Inaugural people’s assembly invites 80 Washingtonians to discuss climate pollution

An interesting experiment in public discourse starts tonight to bring together a truly random group of Washingtonians to discuss Climate Change and what can be done to bridge the gap between beliefs to find a solution that might be acceptable to all. It’s being supported by some of our legislature. Can this work? As one of the people involved told me, “It’s an experiment being done with a rigorous framework.” Could it fail? Yes. Is it worth doing ? You bet. You can watch the assembly tonight (1/12/21) at 6PM at this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q1_0VI71Aw\

The WA Climate Assembly will focus on answering the following question:

How can Washington State equitably design and implement climate mitigation strategies while strengthening communities disproportionately impacted by climate change across the State?

People’s Voice on Climate is the initiator and sponsor of the Washington Climate Assembly, the nation’s first climate assembly. Supported by five key State House Committee chairs, this event will gather “our state in miniature” to deliberate and ultimately answer this question: How can Washington State equitably design and implement climate mitigation strategies while strengthening communities disproportionately impacted by climate change across the State?

The Assembly itself is conducted by an independent team hired by a diverse panel of Washingtonians. People’s Voice On Climate will publicize this event and promote the Assembly’s recommendations in the Legislature and elsewhere.\\

A People’s (or Citizens’) Assembly is a democratic process that seeks to answer a question or solve a problem facing a community in a way that fairly represents the interests of people from all walks of life.

An Assembly can center around any topic; a Climate Assembly is one that centers around the problem of climate pollution.

Assemblies have been used worldwide to help shape the work of governments.  At the WA Climate Assembly, members will learn about the issue of climate pollution, take time to discuss the issue and potential solutions with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen legislatively.​

The Assembly is an exciting event in which 80 Washington residents will come together remotely in Winter 2021 to learn about, discuss, deliberate, and recommend climate change solutions for consideration by the State Legislature. Participants will be chosen through a lottery so as to accurately represent the state in terms of demographics such as age, race/ethnicity, geographic distribution, and views on climate change. 

Assembly Meeting Schedule

Inaugural Meeting  •  Watch Live on Youtube

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 12
 

Learning Session 1: 

Introduction to climate change and climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 16

Learning Session 2: 

Social issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 19

Learning Session 3: 

Environment & climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 23

Learning Session 4: 

Economic issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 26

Learning Session 5: 

Technology issues & climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 30

Learning Session 6: 

Political issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, February 2

Learning Session 7: 

Climate action and just transitions / Bringing it all together

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, February 6

Hotly debated national permit for shellfish farms could be passed to Biden Administration – Puget Sound Institute

This is an important article to help one understand the forces at play over this issue. The Army Corp of Engineers current proposal, described in this article, would lead to more destruction of the remaining virgin bays it wants for commercial activities and likely lead to ever more lawsuits. The Corps and the industry are in this mess because a group challenged the Corps and unearthed the fraud behind the science they have been putting out for decades. Now we hold our breath and see if we get a push into the next administration for update to the process, but will they send it back for changes or approve it to get the industry back working?

But as they leave, the wrecking crew of the Trump administration is doing it’s best to destroy any and all environmental protections.

Legal protections for marine shorelines, streams and wetlands could be revised just before President Trump leaves office, as the Army Corps of Engineers updates 52 “nationwide permits” that allow for a variety of water-related projects. …”Another growing concern is the effect of shellfish operations on spawning habitat for so-called forage fish, considered critical to salmon and other important species”, said Laura Hendricks, executive director of the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat. Two key species, surf smelt and sand lance, spawn in the intertidal area where shellfish grow and where activities can affect their populations, she said.

Hotly debated national permit for shellfish farms could be passed to Biden administration | Puget Sound Institute

Two forest parcels taken off bidding sheet – PDN

Good news this week from the DNR and the NW Watershed Institute.

Eighty acres of Jefferson County forest land will not be sold to the highest bidder, said Peter Bahls of the Northwest Watershed Institute.

That had been the state Department of Natural Resources plan.

REPAIRS OF BULKHEADS, DOCKS AND OTHER STRUCTURES NOW INVOLVE HABITAT ASSESSMENT – PSI

This is a huge change to the proposal, hopefully for the good. However, in reading this article I find that it may cause more problems than it solves. While I applaud the idea, the implementation seems problematic. I urge those of you interested in seeing this implemented or those seeing issues with the implementation to attend this meeting. Now is the time to tweak the process so that it helps people do the right thing.

NOAA Fisheries will hold online public workshops on Jan. 26 and Jan. 28 to explain the conservation calculator that the agency developed to assess the value of nearshore habitat. Both workshops will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Details will be posted on the webpage Puget Sound Nearshore Habitat Conservation Calculator.

Conservation common thread for new members of Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission -PDN

Michael Carmen writes of his interview with new Fish and Wildlife’s Commissioners, Lorna Smith and Fred Koontz. These two long time environmental conservationists bring years of experience to the job. These folks will help make things better if possible. They are up against giant bureaucracies that have been very resistant to change in the past.

Read the whole story at the Peninsula Daily News and subscribe while you are there. Support local journalism on the Olympic Peninsula.

Cooke’s Washington steelhead switch approved – The Fish Site

As long time readers of this blog will note, I am highly critical of the state granting permission to this company, which did such a horrible job of managing it’s facilities in the past. They showed by their previous actions to be incapable of being trusted in their maintenance and operational quality. The State also has fault, in that the legislature allowed, in years gone by, to have the over-site of the pens split between two different state agencies. The hope is that the over-site has been significantly strengthened, and that given the fiasco they brought to themselves that they have learned something. The article sited here only mentions that they passed the State’s scientific muster. No mention of tighter rules and regs on the farms.

They have also been working with some tribes locally in a type of partnership, which was to be expected as the tribes supported shutting down the raising of Atlantic salmon but did not want to back removing the pens. I predicted then that the tribes would be looking to get into the net pen business as Cooke was evicted, and here we are. The “science” that found that there is no ‘harm’ to the environment likely downplayed the destruction to the benthic layer under the farms, which is total and for all practical purposes, permanent, as long as the farm is there. We’ve seen NOAA downplay this risk, in order to promote aquaculture.

Cooke Aquaculture has been granted permission to start growing steelhead at four of its former salmon sites in Washington State.

https://thefishsite.com/articles/cookes-washington-steelhead-switch-approved

Sea otter reintroduction to more of the Pacific Coast gets a nudge from Congress – KNKX

Some good environmental news! Tom Banse writes about the successful efforts to get money inserted into the newly passed budget to help continue the reintroduction of sea otters to the west coast. Info on Washington counts of sea otters also in this story.

“I’m very pleased. This is very timely,” Bailey said in an interview. “It will definitely help U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop a strategic approach for how best to conserve and protect sea otters on the Pacific Coast.”

https://www.knkx.org/post/sea-otter-reintroduction-more-pacific-coast-gets-nudge-congress

How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America’s top climate report – NY Times

More fallout of the destructive force of Hurricane Trump. In this instance, scientists managed to hold off his flunkies from essentially gutting the report. As he leaves we can only look forward to rebuilding this nation’s science credibility world wide. Why is this important? Because the output of this report guides decision making for years to come.

North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19 – Seattle Times

This is a very good roundup of what happened to the Pollack fishing last year in the Bering Sea, and what the fishermen and scientists are doing to try and predict this year. Short story: Global warming is appearing to significantly affect the stocks of one of the basic fish we North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19eat in large quantities.

Though the weather often is rough, these winter harvests typically offer prime fishing as the pollock come together in the southern Bering Sea before spawning. But the disappointing fishing in the last half of 2020 has put Ganley on edge about what he and his four crew members will find when they drop their nets.


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/skinny-small-fish-and-covid-19-made-2020-a-difficult-year-for-north-pacific-pollock-fleet/

EPA Finalizes rule to limit science behind public health standards – WA Post

As the Trump Administration burns all it’s bridges behind them in a scorched earth environmental policy, the latest outrage is the long anticipated culling of real science behind future decisions to protect our food, water or air. Or perhaps you would rather ignore the findings of scientists that don’t agree with your company’s toxic product. Wonder how they will do it? Read the article referenced below. The Biden administration will have it’s work cut out for it reversing these disastrous acts.


The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule to limit what research it can use to craft public health protections, a move opponents argue is aimed at crippling the agency’s ability to more aggressively regulate the nation’s air and water. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, which the administration began pursuing early in President Trump’s term, would require researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely upon their conclusions. It will apply this new set of standards to “dose-response studies,” which evaluate how much a person’s exposure to a substance increases the risk of harm. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report. (Washington Post)

EPA finalizes rule to limit science behind public health safeguards

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda

A good way to follow and perhaps participate in the upcoming legislative session.

  leg-update

January 4, 2021
Greetings, friends of Puget Sound!   The 2021 State Legislative session will begin January 11, 2021 and run 105 consecutive days. This email contains helpful resources to navigate this unique session and opportunities to engage with the Partnership during session.    
A COVID-19 Session Here are a few helpful resources prepared by the legislature to help you navigate this unique session due to COVID-19 restrictions. Click here to download a fact sheet that describes remote access for this session. Click here to download the House COVID-19 Sessions Operation Plan. Click here for the Senate session guidelines. As always, the legislature’s website is rich with additional information to help you navigate session.    
Opportunities to engage with the Partnership During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Partnership will offer multiple opportunities to help you (and us!) stay informed about legislative activities that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery efforts.
Legislative Updates. Sent via email and posted to our website periodically during session, the Update summarizes the priority topics we’re following.
Legislative Calendar. Sent via email and posted to our website every Thursday, the Calendar lists upcoming committee meetings involving legislation and information about issues that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery. Calendars will include public hearings where testimony may be offered. Legislative Information Call-In. Jeff Parsons, our Legislative Policy Director, will conduct a call-in meeting on Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. to no later than 12:30 p.m., to review the most important legislative issues we’re following, answer questions, and discuss partner perspectives. The first call will take place this Friday, January 8, 2021. Attendees will receive an agenda each week in advance of the call, usually on Friday mornings. If you are receiving this email, you are already signed up to receive updates by email on one or more of the above topics. If you would like to verify/update your subscriptions (each of the above opportunities has a separate subscription), please click here and follow the prompts. To participate and receive agendas for the weekly calls, please send an email to Don Gourlie at don.gourlie@psp.wa.gov. (If you signed up for this last year, you are already on the list and will receive the call-in instructions and agenda before our first call). If you have questions or concerns about the legislative priorities for the Puget Sound Partnership, please contact: Jeff Parsons, Legislative Policy Director, 360.999.3803. jeff.parsons@psp.wa.gov

Thank you for your contributions to help recover and protect Puget Sound. Connect with the Puget Sound Partnership for breaking news and other events affecting Puget Sound on Twitter and Facebook.  

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda The Partnership’s Legislative Agenda supports implementation of the 2018-2022 Action Agenda for Puget Sound and reflects priorities that were established in collaboration with our partners, as well as aligning with the Governor’s operating and capital budget requests and the findings and recommendations of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.      

Quinault Tribe recall 29 tons of Dungeness crab – AP

If you bought crab between Dec. 23-28th, you must read this. I would suggest not eating it.


Nearly 29 tons of Dungeness crab is being voluntarily recalled by the Quinault Tribe. The recall affects live and uneviscerated Dungeness crab.  The crabs are being recalled due to possible elevated marine toxin levels. The toxin is called domoic acid, which can be harmful to people if the contaminated shellfish are consumed. The crab was caught by the tribe from Dec. 23-28 and sold to food processors in Washington. (Associated Press)

Quinault Tribe recall 29 tons of Dungeness crab due to toxin

Climate Action for Christmas? Omnibus bill includes biggest policy shift in years.

Good news being reported by NPR. This blog will check into the details and come back with a more comprehensive overview later.

“The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy. It was easy to miss, nestled among pandemic relief payments, the annual spending bill, new Smithsonian museums and protection from surprise medical billing. But pull out the energy provisions alone, and the bill is remarkable: It includes $35 billion in funding for basic research, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy companies, and a long-delayed mandate to reduce the use of a particularly damaging greenhouse gas. The fact that Congress managed to pass climate legislation at all is noteworthy in and of itself. For years, thanks to gridlock and an administration actively hostile to climate action, legislators have struggled to set new climate policy, even on measures that enjoy widespread bipartisan support. Camila Domonoske & Jeff Brady report. (NPR)”


Climate Action For Christmas? Omnibus Bill Includes Biggest Policy Shift In Years

The Nestucca: How a devastating event shaped today

The Nestucca disaster changed the way that Washington State and BC handles oil spill prevention. Can it protect us from another failure? It’s sometimes hard to know. With more Bakken Crude planning to be shipped by the hundreds of tankers through our Strait, it’s at least good to know that we have some minimal standards that have carried us through to today. Also worth remembering is that the Dalco Passage spill near Tacoma that was as bad as it was because the Coast Guard couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed in the middle of the night when oil was observed. This is article is a good reminder that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“In 1988, an oil spill from the barge Nestucca resulted in one of the largest, most damaging environmental incidents in the history of Washington. But the knowledge gained from the spill also led to dramatic change in oil spill regulations, prevention methods, and response tactics that have maximized environmental protection. (WA Dept of Ecology)”

The Nestucca: How a devastating event shaped today

New whale-watching licensing system will reduce noise, disturbance of orcas.- KNKX

Good news, it appears.


State officials have approved new rules that limit whale watch boats to a three-month season for viewing Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales. They will only be allowed from July through September. The boats may only be near the endangered orcas twice a day — two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. And only three boats at a time near a group of the southern residents. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

New whale-watch licensing system will reduce noise, disturbance of endangered orcas

Huge Herring Balls in San Juans

Friends of the San Juans have been keeping an eye on the waters of the islands and recently got to witness a herring event! These balls attract a huge number of predators and are a basis of much of the food for whales, birds and other fish. They have given me the ability to publish a few of their shots. With thanks to Jess Newley from Friends of the San Juans for the use of the photos! Might be a good idea to include them in your end of year giving if you can! Also thanks to Anne Schaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute.

(an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified this as a spawning event.)

Humpback and flocks of gulls and marine diving birds (the most murrelets we’ve seen in over a decade) are just a few surface ‘tells’ of the seasonal migration underway.

Lawsuit launched over stalled habitat protection for endangered west coast orcas

It’s about time, the Trump administration has been stalling long enough.


The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government today [12/16] for its failure to finalize expanded habitat protections for critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales, whose population has dipped to just 74 orcas. The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed designating 15,627 square miles of new critical habitat in September 2019. The rule would expand current protections in Washington’s Salish Sea south along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California to Point Sur. The proposed rule followed an April 2019 court-ordered agreement after the Center sued the Trump administration in 2018 for failing to issue habitat protections required by the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires agencies to finalize proposed rules within one year. Today’s notice letter gives the Fisheries Service 60 days to comply. (Center for Biological Diversity News Release)

Lawsuit Launched Over Stalled Habitat Protection for Endangered West Coast Orcas

Inslee proposes his latest climate-change budget. Seattle Times

Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday unveiled a new climate-change package that includes a renewed push for a clean fuels standard and capping some greenhouse-gas emissions. Other proposals would further electrify Washington’s ferry fleet and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, according to Inslee, and bring equity into environmental policy.Inslee’s plan comes as part of his new two-year budget proposal, and as lawmakers prepare to convene in January for the 2021 legislative session. Joseph O’Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/inslee-proposes-his-latest-climate-change-package-as-part-of-washington-budget-proposal/

Victoria and surrounding municipalities are no longer dumping untreated sewage into the ocean. Vancouver Sun

It’s about time…

Horgan replied that it took “an awful lot of people over an awful lot of decades, but we finally did the right thing.”

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/i-was-wondering-why-the-water-looked-so-clean-victorias-sewage-treatment-plant-up-and-running

Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council to discuss strategies for efficient restoration permitting

Puget Sound Canoe banner

MEDIA ADVISORY
December 14, 2020 MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, 360.819.3045, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov  

The Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council will meet on Thursday, December 17, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the December 17 Leadership Council meeting will be a virtual Zoom meeting for all participants and the public.  Join the meeting at https://zoom.us/j/93634358356?pwd=QmdOcDd4Snh3eUoxQVgrOTA2U2pqdz09 Meeting ID: 936 3435 8356, Password: 772966. Dial from any phone: 1-253-215-8782
Full Zoom instructions are included in the meeting agenda, which is available here: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php

Meeting highlights include: A presentation and decision about the Science Work Plan for 2020-2024. The presentation will include background and an overview of the plan. Presentation by Scott Redman, Science and Evaluation program director at the Puget Sound Partnership, and Katherine Wyatt, assistant science director at the Puget Sound Partnership.   A presentation for discussion about strategies for efficient restoration permitting. This session will include a discussion about opportunities to streamline federal permitting on habitat restoration projects and about connections to streamlining efforts at the state level. This session will be led by Jay Manning, chair of the Leadership Council, with Steve Manlow, executive director, Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board, and Col. Xander Bullock, Seattle district commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  A presentation about the Puget Sound Partnership Nearshore Credits program. The program streamlines the permitting process for building residential or commercial in- and over-water structures and protects habitat for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species within the nearshore ecosystem. Presentation by Larry Epstein, deputy director of the Puget Sound Partnership, and Ahren Stroming, special projects assistant at the Puget Sound Partnership.  A presentation on King County’s Clean Water, Healthy Habitat initiative. This session will include an introduction and overview of the Clean Water, Healthy Habitat initiative, and discussion about its connection to the Puget Sound Partnership’s accountability work and opportunities for collaboration. Presentation by Dow Constantine, King County executive, and Abby Hook, environmental affairs officer, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.  A presentation and discussion about conservation futures programs. This session will include a forum on a collaborative effort, led by the Salmon Recovery Council and its Funding Subcommittee, to identify potential enhancements to county-level Conservation Futures Tax (CFT) levy programs. Presentation by Larry Epstein, deputy director of the Puget Sound Partnership, and Jason Mulvihill-Kuntz, salmon recovery manager for Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish watershed.  A discussion about 2021 legislative priorities. The session will include context for the 2021 legislative session, an update about Project Olga, and discussion of proposed 2021 legislative priorities. The session will be led by Jay Manning, chair of the Leadership Council, Jeff Parsons, legislative policy director at the Puget Sound Partnership, and Ahren Stroming, special projects assistant at the Puget Sound Partnership. The full Leadership Council agenda and meeting materials are available at https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php. These meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to provide comment and learn about the regional effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. If you need special accommodations to participate in this meeting, please notify Special Assistant to the Boards Anna Petersen at 360.338.2384.   About the Leadership Council The Leadership Council is the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Its seven members are leading citizens chosen from around the Sound and appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms. Jay Manning currently chairs the Leadership Council.  About the Puget Sound Partnership The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of governments, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery. For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.
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