Thursday, January 23, 2014

1/23 Oil trains, BC pipes, Fuse WA, Discover Pass, water rule, invasive mussels, Navy shooting, manure spill, Chesapeake runoff, Celebrate Springer

Freight train derailment, Schuylkill River, PA (NBC)
New Legislation Calls For Transparency On Oil Moving Through Washington
Washington lawmakers took up a proposal Wednesday to require more transparency from companies that transport oil through the state. The hearing on House Bill 2347 played out before a packed committee room in Olympia. The new bill would require oil companies to file weekly reports with the state Department of Ecology detailing how much oil is being transported, what kind of oil it is, how it’s being moved and what route it’s traveling through the state. Right now oil companies aren’t required to share any specific information with state agencies about how much oil is traveling the railways. Ashley Ahearn reports. See also if you can get behind the paywall: Rolfes' bill addresses future of oil transport

Gitga'at Northern Gateway lawsuit joins 9 other challenges
he Gitga'at First Nation in British Columbia has filed a court challenge to the federal review panel recommendation in favour of the Northern Gateway pipeline, bringing to 10 the number of applications filed in Vancouver against the project. The small community centred around Hartley Bay on the north coast said its way of life would be severely threatened by the bitumen-laden tankers that would navigate Douglas Channel on their doorstep. In applications filed this week with both the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, the band asks for a judicial review of the Joint Review Panel's decision.

Number of people undecided on Trans Mountain pipeline nearly triples in a year: poll
The percentage of British Columbians who are undecided about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has grown dramatically in a year, according to new survey by Insights West. Asked directly, 48 per cent of all British Columbians say they support the proposed expansion while 43 per cent oppose it. Those levels are about the same as a year ago, according to Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs for Insights West. But what has changed is the percentage of undecideds, which has more than tripled to 11 from three per cent between this month and January of last year. (Figures have been rounded up to the nearest whole percentage point.)...The survey found that there continues to be a wide gender gap on the Kinder Morgan project. The online survey found that 58 per cent of men support the project but only 37 per cent of women. Also, 39 per cent of younger British Columbians, aged 18 to 34, support the pipeline compared to 43 per cent of those aged 35 to 54, and 55 per cent of those aged 55 and older. In the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, 49 per cent of residents support the expansion compared to 39 per cent are opposed. On Vancouver Island, only 36 per cent are in favour. Kevin Griffin reports.

Wealthy Donors Fund Never-Ending ‘Progressive’ Campaign In Washington State
You’ve heard of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and other issue advocacy groups that don’t have to disclose their donors. They are transforming American politics. These political nonprofits also exist at the state level. But much of this activity is coming from the left, not the right. And instead of TV ad campaigns, the work is largely happening online and on the ground. The tenant list of the Vance Building in downtown Seattle is a type of who’s-who of “progressive nonprofits.” In fact, you might think of this building as the headquarters of the progressive movement in Washington. Up on the third floor of this building, you’ll find the most visible member of this network: an organization called Fuse Washington. Austin Jenkins reports.

Discover Pass called success, but Republicans disagree
Washington’s pay-to-play system for its state recreation lands is working, officials say... But Republican budget writers don’t see a future in charging visitors the $30-a-year parking fee. “It’s had varying degrees of success, but significant voter response that this is really a hassle,” Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Andy Hill said Wednesday.... Hill, R-Redmond, and others in the Senate majority have thrown their support behind a proposal to all but abolish the Discover Pass — making it voluntary — and find alternative ways to pay for parks...The Senate proposal as it exists now, however, relies on extending an expiring fee. It makes permanent a $10 fee on the recording of real-estate documents. That money now pays for housing for the homeless, but under this plan would go to recreation agencies. Jordan Schrader reports.

Olympic Resource Protection Council petitions for Dungeness Water Rule overhaul
The Olympic Resource Protection Council has petitioned the state Department of Ecology for a major overhaul of the Dungeness Water Rule, the year-old plan for water management in the Dungeness River basin. Greg McCarry, a member of the building industry-backed council, said the petition was filed Tuesday as an effort to negotiate with Ecology to make changes to what he said is a “draconian” application of the rule that adversely affects property owners... Instead of using the water rule to “protect” the watershed, the council claims in its petition, Ecology crafted it to “enhance” the river's natural environment by mandating water levels in the river meet “optimum” standards. McCarry said the agency's flow projections were based on a biological ideal that would allow fish to travel upriver unimpeded. “We're not opposed to fish. We love fish,” McCarry said. “But the state also needs to consider the needs of property owners.”  Joe Smillie reports.

State bill would help Whatcom County, Bellingham handle mussel threat
Companion bills in the state House and Senate would expand the state's authority to stop boaters from importing invasive mussels. As the bill works its way through the state Legislature, Whatcom County and Bellingham officials will decide how to fine-tune their own boat-inspection program, started last year, to prevent zebra and quagga mussels from entering Lake Whatcom. County Council members appear to favor including canoes and kayaks in the mandatory inspections this year. If approved, a $10 fee would be charged to kayakers and canoeists for a season pass.... Senate Bill 6040 and House Bill 2458, which are identical, would enable Department of Fish & Wildlife officers to inspect any type of watercraft, or anything else that could transport invasive species, down to fishing gear. The state could quarantine a lake found to be infected with invasive mussels, and take emergency actions to eradicate the invaders. How much the department would be able to exercise the additional authority would depend on funding. Ralph Schwartz reports.

U.S. navy exercise alarms whale watchers
A routine U.S. navy exercise on Whidbey Island sparked a furor when a whale-watching association mistakenly reported that rounds were being fired into the water near endangered southern resident orcas. The Pacific Whale Watch Association, which represents U.S. and Canadian whale-watching businesses, issued a statement Tuesday night with the headline War Games Among Whales. In it, the group said U.S. sailors were shooting .50-calibre rounds from ships into the water as orcas were swimming nearby... In fact, navy personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island were taking part in monthly small-arms practice on shore, using 9-mm rounds fired at targets on land, said spokesman Mike Welding... Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, said he based his report on information from a U.S. tour boat operator who was in the area. The group corrected its statement Wednesday afternoon to say that live rounds were fired from shore. Sandra McCulloch reports. See also: Weapons training on Whidbey draws rebuke from whale-watch association

Manure spill leads to $6,000 fine for Custer dairy
An October 2013 manure spill that led to a week-long closure of shellfish harvesting has resulted in a possible $6,000 fine to a Whatcom County dairy. The state Department of Agriculture reports it cited Pomeroy Dairy in Custer for the spill that raised fecal coliform levels in nearby California Creek. The department says the dairy worked to contain the spill but did not report it immediately. State investigators say the spill was caused by a malfunctioning valve operating the manure lagoon. The malfunction sent manure to a pipe that was out of service. An analysis found fecal coliform bacteria at elevated levels as far as 5 miles downstream. Also found were about 30 dead fish.

Polluted Runoff: How Investing in Runoff Pollution Control Systems Improves the Chesapeake Bay Region's Ecology, Economy, and Health, A CBF Investigative Report  
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation report details the problems created by suburban and urban runoff pollution. And it offers steps that local, state, and federal governments can take to reduce pollution and achieve clean water for local streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Upcoming: Celebrate Springer! The true story of how an orphaned orca went home
In January 2002, the orphaned orca Springer (A-73) was discovered in Puget Sound - lost, alone, and 300 miles away from home. Five months later, she was rescued, rehabilitated, and returned to her pod near the north end of Vancouver Island. In July 2013, she was seen with her first calf! Mark Sears and Donna Sandstrom discuss Springer and the fate of our whales: January 30, 7 PM, C&P Coffee, 5612 California Ave., Seattle; $5 donation, kids free, Brown Paper Tickets. See: The true story of how an orphaned whale went home

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