Friday, June 22, 2018

6/22 Islands, BC ocean pact, fire-fighting foam, orcas, BC gas, Hamilton Slough, monument mining, NEPA

Deadman Island and Deadman Reef [Phil Green/The Nature Conservancy]

An Update on Remote San Juan Islands Left to Nature
A 2017 report with photos by Phil Green, The Nature Conservancy's Yellow Island Steward, on Goose, Deadman and Sentinel Islands.

Trudeau and B.C. North Coast First Nations announce ocean protection agreement
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined First Nations leaders Thursday to announce a partnership with 14 B.C. North Coast First Nations in managing and protecting marine ecosystems along two-thirds of B.C.'s north coast. The press conference, held in Prince Rupert, was scheduled to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day. The agreement  which falls under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, and was framed as a step toward Indigenous reconciliation. Karin Larsen reports. (CBC)

Federal study lays out risk levels for firefighting-foam chemicals in drinking water 
 Two firefighting foam chemicals — when they find their way into drinking water — pose health risks at much lower levels than the current safety guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a draft federal study released Wednesday. These chemicals are called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. They have been found in five Washington drinking-water systems at levels above the EPA guidelines, as well as dozens of private drinking- water wells near firefighting training areas where the foams were used. The new study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will be reviewed by the state Department of Health, which is preparing to test several hundred other drinking-water systems in Washington to help assess the scope of the problem. The state also is considering whether to set its own standards for PFAS contamination in drinking water. Hal Bernton reports.(Seattle Times)

If you like to listen: 3 fascinating orca facts we didn't know before
In honor of Orca Awareness Month in Washington state, here are three facts about orcas we didn't know before, courtesy of a talk by Prof. Jason Colby of the University of Victoria. "Captivitiy helped orcas," "Puget Sound orcas bounced back - but not for long," and "Puget Sound orcas only have one food source left." John O'Brien reports. (KUOW)

Don't blame taxes for high gas prices, blame oil companies: Economist
When oil prices crashed at the end of 2014 — from a high of $110 per barrel to roughly half within a few months, and eventually bottoming out at about $35 in early 2016 — a funny thing happened with Vancouver’s gas prices. They went down a little, but not nearly the same as the bulk base price. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist Marc Lee has taken a look at how gas prices have tracked over the past few years and found data that broke down where the increases were coming. While the price of oil globally fell by 68 per cent, the price of gas in the Lower Mainland fell just 18 per cent. And now local gas prices are actually higher than they were during their 2014 peak, while the global price of oil remains two-thirds of its 2014 peak. What Lee found was that the growth in prices was heavily tied to the resurgent price of crude, but also due to increased profits for refineries. Taxes, which some have said is the big problem, have actually only gone up a comparatively small amount. Patrick Johnston reports (Vancouver Sun)


Design of Hamilton slough project to begin
After three years of input from Hamilton community members, the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group is prepared to design a project to improve fish passage at the slough that encloses much of the low-lying and frequently flooded town. Skagit Fisheries restoration ecologist Sue Madsen said during a community meeting Tuesday that the project the group is set to design using a state Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant will improve fish passage under several town and county roads that cross the slough. Though it will also mean more water on some agricultural lands near the slough during flooding, that water is expected to drain more quickly and therefore the project has the blessing of the property owners, she said. Still, doing the work will require additional grant funding, and that process can take several more years. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Firm Prepares To Mine Land Previously Protected As A National Monument
A Canadian mining firm says it will move forward with plans to mine minerals from land that was previously part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Last December, President Trump removed nearly half of the Grand Staircase-Escalante from protection, as well as part of the Bears Ears National Monument, which is also in Utah. The move was the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history. Glacier Lake Resources Inc., a Vancouver-based copper and silver mining firm, says it has acquired the Colt Mesa deposit, an approximately 200-acre parcel of land located about 35 miles southeast of Boulder, Utah. Because it was nationally protected, the area was previously off limits to development and mining. In a press release the company noted that the deposit “recently became open for staking and exploration after a 21 year period moratorium.” Shannon Van Sant reports. (NPR)


CEQ Requests Comments on Changes to NEPA Review Process Governing Infrastructure Projects
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)—the US federal agency responsible for coordinating and overseeing federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—moved one step closer on June 20 towards revising its longstanding NEPA-implementing regulations. Those regulations, which last underwent a major revision in 1986, govern the environmental review process for all “major federal actions,” including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license reviews for hydroelectric projects and certificates for natural gas facilities. Now, in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), the CEQ signaled that it is ready to receive public comments on potential revisions that it hopes will “ensure a more efficient, timely, and effective NEPA process consistent with the national environmental policy stated in NEPA.” Comments are due July 20, 2018. (Lexology)


Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  238 AM PDT Fri Jun 22 2018   

TODAY  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 9 seconds. Patchy drizzle. A chance of showers. 

TONIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 9 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the evening. 

SAT  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 3 ft at 10 seconds. 

SAT NIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds. 

SUN  NW wind to 10 kt becoming W 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 9 seconds.


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