The Elections and the Changing Environmental Landscape

The outcome of the national mid-term elections yesterday is going to blow an ill-wind towards those working to protect our environmental resources. While I did not get any sense of environmental issues being at the heart of the sea change to Republican wins, like Canada, the outcome is likely to be a weakening across the board to anything that might help us stave off the problems that are mounting on land, sea and air.

The failure of the national Democratic party and it’s head, President Obama, to capitalize on their positive work over the last six years, to me, appears to be more marketing and campaign consulting issue than actual anger by the voters at negative things they have done. The New York Times had statistics two weeks ago that showed that Obamacare was helping the very people voting against the Democrats the most, the poor and lower middle class across the South and Southwest. The influence of big money by CItizens’ United is now showing as well. Many elections were close. So it was only a landslide when you view the overall picture. Certainly no blame can be assigned to the environmental political orgs, who blanketed my inbox with pleas for money on an almost daily basis. Friends told me they had stopped emails from MoveOn for example because of daily ‘begging’ mail. It shows there is only so far you can push email pleas before the voters tune you out.

With the Congress firmly in their control, look for the Republicans to use the budget as it’s whip. Defunding environmentally oriented agencies, like EPA, will be high on their list. Judges will be put forward who support business over the environment, as seen by the makeup of the Federal Supreme Court. Legislatively, they will be working to reverse any laws standing in the way of oil and gas development, as if there were any left standing after 6 years of Bush and his Congress from 2001 to 2007. Also look for repeal of the law banning the export of oil and gas to foreign countries. It’s been bad enough that we have plundered our land by fracking for our own needs, but now it will be for the benefit of world markets rather than our own. If you aren’t active, now is the time to do more than just read blogs. Don’t count on Obama to help us, he has shown himself to be very capable of appeasing foes, rather than using FDR like tactics to demonize them to the public, the way the Republicans have very effectively done of him.

Is there any positive light at the end of this dark tunnel we are entering, it’s that local elections, both here and elsewhere in our state, have supported positive actions. 58% of eligible voters voted in Jefferson County, while a dismal 38% voted in Clallam. Our local legislators were returned to office, both nationally and state wide. In Jefferson County we elected a new County Commissioner who is very willing to support environmental progress.  Judges at the State Supreme Court level who have supported McCleary to boost education funding (like science funding) are back.  And voters continue to allow the the legislators to do their job, rather than show their distaste with the use of  advisory votes.

Also, recently, data has surfaced that shows that solar energy costs for panels and the like have now plummeted below the cost of oil, gas, coal and other electrical generation costs, for the first time. This means that across the US, (and world) the decision to install solar will not need to be funded by government action (or hampered by inaction). While we don’t benefit greatly from solar here in the Pacific NW (due to low hydro electricity costs and lack of high intensity sun), those locations that do, all over the US, will see the economic decision to choose local solar made much easier.

So don’t despair, political change has never been easy. But don’t take this election as a gift to sit in front of computer and tune out the bad news that’s sure to show up in the next two years. Get out and do something positive locally to show you care. See you in the trenches.


So here we are, at the end of another election cycle. For those of us participating in the efforts to try and support our environment, there is only one thing worth doing by tomorrow, and that’s voting. The outcome of some elected positions may not directly impact our environment, but here’s some things to think about:

Judges of all stripes here environmental cases. Just this year one in Jefferson County decided against a simple postponement of a massive clear cut that might have protected endangered species.

The Public Utility is deeply involved in decisions about how we generate power, and where we buy it from.

The County Commissioners decide what laws to put in place to support critical environmental areas, and shoreline management.

State Representatives and US Representatives decide what laws are arrived at and how the budget for those laws is derived.

So, with that said, do your part. Investigate a bit about the candidates. I have met and worked with many of these candidates in the last 10 years. I’ve found that US Representative Derek Kilmer is sincerely determined to help pass laws that protect our environment. I’m voting to re-elect him. He is a known quantity now.

Both State Representatives, Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger have done outstanding jobs working to support environmental law and forge working alliances with all parties to environmental issues.  I am voting for both of them. They too are known quantities.

Kathleen Kler and Dan Toepper are both candidates that are new, and I’ve talked to both. I give an edge to Kathleen, but I’m not convinced that Dan would not also work for environmental protection. He does not have a background in doing that, and Kathleen does. Kathleen has been more clear as to what she supports and how she might do it. So a slight edge to her.

I think that Kenneth Collins has a better vision for our PUD here in Jefferson County. Nod goes to him.

For Supreme Court, re-elect Debra Stephens, who penned the McCleary Decision. She is a superb jurist. I am also voting for Charles W. Johnson, who also supported the McCleary Decision. Our students need better education, and these two are supportive of it.



Just in…Navy to meet in PA on Electronic Warfare Training Nov 6th – 6PM

Just in from Carrol Hull.

Dear Friends,

The good news is that the Navy has consented to a meeting with the public in PA at the City Council Chambers on November 6th at 6:00pm. This is in regards to the Navy Electronic Warfare Training that is being proposed on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula just outside the boundaries of the National Olympic Park. UPDATE: The comment period has been extended to late November. Update on all of this tomorrow.

The Sierra Club has sent in its very thorough remarks to the Forest Service. It goes after the proposal and the lack of environmental review as well as the inappropriateness of such activity in public lands right next to a National Park.  I would be happy to send it to you upon request.

Many of you sent letter (even though I gave you an incorrect email address) and I thank you.  If you have not sent a letter as of yet, I certainly encourage you to do so before the end of the day on October 31st.  I would also encourage you to attend the meeting in PA. It looks like it will be the only one on the east side of the NOP.  Our elected officials as well as the Navy, Forest Service and the Navy need to hear from us.

Greg Wahl

Thank you for helping on this issue.

Carrol Hull

Thoughts on the Navy War Games proposals

From a friend, Carrol Hull. If any of you are coordinating citizen input with the Navy on this, you might want to contact her about working with her on this.

I don’t know if you have been keeping track on the Navy Electronic Warfare Training Project that has been in the news (Seattle Times & PDN) planned for the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.  There was an extension given for public input because the people in Forks demanded to have a meeting with the Navy and Forest Service. The Forest Service is the permit giving agency because the ground testing is carefully placed on forest service lands just outside the boundaries of the ONP.   100 people showed up for the meeting. 90% had very serious reservations about this projects. People from Sequim. PT and PA plus cities on the south western side of the Peninsula attended.   Many of those attendees asked for a similar meeting to be held in Sequim, PT and PA.  To do this we have to have the Forest Service extend its deadline past October 31st.  They won’t do this unless they get a healthy interest from more citizens in our areas.

Reasons for concern.  This is a potentially dangerous testing situation involving the first use of electromagnetic radiation for training Navy pilots.  The Navy has done its own environmental assessment (completed 3-4 years ago) and pronounced it safe except if you are in direct line of the beam.  No environmental impact assessment has been made by an independent outside source. The Navy has previously been doing testing in Idaho but now feel it is less expensive and better for pilots to do it closer to Whidbey Island.

 There are many questions left unanswered.  How many more Howler jets will be crossing over the Peninsula?  With the precedent set for military testing on the ONP, will future tests be automatically  authorized without public input?

How safe is this for our wildlife?   What increases in noise can we anticipate?  Can the Navy have a stronger leverage with the Forest Service than the general public?

So,  if you are in agreement that we should at least be able to have a public meeting on the east side of the Peninsula with both the Forest Service and the Navy, would you contact Greg Wahl of the Forest Service.  Ask him to please extend the deadline until the Navy agrees to have a meeting on this side of the Peninsula.

This is the correct spelling: Greg Wahl, (

Thank, Carrol

UPDATE: Monday- Barbara Foss Tows Disabled Freighter To Safety

Today’s report has the Barbara Foss at the scene, and is towing the disabled freighter to Prince Rupert. Interesting that it would take a US tug to save Canada from not having appropriate tugs available.


older reports.

Latest report is that the tow line has detached, but the ship is now 24 nautical miles off the coast and a tug should arrive before dawn on Sunday. The Coast Guard is also trying to re-attach the line. Here’s the AP story, as picked up by the Miami Herald.



While not out of the woods yet, at least the Canadian Coast Guard have put a tow line on the drifting freighter 9 miles off the Haida Gwaii, otherwise known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are awaiting tugs to come and try and get this under control. Here’s the Vancouver Sun story complete with photos from the Canadian Coast Guard as of this moment. It’s worth mentioning that freighters are not required to be double hulled vessels, as tankers are.

OLD MASSETT, HAIDA GWAII — Members of British Columbia’s Haida Nation are breathing a little easier, hoping they have avoided an environmental “catastrophe,” now that a Russian cargo ship carrying hundreds of tonnes of fuel is under tow.

The Canadian Forces’ joint rescue co-ordination centre in Victoria reported the Simushir lost power late Thursday night off Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, as it was making its way from Washington state to Russia.


If you have a subscription to satellite tracking of ships you can follow it from a link off of here.

BREAKING: Fuel-laden container ship adrift off coast of Haida Gwaii – West Coast Native News

There is a problem being reported 9 miles off the coast of Haida Gwaii, part of the islands otherwise known in non-native circles as the Queen Charlotte Islands. This is home to the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. This remote and unspoiled beautiful coast is now awaiting whether Canadian officials can muster anything like technical support from having this become the latest in the oil industry’s sordid history of spills in fish rich locales.

Let’s hope that the Canadian coast guard is up to the task, given it’s cuts over the last few years.

The ship is currently about nine miles off the coast of Haida Gwaii, at the southeast end of the island.

Called the Simushir, there are 11 crew members on board. The JRCC said the vessel master has sustained an unknown injury and they are sending a helicopter to rescue him.

The ship is carrying mining minerals, 400 tonnes of Bunker C fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel fuel.

Author Naomi Klein on the free market and global warming – CBC

Author and activist Naomi Klein just won the  $60k Hilary Weston Prize for her book about climate change, ‘This Changes Everything’. This is a very thought provoking interview that should give you good reason to read it. While the government of our neighbors to the north in Canada race to be match China by being the most polluting country on the planet, willing to trade any environmental protection for the almighty and in this case, appropriately named, Loonie, Naomi has focused whether the very fundamental nature of the free market is dooming us all. If you aren’t interested in reading a long book, then try a sample of her thoughts.


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