Tarboo forest land gains protection – Port Townsend Leader

News on protection of mature forest in the Tarboo.

Eighty acres of mature forest in the Tarboo Valley was permanently preserved last week through a joint project of Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) and Jefferson Land Trust (JLT).

http://www.ptleader.com/testing/tarboo-forest-land-gains-protection/article_0a17d40c-a242-59ed-8c4a-80a5fbec4f43.html

Signs of sea-star recovery in California but not in NW – Seattle Times

Some small good news from California, but still no signs of hope elsewhere.

The sea-star population, devastated by a wasting disease, shows signs of resurgence in California but not necessarily in Washington.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024394588_seastarsxml.html

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The Environment, The Transpac Partnership and the Democrats

My wife and I spent time today with the Democrats, at the annual Jefferson County Democratic Fish Fry, a 30th anniversary of a highly successful gathering to support the Democratic Party. Given that there are no stated Republicans running for office in Jefferson County this year, I guess you can call it a victory party.

With the usual stump speeches by all the candidates, there was one that stood out in contrast to the others. Derek Kilmer, the District’s well loved US House of Representatives incumbent, gave a funny, thoughtful  speech to the supportive crowd. However, one issue he touched on hit a nerve with me. He brought up the Trans Pacific Partnership and his belief in the benefits it will bestow on businesses here in Washington and the US. He sited NAFTA and how this is a logical extension of it. And that it will help bolster environmental standards (as well as labor) that we hold dear. Among the crowd, were many with anti-TPP buttons on. This is not a simple Democratic vote.

As for me, I thought Derek’s timing someone problematic. While he claims that this TPP will somehow ensure that our environmental standards are taken over “there”, we are staring at a horrible environmental catastrophe playing out a days drive from here, in British Columbia.  The Mount Polley Tailings Pond collapse, into pristine Quenelle Lake, which flows into the Fraser and the Salish Sea, along with the subsequent  absurd government comments that it’s not a problem and lack of even rudimentary cleanup in the last three weeks, points to the problem. We were told that NAFTA would bring out environmental stances to Mexico and further south. We didn’t need to mention Canada because most people believed that Canada is at least as good as we are. But the reality is that, since NAFTA, Canada has become an political monoculture of one party rule, allowing the dismantling of all environmental regulations, and those not dismantled are ignored. Just this year, thousands of lakes were removed from environmental protection, the main science library  for the country was defunded. The books with over a century of research were literally thrown in the trash, and what little passes for environmental law was reversed by small type insertions into existing laws. Their Federal Government has passed laws allowing oil and gas exploration (and subsequent drilling) in Banff and other National Parks. Can you imagine if we decided to allow such drilling in Big Sur, Yosemite, or elsewhere? Yet the average Canadian seems to be more interested in hockey than their parks, with some exceptions.  It makes the attempts to gut US Environmental laws by James Watt during the Reagan Administration and Cheney under Bush, look like amateur hour. Canada now has some of the weakest environmental laws in the industrialized world, outside China. The air quality in some cities in Alberta resemble Peking at it’s worse.

The only real possible legal remedy that the US has is not NAFTA, but the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty Act, which gives the US legal authority to negotiate with Canada over disputes on cross border waters. Since the pollution of the Fraser River with toxins from Mount Polley could create health hazards for decades for the Salish Sea, into which the Fraser flows, this could be a mechanism to force cleanup of the spill.

So there is great reason not to believe the political party line when it comes to TPP. What guarantees do we really have that any of our strong environmental protections will really be enforced ‘over there’? Who is demanding that Canada actually stop or slow it’s self destructive plunge to destroy it’s citizens health, it’s parks and it’s environment, just for the quick buck of this decades’ oil needs? Certainly not NAFTA. And as to NAFTA having created better environmental regulations in Mexico, well, just go to Mexico and see for yourself. Not happening.

Sorry Derek, I’ll likely vote for you, but on this one you are just wrong, you need to dig deeper. It appears to a casual glance that you are listening to the business interests over labor and environmental voices. TPP is not going to bring us anything that NAFTA or the other trade agreements have. It will put money in the pockets of huge multi-national corporations, who seem hell bent on moving corporate headquarters overseas to avoid paying US taxes.. If you want to prove us wrong, go get Canada to do something about the Mount Polley spill, before the mercury and other toxins reach the Salish Sea and our joint fisheries.

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

New Olympia oyster habitat created in Discovery Bay – PDN

I guess this would be considered tooting my own horn. Thanks to the PDN for covering it.

Volunteers with the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee have created a new half-acre of native Olympia oyster habitat at the south end of Discovery Bay. The group’s goal is to jump-start an expansion of the small but thriving Olympia oyster population near the project site.  (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140820/NEWS/308209982/new-olympia-oyster-habitat-created-in-discovery-bay

Want to learn to change the world? Idea #2: Watch this video

This month, Netflix launches Sylvia Earle’s “Mission Blue”. Another heroine of mine. Who is she? Check Wikipedia out

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Earle

Co-directed by Fisher Stevens (“The Cove”) and Robert Nixon (“Gorillas in the Mist”), the film, like Sylvia herself, doesn’t pull punches. It is hard hitting, but also inspiring. This is in keeping with her experience of the ocean itself, a vast and awesome location and community, at once fragile and powerful enough that while its immediate future is in our hands, our long-term future depends utterly on its continued health and functioning.

“No ocean, no life,” she says. “No ocean, no us.”

Another 5 stars. See this movie. Then come on out and let’s get working!

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/08/15/sylvia-earles-mission-blue-arrives-on-netflix-today/

Want to learn to change the world? Idea #1 – Read this biography

Alice Paul was a giant figure on the 20th Century political landscape, whom mainstream history has totally buried, while extolling the work, albeit important, of Susan B. Anthony. While Anthony got women’s rights off the ground, Alice Paul ran the ball to the end zone, and then was forgotten. Her place in American history is the subject of a new book, well researched, called, Alice Paul: Claiming Power.

Once past the opening chapters that describe her Quaker upbringing, which are a bit slow reading, we see her radicalization process in the UK early in the 1900s. Gandhi saw her speak back than and learned from her tactics. She was a true radical with a velvet glove and political savvy that got her amazing results.

If you are into working for political change, here’s a book to read that can make you understand how to achieve your goals. Persistence and organizational skills,  along with an ability to roust people to take action.

5 stars.

Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J.D Zahniser and Ameila R. Fry. The Oxford Press.

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