Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Salish Sea News Highlights

2012 is a wrap and here’s to looking forward to what the year to come will bring to the shared waters of the Salish Sea. But before we jump, take a look back at some top news items of the past year:

Coal takes lumps. Thousands came to stand up and speak out their concerns at scoping meetings about the negative environmental impacts the coal export facility proposed for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve will have on the local, regional and international land and waters— while outnumbered project proponents chanted their one-note mantra of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’

No ‘smoking gun.’ It cost $26 million and 150 witnesses to lead Judge Bruce Cohen to report in three volumes that the precipitous decline in Fraser River sockeye was due to a multiplicity of causes and to recommend 75 actions that should be taken to remedy the decline.

‘People’ sunk. A little over a year after founder and executive director retired from People For Puget Sound, new management laid off staff, failed to fundraise, blew through cash reserves and unilaterally closed down the 21-year old environmental group.

Sound declines. Former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Tony “Embrace-The-Porcupine” Wright took over the helm of the Puget Sound Partnership and reported that most indicators show the Sound still in decline but that things could be much worse.

Elwha love. With most of the Glines Canyon Dam blasted away, the Elwha River again runs free and begins unloading tons of silt down to the Strait.

Bag bans. Following the city of Edmonds’ earlier example of banning plastic shopping bags, the cities of Bellingham, Seattle, Issaquah, Port Townsend, Mukilteo and Bainbridge followed suit.

Victoria flushes. Despite protests from misguided academics, opportunistic pols and some recalcitrant municipalities, the Capital Regional District moved forward with financing and planning to build (finally) secondary sewage treatment for Victoria

Big drink. Tethys Enterprises acquired 30 acres within the Anacortes city limits which allows the city to provide the bottling company’s proposed one million-square foot plant with up to 5 million gallons of Skagit River water per day.

Ocean acid. The threat of ocean acidification to the shellfish industry and the marine food web was elevated by a state panel’s report with several recommendations, including the recommendation that the
state must advocate for regional, national and international policies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

Alive and well. Springer, the orphan killer whale found near Vashon in 2002, nursed back to health and jetted back to her Northern resident family, was feted with a 10th anniversary celebration and again declared an ongoing success story of international cooperation.

Tribal power. Tribes and First Nations began campaigns against social and environmental damages anticipated from major oil and coal export projects north of the Salish Sea by Enbridge near Kitimat, by Kinder Morgan in Vancouver, and by SSA Marine at Cherry Point, Washington.

Estuary revival.
4,000 acres of tidelands at the northern end of Port Susan Bay in Snohomish County were finally connected to Puget Sound by The Nature Conservancy of Washington in partnership with state and federal agencies and the Tulalip Tribes.

(Details on the above news stories are found in 12 months of Salish Sea News and Weather postings)

Looking to 2013:

Tim and Tom game. Despite Democratic Party victories in Washington state, turncoat Democrats Tim Sheldon and Rod Tom joined Republicans to allow Republicans to seize control of the State Senate. We’ll have to see how that affects how environmental legislation comes before the Senate and how that affects the budgets for environmental programs, including those of the Puget Sound Partnership. Traitors like Tim and Tom give credence to the adage of not trusting men with two first names.

Fuel futures. Not much action on the Gateway Pacific Cherry Point facility proposal until the draft Environmental Impact Statement is issued but watch what the coal export market is doing and the jockeying for first position among multiple Northwest port proposals. Also watch the growing future of exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) and how the Puget Sound refineries bring more crude oil in by rail.

Acid trip. The state’s taken the first step in saying what needs to be done about slowing ocean acidification. Now what?

-- Mike Sato

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