulators, could tilt some of the nation’s complex power markets away from renewables and natural gas. Perry announced the Energy Department would provide $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to three Georgia utilities struggling to complete a pair of nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating plant. These loan guarantees come on top of $8.3 billion in loans the department has already given to the project, but they still might fall short of what will be required to complete the costly reactors. Steven Mufson and Chris Mooney report. (Washington Post)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Mon Oct 2 2017  
TODAY
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft  at 8 seconds.
TONIGHT
 NE wind to 10 kt becoming SE after midnight. Wind waves 1  ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.

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