Friday, March 29, 2019

3/29 Shearwater, climate, WA energy, oil tankers, orca talk, drill ban, vanishing ferns, asphalt plant, Navy poop, NY bag ban, Interior ethics

Pink-footed shearwater [Martin Hale/Vireo]
Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus
The largest of the shearwaters to be seen commonly off our Pacific Coast, with rather heavy and slow wingbeats, often gliding and wheeling above the waves, especially in windy conditions. May be solitary or mixed randomly with other seabirds, but not seen in pure flocks of its own species. Nesting only on islands off southern South America, it is a common summer visitor to our coastal waters as far north as southeastern Alaska. (Audubon Field Guide)

Climate change: Global impacts 'accelerating' - WMO
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the physical and financial impacts of global warming are accelerating. Record greenhouse gas levels are driving temperatures to "increasingly dangerous levels", it says. Their report comes in the same week as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a surge in CO2 in 2018. (BBC)

Washington getting closer to mandate for 100% clean energy
One of the biggest priorities among environmental groups working in Olympia this year is passage of a law to transition the electrical grid to 100 percent clean energy by 2045. It’s also a cornerstone of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest policies to address climate change. The proposal faces a key vote in the state House finance committee on Friday morning. Washington’s 100 percent clean energy bill was on a fast track when it was first introduced in January.... The main feature of it is a timeline that would phase out all coal from the state’s grid by 2025. It would set interim targets for 2030, and increase investments in renewable sources and energy efficiency to get to carbon-free electricity by 2045. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Oil exports to China boost tanker traffic through orca habitat
Crude oil exports from Canada’s Port of Vancouver shot up by at least 67 percent last year, sending more tankers through critical habitat for orcas on both sides of the Washington-British Columbia border. Most of the oil in the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver winds up in refineries in Washington state, by way of a branch pipeline to Ferndale and Anacortes. Much of the rest goes to a refinery in Burnaby, B.C., just east of Vancouver, that produces gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for Canadian customers. Energy analyst Kevin Birn with IHS Markit in Calgary said people in the Vancouver area used less of those products last year, leaving more oil in the big, multi-customer pipeline to be sold overseas. “Any free space will be occupied by exports at this point,” Birn said. He said data from the National Energy Board of Canada shows exports from the Trans Mountain pipeline doubling last year, more than the 67 percent increase reported by the Port of Vancouver. Most of the oil sent overseas went to China and South Korea. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Puget Sound orcas have a lot to say. This woman is almost always listening.
Orca whales have the second-largest brains of all marine mammals. They’re known to be intelligent. And they have a lot to say. Jeanne Hyde is almost always listening. Scientists have long suspected that whales have language, and there’s research that suggests they even have local dialects. Hyde works at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. She documents all she can about what goes on with the whales for the Adopt an Orca Program at the museum, where she is known as the staff “storykeeper.” Bellamy Pailthorp and Kari Plog report. (KNKX)

Oregon governor signs ban on offshore drilling
Oregon has permanently banned offshore drilling in the midst of a federal push to open 90 percent of federal waters to oil exploration. Gov. Kate Brown signed a measure on Wednesday to extend a temporary 10-year ban that was set to expire next year. There is currently no oil production in the state but the U.S. Department of the Interior recently identified a possible operation site off the coast of Oregon and Washington state. The measure also directs state agencies not to assist with any potential drilling operations in federal waters off the Oregon coast. (Gazette-Times)

The Case of the Vanishing Ferns: Citizen sleuths can't figure out what's killing Seattle's sword ferns
LIKE MOST SCIENTIFIC mysteries, the case of the vanishing ferns started with a keen-eyed observer. Catherine Alexander has been walking in Seattle’s Seward Park almost every day for more than 15 years. She knows the hidden glades where trillium sprouts in the deep winter. She knows where the owls nest, and when to watch for the first osoberry blooms and hazelnut catkins. So when the sword ferns started looking … funky … in the fall of 2013, Alexander was the first to notice. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

You can’t make asphalt next to salmon habitat … Wait, can you?
Lakeside Industries wants to build an asphalt plant on top of three streams and five wetlands in south King County, near Maple Valley. It’s across the street from the Cedar River, vital habitat for Chinook salmon. Meaghan Lodahl, a Maple Valley resident who opposes the plant, asked KUOW to look into this. She and others oppose the plant and noted that King County has invested $57 million over two decades to restore salmon habitat on the Cedar River.... Lakeside Industries told us this is an ideal location, and that it will do all it can to protect the environment.  The Maple Valley location would be ideal because the quick access to Interstate 405 and south King County is important because asphalt needs to stay warm en route to a construction site, Lee said. The sites of the company's other asphalt plants, including one in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, are polluted, according to the state Department of Ecology. At the current Covington plant location, environmental consultants found petroleum, diesel and oil in the soil and groundwater in 2016, and suspected the company’s asphalt operations and 20,000-gallon diesel storage tank caused it. Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports. (KUOW)

Suquamish Tribe accuses Navy of spilling raw sewage into Puget Sound
The Suquamish Tribe is threatening legal action against the U.S. Navy, accusing it of polluting Puget Sound with raw sewage. Suquamish Tribal Council Chair Leonard Forsman said his staff had documented seven major spills from Navy facilities in the past 16 months. Most of the spills happened at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.... A total of 330,000 gallons of sewage have been spilled since early 2018, according to the tribe. The spills are causing environmental and economic concerns. Chris Daniels reports. (KING)

Plastic Bags to Be Banned in New York State
New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers as legislators seek to curb an unsightly and omnipresent source of litter. The plan, proposed a year ago by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, would be the second statewide ban, after California, which banned bags in 2016. Hawaii also effectively has a ban in place, since all the state’s counties bar such single-use bags. Jesse McKinley reports. (NY Times)

Interior Secretary Nominee Gets Grilled On Ethics At Confirmation Hearing
During a testy confirmation hearing on Thursday, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the nation’s largest land steward told senators that he would take steps to prevent conflicts of interest and to improve ethics guidelines at the Interior Department. A former lobbyist who represented oil and gas interests, David Bernhardt has been dogged by questions about his own ethics during his short run as the Acting Interior Secretary. Nathan Rott reports. (NPR)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  152 AM PDT Fri Mar 29 2019   
 Light wind becoming SE to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 15 seconds. 
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  5 ft at 14 seconds. 
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at  13 seconds. 
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 4 ft  at 12 seconds. 
 NE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at  21 seconds.

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

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

3/28 Pink salmon, 'climate emergency,' BC pipe, Roundup damages, Sound Defense

Pink salmon [USFWS]
Pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha
This species is found in streams and rivers from California north to the Mackenzie River, with their principal spawning areas between Puget Sound, Washington, and Bristol Bay, Alaska. They migrate to their home stream from July to October, and while some go a considerable distance upstream, the majority spawn in waters close to the sea. During the spawning period, both sexes change from their blue and silver colouring to a pale grey. A peculiarity of this species is its fixed, two year lifespan. Immediately after they emerge from the gravel in the spring, the young pink fry enter the ocean and after a few days to several months in the estuary and nearshore zone, they move out into the open ocean in large schools. There, pink salmon feed on the small and nearly invisible animals called zooplankton, especially krill, which gives their flesh the bright pink colour for which they are named. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Richmond joins hundreds of cities declaring a ‘climate emergency’
The City of Richmond has joined Vancouver in a global movement of cities declaring a climate emergency. While the declaration is symbolic, Richmond councillors also asked staff to create aggressive new targets for greenhouse gas emission limits and a comprehensive plan to achieve them.... Richmond has successfully reduced community-wide GHG emissions by an estimated 12 per cent between 2007 and 2015, led by a steep reduction in residential natural gas consumption, according to a staff report. Richmond has already implemented a Community Energy and Emissions Plan with “beyond code” energy efficiency standards for new buildings. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

First Nations chiefs vying for stake in Trans Mountain pipeline get face-to-face with Bill Morneau
An Alberta Indigenous group is optimistic about its chances of one day owning the Trans Mountain oil pipeline after a private meeting with the federal finance minister on Wednesday. The federal government bought the existing pipeline and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion last summer. Constructing the expansion pipeline could cost more than $7 billion. A few months ago, two different Indigenous groups were pushing for a stake in the pipeline. However, CBC News has learned that number has now grown to at least five. Bill Morneau met with First Nation chiefs from only one group — Iron Coalition — which has incorporated and has support from different First Nations and Métis throughout the province. Kyle Bakx and Geneviève Normand report. (CBC)

Monsanto Ordered to Pay $80 Million in Roundup Cancer Case 
A federal jury on Wednesday ordered Monsanto to pay more than $80 million in damages to a California man whose cancer it determined was partly caused by his use of the popular weedkiller Roundup. The six-member jury found that Monsanto should be held liable for the man’s illness because it failed to include a label on its product warning of the weedkiller’s risk of causing cancer. The verdict, delivered in United States District Court in San Francisco, is a milestone in the continuing public debate over the health effects of Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weedkiller. Monsanto is currently defending itself against thousands of similar claims.... Wednesday’s verdict ended the second of two phases in the trial. Last week, the jury issued an initial verdict saying that the weedkiller was a “substantial factor” in causing Mr. Hardeman’s cancer. Julia Jacobs reports. (NY Times)

Sound Defense Alliance organizes against Growlers
The one point of consensus at the Sound Defense Alliance’s March 21 community meeting was, in the words of Alliance member and Port Townsend resident Larry Morrell, “We’re all anxious to do something.” That gathering, at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend ,was one of five conducted by the Alliance on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Puget Sound region, in response to the U.S. Navy’s decisions to add 36 EA-18G “Growler” jets at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and to increase their landing practice at Naval Outlying Field Coupeville. Kirk Boxleitner reports. (Port Townsend Leader)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  157 AM PDT Thu Mar 28 2019   
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 9 seconds. A slight chance of showers. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 8 seconds.

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

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

3/27 Earthworm, Coast Guard budget, ESA pesticides, pink blossoms, Puget Sound growth

Eathworm [Dennis Paulson]
Earthworm (Lumbricus sp.)
Although we can go long times without seeing one, earthworms are among the most common and widespread organisms. They are under our feet, ubiquitous in moist soils. Their abundance can be seen after a rain, when many of them come to the surface. Crawling above ground, some become stranded on sidewalks and streets.... Earthworms are very efficient dirt-eaters. They take in bits of the soil through which they burrow and extract nutrients from the organic matter they digest. Their feces fertilize the soil even after they have extracted most nutrients, and their burrowing aerates the soil to the advantage of plant roots and the abundant soil fauna. They can also come to the surface and take in organic detritus such as pieces of dead leaves through their suckerlike mouth. (Slater Museum)

Unsecured, adrift vessels draining Washington U.S. Coast Guard resources
Local Coast Guard crews are dealing with a big problem in our waters. So far this year, Washington search and rescue crews have already responded to 21 cases of adrift vessels with no one on them. In each case, the United States Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound must assume that someone could be overboard. The Coast Guard says these adrift vessels – boats, kayaks, canoes - waste valuable resources and tie up the teams for people who actually need their help. Deedee Sun reports. (KIRO)

Interior Nominee Intervened to Block Report on Endangered Species
After years of effort, scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service had a moment of celebration as they wrapped up a comprehensive analysis of the threat that three widely used pesticides present to hundreds of endangered species, like the kit fox and the seaside sparrow.... Their analysis found that two of the pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they “jeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish and other animals and plants, a conclusion that could lead to tighter restrictions on use of the chemicals. But just before the team planned to make its findings public in November 2017, something unexpected happened: Top political appointees of the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, blocked the release and set in motion a new process intended to apply a much narrower standard to determine the risks from the pesticides. Eric Lipton reports. (NY Times)

Iconic UW cherry blossoms expected to fully bloom this weekend!
It's a sign of spring in Puget Sound -- the iconic cherry blossoms on the University of Washington campus are almost at full bloom! The school arborist says right now, the 29 large cherry trees in the Quad are blooming at 25 percent. That means this weekend will be prime time for viewing the blossoms -- but expect big crowds. Every year the full bloom brings out hundreds of visitors to the campus, especially if the sun is out. (KCPQ) See also: Plum blossoms smell better, emerge first, but cherry blooms get the love, expert says   (CBC)

Can Puget Sound make room for 1.8M people without pushing anyone out?
If you think the Puget Sound region is crowded now, give it another 30 years. There are currently about 4.1 million people and 2.2 million jobs in the four counties that surround Puget Sound — King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) predicts that by 2050, those numbers will rise to 5.8 million residents and 3.4 million jobs. Where those people and employers end up locating has huge implications for what life will be like in the four-county region. Attempting to shape that growth is the job of the PSRC and its Vision 2050 plan, which updates the metropolitan planning agency’s road map for the next 30 years of growth in the Puget Sound region. Josh Cohen reports. (Crosscut)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  308 AM PDT Wed Mar 27 2019   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 4 ft  at 9 seconds. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NE to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 4 ft at 9 seconds. A  chance of showers after midnight.

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

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

3/26 Scallop, J17, sea urchins, Marathassa spill, BC LNG, Custom Plywood cleanup, MPAs, LA coast, Trump's bulb

Pink scallop [Dave Cowles/Walla Walla U]
Pink scallop Chlamys rubida
The pink scallop is found on the Pacific Coast of North America at depths down to about 300 metres (980 ft). Its range extends from Alaska to San Diego, California but it is more common in the northern half of this range. It is also found in Kamchatka, the Sea of Okhotsk and Japan. It is found on rocks or on sandy or muddy sea beds. The pink scallop can be distinguished from its close relative the spiny scallop (Chlamys hastata) by the valves being rather more rounded and by the lack of spines on the ribs which gives it a smooth texture. The glossy white interior of the shell does not have the purplish markings that are sometimes present in the spiny scallop. (Wikipedia)

Sick orca's condition improving, researchers remain 'cautiously optimistic'
Three months after researchers feared the worst for an ailing Southern Resident killer whale, J17 was spotted Friday in an improved condition.  Whale researchers with the Center for Whale Research observed the 42-year-old orca swimming with the J Pod in the northern Haro Strait. In an update published on Monday, the team said her condition appeared to have improved since her last sighting in December/January. (KING)

Sea urchins are devouring Haida Gwaii's kelp forest, so ecologists are smashing them
A project to smash sea urchins is underway in B.C. in an effort to restore Haida Gwaii's disappearing kelp forest. The effort, which began in September, aims to remove 75 per cent of the sea urchins along three kilometres of the coastline of Murchison Island. The quality urchins will be harvested to feed communities in Haida  Gwaii, while the rest will break down underwater and contribute to food sources for sea life. The hope is that will give the kelp a chance to regrow. (CBC)

Crown abandons appeal in case of MV Marathassa oil spill
The federal Crown has decided not to appeal the acquittal in the case of the MV Marathassa, the cargo ship that spilled 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay in 2015. In February, a Provincial Court judge dismissed all charges against the ship after finding that the incident was caused by two shipbuilder defects on the newly-built ship. In January 2017, the Cypriot-registered vessel, which had travelled from Korea to pick up a load of grain in Vancouver, had been accused of discharging a pollutant into the waters and with discharging a substance that was harmful to migratory birds. The ship was also charged with failing to implement its shipboard pollution plan by failing to take samples of oil in the water and by failing to assist with the oil containment. But following a lengthy trial, the judge concluded that the ship which had been built in Japan, a nation with a worldwide reputation for quality shipbuilding, was not to blame. Keith Fraser reports. (Vancouver Sun)

B.C. government announces new tax credit for LNG projects
The B.C. government is introducing new legislation that it says would attract more LNG projects to the province, in part by granting tax credits. Finance Minister Carole James said the proposed changes will bring thousands of jobs to B.C.... The legislation, which attracted immediate disapproval from the Green Party, includes an amendment to the Income Tax Act to provide a tax credit for LNG development, as well as the repealing of two existing acts. (CBC) See also: Vaughn Palmer: LNG bill a slam dunk with Liberals teaming up with NDP  (Vancouver Sun)

Comment sought on final phase of Custom Plywood Mill cleanup
The state Department of Ecology is seeking public comment as it prepares for the final phase of an environmental cleanup at the former site of the Custom Plywood mill on Fidalgo Bay. At a presentation Monday, members of the department’s Toxic Cleanups Program briefed the public on plans for reducing contaminants in the sediment in the bay while minimizing harm to aquatic habitats. Hun Seak Park, site manager with Ecology, said the mill was once the largest plywood producer west of the Mississippi River, but it shut down after a fire in 1992. The operation left behind wood waste and chemical contamination in nearby soil and sediment, as well as 1,000 pilings coated in a contaminant called creosote. Park said this final cleanup phase is expected to begin in 2020. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Will Large Protected Areas Save the Oceans or Politicize Them? 
In the last decade, governments have been pushing to create vast Marine Protected Areas large enough to protect species from overfishing and other threats. But critics are questioning whether the creation of these large protected areas is driven more by geopolitics than conservation. Fred Pearce reports. (Yale 360)

Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast
The state loses a football field’s worth of land every hour and a half. Now engineers are in a race to prevent it from sinking into oblivion. Elizabeth Kolbert reports. (The New Yorker)

Trump Administration Flips Switch On Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
If it’s been a few years since you shopped for a light bulb you might find yourself confused. Those controversial curly-cue ones that were cutting edge not that long ago? Gone. (Or harder to find.) Thanks to a 2007 law signed by President George W. Bush, shelves these days are largely stocked with LED bulbs that look more like the traditional pear-shaped incandescent version, but use just one-fifth the energy. A second wave of light bulb changes was set to happen. But now the Trump administration wants to undo an Obama-era regulation designed to make a wide array of specialty light bulbs more energy efficient. Jeff  Brady reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  237 AM PDT Tue Mar 26 2019   
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  7 ft at 12 seconds. Showers likely in the morning then a chance  of showers in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 11 seconds.

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

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Monday, March 25, 2019

3/25 Cherry blossoms, spill lege, Exxon Valdez, Trump's oil guys, Chinese oil, HEAL act, saving orcas, Everett mill site, Skagit Wildlife Area, crab poacher, cleanup, grays, indigenous science

Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms
A cherry blossom is a flower of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is called sakura after the Japanese. Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Seattle  Samantha Bushman reports. (Seattle Magazine) Cherry blossom season: Vancouverites share colourful captures on social media  (CTV News)

Risk of a major oil spill generates action in Olympia
As oil-carrying vessels arouse new concerns about the fragility of the Salish Sea, Washington state officials are pushing to adopt new rules to counter-balance the increasing risks of a collision and potential oil spill. Few doubt that a large spill of oil would cause profound damage to the Puget Sound ecosystem. Marine mammal experts have even warned that a major oil spill could drive the critically endangered killer whale population to extinction.... Assessing the risks of oil spills has become a key to decision-making, especially with the emergence of a heavier crude oil, changes in tank vessels, and the prospect that more ships will travel more dangerous routes. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

It’s been 30 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Here’s what we’re still learning from that environmental debacle.
Before dawn on March 24, 1989, Dan Lawn stepped off of a small boat and onto the boarding ladder dangling from the side of the grounded Exxon Valdez oil tanker. As he made the crossover, he peered down into the water of Prince William Sound, and saw, in the glare of the lights, an ugly spectacle he would never forget. “There was a 3-foot wave of oil boiling out from under the ship, recalls Lawn, who was then a Valdez-based Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation employee helping to watchdog the oil industry. “You couldn’t do anything to stop it.”... Eventually, the oil would foul parts of 1,300 miles of coastline, killing marine life ranging from microscopic planktons to orcas in an accident that would change how the maritime oil-transportation industry does business in Alaska, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world. Hal Bernton and Lynda Makes report. (Seattle Times) See also: Wounded Wilderness: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 30 Years Later  On the surface, Prince William Sound appears to have recovered. But you don’t have to dig too deep—into the soil or into memories—to find the spill’s lingering effects. Tim Lydon reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Recording Reveals Oil Industry Execs Laughing at Trump Access
Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior. Just five months into the Trump era, the energy developers who make up the Independent Petroleum Association of America had already watched the new president order a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that were cutting into their bottom lines — rules concerning smog, fracking and endangered species protection. Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the conference room audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior. Lance Williams reports. (Reveal/Center for Investigative Reporting)

Chinese demand leads to huge jump in crude oil exports from B.C
A combination of Chinese demand and increased pipeline space led to a massive increase in the export of crude oil out of the Port of Vancouver last year. Figures provided by the port showed there were 22 million barrels of crude exported from B.C. in 2018, compared to 13 million barrels in 2017 and 8.7 million barrels in 2016. Kevin Birn, vice-president of IHS Markit in Calgary, said that almost all crude oil exported from the province comes via the Canadian-government owned Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton. The Trans Mountain pipeline allows for a variety of petroleum types and products to be shipped, ranging from jet fuel and kerosene to heavy crude oil and oilsands. Last year, Birn said, the amount of refined products and deliveries for the Lower Mainland were down, and this created space in the line for crude oil to be exported. David Carrig reports. (Vancouver Sun)

The HEAL Act would put environmental justice on the map in Washington state
Tyrone Beason writes: "A bill moving through the Legislature in Olympia brings some much-needed attention to an issue I’ve told you about before but that for too long has gone under the radar in our discussions about the environment: Communities of color and lower-income households face a greater threat from air, water and land-based pollution in the Seattle metro area and across the state.... But if the “HEAL Act” reaches Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk — and all indications are that it will — the specific risks and needs facing these communities will get special consideration when state agency regulators and lawmakers form environmental policy...." (Seattle Times)

Legislation to help endangered orcas keeps moving toward approval
Members of the governor’s orca task force this week expressed hope and a bit of surprise as they discussed their recommendations to help the orcas —recommendations that were shaped into legislation and now have a fairly good chance of passage. Over the years, some of their ideas have been proposed and discussed — and ultimately killed — by lawmakers, but now the plight of the critically endangered southern resident killer whales has increased the urgency of these environmental measures — including bills dealing with habitat, oil-spill prevention and the orcas themselves. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Rivals for Everett mill property seek to sway public opinion
A lonely stretch of waterfront has attracted rival suitors — and an aggressive courtship is playing out. A maritime company wants to buy the former Kimberly-Clark mill site. So does the Port of Everett. Unusual for a real estate deal, both sides are trying to sway public opinion in their favor. Each has enlisted powerful political backers. There’s been an opinion poll, economic data-crunching and a few recriminations. Both have dangled the prospect of a thousand or more new jobs. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Public input sought on Skagit Wildlife Area plan
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife is preparing to update the management plan for the 17,000-acre Skagit Wildlife Area and is seeking public input. The management plan will propose actions for the wildlife area over the next decade, according to a news release. To kick off the process, the state agency will hold an open house from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Padilla Bay Visitor Center, at 10441 Bayview Edison Road.... The majority of the Skagit Wildlife Area — about 13,000 acres — is estuary habitat where freshwater and saltwater meet, according to Fish & Wildlife. That habitat is particularly important for salmon species, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The wildlife area also includes agricultural habitat as well as forested habitat specifically preserved for the bald eagles that frequent the area during winter in pursuit of spawning salmon. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Vancouver Island fisherman convicted in crab poaching case
A crab poaching case that stretched from the watery depths of Vancouver Harbour to a Vancouver Island courthouse has finally concluded with penalties being levied against a Mudge Island fisherman. Earlier this month, Arthur Michael Nelson was convicted in Campbell River Provincial Court of violating the Fisheries Act. The First Nations man was banned from fishing for 10 years, unless it involves aboriginal rights. Michael Tymchuk reports. (CBC)

A dumpster full of strange objects collected near Squalicum Beach for World Water Day
More than 70 volunteers spent part of Friday, World Water Day, cleaning up a stretch of land just south of Squalicum Beach in Bellingham. Lacey Young reports. (Bellingham Herald) See also: Helping hands roll up sleeves, pay it forward at Fraser River cleanup  They came from all over the Lower Mainland, with little in common but a love for the river. More than 700 people attended the annual Fraser River Cleanup here Saturday, adding to the more than 125 tonnes of garbage collected from the riverbank during the past 12 years. Glenda Luymes    reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Could gray whales return to Puget Sound year-round in search of food?
Every spring Patch, Little Patch and Dubknuck have been swimming into the Puget Sound on the hunt for food. Little Patch broke decades of tradition this year when he arrived in the second week of January, months ahead of schedule. Little Patch is one of a dozen or so gray whales known as "Sounders" that return to the Pacific Northwest year after year in search of food. The Orca Network reported his sighting off Hat Island on January 11, "more than two months earlier than typical arrival times." Since the early 90s, this small collective of whales has made its return like clockwork, swimming 150 miles off course from thousands of other Arctic-bound whales to north Puget Sound. They're typically spotted around the Sound between March and May.  "The discovery of that area was probably driven by desperation and not great conditions. Their annual return shows they've discovered something good," said John Calambokidis of the Cascadia Research Collective. Brian Price reports. (KING)

Digging for indigenous science in 3,000-year-old clam beds
Marco Hatch, a Coastal Salish scholar, talks about the importance of bringing indigenous knowledge to Western research — and what science loses when we don't. Manola Secaira reports. (Crosscut)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PDT Mon Mar 25 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 7 ft  at 13 seconds. A chance of rain in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  7 ft at 13 seconds. Rain in the evening then showers after  midnight.

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

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Friday, March 22, 2019

3/22 Surf scoter, breaching dams, Exxon Valdez, BC pipe, mining the Skagit, ship collision, Swartz Bay 2044

Surf scoter [Daniella Theoret/BirdNote]
Surfin with Scoters
Surf Scoters are perfectly at home in the element they’re named for. They swim smack in the middle of what surfers call the impact zone: Just where the waves break with greatest violence. Why risk the harshest waves when there’s calmer water close by? Because the churning action of crashing waves can expose the small clams and crabs that scoters eat. And how do Surf Scoters avoid getting mashed by the sea? When a towering wave is about to crash down, the scoter deftly dives and swims under the crest of the foaming breaker, then pops up on the other side. (BirdNote)

Breaching Snake River dams could save salmon and orcas, but destroy livelihoods 
Folks whose jobs depend on four federal dams in southeastern Washington say that pleas to breach the dams are forcing them to speak out in defense of their economy and their way of life. Ron Judd reports. (Seattle Times)

Three decades after Exxon Valdez oil disaster, Prince William watchdog group remains on alert
This Sunday, Alaska marks the 30th anniversary of an event that changed the state forever. On March 24th, 1989, 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground. Three decades later, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council has an important role in making sure a disaster of that magnitude doesn’t happen again. Joe Lally is director of programs for the organization. Lally is a former member of the Coast Guard and served as captain of the port for Prince William Sound. Wesley Early reports. (Alaska Public Media)

B.C. legislation targets Trans Mountain, say proponent and Alberta
Environmental legislation proposed by British Columbia is specifically targeting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and would significantly impact it, the project’s proponent and the Alberta government argued Thursday. The B.C. Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the government can amend its Environmental Management Act to create a permitting system for companies that increase the amount of heavy oil they’re transporting through the province. B.C. has argued the amendments are not intended to block the project, but rather to protect the environment from spills and require companies to pay for damages. However, a lawyer for Trans Mountain ULC said B.C.’s motive is to obstruct the expansion. Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)

Canadian company applies for permit for exploratory mining in headwaters of Skagit River 
A Canadian company has applied for an exploratory mining permit in the headwaters of the Skagit River, which flows from British Columbia and through northwest Washington state to Puget Sound. The company, Imperial Metals, has applied to drill for mineral deposits for as many as five years, according to a document describing the project, released Wednesday. Imperial Metals would extend a recently cut logging road, set up trenches and build settling ponds for the exploratory drilling work in an area believed to have gold and copper. The company is well known in Canada because of an environmental disaster at its Mount Polley mine, when a dam there failed and allowed billions of gallons of gold- and copper-mining waste to flood into local waterways. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

TSB finds 'significant' damage on freighter struck in Vancouver Harbour collision
A spokesman from the Transportation Safety Board has provided CBC with updated information on a freighter collision in Vancouver Harbour. Marine Investigation manager Mohan Raman says the M.V. Pan Acacia suffered "significant" damage in the form of a two-metre long gash and cracked weld seam midship on the starboard side, as well as indentations along the same side, when it was struck by the M.V. Caravos Harmony just after midnight on March 17. Raman said the Pan Acacia is a single hulled freighter, not double hulled as was previously reported. Karin Larsen reports. (CBC)

Swartz Bay in 2044: Here's what the busy terminal's future has in store
BC Ferries has offered a glimpse into the future of how one of its busiest terminals — Swartz Bay in Sidney — will look in 25 years. It released its new long-term plan Tuesday, which was created from feedback from more than 1,000 people. The ferry terminal saw more than 7.5 million passengers in 2018. Mark Wilson, BC Ferries' vice-president of strategy and community engagement says there will be a large focus on accommodating increased walk-on passenger traffic. Joel Ballard reports. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  421 AM PDT Fri Mar 22 2019   
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at 16 seconds. Rain  likely in the afternoon. 
 S wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. W  swell 10 ft at 16 seconds building to 12 ft at 15 seconds after  midnight. Rain likely in the evening then a chance of showers  after midnight. 
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 11 ft at  15 seconds. A slight chance of showers. 
 NW wind to 10 kt becoming S after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 10 ft at 15 seconds. 
 S wind to 10 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 13 seconds.

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

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

3/21 Nettles, no Navy dump, 'Storm,' whale watching, Yakama fishing, BC fracking, drill ban, BC pipe, shot sea lion, hydrogen fuel, GBH

Stinging nettle [Wikipedia]
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica
The stinging hairs are hollow, and each arises from a gland containing formic acid. As the brittle tips are broken, acid is secreted causing an irritating rash on contact with the skin. Nevertheless, the leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens when young. Called 'Indian spinach,' the young leaves and stems were eaten by both coastal and interior tribes, but it is questionable whether this was a traditional use or whether it was introduced by Europeans. The plants were, however, an important source of fibre for making fish-nets, snares and tumplines. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

AG Ferguson to Navy: Don't scrape your ships' hulls in our waters
The U.S. Navy should not dump scrapings from hulls of decommissioned ships into Washington's marine waters, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday in petitioning to join a federal court suit filed by tribes and environmental groups. The Navy, in 2017, discharged an estimated 50 dump truck loads of solid materials, including toxic copper and zinc, into Sinclair Inlet as it prepared the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence for shipment to a recycling center in Texas. The Attorney General's Office fears the Navy will do a similar scraping on a second carrier, the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. It is arguing that such dumping violated the federal Clean Water Act and the state Pollution Control Act. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Vancouver Aquarium announces winning name for killer whale calf
The youngest calf of one of British Columbia's most famous killer whales has a name. The Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Research Program says in a news release that voters in a poll favoured the named "Storm" for the northern resident killer whale. Storm was born two years ago to Springer, a whale whose rescue and return home made international headlines in 2002. (Canadian Press)

Whale watching industry defends viewing endangered southern resident orcas
It was billed as a “bold action” the state could take that would have an immediate impact on our struggling southern resident orcas, but it never gained support in the Legislature. This legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee and his orca task force called for a temporary ban on whale watching activity around the endangered killer whales. Scientists say vessel disturbance is one of three threats facing these whales, along with lack of prey and contaminants in the water. The governor request bill would have required commercial whale watch vessels stay 650 yards away from the southern residents, but as the bill made its way through Olympia, legislators stripped the suspension from the text.... However, the governor's office revealed this week that not a single legislator in Olympia was on board. Even the bill's legislative sponsors have told Q13 News the measure lacked support from the start. Simone Del Rosario reports. (KCPQ)

Yakama tribal member charged with felony for fishing in the Puget Sound
State authorities allege that a man claiming membership in the Yakama Nation Indian Tribe was fishing illegally in Suquamish Tribe waters near Kingston in an unmarked boat and that a Yakama tribal official knowingly issued his invalid permit. The man is accused of selling 5,600 pounds of chum salmon he caught using a gill net.  The October 2017 incident casts light on an ongoing disagreement over who has rights to harvest fish in the Puget Sound, leading back to different interpretations of a passage in the middle of the landmark 1974 Boldt Decision — officially known as U.S. vs Washington — that says Yakama tribal members had traditionally fished in the Puget Sound. Last month, prosecutors filed a charge of first-degree commercial fishing without a license, a felony, against the alleged skipper of the boat, Alexander Robert Somers, 43, of Tacoma. Somers allegedly claimed he had permission from the Suquamish Tribe, but court documents say the tribal council confirmed he did not.... When interviewed by Fish and Wildlife officers, Somers presented a permit, claiming it was issued by the Yakama Tribe, allowing him to fish in the area that is the “usual and accustomed” waters of the Suquamish Tribe. An officer wrote that the permit was invalid and that the tribe knew it was invalid because of a similar case from 2015. Andrew Binion reports. (Kitsap Sun)

‘Robust’ a tad generous in summing up science panel’s fracking report
The New Democrats chose the word “robust” in reporting this week on how a scientific panel had characterized B.C.’s regulatory framework on fracking in the natural gas sector. As in: “An independent scientific review of hydraulic fracturing in B.C. has found the regulatory framework to be robust, while also identifying areas for improvement.” The claim brought a vigorous response from the environmental watchdog Wilderness Committee. “Robust, my rear-end!” protested climate campaigner Peter McCartney. “How the ministry can characterize this report as anything but a scathing indictment of their failure to oversee this industry is beyond me.” Vaughn Palmer reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal judge demands Trump administration reveal how its drilling plans will fuel climate change
A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in the West. The decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington could force the Trump administration to account for the full climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could signal trouble for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country. Contreras concluded that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling under President Barack Obama in 2015 and 2016. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on about 300,000 acres of land in the state. Juliet Ellperin reports. (Washington Post)

B.C. overreaching in bid to regulate oil and gas shipments, court told
The Canadian government says British Columbia is trying to obstruct the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion with “Trojan Horse” legislation that the province is passing off as a benign environmental measure. Lawyer Jan Brongers asked the B.C. Court of Appeal on Wednesday to reject proposed amendments to the province’s Environmental Management Act, because the changes aim to regulate interprovincial oil projects that fall under federal jurisdiction. Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)

Conservation group says dead sea lion found with gunshot wound in B.C
A conservation group says a dead sea lion that washed ashore in British Columbia this week had been shot in the head, amid calls from some fishermen for a cull. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says in a news release that the flippered mammal was found on Hornby Island, and it alleges its members have also observed abuse of the animals on the water.
The society says the sea lions depend on herring for food and it’s calling on the federal government to place a moratorium on commercial roe herring fisheries in the Strait of Georgia to help stocks rebound. (Canadian Press)

Researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawater
Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay. The findings, published March 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate a new way of separating hydrogen and oxygen gas from seawater via electricity. Existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce. Theoretically, to power cities and cars, "you need so much hydrogen it is not conceivable to use purified water," said Hongjie Dai, J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood professor in chemistry at Stanford and co-senior author on the paper. "We barely have enough water for our current needs in California." Hydrogen is an appealing option for fuel because it doesn't emit carbon dioxide, Dai said. Burning hydrogen produces only water and should ease worsening climate change problems. (Science Daily)

Pacific Great Blue Herons return to Stanley Park for 19th consecutive year
It's the first day of spring, and the season is clearly already upon us—flowers are blooming, the mercury’s rising, and the Pacific Great Blue Herons have returned to Stanley Park. Now in their 19th consecutive year of nesting near the park’s Beach Avenue entrance, the herons have been inhabiting approximately 40 nests in what has become one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies.  And once again, the Vancouver Park Board has set up a live-streaming Heron Cam, which can be used by viewers to zoom in on different nests and observe all sorts of heron behavior. Doug Sarti reports. (Georgia Straight)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  649 AM PDT Thu Mar 21 2019   
 W wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 14 seconds. 
 NW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming N 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at 17 seconds.

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

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

3/20 Dogfish, 'L124,' saving orcas, Roundup, Dem enviro lege, Salish Sea Wild, derailment, ship collision, BC pipe, eye in sky, Teri Gobin, plastic ban

Spiny dogfish [WDFW]
Spiny dogfish Squalus suckleyi
A small coastal shark that typically has a dark brown to grey body with a white belly. Occasionally this species has white spots on the upper body. Spiny dogfish have a single, prominent, mildly venomous spine at the front of each dorsal fin. This species lacks an anal fin, as do all of its relatives (Squaliform sharks). The snout is long, flattened and pointed. Teeth in both jaws are flat with sharp edges, forming a continuous cutting edge. Spiny dogfish are seasonally abundant from spring through late fall in most portions of Puget Sound. (WDFW)

Correction: Regarding yesterday's story about the sighting of the calf L124 [Newest Puget Sound orca calf continues to survive ] Amy Fowler from Washington DC notes that "the Center for Whale Research encounter referenced in the post about L124 was actually transients. The T group seen does have a new calf, but it’s not L124. I haven’t seen any reports of any L pod encounters in March. Hopefully I’m wrong and the calf has been seen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Task Force was misinformed."

Money, time in short supply to save southern resident orcas
Time and money are in short supply in the race to save the region's endangered southern resident orcas. One year ago this month, Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order to form a 2-year orca task force. Monday's meeting in Lacey kicked off the second year, but the battle against extinction is just beginning.... Inside, task force members faced the reality of how far they have come in the past year and how far they still have to go. The biggest battle they face is funding. Simone Del Rosario reports. (KCPQ)

U.S. jury finds Bayer's Roundup caused man's cancer
A U.S. jury on Tuesday found Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based weed killer caused a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a bellwether trial that may help determine the course of hundreds of similar cases. The finding by the unanimous jury in San Francisco federal court clears the way for that same jury to determine if Bayer unit Monsanto is liable and must pay damages to California resident Edwin Hardeman in a second trial phase. Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the jury’s initial decision. Jim Christie reports. (Reuters)

Analysis: Democrats leverage legislative majority in favor of environmental policy
One of the big, trending topics in Olympia this year is the environment. After years of divided control, Democrats now hold the majority in both chambers of the Legislature. And environmental activists see an opportunity to pass a number of new laws. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins shares what’s on the agenda in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. (KNKX)

If you like to watch: The Risky Business of Saving Seabirds
Dark nights, treacherous seas and tiny boats: Team Seadoc takes science to the edge to help save one of the most remarkable endangered species in the Salish Sea--because sometimes even the superhero of seabirds needs our help. Written and produced by Bob Friel. Salish Sea Wild, Episode 3. (SeaDoc Society)

23-car derailment shuts down Union Pacific line, prompts controlled burn of hazardous chemical
The Union Pacific line that runs through Eastern Washington has been shut down since Friday by a 23-car derailment near Ritzville, Adams County, that included a hazardous cargo spill of sodium chlorate and subsequent fire that flared over the weekend. No one was injured in the incident that Union Pacific reports was triggered by a rock slide and left 11 of the 23 cars derailed inside a tunnel. The spill of sodium chlorate, a crystalline chemical used in bleaching paper pulp, occurred in one train car that derailed outside the tunnel. The state Department of Ecology reports the spill and subsequent ignition of the chemical occurred in a remote area — distant from water sources as well as residences. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Human error or mechanical failure? Mystery remains around Vancouver freighter collision
The Transportation Safety Board says it's still investigating whether a collision between two freighters in Vancouver Harbour early Sunday morning was the result of human error or a mechanical problem. TSB marine investigation manager Mohan Raman told CBC that the M.V. Pan Acacia had a 20 centimetre hole torn in its bow when it was struck by the M.V. Caravos Harmony. At the time of the collision, the Caravos Harmony was heading to a bunker station to fuel up. it was under its own power and was being operated by a pilot. The Pan Acacia was at anchor. Karin Larsen reports. (CBC)

B.C. tells Trans Mountain court hearing it won't reject pipelines without cause
A lawyer representing British Columbia says proposed changes to an environmental law won't allow the province to refuse to provide a permit to a pipeline operator for no reason. B.C.'s Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the province can create a permitting system for transporters of hazardous substances through its territory. The governments of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan say Ottawa — not provinces — has jurisdiction over inter-provincial projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Canada says in court documents that the proposed amendments to B.C.'s Environmental Management Act must be struck down because they give the province a "veto" over such projects. (Canadian Press)

New surveillance plane to monitor Vancouver Island fisheries
A new surveillance plane is set to help monitor fisheries and catch illegal activity in the waters off Vancouver Island. Contracted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the aircraft will be based out of Campbell River Airport on the island's east coast. It's one of three new bases from which Canada's coasts will be monitored, with the others in St. John's and Halifax... In addition to catching illegal fishing, the planes can also gather information about vessel movement, environmental conditions, pollution levels and species. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

New Tulalip tribal leader is following in her dad’s footsteps
As a child, she watched how hard her father worked. He’d spend eight-hour days on tribal business followed by two or three hours readying his fishing boat at the Tulalip Marina. Then he’d come home and pore over federal documents and contracts, absorbing every bit of knowledge he could. She admired how he would visit elders’ homes and attend each tribal member’s funeral, how he could speak his mind with diplomacy and seek answers with persistence. Stan Jones served on the Tulalip Tribes’ Board of Directors for 44 years, including 26 as tribal chairman. No one has served longer. He is 92 now, having stepped away from tribal leadership nearly a decade ago. His daughter, Teri Gobin, is in her third year on the tribal board. At an annual general council meeting Saturday, tribal members voted her their chairwoman. Eric Stevick reports. (Everett Herald)

Hawaii Weighs First-In-Nation Plastic Bans At Restaurants
Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean. Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii’s measure would make it the first to do so statewide. Hawaii has already mandated renewable energy use and approved an upcoming prohibition on sunscreen ingredients that harm coral. A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws. The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  247 AM PDT Wed Mar 20 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less in the  afternoon. W swell 6 ft at 14 seconds. 
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming W 10 to 20 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

3/19 Chickadee, L124, BC pipe, salmon secrets, ship collision, Bristol Bay mine, fish fillet size, Helen Engle

Chickadee [Laurie MacBride]
Time to Get Moving
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "'Hurry up, hurry up! The ice has melted and time’s a-wasting!' That’s what the little Chestnut-backed Chickadee seemed to say, as it ever-so briefly touched down on a low branch over the pond, directly in front of me. The little bird was in rapid motion – it leaned over and grabbed a quick drink, then was airborne again before I could even attempt a second photograph. I’m sure it was fully focused on its spring to-do list: find good grubs; identify nest site; court mate; gather building materials; construct nest..."

Newest Puget Sound orca calf continues to survive
It was an announcement met by applause. A Monday meeting of Washington’s Orca Task Force revealed that the newborn calf spotted back in January continues to survive. Nicknamed “Lucky,” and officially labeled L124, he was the first new calf born in Puget Sound since the tragic death of another last summer. Its mother continued to carry and push the dead calf with it for weeks after. Lucky was last reported seen by the Center for Whale Research on March 9, “zig-zagging their way toward Obstruction Pass,” off the coast of northern Washington. (MyNorthwest)

B.C. argues it cannot stop Trans Mountain, but can protect environment
A lawyer for the British Columbia government says the province knows it cannot stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but it can enact environmental laws to mitigate the harm it may cause. B.C.’s Court of Appeal is considering a reference case filed by the province that asks if it has jurisdiction to regulate the transport of oil through its territory and restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta. Joseph Arvay, who represents B.C., told a panel of five judges on Monday that his opponents in the case are essentially saying provinces have no power to bring in laws that reduce the risk of inter-provincial projects. (Canadian Press)

The Secret Lives of Salmon: International expedition returns to Vancouver
The Russian research vessel Kaganovsky returned to Vancouver on Monday with an unprecedented treasure trove of data about the little-studied lives of salmon in the open Pacific Ocean. Genetic testing on hundreds of salmon caught by an international group of fisheries scientists will determine the home rivers and streams of the winter salmon population in the Gulf of Alaska, especially the surprisingly numerous chum. Twenty-one scientists from Canada, the U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan have spent the past month conducting dozens of test fisheries on a grid pattern between Haida Gwaii and the Aleutian Islands, the most extensive survey of the eastern Pacific ever conducted. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

2 ships collide in the night in Vancouver Harbour
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating a collision between two freighters in Vancouver Harbour Sunday just after midnight. The M.V. Caravos Harmony and the M.V. Pan Acacia hit each other at approximately 12:20 a.m. P.T. on March 17.  TSB spokesman Chris Krepski said there were no reports of injuries or a polluting spill, but couldn't say what either vessel was carrying or if they were under tug boat control at the time of collision. Karin Larsen reports. (CBC)

Northwest fishing fleet renews fight against proposed mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay
Thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest — commercial fishermen, their crews, sport fishermen, seafood processors, even many boat builders — depend on wild salmon caught every summer in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Trump administration has re-started permitting for a controversial mining project there — and locals are gearing up to fight it. The battle over the so-called Pebble Mine has gone on for more than a decade. It was on hold in 2014, after then President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency found that its plans to extract copper, gold and molybdenum would have adverse effects on salmon spawning areas. Now, after withdrawal of the Obama-era restrictions, a revised proposal is under review by the Army Corps of Engineers. A 90-day public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement began March 1. Many opponents of the proposal say that’s not long enough. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Why Restaurant Demand For Smaller Fish Fillets Is Bad News For Oceans
Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to catching, selling and eating fish. For certain snappers, in fact, a market preference for plate-size whole fillets is driving fishermen to target smaller fish. For some wild fish populations, this is a recipe for collapse. “The preferred size of a fillet in the U.S. market corresponds to juvenile fish that haven’t had a chance to reproduce,” says conservation biologist Peter Mous, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Indonesia Fisheries Conservation Program. “A lot of species here are heavily overfished, and this demand for small fillets is making things worse.” Alastair Bland reports. (NPR)

Salish Sea Communications: Remembering Helen Engle
More memorials have been added celebrating the life of activist Helen Engle who died on March 11 2019. Add your memories, too.

Now, your tug weather--

251 AM PDT Tue Mar 19 2019
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 7 ft  at 14 seconds. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 6 ft at 15 seconds.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter. 

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Monday, March 18, 2019

3/18 Urchin, student climate, Samish Bay, BC pipe, Haida Gwaii diesel, BC LNG, Helen Engle, sage grouse, clean energy, Painted Ladies, plastic whale

Green sea urchin [Hannah Robinson/WikiMedia]
Green Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis
Like the sea star, this echinoderm is radially symmetrical and has an oral surface with a mouth in the center. Shaped like a squashed sphere, its hard outer covering is called a test. Unlike the sea star, the tube feet cover almost the entire surface of the urchin. In addition, it has spines that are jointed at the base, and the urchin can move by moving both its very long, suckered, tube feet and its lower spines in a concerted fashion. It moves slowly but can cover surprising ground.... Sea urchins are herbivores, marine algae of many kinds their primary diet. Bull Kelp is one of their major foods in our area. Research has shown that when Sea Otters disappear from an area, urchins (a common otter prey) can reach an abundance sufficient to completely wipe out algae over large areas. (Slater Museum/U Puget Sound)

Students globally protest warming, pleading for their future
Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet Friday, demanding tough action on climate change. From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest what they see as the failures by their governments. Well more than 150,000 students and adults who were mobilized by word of mouth and social media protested in Europe, according to police estimates. But the initial turnout in the United States did not look quite as high. “Borders, languages and religions do not separate us,” eight-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, who calls herself the tiny diplomat, told hundreds of protesters at the U.S. Capitol. “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer.” Seth Broenstein and Frank Jordans report. (Associated Press) See also: Students take to Vancouver streets calling for action on climate change  (CBC) And also: ‘If we just go to school that doesn’t mean we’ll have a future  (Everett Herald) Also: ‘What’s the point of studying for a future that’s being threatened?’ protest organizer says  (Bellingham Herald) And: Port Angeles students take part in climate protest  (Peninsula Daily News) And: Port Townsend students strike for change  (Peninsula Daily News)

No more special spring pollution evaluations for Samish Bay
At this time of year, the Samish watershed is typically under heightened scrutiny as the state conducts a special spring pollution evaluation. But in the latest nod to improvements made in cleaning the watershed and as a step toward continuing that trend, the state Department of Health recently decided to end the March through June evaluations and instead do less intense, annual evaluations like it does for other watersheds with shellfish beds.... [Scott Berbells, shellfish growing areas manager with the Department of Health] said the change will allow the state agency to home in on specific incidents of pollution and spend time looking for and fixing the sources throughout the year. The pollution at issue in the watershed — which includes the Samish River, its tributaries and Samish Bay — is bacterial pollution associated with sewage and manure. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

B.C. Court of Appeal to hear province's oil-transport reference case Monday
British Columbia's Court of Appeal will consider a key question regarding provincial powers in the political battle over the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project during a five-day hearing that starts Monday. The B.C. government's reference case asks the court if the province has jurisdiction to regulate the transport of oil through its territory and restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta. Specifically, it asks if proposed amendments to British Columbia's Environmental Management Act are valid and if they give the province the authority to control the shipment of heavy oils based on the impact spills could have on the environment, human health or communities. Amy Smart reports. (Canadian Press)

Haida Gwaii is a crown jewel of biodiversity — and still fuelled by diesel in 2019
cross the world, Haida Gwaii is described as a place with "reverence for the environment," an archipelago with "almost mystical energy," a place with stunning biodiversity that makes it "Canada's answer to the Galapagos." And every year, the islands off B.C.'s North Coast burn through 10 million litres of diesel to create electricity. "It's a dirty little secret for us," said Darin Swanson, a hereditary chief in Old Masset, and capital works program manager for the Council of the Haida Nation. Unconnected to BC Hydro's main electrical grid, two diesel generation stations provide the majority of power to Haida Gwaii's nearly 5,000 residents. A small, private hydroelectric plant on Moresby Island is the only major source of clean energy. Justin McElroy reports. (CBC)

LNG Canada could approve expansion before natural gas export facility is complete
One of the most expensive energy projects in Canada could soon get larger. Construction ramped up this month on LNG Canada's massive natural gas export facility in northern B.C., but the consortium is now talking about possible expansion. LNG Canada is a consortium of companies led by Shell Canada and includes Petronas, PetroChina, KOGAS and Mitsubishi Corporation. The project includes a pipeline across B.C., a port and terminal that liquifies the gas so it can be transported on tankers. The potential price tag of the entire project has been estimated to be upwards of $40 billion. Chief executive Andy Calitz spoke confidently of how it's likely just a matter of time before the ownership group commits to an expansion of the Kitimat site. A decision on making the investment could happen before the initial five-year construction project is finished. Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC)

Salish Sea Communications: Remembering Helen Engle
More memorials have been added celebrating the life of activist Helen Engle who died on March 11 2019. Add your memories, too.

In Oregon, New Sage Grouse Plans Allow For Continued Grazing
The Trump administration Friday lifted restrictions meant to protect greater sage grouse across seven western states. In Oregon grazing restrictions are being removed in 13 locations that provide habitat for the imperiled birds. Ranchers are supporting the move, saying proper grazing will help sage grouse. But conservation groups said the controversial and imperiled birds need all the protection they can get. The revisions will be more far reaching in other western states than in Oregon. In other states, the federal government had not been allowing infrastructure development in key areas, but it will now give waivers and exemptions for oil and gas drilling in some cases. The plans no longer strictly steer oil and gas leases away from important sage grouse habitat. Courtney Flatt reports. (OPB)

Washington, join Hawaii and set a 100 percent clean-energy goal
As with many big goals, at first the cynics said it would be too expensive, too complicated and too risky. But in 2015, our state passed a law to generate 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2045, making us the first in the country to commit to this bold goal. And the law has been proving the cynics wrong ever since. We invite you, Washingtonians, to consider our experience in Hawaii, as your Legislature ponders a bill that would require that Washington’s electric grid be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 or earlier. In our state, this one landmark law, similar to the one your elected officials are now debating, spurred investment, unlocked innovation and fostered collaboration previously unseen. We are now rapidly transforming our system to clean energy, at costs that are consistently lower than predicted. Renewable energy is also proving to be the key to grid resilience, enabling us to build a power system that can withstand future climate-related disasters. Chris Lee and Melissa Miyashiro write. (Seattle Times guest opinion)

Mass Migration of Painted Lady Butterflies Entrances Californians 
Swarms of any other insect might provoke fears of a coming apocalypse, but clouds of butterflies migrating through Southern California are captivating onlookers who are relishing the otherworldly spectacle. The orange butterflies, called painted ladies, are known to travel annually from the deserts of Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. This month, people are taking notice because of the sheer size of the migration: Scientists estimate the teeming painted ladies number in the millions. Julia Jacobs reports. (NY Times)

Dead Philippines whale had 40kg of plastic in stomach
A dead whale that washed up in the Philippines had 40kg (88lbs) of plastic bags inside its stomach, researchers have said. Workers at D'Bone Collector Museum recovered the Cuvier's beaked whale east of Davao City earlier in March. In a Facebook post, the museum said the animal was filled with "the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale". There were 16 rice sacks in its stomach, as well as "multiple shopping bags". (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  226 AM PDT Mon Mar 18 2019   
 E wind 20 to 30 kt becoming SE 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. 
 E wind 20 to 30 kt becoming SE 20 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 6 ft at 12 seconds.

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