Greta Thunberg’s Summer – BBC Radio

 

Where in the world has Greta Thunberg been, while the world has struggled with COVID-19? Putting together her radio broadcast of her remarkable last year on the road. She ties it all together with how climate change and COVID are interrelated, and what must come next. Don’t miss this incredible radio broadcast, but give yourself some time. It’s an hour and a twenty minutes long. You can download it from this link at the BBC. A great production.

Things may look dark and hopeless, but I’m telling you there is hope. And that hope comes from the people, from democracy, from you. From the people who more and more themselves are starting to realize the absurdity of the situation. The hope does not come from politics, business or finance. And that’s not because politicians or businesspeople are evil. But because what is needed right now simply seems to be too uncomfortable, unpopular and unprofitable.

Public opinion is what runs the free world, and the public opinion necessary is today nonexisting, the level of knowledge is too low.

But there are signs of change, of awakening. Just take the metoo movement, blacklivesmatter or the schoolstrike movement for instance. It’s all interconnected. We have passed a social tipping point, we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long. Whether it is sustainability, equality, or justice.

If you don’t want to listen to it, or don’t have the time, you can find the whole thing on Time Magazine. https://time.com/5863684/greta-thunberg-diary-climate-crisis/

The radio download is here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08kbsm0

 

The Profoundly Radical Message of Earth Day’s First Organizer – NY Times

We are fortunate to have Denis in Seattle. His message now?

“Covid-19 robbed us of Earth Day this year. So let’s make Election Day Earth Day.” He urged his readers to get involved in politics and set aside national division. “This November 3,” he wrote, “vote for the Earth.”

Denis Hayes, Earth Day, climate change, renewable energy and the challenges ahead. John Schwartz reports. (NY Times)

The ‘Profoundly Radical’ Message of Earth Day’s First Organizer 

A real time global warming experiment

We have entered totally uncharted territory lately, as we all know, due to a virus that may or may not have started in a wet market in a Chinese city most of us have never heard of before this event.  We had been warned about viruses becoming more frequent as global warming accelerates.  and also here. (https://www.livescience.com/55632-deadly-diseases-emerge-from-global-warming.html)

Our current President has dismissed science, the scientists  that could have helped prevent it, the budget for them, our global alliances that we rely on for support and almost any mention of a science based approach. We have one of the most ignorant men of the modern era leading us at the most important time of the last twenty years. Those that elected him were fools then and now will likely follow him into the hospital as they listen to his lies and misinformation. Many innocent people will die from this. We are in free fall and are racing to find a way to stop the pandemic. Most likely we will, but at what cost?

I have been busy setting up remote at-home workstations for clients, complete with video conferencing, using the remote access tool TeamViewer. (highly recommended). So I apologize for not having kept up on this blog, which so many tell me they rely on for local environmental news. It’s been amazing to watch as people who have resisted virtual communications as it has grown, suddenly find themselves needing to become proficient with it to survive. People can change when they have to. It’s a lesson worth noting as we face the future.

The only good news out of all of this, is that we are seeing in real time, what the Green New Deal may have accomplished on a orderly basis, which is the radical slowing of our green house gases into the environment. Certainly there will still be coal fired electrical generation happening, but with the vast bulk of petroleum based engines being idled, we will gain some insight into what it means to stop oil use globally.

We can now watch, in real time, as we see how much impact a major shift away from oil will have. I’m looking forward to seeing the data.

I’m still hopeful. As Mindy Lubber, the CEO of Ceres, a sustainability non profit organization said in a recent Forbes article,

One thing that history has shown us is that a crisis can produce real change. The power of collective action will become evident. True leaders will emerge. The impossible will become inevitable. Innovative ideas and policy solutions will take hold, save lives and eventually get the economy back on track.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mindylubber/2020/03/26/coronavirus-climate-change-and-our-community/#2d4b2fa84f78

Stay strong, get out and get a walk. Protect yourself and stay healthy. We’ll need all of us after this is over to move back into real change for the next crisis that our warming world is creating.

 

Lobby Day (again!)

After our snow canceled the Environmental Lobby Day events last month, it’s been rescheduled this week. (ironic, isn’t it?) This is an excellent way to meet your legislators on their ground and let them know what is important environmentally. Mad about the net pens? Oyster farms in our National Wildlife Refuge? Believe me,the folks from Seattle aren’t fighting that.

Or want to support one of the great bills being promoted by the Coalition for Environmental Priorities?

So get out from behind Facebook and Next Door and get a group together to car pool to Olympia and participate! You get to schmooze with the best of them while you watch high paid and  well dressed lobbyists argue that environmental rules are too expensive! What could be funnier than that!

And while you are there, just to show that I’m not a total bummer of a date, where does one eat? My favorite place for lunch or dinner is Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar They have superb clam chowder and lots of other great eats. You can pretend you are one of them being plucked by a walrus and carpenter. But no, I’m serious, this is one of the finest restaurants in the state IMHO. Just go. You are on a field trip.

Also try Wagner’s European Bakery And Cafe for great lunches. More budget oriented. Or pack your own bag of goodies! Actually if you sign up you get a healthy lunch.

What bills are being supported? Take a look at my right hand top tab, where I’ve conveniently cut and pasted the Coalition Priorities. Or go to the URL listed a few paragraphs up above.

So sign up, read up on the bills being promoted, and learn how to effectively lobby your elected officials! It’s fun and is far better than watching an impeachment any day!


Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020 Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Location: Temple Beth Hatfiloh, 201 8th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501

Join the Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental legislation in Olympia on January 30th!

During lobby day, you will team up with other activists to speak up for the environment and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, attend breakout sessions, and meet face-to-face with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalition’s 2020 priorities.

For the 2020 legislative session, we have adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment: Clean Fuels Now, Healthy Habitat Healthy Orcas, Climate Pollution Limits, and Reduce Plastic Pollution.

Registration required. Schedule TBA.

Check out the video from 2019 Environmental Lobby Day!

How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change – NYT

Many people ask me about what they can do to really personally affect climate change. In this article today from the NY Times, Author Emma Marus presents the most concise overview of what’s really needed by individuals.  A five point plan for you to use in your everyday life. Hang this on your fridge door. Look at it daily. Everything beyond these ideas, like eating vegan, buying electric cars, etc. are all nice things to do, can make you feel better, but will not change the equation. Start here. Expand with whatever else you feel you want to do. And stop stressing. Climate change is here and we just have to deal with it as best we can.

My point is that the climate crisis is not going to be solved by personal sacrifice. It will be solved by electing the right people, passing the right laws, drafting the right regulations, signing the right treaties — and respecting those treaties already signed, particularly with indigenous nations. It will be solved by holding the companies and people who have made billions off our shared atmosphere to account.

www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/opinion/sunday/how-to-help-climate-change.html

Army Corps of Engineers loses another court case. This time affecting bulkheads and more.

Another major but little noticed lawsuit has been concluded with the Army Corps of Engineers. This time, a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups, including Sound Action, Friends of the San Juans, Washington Environmental Council (WEC) and Earthjustice argued that because the corps arbitrarily decided to determine that the high water mark was closer to the water than in other jurisdictions over which it has authority, that this was a capricious rule. The judge agreed.

This will mean that the Army will have to spend more time determining environmental issues before issuing a bulkhead permit. It will also likely mean a lot less bulkheads being permitted.

According to an article by the Spokane News Review, “Rock or concrete walls have been erected along about one-quarter of Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shorelines. Nearly a mile of Puget Sound shoreline is built up each year. ”

“The Corps has known for years that its high tide line marker in Puget Sound is unlawfully low,” Anna Sewell, Earthjustice attorney for the groups, said in a statement.

The groups say that if the Corps, which regulates structures or work in U.S. navigable waters, used the true high tide line, more shoreline armoring projects would come under its review.

The lawsuit notes that an interagency workgroup that included the Army Corp’s Seattle District and two other federal agencies recommended changing the Corps’ tidal jurisdiction. That change would have brought about 8,600 acres of shoreline habitat under the Corps jurisdiction.”

The Earthjustice overview of this case stated:

The Corps is required by law to review proposed armoring projects up to the “high tide line,” which is generally the line at which land meets the water. But the Corps’ Seattle District uses a much lower tidal marker (known as the “mean higher high water” mark). As a result, the Seattle District does not review the majority of armoring projects in Puget Sound.

Since the 1970s, the Seattle District of the Corps (“Seattle District”) has defined its Clean Water Act (“CWA”)  jurisdiction in the Puget Sound region to extend only up to the“mean higher high water” mark, which is an average of the higher of the two high water marks each tidal day observed over a nineteen-year period.Under the CWA’s implementing regulations, however, the Corps’ jurisdiction extends to the “high tide line.” Approximately one quarter of high tides in the Seattle District exceed the mean higher high water mark, meaning the Seattle District’s CWA jurisdictional marker is significantly below the high tide line.

The Corps’ failure to assert jurisdiction means there has been no federal oversight of whether most armoring projects in the Sound meet the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act or any other federal requirement.

The original lawsuit can be found here.

Click to access 01_Enviro_Complaint_05-21-2018.pdf

 

We will continue to cover this story as it evolves with the Corps implementation of this ruling.

 

 

11000 scientists warn of untold suffering if climate change is not addressed now. The Guardian

A new dramatic warning has been issued by thousands of scientists around the world warning that we are on the verge of a catastrophe in the near future if we don’t change things now. This gives even wore impetus to the work of Greta Thunberg and others pushing for climate action in this country and everywhere else.There are not many years left before what is happening in California, along with pressures on farmers all over the world in a drought ravage conditions, are going to come home to roost here in the United States in an even larger way. This spring we witnessed unprecedented rain events in the Midwest that kept many of our farmers from even planting crops. We in the Pacific Northwest have been relatively lucky, only having to deal with smoke events by and large, except for the people in the Methow And other places in north central Washington that have burned.Canada has seen unprecedented fires of course as well. Your vote next year in the presidential election will be absolutely critical. We will be faced with a choice of a president who does not even believe the science let alone want to act on it versus whoever the Democrats bring forward to try and bring back some type of sanity to our efforts that are now contained primarily to states efforts.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/climate-crisis-11000-scientists-warn-of-untold-suffering?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying? NY Times

This helps clarify things. The status quo is unacceptable.

Our climate just can’t tolerate widespread frequent flying,” said Dan Rutherford, who directs the council’s aviation program. “At some level we need to figure out, collectively, which flights are necessary, and which are luxuries.”

www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/17/climate/flying-shame-emissions.html

Federal judge rules Army Corps aquaculture permit is unlawful in Washington State.

In a surprise ruling with wide ranging consequences, a federal judge has ruled that the Army Corp of Engineers issuance of Nationwide Permits in the lower 48 (NWP48) authorizing commercial shellfish aquaculture is illegal. The suit, brought by The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, a group that has been fighting large-scale shellfish aquaculture for years, and joined by the Swinomish Tribe, was focused against the Army Corp and Taylor Shellfish, along with the industry group, The Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

The plaintiffs argued that the Corps failed to comply with the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) when it reissued NWP 48 in 2017. They requested that the decision to adopt NWP 48 in Washington be overturned and that the Corps be required to comply with the environmental statutes before issuing any new permits  for commercial shellfish aquaculture in this State.

The court found in it’s blistering conclusions, “…that the Corps has failed to adequately consider the impacts of commercial shellfish aquaculture activities authorized by NWP 48, that its conclusory findings of minimal individual and cumulative impacts are not supported by substantial evidence in the record, and that its EA does not satisfy the requirements of NEPA and the governing regulations…the Court holds unlawful and sets aside NWP 48 insofar as it authorizes activities in Washington.” (emphasis mine)

Going beyond just the issue of the environmental consequences the judge stated that “The federal defendants state that additional …remedy should be permitted once the seriousness of the agency’s error is determined. The intervenors (the Corps and Taylor Shellfish) assert that (throwing out the permits and the Corps previous rulings) would cause disruption in the Washington shellfish farms and industry, including significant impacts to employees and the communities in which they live.Neither tact is compelling. The substantive defects in the agency’s analysis when adopting the 2017 NWP are significant.” (emphasis mine)

The case centers around whether or not the large scale conversion of natural shorelines to commercial aquaculture, happening now all around lower Puget Sound and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is more than “minimal” damage to the environment. Siting case law in relevant lawsuits in the Yellowstone Park area, the environmental group managed to persuade the judge that the Army was allowing something much more than minimal damage.

As stated by the plaintiffs, “Federal agencies are required to do an environmental assessment (“EA”) of their proposed action, providing a brief discussion of the
anticipated environmental impacts and enough evidence and analysis to justify a no-significant impact determination.  If the agency, after conducting an EA, is unable to
state that the proposed action “will not have a significant effect on the human environment,” a more detailed and comprehensive environmental impact statement (“EIS”) must be prepared. They also argued that the case law stated that if the Corps’ ruling was found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and lacking in a scientific basis, that it must be thrown out.

The court found that , “… there is insufficient evidence in the record to
support the agency’s conclusion that the re-issuance of NWP 48 in 2017 would have minimal individual and cumulative adverse impacts on the aquatic environment for purposes of the CWA and that the Corps’ environmental assessment does not satisfy NEPA’s requirements.”

They judge then went on to point out that “the Corps acknowledges that commercial shellfish aquaculture activities can have adverse environmental impacts…marine debris is a serious impact on the marine environment…and that commercial shellfish aquaculture activities can result in conversion of substrates (e.g. mudflats to gravel bars), impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation, alteration in aquatic communities from native to non-native shellfish species, and water quality impacts from harvest activities.”

Given those findings, the judge went on to say, “Ignoring or diluting site specific,
individual impacts by focusing solely on a cumulative, landscape-scale analysis is not
consistent with the governing regulations.”

The scientific documents that the Corps presented as justification for it’s actions came under blistering criticism from the judge. “According to the Corps’ own summary of the paper, the authors evaluated only the effects of oyster aquaculture activities on submerged aquatic vegetation. The paper itself shows that Dumbauld and McCoy (a supposed scientific study that the Corps and Taylor were using) were studying the effects of intertidal oyster aquaculture on the seagrass Zostera marina. There is no discussion of the impacts on other types of aquatic vegetation, on the benthic community, on fish, on birds, on water quality/chemistry/structures, or on substrate characteristics. There is no discussion of the subtidal zone. There is no discussion regarding the impacts of plastic use in shellfish aquaculture and only a passing reference to a possible side effect of pesticide use. The Corps itself does not remedy these deficiencies: although it identifies various resources that will be adversely impacted by issuance of the national permit (along with resources that may benefit from shellfish production), it makes virtually no effort to characterize the nature or degree of those impacts. The Decision Document’s “Impact Analysis” consists of little more than an assurance that district engineers will consider the direct and indirect effects caused by the permitted activity on a regional or case-by-case basis.”

The judge went on to say, “In this case, the Corps acknowledged that reissuance of NWP 48 would have foreseeable environmental impacts on the biotic and abiotic components of coastal waters, the intertidal and subtidal habitats of fish, eelgass, and birds, the marine substrate, the balance between native and non-native species, pollution, and water quality, chemistry, and structure, but failed to describe, much less quantify, these.  The Corps cites the two Dumbauld papers for general statements regarding the positive or negative effects of shellfish aquaculture on certain aquatic resources or characteristics (focusing on seagrass), but it makes no attempt to quantify the effects or to support its conclusion that the effects are no more than minimal.”(emphasis mine).

As reported on some months ago in this blog, a draft cumulative impact statement, which only surfaced due to a discovery in this case,  “…generated in February 2017 dedicated twenty-five pages to discussing the wide range of work and activities covered by NWP 48 and noting the species dependent variability in cultivation techniques, gear, and timing. These variations gave rise to a wide array of effects on the aquatic habitat, none of which is acknowledged or evaluated in the national Decision Document.” (emphasis is mine).

The judge goes on, in plain language, “A reasonable mind reviewing the record as a whole would not accept Dumbauld and McCoy’s limited findings regarding the
landscape-level impact of oyster cultivation on a species of seagrass in the intertidal zone as support for the conclusion that entire ecosystems are resilient to the disturbances caused by shellfish aquaculture or that the impacts of those operations were either individually or cumulatively minimal.” The judge sites decisions back in coal country where the cumulative impacts of mountain top removal are similar and long lasting. “The governing regulations expressly impose upon the Corps the obligation to consider the ongoing effects of past actions when conducting a cumulative impacts analysis.”

The “NEPA and the CWA were enacted because humans were adversely affecting the environment to a noticeable and detrimental extent…Noting that a particular environmental resource is degraded is not an excuse or justification for further degradation. The Corps must analyze the individual and cumulative impacts of the proposed activity against the environmental baseline, not as a percentage of the decades or centuries of degrading activities that came before.

As to the use of pesticides by the industry, the judge has additional harsh criticism,”The Corps makes a similarly untenable argument whenever the use of pesticides in a
shellfish operation permitted under NWP 48 is discussed. While acknowledging that these substances are used and released into the environment during permitted activities, the Corps declines to consider the environmental impacts of pesticides because they are regulated by some other entity… Even if the Corps does not have jurisdiction to permit or prohibit the use of pesticides, it is obligated to consider “other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions.” The Corps’ decision to ignore the
foreseeable uses and impacts of pesticides in the activities it permitted on a nationwide basis does not comport with the mandate of NEPA or with its obligations under the CWA. Having eschewed any attempt to describe the uses of pesticides in commercial shellfish aquaculture or to analyze their likely environmental impacts, the decision to permit such activities through NWP 48 cannot stand.” (emphasis mine)

“The record is devoid of any indication that the Corps considered regional data,
catalogued the species in and characteristics of the aquatic environments in which commercial shellfish aquaculture activities occur, considered the myriad techniques, equipment, and materials used in shellfish aquaculture, attempted to quantify the impacts the permitted activity would likely have on the identified species and characteristics, or evaluated the impacts of the as-yet-unknown regional conditions…Faced with incredible diversity in both the environment and the activities permitted under NWP 48, the Corps effectively threw up its hands and turned the impact analyses over to the district engineers.”

In looking at the problem of plastic pollution in aquaculture the judge was additionally critical.”The Corps’ analysis with regards to plastic debris discharged into the marine environment is even more problematic. The Corps acknowledges the many public comments raising concerns about the introduction of plastics into the marine food web, but relies on the fact that “[d]ivision engineers can impose regional conditions to address the use of plastics” in response to these concerns. The Seattle District, for its part, declined to quantify the impact of plastics, instead noting that “it would not be a practicable solution to regionally condition NWP 48 to not allow the use of PVC and HDPE gear as there are no current practicable alternatives to use of the materials…The CWA requires the Corps to make minimal adverse effect findings before issuing a general permit. If, as appears to be the case with regards to the discharge of plastics from the permitted operations, the Corps is unable to make such a finding, a general permit cannot (be) issue(d). The Corps has essentially acknowledged that it needs to individually evaluate the impacts of a particular operation, including the species grown,
the cultivation techniques/gear used, and the specific location, before it can determine the extent of the impacts the operation will have.”

The decision is not trivial. It rips apart industry arguments made over the last decade that eelgrass recovery in aquaculture farms is a minor issue. The aquaculture industry and Taylor Shellfish in particular has put itself at the head of county agencies supposedly in the business to protect the nearshore from harm and then used these faulty scientific studies to promote their position.  The Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, which claims on it’s web page to have the mission, “to protect and restore the marine environments of East Jefferson County by raising community awareness of issues…” has been chaired by an aquaculture industry spokesperson who routinely has used these same discredited arguments to suppress any discussion of negative impacts on the nearshore the MRC claims to protect.  The Committee has meekly gone along with the bullying tactics of the Taylor representative at public meetings, unwilling to push back on what the spokesperson has claimed to be ‘scientific  studies’.  The Committee in fact sponsored a ‘aquaculture educational day” to promote these same, now discredited scientific studies, offering no substantial criticism to the statements of the industry. The lack of any counter balance to the industry’s PR blitz angered many in the environmental community on the Olympic Peninsula toward this committee that had a long history of standing to protect the nearshore. The decision to not include substantial criticism of the industry led the long time environmental representative on the committee to resign.

The outcome of this case is unclear at the time of this writing. However, it will likely have a substantial effect on future shellfish farm permits, and may force the closure of some larger farms that were recently permitted, until such time as adequate scientific study on their effects is done. The ruling ends with the judge throwing out the Army’s ability to issue permits in Washington. However, the judge does say to Taylor and others that they can apply for individual permits. The Court has the ability to allow a “period of time in which growers can avail themselves of the process before the existing permits would be invalidated or to fashion some other equitable remedy to minimize both the risks of environmental harm  and any disruptive consequences.” So there is some wiggle room for the growers to get some activities going to mitigate the effects of this ruling.

This case also fully vindicates the environmentalists’ concerns over the ever expanding industry, it’s conversion of pristine shorelines to monoculture farming and the allies of this industry in city, county and state government. The industry is not down and out yet. It’s worth noting that Taylor has apparently spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying back in Washington D.C. and is likely to support Republican efforts to roll back the Clean Water Act to eliminate the local nature of permitting to favor national ones. Given this ruling, that likely is a losing tactic.

This blog will continue to follow this breaking story with further updates as we receive them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The era of gradualism in environmental activism is over.”New York Times

For many years now we’ve watched as right wing conservative donors like the Koch brothers have funded anti-environmentalist organizations that worked to undermine the message of scientists that were warning us about the impending climate change of the planet. Now a new generation of concerned wealthy people are helping to fund a new wave of climate change activists. They are abandoning the traditional environmental organizations that have been trying to find a moderate slow-go approach to an extreme problem. That is now changing right in front of our eyes, as we have seen in the last two weeks with millions of people from around the planet protesting to do something more radical about climate change. It couldn’t happen a moment to soon. Expect more in the future. Anyone here on the Peninsula want to discuss supporting these kind of activities here?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/climate/climate-change-protests-funding.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

New UN Climate Report – Oceans rising faster

For those of us who live on costs around the world the news could hardly be worse. The future of virtually every coastal city and more than 2 billion people around the world are going to be significantly impacted this century and perhaps as soon as mid century if the worst case scenario continues to play out as they seem to be every time a new report comes out.The planet is looking for leadership from China and the US and we have no one except a 16-year-old coming to our rescue at this moment. It’s up to us folks. There’s no one else going to lead us out of this mess. As far as Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsula goes, we better be planning for alternative water sources, and significant changes to downtown planning in the near future. The likelihood of Water Street truly becoming a water street appears to be quite high.

The fate of our fisheries right here, as well as work being done on habitat restoration all around the Sound could be put at risk.

www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/09/25/new-un-climate-report-massive-change-already-here-worlds-oceans-frozen-regions/

One hour with 16 Year Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg – Democracy Now!

One hour to hear from Greta in her own world. Get inspired.

https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2019/9/11

What if we stopped pretending? New Yorker

Finally the veil is being dropped on whether we are going to actually save ourselves from the climate change fiasco. Author Jonathan Frazen has stated what many in the environmental movements inner circle have been discussing behind closed doors,  not wanted to talk about, because of it’s “negative” influence on members and donations to the ongoing feel good aspect of doing work that is not directly related to fixing climate change.  The elephant in the room is that none of that is going to save us from our addiction to fossil fuels. Read this and take action, while we can. Let’s stop pretending that we are not going to end up with major consequences. Maybe all the environmental agencies and NGOs on the Peninsula and the State can band together into something that can start to raise the red flag. Governor Inslee staked his campaign on it. Why he lost has a bit to do with his on stage personality, but more to do with the lack of connection most people have to this issue. The 70,000 people in the Bahamas, who became the most recent climate refugees, paying the price for our coal, natural gas and gasoline engine addiction, are fully aware of who causes this and who pays. We may have already run out of time to do anything of substance. The answer is in strengthening our systems, including our democracy from the upcoming onslaught of fear and tribalism. We have a head start here in Port Townsend and on the North Olympic Peninsula, but the recent tribal (and I don’t mean Native American tribal but the tribal like response of the local non-tribal people) backlash in Sequim to even the notion of a drug rehab location shows how much more work that needs to be done.

What can you do? Can you fly just a bit less? Vacation here rather than Mexico or Hawaii just for one time? Drive just a bit less? Put off that trip to Sequim’s big box stores for another week or so? Eat less meat? One night a week? No one is asking you to give it up (though that would be a much bigger help!), but just taking actions on your own, right now is what is needed. Sorry, you won’t see a positive result, you will see a slightly less negative one! And you might find yourself slightly less stressed out.

To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as we can make it.

The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-if-we-stopped-pretending

Numerous battles of Peninsula environmentalist remembered – PDN

Dr. Eloise Kailin was one of the most influential environmentalists on the Olympic Peninsula back in the 1970s through 1990s. Her impacts were profound . She was primarily responsible for the fact that a nuclear power plant was not built on the Miller Peninsula, just across Discovery Bay from Cape George. We in Port Townsend would have been downwind from it.

She is a far cry from a number of today’s environmentalists who feel that getting along with everyone is the goal, or the organizations that they belong to that refuse to take on activist roles in the face of environmental destruction.

Eloise, Hazel Wolf and Helen Engle, all now gone were the core environmental leaders of the Pacific NW for decades and others that followed them, like Kathy Fletcher, Darlene Schanfald, Amy Carey, Caroline Gibson,  learned from all of them. I knew Hazel Wolf and can say that she and these other women did not suffer fools lightly. Who is left to really carry on their legacy? I see a huge gap not easily filled.  By the way, that the PDN leads with her fluoridation battle is not really leading with her big wins. Like saying Bill Clinton,  the former Governor of Arkansas rather than saying he was President.

I’ll leave you with this quote from  Eloise that also ends the PDN article: “This nasty woman knows how to get things done.”

Retired Dr. Eloise Kailin, a Sequim environmentalist whose activism stretched beyond her most recent fight — a successful battle against fluoridation of Port Angeles drinking water — died Saturday of age-related causes at her Sequim-area home, her son, Harvey Kailin, said Wednesday.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/numerous-battles-of-peninsula-environmentalist-remembered/

Phil Johnson walks on..

This is one of the hardest obituaries I’ve ever written. I knew a small piece of Phil Johnson. I never knew him as he grew up in Port Townsend, on the farm just north of the county fairgrounds. Nor did I know him as he went off to college, and then became a salmon fisherman. Nor when he married the love of his life, Sandy.  Nor the daughter that they had, Maia. I didn’t know him when he became a property owner in downtown PT, nor when he helped a young guy named Rocky buy and restore the Rose Theater.  I didn’t know him as he built homes, and then ran for County Commissioner. But then I got to know Phil when he and I bumped into each other fighting for environmental protections in Jefferson County, first on the Shoreline Master Program, to write in rules to better regulate aquaculture and then to work to ban Atlantic salmon raised in net pens in the Salish Sea. Then on the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee.

It was hard work. Industry spokespeople verbally trashed us and undermined our work.  Angry citizens that couldn’t understand why the government should do more regulation screamed at public meetings. They are still out there doing that at every opportunity.  It’s not spin. It’s lies or at best a misunderstanding of the issues. A lack of taking the time to understand the issue.  Heads of state agencies patiently listened to Phil’s cogent arguments, then they ignored him. Including heads of agencies still in office today.

Phil didn’t care. He had the creds. He had been here, salmon fishing, and watching the fish vanish. Watching the destruction by boats losing nets, his included. Watched as all sorts of things happened to destroy the fish runs. The growth of non native fish in huge farm lots called net pens. He knew how bad it was, first hand. It was clear that the runs were almost gone, that the Orcas were only indicators of a much wider problem that was much farther along than the pols and business spokespeople wanted to admit. The loss of habitat, the lack of monitoring and enforcement, especially in rural poorer counties like ours hampers our ability to act even when the will is there. There is still a  lack of real funding and enforcement to fix the problems.

He traveled everywhere to share his thoughts with others wanting to listen. And finally, by accident, we had the issue cornered, because of a monstrous breach that couldn’t be covered up by industry PR and bombastic paid spokespeople at public forums interrupting Phil and others. They brought it on themselves by buying the regulatory bodies in the state government that could have told them that they needed to do better. Phil saw the opportunity and wanted to make sure it got accomplished. But he was running out of time.

There was a meeting in Blyn last year, to debate the rules that were about to be legislated into being to stop the rearing of Atlantic salmon and net pens. Phil really wanted to go. I had a van with a bed in the back and we discussed the logistics. We had a plan, but by then, it was too late. Phil was having too many problems with his health to go. So he told me what to say on his behalf.

I was attacked by the industry mouthpiece in the meeting but I  said Phil’s words and held him in my thoughts. In the end it was just one meeting, but additional momentum carried the day in Olympia and Atlantic salmon in net pens were banned. A huge surge of political will, momentum from all sides including many Tribes, who brought great ideas to the table and environmentalists willing to bend and give a little to get it done pushed it through.  But Phil knew that vigilance was necessary and we talked about what to expect next from that industry. He knew it was a long game to be played.

Now he’s gone. He left a legacy of the kind of politics we don’t see much of anymore. Whether it’s the hard core left or right that doesn’t want to compromise but doesn’t understand how to work the system to get things done, to the middle of the road pols that want to please everyone but accomplish nothing that really matters, Phil stood out. He did the hard work. Those of us that managed to catch a bit of that spirit understood. Many of us, myself included, just don’t have the stamina, nor the creds or temperament  that Phil had, to do what Phil did. Maybe at some point we will. But we will carry on. We are all a loose coalition of various people and organizations, often fighting for the same donated dollar, and sometimes at odds with ourselves. But when focused things do change. Phil knew that.

I’m including a short 1.5 minute video here I shot at a day a few years ago, celebrating the work of the Northwest Straits Initiative at the completion of the derelict nets project. Phil left a derelict net down in the Sound once. He knew where it was, knew it was expensive and he didn’t want to lose it but he did, and he also knew it had been recovered. He was grateful. Both for the project and the organization that got it done. Take a few minutes and listen to the late, great Phil Johnson, then go out tomorrow, next week and next year and gather your courage and fight for what you value. There’s plenty to fight for. See you out there.

 

 

 

EVENT: Environmental Lobby Day 1/29 Olympia

In the 2019 legislative session, we have the best chance in over a decade to make real change to protect and sustain Washington’s environment!

Join the Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental legislation in Olympia on January 29.

For the 2019 legislative session, the coalition has adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment:

Attend Lobby Day
  • 100% Clean Electricity
  • Orca Emergency Response
  • Oil Spill Prevention
  • Reducing Plastic Pollution

During lobby day, you will team up with other activists to speak up for the environment and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet face-to-face with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalitions 2019 priorities.

What: Environmental Priorities Coalition Lobby Day
When: Tuesday, January 29, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Where: United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia
Register now during general admission to save your spot!

Ticket Rates:

We offer several rates of tickets to accommodate different financial needs. All tickets include a small breakfast, coffee, materials, and legislative activist training as well as contribute to funding the Lobby Day venue and materials. A boxed lunch can be purchased for an additional cost.

Scholarship tickets are available. The Environmental Priorities Coalition strives to be welcoming and accessible for all Washington residents. To request a scholarship ticket please email Kat at kat@nwenergy.org.

Transportation: Find a carpool with other attendees in your area.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and I look forward to lobbying with you on January 29!

Tony Ivey
Field Organizer

After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA will prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens

From the Wild Fish Conservancy Press Release this morning. It’s unfortunate that those of us concerned about this issue needed to spend 10 years trying to force them to get to this simple issue. NOAA Fisheries have been one of the biggest boosters of net pen Atlantic salmon, never studying the wider effects of pens beyond a few hundred yards away from them. There has never been a wholistic approach to studying the effects of fish waste, food waste, chemicals added to the water, fish escapement, nor the issue that wild fish are attracted to the pens by food. What we learned from the net pen collapse last fall, was that the claims of the industry, repeated by spokesmen for Taylor Shellfish (who support net pens), that there was no way that Atlantic salmon would survive after escapement, were nothing but wishful thinking. Atlantic salmon from the pens were found far up the Skagit River basin and along the north outer shore of Vancouver Island. The misinformation campaigns of these industries that put profit ahead of environment are stunning in their audacity.


After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA make the 11th hour decision to prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens to ESA- listed salmon and steelhead.

The agencies have finally begun formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the potential harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound October 11th, 2018

Duvall, WA – On the eve of court proceedings over a legal battle Wild Fish Conservancy initiated in 2015, NOAA Fisheries and EPA have entered into formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act, consultation that will lead to the issuance of a biological opinion.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a biological opinion evaluates the extent of harm a proposed action will have on threatened or endangered species and whether such harm could jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Biological opinions also include conditions for monitoring and reducing harmful impacts to protected species.

Considering the abundant scientific evidence that open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture may harm threatened and endangered salmonid species, Wild Fish Conservancy first argued that formal consultation and a biological opinion was necessary back in 2008, when we argued against the agencies’ decision that Atlantic salmon net pens were ‘not likely to adversely affect’ threatened and endangered species. We won that case in 2010, with the court ruling that NOAA and EPA had failed to use the best available science when making their decision and must reconsider whether a biological opinion is necessary.

Less than one year later, after a brief consultation, NOAA and EPA again decided that a biological opinion was unnecessary. This decision was shortly followed by a large-scale disease outbreak in Atlantic salmon net pens off the coast in Bainbridge Island in 2012, which killed over 1 million pounds of farmed Atlantic salmon during a time when juvenile wild salmon were out-migrating through Puget Sound.

Wild Fish Conservancy again challenged the agencies’ decision to avoid a biological opinion in 2015, a case that prompted NOAA and EPA last week to announce their intention to re-initiate consultation and finally prepare a biological opinion. That decision came only after the Court soundly rejected the agencies’ efforts to dismiss the case and ruled that the duty under the Endangered Species Act to re-initiate consultation does apply to EPA’s underlying action.

Since the case was filed in 2015, we have learned far more about the potential for harm the Atlantic salmon net pen industry presents to wild salmon and steelhead. In 2017, a collapsed net pen off the coast of Cypress Island released over 260,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, nearly all of which are estimated to have been infected with Piscine Reovorius, a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that may infect wild salmon. A study in 2018

demonstrated that PRV leads to debilitating disease in Chinook salmon, the primary food source of endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

This case comes at a time when key provisions of the Endangered Species Act are under threat in the United States Congress and underscores the monumental importance of the ESA, an act that has been critical in providing key protections to over one thousand threatened and endangered species across the country.

“While it shouldn’t have taken ten years of litigation for our agencies to realize the necessity of a biological opinion,” said Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy’s Executive Director, “I am glad to hear they have decided to change course, and I am hopeful that a biological opinion will lead to conditions and terms that will limit and monitor the harm caused by net pens to ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

“Taking the utmost precaution is necessary to avoid the extinction of imperiled Pacific salmon and steelhead species, especially when considering the dire plight of Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident killer whales that are starving due to their struggling population.”

Contact

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, 425.788.1167/kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

About

Wild Fish Conservancy is a science & research conservation non-profit dedicated to the preservation, protection & restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. We are headquartered in Duvall, WA. Learn more at wildfishconservancy.org

Wild Fish Conservancy is represented in this matter by the law firm of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

While I was out rafting….

While I was off the grid on the Grande Ronde river with friends, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that sets the stage to roll back NEPA and the environmental review process across the entire federal government. CEQ is currently only offering the public a 30-day comment period.

So we will need to refashion virtually all environmental laws by the time the Trump administration is done. Lots of work ahead. Maybe a lawsuit will be filed to stop this, as it may be illegal to undermine environmental review.

Groups Challenge Army Corps of Engineers’ Refusal to Protect Puget Sound Shorelines

Corps’ Seattle District violates Clean Water Act, endangers Sound recovery
May 21, 2018

Seattle, WA —A lawsuit filed today against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) charges that the agency has refused to assert its Clean Water Act jurisdiction over most shoreline armoring in Puget Sound, and that endangered species and Sound shorelines are suffering the negative impacts of the Corps’ continued inaction.

Washington Environmental Council, Sound Action and Friends of the San Juans filed the suit after the Corps rejected a science-based government recommendation to correct its unlawful definition of the Seattle District Corps’ jurisdiction over shoreline armoring projects.

The coalition, represented by Earthjustice, is calling for federal oversight of shoreline armoring by raising what the Corps’ Seattle District considers the “high tide line” in order to better protect at-risk species and the shorelines themselves. The lawsuit also calls for a response to the groups’ 2015 petition asking for jurisdictional decisions on four shoreline armoring projects. The groups contend a strong federal policy to protect shorelines is critical to Puget Sound recovery.

“Shoreline armoring impairs the health of Puget Sound by damaging nearshore habitat important for forage fish that feed salmon,” said Mindy Roberts, Puget Sound director for Washington Environmental Council. “Currently, federal agencies don’t consider impacts from these structures, because their definition of what constitutes ‘the shoreline’ is too lax.”

Background

Armoring is the placement of hard structures — boulders, jetties, seawalls — on shorelines to help prevent erosion. The Corps is required by law to review proposed armoring projects up to the “high tide line,” which is generally the line at which land meets the water. But the Corps’ Seattle District uses a much lower tidal marker (known as the “mean higher high water” mark). As a result, the Seattle District does not review the majority of armoring projects in Puget Sound.

The Corps’ failure to assert jurisdiction means there has been no federal oversight of whether most armoring projects in the Sound meet the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act or any other federal requirement.

Further, the Corps recently rejected an interagency recommendation to use a higher tidal marker, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which prohibits arbitrary and capricious agency actions. In rejecting the recommendation, the Corps ignored sound science and the law.

“The Corps has known for years that its high tide line marker in Puget Sound is unlawfully low,” said Anna Sewell, Earthjustice attorney for the plaintiffs. “But the Corps put its head in the sand and rejected a science-based recommendation from three regional federal agencies — including the Seattle District Corps itself — to protect 8,600 acres of shoreline area by raising that marker.”

This troubling lack of federal support puts Puget Sound shorelines at risk of further deterioration, particularly when shoreline armoring is well documented to be one of the most significant risks to the Sound.

“Puget Sound is already on the brink of collapse due to continued habitat loss, and it’s critical that the laws put in place to protect nearshore ecosystems are both followed and enforced,” said Sound Action Executive Director Amy Carey. “Unless we act now, the forage fish, the salmon and the orcas that are so desperately struggling to survive will be lost forever. It’s up to all of us to ensure this doesn’t happen — and it starts by holding the permitting agencies accountable for doing their jobs.”

“By disavowing its statutory authority, the Corps has shielded harmful projects from a review of their impacts on critically endangered and culturally vital Northwest species,” added Kyle Loring, staff attorney, Friends of the San Juans. “Its high-tide interpretation also leaves state and local governments on their own, at a time when our publicly-funded agencies should be working together to do everything in their power to protect what remains of our region’s rich heritage.”

The Corps must respond to the lawsuit within 60 days.

Reporter Resource

Read the brief.

1/19 – Meeting set in Sequim on net pen bills – PDN

You can make your voice heard. Come to this meeting and let our Representatives know what you think, and that there is public support and momentum on the Peninsula for at least two of these bills.  I don’t currently support Chapman and Tharinger’s bill. There is already plenty of science on the dangers of Atlantic salmon in net pens.  They should be supporting a ban on the use of all net pens for non native fish now, and support scientific research (like that going on in Manchester) for the possible use of limited small net pens for native fish, (for unique one off reasons like species reintroduction, etc). Also state funding and support of upland fish farming should be encouraged. It is proven to work elsewhere, but the scale to make it economically viable is difficult. We should be encouraging these efforts, and helping tribes such as the Jamestown S’Klallam to understand if it’s worth doing.

SEQUIM — Sen. Kevin Van De Wege and Rep. Mike Chapman are expected to discuss legislation dealing with Atlantic salmon net pens at a meeting in Sequim. The meeting is set from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19 at the Sequim City Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

Three bills related to net pens are making their way in the Legislature: Senate Bill 6086, House Bill 2418 and HB 2260.

SB 6086, https://goo.gl/ruyF9s co-sponsored by Van De Wege, would phase-out the pens as their leases expire.

HB 2418, https://goo.gl/Gn2UNY co-sponsored by Chapman and Tharinger, would delay construction of new nonnative fin fish aquaculture facilities until thorough study, including structural analysis of existing facilities, is complete.

HB 2260 https://goo.gl/k4h8Ln would prohibit Atlantic salmon being used in aquaculture in Washington state.

Read the whole story at:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/meeting-set-in-sequim-on-net-pen-bills/

 

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