Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12/20 Prickleback, Tacoma LNG, spill study, ANWR drilling, greenhouse-gas rule, AK snow, fish farm ruling, EPA $s

Rock prickleback [David Jamison/Puget Sound Sea Life]
Rock Prickleback   Xiphister mucosus
This fish is not an eel, but it certainly has an eel-like appearance.   It is a citizen of rocky habitats that are exposed to moderate wave action, where it can be found under rocks and algae at low tide…. They are called pricklebacks because the dorsal fin is mostly composed of hard spiny rays with sharp tips (rays are supports of the fleshy fin).  There are around 20 species in the Pacific Northwest, many of which live in the subtidal zone and are only seen by divers…. The rock prickleback ranges from SE Alaska to southern California.  It is unique in that it seems to eat a high percentage of algae along with feeding on small animals.  It lays its eggs under rocks and vegetation where the male coils around them for protection. (Puget Sound Sea Life)

Puyallup Tribe leads protest against liquefied-natural-gas plant at Tacoma Port
About 200 opponents sought to shut down access Monday to Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) construction of a $310 million liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) plant at the Port of Tacoma. Some workers made their way into the plant Monday morning, but others had been turned away as self-described “protectors” blocked access to a road to the construction site. The actions continued into Monday afternoon, with no injuries or violence reported, said Loretta Cool, spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department. Two arrests were made for misdemeanor offenses, including blocking traffic, she said. “We are keeping it peaceful and prayerful,” said Puyallup tribal member Dakota Chase, who with the other opponents was at the site before dawn to attempt to stop work by chaining themselves together in front of gates to the worksite. “The Puyallup Tribe opposes the siting of this facility,” said Puyallup Tribal Council member Annette Bryan, who joined in the action. The tribe was not meaningfully consulted about the project, Bryan said, which the tribe opposes as a threat to its lands, waters and people. Lynda Mapes and Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Ottawa spending $80-million to study oil spills
The federal government is spending $80-million on oil spill research, looking at how to prevent spills as well as their effect on the marine environment. "Our government is committed to protecting our marine and coastal areas so that they are safeguarded for future generations," said Treasury Board President Scott Brison. He announced the funding Monday at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax. Brison said a $45.5-million research program will be set up to foster collaboration among researchers in Canada and around the world, with $10-million a year to bring scientists together to study how oil spills behave, how to clean and contain them and how to minimize environmental damage. (Canadian Press)

Opponents vow to fight on as Congress opens Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling as part of massive tax bill
Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil development was included in a massive tax bill that was headed to passage by Congress. The measure would authorize oil leasing within the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, a move opponents decried as destructive and dishonest. The provision was put within the tax bill because it could not have passed on its own, opponents, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “The process … was a sham,” Cantwell said during her speech. “Drilling in the Arctic has nothing to do with a serious budget policy, and everything to do with evading regular order to pass something which by regular order could never pass.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Resistance isn't just for the young. Just ask these self-described 'old broads' who are suing Trump   Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

Judge: Washington state can't enforce Inslee order to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 
Dealing a setback to Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate agenda, a judge has invalidated major portions of a state rule requiring greenhouse-gas cuts by refineries, fuel distributors and dozens of other major industrial emitters. In an oral ruling Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon sided with employer groups who sued last year, contending the state Department of Ecology lacked authority to impose the Clean Air Rule without legislative approval. Dixon agreed the state cannot force emission reductions on gasoline and natural-gas distributors and similar businesses that do not burn fuels themselves, according to business and environmental representatives who were on hand for the ruling. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

Massive uptick in snowfall on Alaska peaks 'shocks' experts
A team of scientists presented data Tuesday suggesting that even as the state of Alaska has warmed up extremely rapidly in recent years, snowfall in the iconic Denali National Park has increased dramatically during the era of human-driven global warming. The researchers from Dartmouth College; the University of Maine, Orono and the University of New Hampshire set up a camp at 13,000 feet atop Mount Hunter, within view of Denali. There, they drilled into the snow to extract lengthy cores of ice that provided a historical record of snowfall patterns going back more than 1,000 years — and found a marked change over the past 150 years or so. Chris Mooney reports. (Washington Post)

State says decision to terminate Port Angeles Atlantic salmon farm is final
Cooke Aquaculture says its troubles with state regulators that led to the shutdown of its Port Angeles Atlantic salmon farm last week are all a misunderstanding, but the decision to revoke Cooke’s license is final. “An inspection of the Port Angeles site from December 4-9 revealed significant lease violations that endanger public safety and the health of Puget Sound,” Carlo Davis, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), wrote in an email to The Seattle Times on Monday. “The decision by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to terminate the lease is final. DNR will work cooperatively with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to dismantle the facility in a safe and appropriate manner.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

EPA announces funding for Puget Sound protection, conservation & recovery
The Northwest office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced today (12/13/17) that through its National Estuary Program it is providing $25.2 million in grant funds to state, local and tribal Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts. “A healthy Puget Sound is vital to the environmental and economic health of Washington state,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is succeeding in protecting and restoring habitats and water quality by supporting local partners and projects.” Among the efforts funded in whole or in part with National Estuary Program funds announced today are: The restoration of an additional 5,000 acres of key Orca and salmon habitat; The re-opening of about 4,000 acres of shellfish beds in Puget Sound; and Improvement of biological condition from fair to good for at least 30 streams. (EPA News Release)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  255 AM PST Wed Dec 20 2017  
 N wind 5 to 15 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 9 ft at 12 seconds.
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 11 seconds.

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