Lessons from the Oso Mud Slide

There are two articles in the last 48 hours on the Oso mud slide which are worth reading, especially as it relates to the Olympic Peninsula. Timothy Egan, a northwest based writer produced, “A Mudslide, Foretold”, in which he claims that logging over legal limits likely were part of the problems that caused the slide.

DON’T tell me, please, that nobody saw one of the deadliest landslides in American history coming… enough with the denial, the willful ignorance of cause and effect, the shock that one of the prettiest valleys on the planet could turn in a flash from quiet respite in the foothills of the North Cascades to a gravelly graveyard.

New York Times Article by Timothy Egan


We also now know that the State has been monitoring this very slope for over 25 years, with a very specific report given to DNR from the Department of Ecology in 1997, DNR chose to ignore that science and use data from 1988 to issue much greater logging areas than the scientists from Ecology recommended.

State used outdated data to allow logging on slope – Seattle Times


How much the homeowners themselves knew about all this in advance are likely to range from nothing to choosing to ignore the issues. That would be understandable, as choosing to move out of harms way is a hard decision, and some folks likely couldn’t afford to. But the County knew, and the State knew. Likely the city of Oso knew as well. Could they have taken actions such as banning logging from the plateau above the river? Yes. Could they have offered buy outs to the homeowners at fair market value to plow these homes under and stop habitation of the land along the river corridor? Yes. Should increased setbacks from rivers and shores be implemented for future building, be implemented in local laws like Shoreline Master Programs? Yes.

Are there others in harms way in Snohomish County (and elsewhere)? Seems so.

Landslide risk widespread in county; 30,000 in hazard zones 

…. The approximately 50 houses east of Oso swept aside by the March 22 landslide were hardly the only ones built near unstable land in Snohomish County. Hazard maps show almost all of the county’s coastline and mountain valleys are in landslide danger zones. An estimated 30,000 people live in those places, according to a 2010 study commissioned by the county. By 2035, the county is expected to absorb roughly 200,000 more people. There are about 730,000 today…. The county can’t afford to buy out property owners in landslide areas. Plus, people have a right to stay and, under certain conditions, to build. Existing laws and policies governing development in Snohomish County didn’t keep people in Oso out of harm’s way. Under the county’s building regulations, the area where homes were built wasn’t even designated high-risk for landslides. Noah Haglund and Dan Catchpole report. (Everett Herald)

It’s also becoming known that many of the homeowners didn’t have flood insurance, probably because they lived within the boundaries of a known flood plain.

This also gets to the core of a bill recently supported by Representative Derek Kilmer, (Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act), who proudly boasted of supporting the roll back of insurance costs and support by the Federal government for home and business owners along the shore who have seen a huge increase in their flood insurance due to the outcome of Hurricane Sandy. The insurance companies have obviously decided  to no longer take the risk to insure people who have been allowed, by the county and the State, to build homes and businesses at locations that are likely to be flooded  by Tsunami or global warming related storms. This is how the market should work. If the risk is too high, then you choose to live there at your own risk. This is what all the property rights people keep screaming for, that the government should get out of their lives. Now they and others seem quite happy to have us taxpayers pay for their risk.  And of course, Representative Kilmer says, ‘sure’.

If people want to live at sea level, or in a flood plain, since government seems incapable of stopping it, then the marketplace should. Or the marketplace should state that it’s at your own risk to do so. That’s what Representative Kilmer has stopped by supporting the House bill to rollback or nationalize the insurance risk. Now, people will continue to assume there is low or no risk in continuing to build and live in harm’s way.

As to Oso, The State and County should be held responsible for ignoring science and allowing logging to continue on the slope with outdated science. That is the only way we are going to get the government to do the right thing. But again, the failure of DNR to do the right thing will be a cost that you and I have to pay. The department heads that made that decision are likely long gone, and certainly won’t be held accountable for their  decisions. It’s you and I that will be.

And the people who rail about how the government should get out of their lives and stop making rules that take away their rights to do whatever they want whenever they want, should take a hard look at where they live, and whether they expect the public to foot the bill for the outcome of their demands.

Feds OK Snohomish County PUD’s Tidal Power Project In Admiralty Inlet – KPLU

Ok. It’s time to get this first phase built and find out it’s shortcomings, and positive sides. Every method of electricity generation has a cost, environmentally. Even solar panels have their minerals mined somewhere, likely without much environmental oversight.  So let’s get this extremely benign appearing generation trial in the water and up and running. Once there, we can judge whether it’s worth the environmental costs. My guess, is it’s not going to be anywhere near as bad as even wind has turned out to be (bird deaths have been a major problem in wind sites).

Federal regulators have given unanimous approval for an underwater energy project powered by the tides in Washington’s Admiralty Inlet. Two turbines will take advantage of the fast-moving currents and daily tidal movements in the busy passage west of Whidbey Island, at a depth of about 200 feet. Snohomish County PUD says the turbines will be connected to the electrical grid with cables that emerge on leased land south of the ferry dock in Coupeville. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Feds OK Snohomish County PUD’s Tidal Power Project In Admiralty Inlet 

Controversial Olympic Peninsula Timber Sale Pits Environment Against Education – Earthfix

The battle to protect remaining stands of timber, that are home to the endangered marbled murrelet, continues. The State has decided to log off the stand, which are home to some pairs. A lawsuit is imminent. This is another good example of the environmental battle that happens as resources dwindle and we don’t have a proper modern taxing mechanism to fund our schools. The idea of cutting timber to fund schools was once a simple one, but now, it’s become a trade off of rare species vs. schools. It will take a brave legislator(s) to really end this practice and come up with a funding mechanism that properly funds our schools. It’s ironic, because the very district (Jefferson County) that probably thought this was a great idea once a 160 or so years ago, now is the one that brought the lawsuit demanding proper funding. And we are one of the most environmentally supportive counties in the state. I don’t see any legislators of the calibre to offer a new way forward. In fact, in conversations with them, they feel like they are unwilling to do anything more for the schools than they already have. Would love to be proven wrong.

SEATTLE — The Washington Board of Natural Resources voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the sale of 200 acres of the Olympic Peninsula that are home to the threatened marbled murrelet. The money from the timber sale will go to the University of Washington.


WSU Master Goat Farmer Program offered in Jefferson County in January

WSU Jefferson County Extension offers the Master Goat Farmer Program on Marrowstone  Island from January 17-19th , 2014. The 3-day advanced course, offered by WSU since 1988,provides goat farmers/owners in-depth training of goat production topics including nutrition, pasture management, health and disease, lactation, mastitis, reproduction, housing, breed  selection, and food safety.

Course presenters include Susan Kerr, WSU Northwest Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist; Gary Fredericks, WSU Cowlitz Extension County Director, and Lorrie Conway. Course participants will experience hands-on and classroom presentations, along with a field trip to neighboring goat dairy, Mystery Bay Farm. Participants will also receive a CD of educational publications related to goat care and management.

The Master Goat Farmer Program will be held at WSU Twin Vista Ranch on Marrowstone Island on Friday, Saturday and Sunday January 17th , 18th and 19th

Class size is limited. Cost is $60 per person, plus $30 for additional family members. To register, visit jefferson.wsu.edu.

For more information: Susan Kerr at kerrs@wsu.edu or 360-848-6151 or Kellie Henwood at (360) 379-5610 ext. 201.

Peninsula salmon projects get $4.5 million – PDN

Lots of good projects that are going to give jobs to folks here on the Peninsula, and help restore salmon habitat. The work is far from being completed, but it’s good to see these projects and land purchases get funded. Tying this together with the work described by Earth Economics over the weekend on this site, it’s worth it to note that there is value in these ecosystem renewal projects. Slowing the rivers by putting in log jams, for example, do not just provide scientifically proven habitat for salmon (especially young salmon migrating downstream), but they also aide in flood protection among other benefits. Flood plain protection is a value that lowers the cost to repairing damage from floods over multiple decades.

The state has awarded $4.5 million in grants for new salmon restoration projects on the North Olympic Peninsula. ….

Rob Ollikainen reports.

There’s quite a bit more to the story at:



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Oil spill Community Preparedness and Response Workshop held in PT

Good turnout for today’s oil spill response workshop in Port Townsend. Lots of great information, and the ability to chat with representatives of the Coast Guard, and the Oil Spill Team Section, gave a good understanding of what are the processes, and what gaps exist in our ability to handle a spill, large or small, here in the area.

20131109-113719.jpgRobin DuPre from the NW Straits Foundation, sponsors of the workshops.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: PT Marine Science Center Volunteer Coordinator

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is seeking an energetic, experienced professional for our full-time paid Volunteer Coordinator position to inspire and manage a corps of 175+ volunteers in serving our mission to Inspire Conservation of the Salish Sea. The position is responsible for volunteer recruitment, training, placement, retention and recognition and will participate in strategic planning including developing a plan to expand the volunteer program. It’s also responsible for administrative oversight of the PTMSC AmeriCorps program and for supervision of volunteer gift shop staff. Email cover letter and resume in PDF format toinfo@ptmsc.org. Job description can be found here. Please submit applications by November 18 at 5pm.

NAS Whidbey resumes practices; Fidalgo noise may increase – Skagit Valley News

It’s not just Fidalgo Island, as these jets can be heard in Port Townsend, especially when the air is calm. The region of Admiralty Inlet has been designated, without virtually any debate, a major training area for the Navy. Our politicians failed us on this one, as we are going to see an increasing amount of jet and helicopter traffic.

Fidalgo Island residents might hear some extra noise in the next few weeks as Naval Air Station Whidbey Island ramps up practices for their Electronic Attack Wing at Ault Field. The Field Carrier Landing Practices will begin on Nov. 4in Oak Harbor and last for approximately three weeks, said a release from the base. These practices are crucial for pilots training to qualify for aircraft carrier operations. For the trainings, the base will use either runways 7/25 or 14/32, depending on conditions. This will be the first time runway 14/32 has been used for FCLPs since July. Kera Wanielista reports.


Creosote-tainted pilings, docks to be removed in Jefferson County – PDN

Stock image from DNR.

The good work continues to reverse the long held practice of putting toxic pilings, that remain so for decades, into the Sound and greater Salish Sea. It took over a hundred years for these to be put in, it will take a long time to get them all out. But you work one project at a time.  Another example of how our Marine Resource Committee works together with the State of Washington to move us towards a better environment.  It also helps pay for temporary jobs, to do those tasks.

The state will begin removing hundreds of toxic, creosote-treated pilings in East Jefferson County.  Beginning Nov. 4 and continuing into next year, the state Department of Natural Resources will take out pilings and several thousand square feet of overwater structures at seven sites from Port Townsend Channel southward to Point Whitney in Hood Canal in the $588,000 project. Most of the removal sites provide habitat for forage fish and migrating juvenile salmon that feed on them, DNR said. Creosote, containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), was used historically to prevent wood decay and insect infestations.


Read the whole story at the Peninsula Daily News.

Why to vote no on the Jefferson County Charter Proposal

Yesterday, I received the following email from a long time friend and environmental activist, Fayette Krause. I am enclosing it with my thoughts, many of which mirror Fayette’s. Fayette’s letter spurred me to finish writing down my thoughts on the proposed Charter County proposals, as the county Democrats are going to hold an endorsement meeting on Sept 17th. I believe the Charter proponents are well intentioned, but ultimately proposing a fundamental change to the County structure that will not benefit the County, and in fact, may bring more problems. Here’s why.

I plan to vote “No” on the Charter for the following reasons. These are somewhat different and re-prioritized from Fayette’s.

1. This does not fix the root causes. It goes after the symptoms.

1A. Is the root cause of putting forward a Charter County a disconnect between the majority of voters and the elected officials? Jefferson County already has the highest percentage voter turnout in the State. We have elected both conservatives and progressives over the last couple of decades. The problem does not seem to be voter apathy to issues, or some kind of disconnect between the electorate and the County officials. Our county allows citizens to vote out incumbents and choose a candidate that more closely allies with our ideas/ideals. For progressives, the current County Commission has generally been very responsive, and was elected as a reaction to a previous more conservative group of Commissioners who approved such ill-conceived developments as the Pit To Pier project, which was ultimately was brought down by economics, and changes at a State level. On another issue, our current Commissioners spent a large amount of time to research and discuss the Shoreline Master Program and Critical Areas Ordinance for example. I don’t think that any of the progressives now supporting the Charter would argue that our elected officials’ stance on those were wrong. They have supported protection of special places, such as Dabob Bay. They have fought net-pens in our county, offering options to their deployment that the State refused to accept. They have supported numerous other progressive measures.

If the root cause is a lack of enough commissioners to guarantee more representation, the Charter does not necessarily accomplish that. Adding more Commissioners does not mean that things will be more representative. San Juan County voted in a Charter County, with 6 commissioners and found that it was too expensive and didn’t guarantee any better representation of the citizens, so they returned to 3 after great expense to the county.

1B. Is the root cause a lack of a initiative process to stop state mandated issues like net-pens?

The charter and initiative process, on a county basis, will not likely stop net-pens. I have heard it stated by the Charter County advocates that we can create an initiative to ban net-pens. I don’t see any legal basis for a local initiative to succeed at that. The root cause for the requirement for net pens is at the State level, not county. State DOE holds the authority to allow net pens on aquatic lands, and allows the counties to help write the rules to those lands, both for getting local input and saving the state money. DOE and the State reserve the right to undo any proposals, like these that they see fit. The only way I see to implement a ban on net pens in the State waters, is to implement a state wide initiative, and I believe that the charter advocates that want a net pen ban should take that route, rather than overhaul our county rules to achieve a goal that likely will do nothing to solve the problem.

2. I have no guarantee that the Freeholders that get elected are going to craft a better governance document!
The freeholder election has numerous very conservative candidates running for Freeholder positions. Should a majority of these candidates win, there is no telling where they may take the Charter. The law of unintended consequences looks to be very likely to happen if we don’t elect the slate that we want.

3. This is going to cost the county more money, not less.
We currently can’t afford to take care of our county parks, yet well meaning people want the county to spend money on the Charter. Even with a minor amount of change we will pay to implement that change.
Initiative challenges will cost us more money. This is not a revenue neutral proposal. (see below).

4. The Initiative process does not guarantee beneficial results.

While originally well intentioned, Tim Eyman’s manipulation of the initiative process has shown us that just because you create and vote to approve one, it will not necessarily get you the outcomes you expect. Much of our State Ferry rate increases that we have lived under here in Jefferson County, and affect us the most, were begun in the wake of Eyman’s I-695 initiative and it’s outcome on State highway revenues. (while it was declared unconstitutional it’s goals were implemented by elected officials afraid of opposing Eyman).

There is a belief that County initiatives supersede State and Federal law. I have seen nothing that makes me believe that, and would like to see backers support that contention. I see an outcome where local initiatives are challenged by the very corporations that you want to keep out, and cost the county money to challenge in court.

Standard variety initiatives will be challenged by those who lose, which has been the case with Eyman’s initiatives at the State level. Out of Eyman’s 19 initiatives and one referendum 12 failed or were voted out and 5 have been ruled unconstitutional! Many have been ruled unconstitutional after costly legal challenges. The cost to the State in challenges has never had a dollar figure placed on it. We in this small county cannot afford to spend money on court challenges like this, when we can’t even fund our existing county needs.

5. This idea has not had an appropriate amount of time for debating the issue.

For all these reasons, I hope that friends who are members of the Jefferson County Democrats can attend and vote no in this upcoming meeting. The meeting takes place at 7PM on Sept 17th. I hope all of you will vote no on Charter County at the upcoming election.

Al B. – Editor

From: Fayette Krause
Date: Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Subject: Where are you?
To: “Undisclosed-Recipient:;”@userservices.net

Regarding the proposed Charter? I am contacting some Demos that I know re the special endorsement mtg on Sept. 17 at the Community Ctr in P.T. I plan to vote “No” on the Charter for several reasons:

1. The Freeholder election has numerous very conservative candidates running for the Freeholder positions. Should a majority of these candidates win, there is no telling where they may take the Charter.

2. The Charter idea is rushed and will lack a reasonable time frame for debate. Further, it is complicated and difficult to distill to a few soundbites — something we should avoid anyway.

3. Our state has seen where the Initiative has taken us recently. Originally this idea was a highly progressive instrument, designed to circumvent corporate-controlled state legislatures. It can still be used this way by progressives, but the Tim Eyman’s of Washington have also learned how to use this legislation effectively, to the detriment of state government.

4. What’s broken here? If there is a problem with county governance, we can vote out the incumbents and choose a candidate that more closely allies with our ideas/ideals. For progressives, the current County Commission has generally been very responsive, opposing ill-conceived developments, supporting protection for special places like Dabob Bay, fighting net-pens in the Straits and Hood Canal, and generally supporting other progressive measures.

5. There is a dollar cost to the County, for running the election, and an unknown and unpredictable cost should our current system be changed by adopting a Charter. The price tag could be relatively low, but any change is likely to require some additional costs.

These are only a few of the reasons that I am uncomfortable with the Charter idea, despite the fact that a number of progressive and very well-meaning people support it. While commending them for their work in raising the issue, I cannot support the Charter idea.

The endorsement vote will be taken at the 7:00 mtg on Sept. 17. Only members of the JeffCo Demo Party can vote, and the requirement for either a negative or positive endorsement is 2/3 of the voters, plus one. Consequently, it is important to have a large and informed turn-out.

I hope you can attend.


Come out to Shellfest today (8/17) on Marrowstone Island

Looking for outdoor activities today? You can drive, bike, swim, sail, or paddle your way across to Fort Flagler to have fun at Shellfest 2013. The Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee will be one of many exhibitors at the at Fort Flager on Marrowstone Island today. Here’s a bit of the schedule.  Come out for some great shellfish if for no other reason! It’s very shellfish of you, I know, but hey, just remember to “keep clam.”




Shellfest 2013 Program



Legislature funds final push to rid Puget Sound of derelict fishing nets – WDFW

This is the outcome of over a decade of work, from a huge range of people and organizations, to get this done.  While the NW Straits has been the lead, many of us have lobbied to have the funding for it approved. It’s been a huge state wide effort, and thanks to the NW Straits Foundation, the Tribes, State Agencies like WDFW, the Marine Resource Committees, the old People For Puget Sound organization, a large number of other organizations that I now forget, and many legislators over the years, including bi-partisan support from legislators like Rep. Norma Smith described below.  We can turn around the destruction of the environment, but it’s never easy, nor free. We have to be able to set aside politics as usual and work to solve the problem. Thanks to all of you, and you know who you are, that helped get this done.

OLYMPIA – The final push in a decade-long effort to clear Puget Sound of derelict fishing nets within 105 feet of the surface will get under way later this year with funding approved by the Washington State Legislature.

The state budget adopted last month provides $3.5 million for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to complete the task in partnership with the Northwest Straits Foundation, which has led the net-removal effort since 2002.

Since then, divers working for the non-profit organization have removed 4,437 lost or abandoned fishing nets, 2,765 crab pots and 42 shrimp pots from the waters of Puget Sound. Animals found dead or entangled in that gear include porpoises, sea lions, seabirds, canary rockfish, chinook salmon and Dungeness crab.

According to one predictive catch model, those derelict nets were entangling 3.2 million animals annually every year they remained in the water.

Robyn du Pré, executive director of the foundation, said the new funding will support the removal of approximately 1,000 derelict nets in high-priority areas of Puget Sound after current funding runs out in December.

“These legacy nets have been fishing the waters of the Salish Sea for decades,” du Pré said. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to finish the job and to celebrate a true conservation success story in 2015.” Du Pré added that current fishing net loss is minimal and commercial fishers are now required to report any lost nets.

State Rep. Norma Smith of Whidbey Island led the legislative effort to fund the net-removal initiative.

“I am deeply grateful to my colleagues who helped achieve the goal of a $3.5 million appropriation for the Northwest Straits Foundation to remove the last of the legacy nets from the Puget Sound,” Smith said. “Lost in previous decades, they have had a devastating impact on harvestable natural resources and marine life. Once removed, because of the reporting requirements now in place, this challenge comes to an end. What an achievement!”

WDFW Director Phil Anderson said the new funding is specifically designed to support the removal of derelict fishing nets in areas of the Sound where historic fisheries coincide with bottom conditions likely to snag nets. The foundation locates those nets using sidescan sonar surveys, then dispatches recovery vessels with dive teams to retrieve them.

Few efforts have been made to remove nets from depths of more than 105 feet, because of safety concerns. However, the foundation recently completed an assessment of deepwater net-removal strategies that include the use of remotely operated vehicles, grapples, and deepwater divers.

“Working in conjunction with our partners at Northwest Straits and in the State Legislature, we have made enormous strides toward eliminating the risks posed to fish and wildlife by derelict fishing gear,” Anderson said. “This is difficult work, and it requires a real commitment from everyone to get it done. We look forward to celebrating the next milestone in 2015.”



Canoe Journey 2013

Canoe Journey 2013

Photos by Al Bergstein

Arriving in the fog in Port Townsend. Sunday

Job Opportunity! – NOSC hiring two positions

NOSC is also hiring an “Education and Outreach Assistant” WCC Individual Placement Intern and 5 WCC Crew Members for October 2013-September 2014.

Applicants must be 18 to 25 years old at the time of hire (age restriction may be waived for recently returned military veterans).  Applications due Friday, August 2nd.  To apply, visit www.nosc.org

NOW HIRING: WCC Individual Placement – Education and Outreach Assistant (1 position) 

Description: This position assists in leading a service learning education program, looks over a native plant nursery, runs summer chum and Coho spawner surveys, helps with monitoring on current and past NOSC projects, and assists with volunteer coordination and producing outreach materials.

For application instructions please read the full job announcement:
Edu & Outreach Assistant at NOSC, WCC IP position 2013-2014


Crew Supervisor: Owen French
Telephone: 360-470-0004
Location: Port Hadlock
Email: Owen.French@ecy.wa.gov

Description: This crew is based in Port Hadlock, working for the North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC). NOSC is one of 14 Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEGs) in the state of Washington. The crew implements projects for NOSC and partnering organizations, such as conservation districts, other RFEGs, Tribes, land trusts and WDFW. Projects primarily consist of riparian/estuarine restoration which involves; native plantings, noxious weed control and site maintenance (includes brush cutting, mowing, and herbicide application). Corps members will be expected to test for a Washington State Pesticide Applicator License. The crew will occasionally assist with salmonid and habitat monitoring. The work week is generally Monday-Thursday, 7:00AM-5:30PM. View the crew’s blog.

To apply for this opportunity visit the WCC website and select CREW- PORT HADLOCK/NORTH OLYMPIC SALMON COALITION on WCC’s online job application.

Please visit the Washington Conservation Corps Website for more information:  http://www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/recruitment/counties/jefferson.html


Washington State Legislature Approves Ultrafine Particle Study for Jefferson and Clallam Counties

This is extremely good news to a start on finding out what kinds of pollution we are breathing and if the new biomass plants are actually doing something that needs cleaning up. That is, if they are built, which seems not a sure thing at this point in time, due to economics, not environmental concerns, unfortunately.


The Olympic Clean Air Agency and the University of Washington propose to jointly study air quality in Jefferson and Clallam Counties. This project will evaluate possible air quality changes associated with new biomass co-generation facilities in Port Townsend and Port Angeles and changes in ultra-fine particle concentrations associated with both facilities. The project will support state of the art measurements of ultra-fine particles and will respond directly to concerns of the two communities around health effects and industrial development.


Concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions and climate change have encouraged the development of biomass fueled power stations, i.e. biomass cogeneration plants. The biomass fuel varies for each region and can include sugar-cane stalk, corn and rice straw, and palm and woody debris to name a few. This form of power generation is controversial within the “green” community. Proponents claim that burning biomass contributes a net zero addition to atmospheric carbon dioxide compared to fossil fuel combustion [Taylor, 2010]. The carbon released during biomass combustion will be re-used in plant material for the next cycle of energy generation, while fossil fuels represent carbon that has been stored for millennia. Since new co-generation plants are required to use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to prevent degradation of air quality, supporters further argue that burning biomatter in the plant is cleaner than slash burning outdoors and actually helps improve air quality. Furthermore, industry has been burning biomass waste for years without converting it to usable power, and therefore claim a net gain in power produced vs. carbon released [Taylor, 2010]. The US Department of Energy recognizes biomass co-generation plants as a renewable energy source and has awarded grants to finance their design and operation. (http://www.srs.gov/general/news/releases/nr12_doe-biomass-startup.pdf)

Opponents of biomass fueled co-generation are primarily concerned about subsequent environmental damage and the cleanliness of the technology. They claim that burning biomass will endanger forest land by increasing logging operations and argue that slash should be left to decompose on the forest floor. The primary concern regarding biomass fueled power centers on the release of harmful toxins and fine particulate that can negatively impact the health of residents living near the co-generation plants. Specifically, activists are concerned about ultrafine particles –diameters less than 100 nm – that are not detected by standard air monitoring instruments [Keywooda et al., 1999] and to which recent research ascribes significant health impacts [Keywooda et al., 1999; Morawska et al., 2004].

Recently two new biomass cogeneration plants were approved for installation on the Olympic Peninsula, one at Nippon Paper Industries in Port Angeles and the other at Port Townsend Paper Company in Port Townsend. Both mills have been burning woody biomass as waste for several decades. Construction of these co-generation plants requires installation of emission control technology predicted to decrease the total PM2.5 emitted, despite increasing the mass of fuel burned by a factor of three. PM2.5 is the mass concentration of atmospheric particles with diameters less than 2.5 microns. Other gaseous emissions such as Volatile Organic Compounds and NOx will roughly increase by 35 and 18 tons per year respectively. Despite these pollution controls, and maybe because of them, there is concern that although PM2.5 will decrease, the number of ultrafine particles, which may be more hazardous to respiratory and cardio health, will increase. Research has shown that when PM2.5 decreases, co-emitted gases like SO2 and NOx have less surface area on which to condense and are thus more likely to homogeneously nucleate ultrafine particles downwind of the emission site [Weber et al., 1997]. Despite these concerns, there is very little data that show the impact of biomass cogeneration plants on local and regional air quality, including PM2.5 and ultrafine particulate.

Proposed Study

Port Angeles and Port Townsend are ideal locations to conduct a study focusing on the impacts of biomass fueled cogeneration facilities on air quality downwind of the cogeneration plants. Both towns have similar meteorology and environmental conditions. There are no other large industrial sources or major freeways to obscure ultrafine and fine particulate emissions from the biomass cogeneration plants, although emissions from residential burning in the winter constitute a large fraction of the observed PM2.5 in bothcities. Currently the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) maintains a permanent air monitoring site for PM2.5 in both Port Angeles and Port Townsend. Data on background concentrations of PM2.5, SO2, NOx, CO, and ozone are also available from Cheeka Peak, an NCore site located west of Port Angeles on the northwestern tip of the peninsula and measuring some of the cleanest air in the country. In addition to the permanent monitors, ORCAA will also install four optical particle counters (OPC) that provide data on the number concentration of particles larger than 0.3 microns at three locations in Port Angeles and at one location in Sequim. The OPCs will operate between January 2013 and December 2013. These monitors will move to Port Townsend in 2014. In both Port Angeles and Port Townsend, one of the OPCs will be collocated with the permanent air monitor, a nephelometer. ORCAA also has two aethalometers that measure black carbon concentration and can be used to differentiate between wood combustion and diesel combustion. One aethalometer will be installed at the permanent monitoring location and the other will be installed along with an OPC at one of the other temporary sites. The existence of these monitoring locations creates an infrastructure that will facilitate a study of ultrafine particles and source types of air pollution in the region.

In addition to ambient monitoring that already occurs in Clallam and Jefferson Counties the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, in collaboration with the University of Washington, proposes to conduct an additional study to examine the concentration, sources, and lifetimes of ultrafine particulate in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

The scientific questions to be addressed are:

1) 2) 3)

4) 5) 6) 7)


For this project we will establish two master research sites on the Olympic Peninsula. One will be located near residential areas of Port Townsend and the Port Townsend Paper Corp. The second site will be in Port Angeles near to the Nippon Paper Industries facility. At each site we will ideally conduct a series of pre/post-expansion intensive measurements that can complement the existing measurements using nephelometers, optical particle counters, and aethalometers. The Nippon co-generation plant, located in Port Angeles, expects to begin operating in September or October, 2013 and therefore baseline, winter measurements of ultrafine particles before operations commence may not be possible. To work around this issue, meteorology and plume dispersion modeling will allow data to be segregated to times when emissions from Nippon could affect measurements at the site and those times when they would not.

How will air quality respond to the change in emissions from the facility?

What is the distribution of PM2.5 in residential areas of both communities?

Is there evidence of an increase in ultrafine particulate matter from the expanded facilities?

What is the cause of the odors in the Port Townsend area and what can be done about these?

What are the source contributions to fine and ultrafine particulate in these two areas?

How does this change between winter and summer?

Which neighborhoods are most impacted by these facilities? Are the concentrations

reasonably modeled by a Gaussian plume distribution?

How do ultrafine particulate emissions from the facilities change in the winter relative to the summer?

Measurements of PM2.5, number concentration and size distribution of ultrafine particles (diameter < 100 nanometers), particle chemical speciation, and carbon monoxide will be made at both the Port Angeles and the Port Townsend sites. Continuous stack emission measurements at the facilities will complement the ambient measurements to determine their potential influence on the ambient air quality.

A proposed schedule for this work is as follows:
Summer 2013: 6-week experiment prior to facility modifications and expansion
Winter 2013: 6-week experiment prior to facility modifications and expansion (Port Townsend) Summer 2014: 6-week experiment after facility modifications and expansion
Winter 2014: 6-week experiment after facility modifications and expansion

Instruments and measurements that will be made in addition to those already made by ORCAA:


What it measures

Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS), TSI 3936

Ultrafine particle size distribution

Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS)

Aerosol chemical composition

Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (CIMS)

Aerosol chemical composition


Carbon Monoxide

Dusttrak DRX 8543

Particulate matter

Event:”Ocean acidification in WA State” June 15th in Port Townsend

“Ocean acidification in WA State: An exploration of its chemical, biological, and societal impacts”
PTMSC presents this lecture by NOAA Research Ecologist Shallin Busch. Busch helped develop NOAA’s Northwest Center state-of-the-art lab for studying the impacts of ocean acidification, hypoxia, and temperature change on coastal marine organisms. She conducts experiments on economically and ecologically important species and uses this research to explore potential impacts of ocean acidification on entire food webs and fisheries. In 2012, Busch served as a member of the WA State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. The lecture is this Saturday, June 15th at 4pm in the Fort Worden State Park JFK Building.  No park pass necessary (note: PTMSC is paying in advance so audience doesn’t have to buy a pass, but if you already have one, please bring and display it on your dash). Admission is $7 adults/$5 adult members/$3 youth/$2 youth members

New Executive Director for PT Marine Science Center Announced

Dear PTMSC volunteers and friends,

As most of you are aware by now, our wonderful Anne Murphy will be beginning a well-deserved retirement at the end of July.  The Board of Directors, after a thorough process of review and interviews, has selected a new Executive Director.

Janine Boire, who will officially start work here on August 1st, is currently the Executive Director of the Discovery Science Center of Idaho, in Boise.  She brings to us many years of executive leadership experience at two different science centers in the western United States.  She spent her childhood here on the shores of the Salish Sea, and prior to leaving the area, worked in a variety of capacities at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.  Janine will be visiting us several times before she and her 12-year-old daughter re-locate to Port Townsend, and you will have lots of opportunities to meet and talk with her over the course of the next few months.

Saying farewell to Anne, who is so much a part of PTMSC, will be a difficult process, but Janine’s wealth of experience, passion for science learning, and love of the Pacific Northwest will help us carry on as we continue our work of inspiring conservation of the Salish Sea.
Linda Dacon, President

PTMSC Board of Directors


PS: I was asked to be on the committee to review all the candidates (I am not a member of the Board of Directors of the PTMSC). There were a lot of candidates  with excellent credentials. To all those who applied, I would say that you were up against a very skilled set of competitors for the position, and the choices to even winnow the list down to finalists were not easy. Congratulations to Ms. Boire. And congratulations to the Marine Science Center for a solid process. It’s never easy to replace a founder. – Editor

Senate Bill 5805 Supporter Says, “It’s all about gravel” – Bellingham Herald

A very insiteful article showing that this bill, moving through the Senate, and according to Democrats in the House is DOA, is actually about taking any local control away from Jefferson County on Pit To Pier, and moving this project forward. Please call your Senator or Representatives and let them know that this bill should die.

February 27th, 2013 9 AM PST by john – The Bellingham Herald

By John Stark

A Washington State Senate bill calling for expedited processing of permits for–among other things–”basic commodity transportation” is getting a lot of attention from opponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier proposed for Cherry Point.

Couple sell Dabob Bay property to protect it from development – PDN

Nature photographer Keith Lazelle and his wife and artist agent, Jane Hall, have set up long-term protection from development for their 18 acres of shoreline property on Jefferson County’s Dabob Bay. Read the whole story at the PDN. Support local journalism. Subscribe to the PDN.


Net Pen Bill Dies in Committee – Time to change the rules of the game

You would have been excused if you were at the hearing for Net Pen legislation this week, and you thought it was the Department of Commerce and not Ecology sitting hand in hand with the net pen industry lobbyist. Reminiscent of The Walrus and the Carpenter in Lewis Carrol, who went walking hand in hand, crying fake tears as they bemoaned the  carving up  of the oysters, who represented  the ‘little people’. Not much has changed it seems, in the 150 years, since Carroll penned this quaint little poem, about the  cozy relationship of government with industry, despite  the concerns of those who pay their salaries. This short  bill would have allowed local jurisdictions to prohibit net pens in their Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs). It would have allowed the rules to be strengthened, not weakened. It wouldn’t have even prohibited net pens , but allowed those jurisdictions that wanted to prohibit them to do so. And to be clear, there are *no* net pens currently in Jefferson County, so we aren’t even talking about affecting a current industry. No jobs are being “lost”. Why? Because it isn’t economically viable to put pens in Jefferson County. You would think that DOE, after allowing us to put in large shoreline buffers would have been in support of  giving us the right to prohibit an industry that has mounting scientific evidence of harm to the very species that agency is supposed to be trying to save. But after hearing the  testimony, and allowing this  industry that is a  recipient of our  government largess, along with the professional  bureaucratic stonewalling of DOE on their behalf to dominate the committee hearing, they allowed them to  run-out the clock  on testimony before the chairman arbitrarily changed the length of time for anti netpen forces to testify, and the bill died in committee this week. The bill’s sponsor(s) apparently never showed up to testify.

Our county commissioners will now have to send DOE their conditional use criteria for net pens.

This open  display of DOE collusion with the net pen industry, working together with the committee  officials to quash this bill, over objections by a wide range of water based industries and supporters, shows how weak the environmental community is in Olympia this year. Where was the new head of DOE, Maia Bellon?  Where was anyone from  The Puget Sound Partnership who is charged with helping make the Salish Sea ‘fishable, drinkable, swimmable” by 2020?    Where was any representation from the Governor’s office? Nowhere to be seen. Is Ms. Bellan  going to challenge the DOE bureaucrats that she oversees, those folks in Bellevue and Olympia  (yes, we know which departments they are in)  that have abrogated it’s jurisdiction over the mounting concern of the environmental effects of the Net Pen industry? Perhaps a significant series of lawsuits against the department,  it’s charter, and the industry that it claims to be overseeing is in order.  We’ve done all we can do to work inside the system. Now it’s probably time to mount legal attacks outside it.  We  can clearly assume from this hearing  that our Department of Ecology, at least as it relates to the Net Pen industry, like it’s British Columbia counterparts, have been bought and paid by the industry. They have shown no interest in the concerns of our county commissioners, one of whom is an ex-fisherman.  Ted Sturdevant, prior to leaving the head of DOE, told this reporter that he had no clue that there was any problem with net pens, and hadn’t read anything of concern from British Columbia. It was a rather shocking admission from the head of the agency that was charged with regulating it.

So I agree with Billy Frank Jr. who has, on numerous occasions gotten angry at our elected officials and assumed we can’t hope for any of them to do the right thing without pressure (listen to his impassioned speech from the Northwest Straits Annual Meeting last fall).  Billy Frank Jr. said last November, “When it comes to salmon, to Treaty Rights, no one is in charge. So how do we make it happen?  You make it happen, we all make it happen. In 1976 Judge Boldt took away the right of the State of Washington to manage the salmon, because they were not doing their job (emphasis mine).Well, the Federal Court put a stop to it. Today the State of Washington is broke, but when they had money they didn’t do anything to manage the resources. So here we are, we are the bad guys again. Why do we have to go to the United States Government and tell them about the laws? “

So where are we supposed to turn for a fair hearing if DOE isn’t even reading of the controversy  in BC?  First Nation tribes on Vancouver Island have been leading huge rallies (that have not been well reported here) and marching down the length of the Island to the Parliament  Is it time for us to lead a similar march down the length of the Hood Canal to Olympia? And one from Bellingham, perhaps tying in the Coal port proposal and the Net Pens? In the hearing DOE said that they made a mistake in Whatcom County that they intend to fix in the next round of the SMP there.  It seems that any further discussions with either body should be done in a court of law. Our State, and the Federal Government, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to restore native salmon runs.  A small DNA mutation to the viruses attacking the net pen fish, which is what virus’ do, or the accumulated problems of sea lice that the pens breed, can be a tipping point that could make all that for nothing. Is it really worth the risk for a tiny industry? The implied threats of DOE to “fix” their bureaucratic ‘mistake’ on behalf of an industry makes a mockery out of their oversight of our Ecology.Let’s remember, that  it is not the Department of Ecology’s, Ecology. It is our ecology, we who are paying for these people to fight us for years over this issue. When they want an SMP done, they want us to do all the heavy lifting, for free, of putting in place buffers on their behalf  in the SMP, allowing us to prohibit shoreline mining,  fighting that fight over years of public meetings with screaming crowds that have been fed misinformation by the folks who want to do whatever they want with streams and the buffers. DOE  gave us nothing in the way of science to help with this. We had to go to scientists in other parts of the country to get the examples. They don’t even do their  homework in DOEland.

There’s an old blues song, that goes, “He’s got a hand full of gimme, and a mouth full of much obliged.” It seems apt to what Ecology is doing to us. They come here and want us to write the SMP, then when we make it work for us, more stringent than they would do, they say we can’t do that.   It’s time to change the game.

It’s time the environmental community got as angry as Billy Frank Jr, at our government inaction and endless meetings.   The NW Indian Fisheries Commission  are demanding that things get done.  We would like to see Governor Inslee and Ms. Bellan declare a moratorium on net pens, and spend as long studying the emerging science on them as they have fighting us over prohibiting them.  Governor Inslee  stood in the Rotunda of the Capital in front of hundreds of environmental supporters last week, as this bill was being killed, people who made the difference of getting him elected, and told them that he wanted to make Washington the “greenest” state in the union. Let’s see him start right here and now and open this debate back up. Let’s see our legislators get this done, as they say they want to. Throwing a bill over the wall to a committee that is manipulated to kill it, and not seeing it pushed through , is only playing half court basketball.  The least they can do for us is fight to reopen the scientific basis for the support of the industry, which  is over 20 years old. If Inslee and Bellam don’t want to see this done, then it’s time to change the game and take them to court.  Given the concerns being raised just over the border to the north, it’s time to challenge this cozy relationship. Go ahead, county commissioners,  and put the conditions in to the SMP, set the bar plenty high. We sincerely appreciate that you fought this as far as you have.  Let’s get this round of the SMP  done. But  Ms Bellon’s honeymoon  period with the environment that she is chartered to protect, is over. Her team suited up to play ball, but came out on the wrong side of the court. Now it’s time for those of us who care about restoring the salmon runs, to hire some ringers and win this game.

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.


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