Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1/10 Marbled murrelet, killer whales, dam water, carbon tax, rural water, net pen ban, Vic sewage, coast drilling, oil port lease

Marbled murrelet (Rick & Nora Bowers/Audubon)
The Unsolved Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet
Despite years of conservation efforts, endangered marbled murrelet populations are not increasing. These Oregon researchers aren’t giving up hope. Eric Wagner reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Kayakers are disturbing our orcas, study finds
Kayakers are encroaching on orca whales, new research shows, and they are not being ticketed like other boaters. A paper published recently in the scientific Journal PlosOne finds kayakers are a fast-growing segment of the $50 million whale-watch industry, which brings at least 500,000 people out every year to the trans boundary waters of the Salish Sea, according to estimates by the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. But while incidents of getting too close to the charismatic orca whales are down among commercial whale-watch vessels, some types of violations by kayakers, with or without guides, are growing, and those are met with the least amount of action by law enforcement, according to analysis in the paper of data compiled by the Soundwatch Boater Education Program, run by the Whale Museum since 1993. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

New Legislative Protections Proposed for Killer Whales and Puget Sound
A senator from Orcas Island has set out to protect two of his hometown’s defining natural elements during the 2018 legislative session. Namely, Sen. Kevin Ranker, a Democrat, is seeking to secure provisions for orca whales and Puget Sound as a whole through the new Salish Sea Protection package…. The Salish Sea Protection package includes new legislation that would commit the state to making drastic improvements to its oil spill response plans, strengthening protections for orcas, banning net pen aquaculture of invasive species and prioritizing toxic cleanups in the nearshore and marine environment. (Centralia Chronicle)

Court Approves Plan To Help Salmon By Spilling More Water Over Columbia River Dams
A federal judge has approved a plan to spill more water through dams in the Columbia River Basin this spring. It’s part of an ongoing lawsuit over how to manage dams to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ordered dam managers to develop a plan to spill more water on the Columbia and Snake rivers to help fish. Spilling more water means generating less power, which could raise the price of electricity. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Inslee’s carbon tax would raise costs for consumers, polluters to fund environmental projects
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday unveiled details of his new plan to charge polluters, a centerpiece of the Democrat’s drive to combat climate change and address a court order to speed up a fix for the K-12 school system. The plan would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton starting in July of 2019. After that, the tax would increase by 3.5 percent each year, plus inflation. The governor’s office estimates the tax would raise $1.5 billion over its first two years, and $3.3 billion over four years. Much of the money from the tax would initially be used to replenish the roughly $1 billion in reserves Inslee hopes to spend on education. Walker Orenstein reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Bill would allow more rural wells, but landowners, tribes object
 The Legislature’s latest attempt to revise state water law to allow more wells in rural and suburban areas got support from the head of the agency that would help make it work but strong criticism Monday from property owners and tribal representatives. The measure, which sponsor Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, acknowledged was that Senate Bill 6091 “not a perfect bill” and subject to change, would make it much easier to get a permit for a well that would supply 400 gallons of water per day for indoor domestic use. The legislation also would provide $200 million for mitigation and related efforts to restore and enhance stream flows and aquatic habitat….guidelines known as Watershed Restoration and Enhancement Plans. Jim Camden reports. (Spokesman Review)

Future of Washington's Salmon Net Pen Aquaculture Debated At Hearing In Olympia
Washington is the only west coast state in the U.S. that allows Atlantic salmon net pen farming in open water. That may change in the wake of a summer spill of more than 300,000 of the non-native fish into Puget Sound. A bill that would phase out the practice got a first hearing in Olympia Tuesday. SB 6086 would prohibit new leases or extensions of leases on net-pens for non-native finfish aquaculture. It would also add new regulations on existing operations. Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced it before the short legislative session began. He told a packed committee hearing that the industry poses too many risks to the state’s investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in native salmon recovery. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX) See also: Puget Sound fish farmers say banning Atlantic salmon operations would be unfair  Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Switching how sewage sludge is handled would save millions, mayor says
In a move that could save taxpayers millions of dollars, Capital Regional District directors are being urged to reverse course on how they deal with sewage sludge. CRD staff and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps are independently recommending the region abandon its plans for integrated resource management, or IRM.  Biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, are left over when sewage is treated. IRM can involve mixing biosolids, garbage and food scraps, and processing that mix to generate electricity, which in turn produces revenue. Instead of IRM, they are recommending the region process kitchen food scraps and yard waste into compost at Hartland Landfill. And the CRD should issue a separate request for proposals for reuse of dried sewage sludge that doesn’t involve spreading it on land. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Keep oil drilling rigs off coasts, senators tell Interior secretary
Oil drilling is not healthy for America's coastal waters, nor is Trump administration policy that rides roughshod over states, 37 Democratic senators said Tuesday in a blunt reprimand to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The letter to Zinke comes less than a week after Zinke announced that 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, including waters off the West Coast, would be opened to oil and gas leasing. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are on the letter, along with senators from California, Oregon and Hawaii. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Interior Secretary Zinke: Florida Offshore Oil Drilling Is 'Off The Table'  A week after announcing a dramatic expansion of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Trump administration will grant an exception for the state of Florida. Richard Gonzales reports. (NPR)

Vancouver Port Votes To End Oil Terminal Lease In March
The Port of Vancouver’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to put an end date on a lease with Vancouver Energy, the company behind a controversial project to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the nation. At the board’s first meeting of the year, commissioners set a deadline of March 31 for Vancouver Energy to have all necessary permits and licenses in place. If the company fails to get its paperwork in order, the Port will allow its lease with the company to expire, essentially ending the project. Molly Solomon reports. (OPB)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  246 AM PST Wed Jan 10 2018  
TODAY
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of rain.
TONIGHT
 E wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft building to 2 to 4 ft. W swell 5  ft at 20 seconds. Rain likely in the evening then rain after  midnight.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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