Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2/12 C-O sole, Skagit chum, BC pals, New Carissa, EPA chemicals, wall rules, public-lands bill, Bernhardt's buddy, Hawaii carbon, Columbia paddle

C-O sole [Herb Gruenhagen/divebums]
C-O sole Pleuronichthys coenosus
Abundant in wide variety of habitats. Adults found at depths below 60 feet; juvenile in shallower water in summer. Feeds on spoons, amphipods, worms and small clams. Southeastern Alaska to northern Baja California. Raised eyes, so close set they almost touch. Dark sickle an dot on rounded tail fin (especially in juveniles) give species the name C-O. Grows to 14 inches. (Marine Life of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

Skagit River chum returns continue to decline
The number of chum salmon in the Skagit River watershed continues to reach new lows since monitoring began in the 1960s. The most recent tally is in from the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and area treaty tribes that co-manage the salmon, and the numbers don’t look good. Fish & Wildlife regional fish biologist Brett Barkdull said the preliminary estimated return for this winter is 18,514 fish. “I’m disappointed in this number,” he said. “We forecast 44,000, and we obviously didn’t even get half of that.” Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

A peek into the friendship between B.C.’s killer whales and dolphins
Local dolphins like to spend time in close quarters with B.C.’s fish-eating killer whales, according to newly released drone images and video from the Marine Mammal Research Program at the Coastal Ocean Research Institute. Pacific white-sided dolphins can be observed foraging with northern and southern resident killer whales, who appear to accept their companionship for the most part. The orcas can get irritated when they are “mobbed” by their smaller counterparts, the researchers say. Or they could be studying the whales out of a desire for self-preservation. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New blog: Remembering the New Carissa 
Oil spill veteran Don Norman tells his story about what he was doing 20 years ago along the Oregon coast. "When the call came to help on the New Carissa, it was a real winter infusion of adventure (and some paying work for a winter with no work)."

EPA decision soon on chemical compounds tied to health risks
The chemical compounds are all around you. They’re on many fabrics, rugs and carpets, cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss. Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into water supplies. There’s growing evidence that long-term exposure to the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, can be dangerous, even in tiny amounts. The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at how to respond to a public push for stricter regulation of the chemicals, in production since the 1940s. A decision is expected soon. Ellen Knickmeyer, Michael Casey and John Flesher report. (Associated Press)

Government Can Waive Environmental Laws To Build Border Wall Prototypes, Court Rules 
The Trump administration was within its rights to waive dozens of environmental laws to fast track some border construction projects in southern California, a federal appeals court has ruled. The Department of Homeland Security said in 2017 it would bypass various environmental regulations — including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act — to quickly construct barriers and roads near the U.S.-Mexico border, NPR reported. By granting itself the waiver, the government avoided the requirement to complete environmental impact studies. Environmental advocacy groups and the state of California quickly challenged the waiver in court, arguing the agency overstepped its authority. The court ruled Monday that the agency has “a broad grant of authority” to waive environmental statutes if the director finds it necessary to quickly complete security projects. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 explicitly gave the government that power, the court said. Matthew S. Schwartz reports. (NPR)

Here's what the massive public-lands bill means for conservation, climate change in Washington state
The U.S. Senate this week is expected to consider a sprawling public-lands bill containing everything from a measure to give Seattle’s Nordic Museum a national designation to one that authorizes a multibillion-dollar Yakima Valley water project politicians here have coveted for years. Sens. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, together introduced the bipartisan bill, which tallies more than 660 pages, promises to reshape public lands across the country and lines up politicians’ favored projects for federal support.The bill would permanently preserve a pillar of conservation, the recently lapsed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and also make changes that Cantwell said will help the Northwest, and the rest of the country, prepare for climate change. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client
As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose. Last week President Trump said he would nominate Mr. Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department, making him the latest in a line of officials now regulating industries that once paid them to work as lobbyists. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Should Hawaii Tax Carbon Emissions To Combat Climate Change?
As the effects of climate change become more real, Hawaii lawmakers are considering steps to persuade businesses and individuals to cut back on their greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon tax is the essential policy to financially incentivize a carbon dioxide reduction that’s big enough and quick enough to matter, according to a growing number of state, federal and international agencies. Nathan Eagle reports. (Civil Beat)

Paddling Into The Heart Of Northwest History On The Columbia River Trail
The Columbia is the river everyone seems to know about but doesn’t really "know." The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership would like to change that — with a water trail you can paddle. Danika Sanchez reports. (OPB)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PST Tue Feb 12 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon.  SW swell 6 ft at 9 seconds building to W 8 ft at 15 seconds in  the afternoon. Rain likely in the morning then showers likely in  the afternoon. 
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of  showers.

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