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

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

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

Partnership puts pressure on DNR for expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Area – PT Leader

Trying to finalize the protection of the Toandos Peninsula. This is currently the largest conservation project in East Jefferson County.

Conservation groups, Tribes, community members and shellfish farmers are banding together to press the state to expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area.

If approved, the expansion of the protected lands on the Toandos Peninsula would be the preserve’s third since 2009.   

In a letter addressed to Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the consortium — spearheaded by the Northwest Watershed Institute — called for an expansion of the southern boundary of the Dabob Bay Natural Area to include a series of recently-discovered rare forests. 

Partnership puts pressure on DNR for expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Area | Port Townsend Leader (ptleader.com)

Navy training proposal met with concern – Go Skagit.com

This is a never ending issue. Our Jefferson County Port Commissioners never seem to take this as a serious threat undermining our local parks. Once granted, it is unlikely ever to be “undone.” I’m glad to see the State Parks Commission taking it seriously.

“The public is very reluctant for you to have access to our parks,” Danenberg said. “There’s a creepiness factor that even if you’re never seen, we know it’s happening and it’s making the public uncomfortable.”

Navy training proposal met with concern | Local News | goskagit.com

Tracking the destructive environmental fury of the loser in the White House

As we reach the end of the most determined anti-environmental politician seen since the 1890s, his fury, like the remains of a Louisiana coastal town after the passing of hurricane, is only seen in retrospective. During the storm of his insane reign, doing the bidding of only his own warped mind, and cheered on by racists, industrialists and fools the likes of which we have not seen since the millions who fawned over Adolph Hitler before he brought them all to ruin, Trump attempted, on his own but with the help of toadies and tools of the oil and gas industry, to undo regulations that were instituted by a Republican President with bi-partisan support in the 1970s and many since. Tagging along were a who’s who of other businesses, including some right in our backyard that went to Washington and spent tens of thousands lobbying to try and court favor to eliminate local control of regulations that help to stop or slow their conversion of public beaches to monoculture aqua-industry. Given this flood of money and influence for the shareholders, all we could do was hunker down, hope it wouldn’t wash us all out to sea, comforting each other with music, food and hope as we sat around the night fire.

Now, the students and environmentalists around the country (and world) are coming out from hiding and tallying the President’s path through our most vulnerable people and places. It’s not pretty. But all was not lost. As we know, he lost an election that would have looked right at home in the most corrupt right wing banana republic, complete with lunatic fringe conspiracy theories and inept lawyers making claims for which their law school teachers would have not only flunked them, but thrown them out of school for advocating a coup d’etat in our ever fragile democracy. Their thinly veiled racist arguments (in only targeting votes from mainly African American dominated cities) was angrily thrown out by judges, some put in power by Trump. His path of legislative destruction of our environmental laws was only slowed by a small cadre of environmental lawyers and organizations who fought tooth and nail with support from their donors. Some they won, some they lost and some are still in litigation.

First and foremost, there is the ongoing tally of his rollback of hard fought environmental regulations in this country. To be clear, these regulations helped Republicans and Democrats alike to have cleaner water, more ducks to hunt and more control over the destruction that industry was doing to our land, air and waters. They allowed any citizen to attempt to slow the process that greed and the never ending quarterly profits demanded from our ever shrinking places that we try and protect from the corporate unending need to consume on behalf of shareholders, or really, just the skewed salaries of upper management. That Republicans laughed and clapped for photo ops as they watched them be removed is testament to their insanity. Who was he representing? It was perfectly clear.

The Harvard’s School of Environmental Law, has had an Environmental and Energy Law program that has been tracking the regulatory rollback of the mad man in the White House. They have a web site where you can go and see for yourself how bad it’s been.

But we did stop him in places. Lawsuits are still working their ways through the courts, and it will take support from a new Justice Department to continue to fight them. Don’t count on it. Projects like Pebble Mine are likely dead for now.

Stooges that Trump put in place in all levels of government will need to be washed out, which is not easy. But seeing them will be. They will be the ones doing their best to do nothing in their roles.

Science will return, as it always does after a bout of religious and political insanity. Even 1200 years of the Catholic Church running and ruining Europe couldn’t stop science from coming back and shining the light going forward.

Canada recovered a great deal from the destructive environmental fury of the bumbling and inept Steven Harper. And when your Canadian friends and family try and lord it over you at the next gathering, remind them that Trump only lasted one 4 year term. Ask them if they remember how long Harper and his goon-squad ran their science. (It was nine long years). Ask them what they were doing while scientists in Harper’s government threw a hundred years of science into trash bins at major government research centers (or carried them home to hide until he was gone) because of deep cuts that essentially ended historical record management. Yes, that really happened.

So it’s time to roll up the sleeves and dive back into the work. This blog will attempt to chronicle the next wave of changes for us here on the Peninsula, so far from the centers of power. The good news, if there is some, is that we have solid Democrat representatives, proven to work for positive changes in our county, state and White House. President Biden and his crew has the opportunity to rewrite rules better than before. But he only has three years before the next election unfolds, when the next wave of fanatical right wing morally bankrupt politicians come oozing out of Fox News and Parlor to attempt to overthrow what’s left of our democracy. He’ll have lots of people in Washington and elsewhere trying to stop him. His honeymoon will last one night and that will be it. Good news? He’s spent a lifetime working that system. Sometimes experience and old age counts. In fact, it always does. There’s a reason native peoples honor their elders. They carry hard earned knowledge. Right now, local knowledge of the swamps of Washington D.C. counts a lot.

Rome wasn’t built in a day it’s been said, but Greece’s democracy, that ours was modeled after, fell after a pandemic and a war. The master of history, the first war correspondent and the best, Thucydides, witnessed its fall. He wrote words 2400 years ago that could have been written yesterday.

“To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member. …any idea of moderation was just a an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character…fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self defense…If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see it had no practical effect.”

Alright. Take some time to celebrate the election, get through December hunkered down and healthy, wear the damn mask, and then in January, it’s time to clean up after the hurricane. There’s work to do.

Al Bergstein – Editor and Publisher

Translation of Thucydides from the Penguin Classics “History of the Peloponnesian War” Translated by Rex Warner.

To help save orcas, pause whale watching – Opinion at Crosscut

Donna Sandstrom and Tim Ragen give their take on a proposal to possibly protect Orca from excessive noise and harassment. This is a highly contested idea by the whale watching industry and this represents one sides point of view. Read it, do some research and make up your own mind. You can have a say online at the Zoom link noted below.


Suspending commercial whale-watching boats can help southern resident killer whales avoid extinction. Opinion by Donna Sandstrom and Tim Ragen (Crosscut) And, if you like to watch:Sentinels of Silence? Whale Watching, Noise, and the Orca   Ecosong (10/22/20) And, to have a say: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Public Hearing on Commercial Whale Watching, Dec. 4, 11:15 a.m. via Zoom

To help save orcas, pause whale watching

Quiet Sound underwater noise reduction program could soon slow ships, protect Orcas -KNKX

The British Columbia pilot program in this was a success. Glad to see that we are going to try this soon. A common sense approach to fixing part of the problems plaguing the Orca population.


Underwater noise from ship traffic is one of the major threats to Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident orcas. It can interfere with the whales’ ability to communicate, navigate by echolocation and find the increasingly scarce salmon they prefer. A recommendation from the orca recovery task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2018-19 is to reduce noise and disturbance from large vessels. Work is underway to develop a program called “Quiet Sound,” which will alert ships to the presence of whales so they can re-route or slow down. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Quiet Sound underwater noise reduction program could soon slow ships, protect orcas

Steelhead Farm Proposal Appealed to the State Supreme Court – Skagit Valley Herald

Now the battle against fish farming in Puget Sound moves to the State Supreme Court.


Environmental groups are taking their fight against Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to steelhead to the state Supreme Court. The groups appealed Monday a Nov. 6 decision by King County Superior Court Judge Johanna Bender that upheld a permit issued by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife to allow such farms in area waters. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Steelhead farm proposal appealed to state Supreme Court

New online magazine focuses on the stories behind Puget Sound recovery efforts -PSI

If you are interested in these issues, here’s another source of news. They have done a nice job on this website. Hard to believe it’s taken the Puget Sound Partnership this long to do something like this! But better late than never!

“Making Waves,” https://makingwaves.psp.wa.gov/ a new online magazine from the Puget Sound Partnership, promises to bring us the stories behind the many efforts to protect and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem. Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

New online magazine focuses on the stories behind Puget Sound recovery efforts

What 13,000 wildfires teach us about Washington forests – Crosscut

A deep dive into data from the Department of Natural Resources reveals some scary trends and surprising findings.

Crosscut took a deep dive into these 13,452 fire records to highlight some numbers that help put this year into context and tell the broader story of our state’s fires. 

https://crosscut.com/environment/2020/11/what-13000-wildfires-teach-us-about-washington-forests

U.S. Leaving Paris Agreement – ABC

Yes, the largest polluter of greenhouse gases is walking away from offering any global leadership as many of it’s citizens are turned into climate refugees in California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and more. Beyond the fact that the U.S. is continuing to help doom all of the planet to a nightmarish future, the first people most hurt from from the 2016 Presidential election is that they are more likely to be Republicans that voted for Trump. (that statement based on reviewing New York Times data maps of the districts voting records vs where the fires covered). Still, people in these same areas voted again for Trump and their own worse outcomes. The good news? Economics drive behavior as much as anything. Solar power is getting cheaper and more widespread. Devices become more power efficient. Insurance companies are forcing people to make better decisions about their future homes and many more communities are working on creating better building standards and zoning restrictions. It won’t be enough to stop the tide, but it could help mitigate the pain. If Biden can win, at least we will go back to a President that can do something rather than nothing. Congress will still be deadlocked, but some small progress will be reinstated. Cross your fingers. The future is watching.


The U.S. is set to officially withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement on Wednesday, three years after President Donald Trump announced his intent to remove the country from participating in the global forum to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The historic accord seeks to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, the value that climate scientists have determined will have disastrous consequences if exceeded. Trump has assailed the agreement as economically detrimental and claimed it could cost the country 2.5 million jobs by 2025. He also said it gave other major emitters, such as China, a free pass. Julia Jacobo reports. (ABC)

The US is leaving the Paris Agreement: How that will affect the global mission to affect climate change r

Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests Seattle Times

And so it continues, the rolling back of environmental protection in some of our most critical remaining habitat. Vote Democratic and for Biden to end this madness.

President Donald Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.

Logging in Alaska costs U.S. taxpayers millions each year, because of a long-standing federal mandate that companies profit from any timber sale. This means the Forest Service often covers harvesters’ costs, including road building. According to a Taxpayer for Common Sense analysis of the Forest Service’s accounts, the Tongass timber program has lost roughly $1.7 billion over the last 40 years.

Seattle Times

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation/trump-to-strip-protections-from-tongass-national-forest-among-worlds-biggest-intact-temperate-rainforests/

Crews vacuum “murder hornets” out of nest in Washington state – AP

I know many have been keeping tabs on this story. Here’s the latest.


Heavily protected crews in Washington state worked Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States…The nest found near the Canadian border in Blaine is about the size of a basketball and contained an estimated 100 to 200 hornets, according to scientists who announced the find Friday…The tree will be cut down to extract newborn hornets and learn if any queens have left the hive already, scientists said. Officials suspect more nests may be in the area and will keep searching. A news briefing was planned Monday on the status of the nest. (Associated Press)

Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of nest in Washington state 

Millions have been spent on orca recovery: Is it working? – Everett Herald


And a follow up to the previous story, this is a good layman’s overview of the issue of salmon and orca recovery. It focus’ on Snohomish County but also discusses Sound wide issues. Notice, no mention of hatcheries here. It’s about habitat recovery. This article appears to have come out from under the paywall at this point.

Restoring destroyed salmon habitat is the key to regaining Southern Resident killer whale numbers. Julia-Grace Sanders reports. (Everett Herald)

Everett Herald

Millions have been spent on orca recovery: Is it working?

Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries -PSI

This is a never ending story, because neither the Tribes, the sports & commercial fisheries, nor the politicians of any stripe are willing to entertain what is needed, which is an elimination of most hatcheries. Why? Because science has proven they don’t work. We have had hatcheries since at least the 1940s and they have not helped produce more wild salmon, nor added significantly to anything but sports fishing and farmed at a huge cost to taxpayers. (The exception to this is to protect almost extinct runs for tribal subsistence which is a valid concern for cultural survival of our Tribes. )We once had monstrous runs of wild (and free) fish for anyone to eat that would simply go out and catch them. They provided for lower income people in times of need. We have squandered that resource for many reasons, and have infected many of them with virus’ transmitted through farmed fish. We have spent vast resources trying to produce significant runs in hatcheries. None of this has worked. The science says to end hatcheries, but the political football of this issue just won’t let it go away. The future looks like we will lose our wild salmon in favor of robo-fish, farmed and produced simply for human and animal consumption. We do this at our peril. Just look at what one virus, picine reovirus (https://raincoastresearch.org/salmon-farm-impacts/viruses/piscine-reovirus/) has done to farmed fish stocks around the world.

So with that preamble, here’s today’s story>

A state policy revision that could boost salmon production at fish hatcheries in Washington state has raised red flags among scientists and environmental groups worried about potential damage to wild salmon runs.


The proposed hatchery policy, under review by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, could derail a 20-year effort to implement critical hatchery reforms, opponents argue. Major concerns revolve around threats to the future of wild salmon populations — including declines in genetic diversity and increasing competition from large numbers of hatchery fish. At the same time, a variety of sport and commercial fishing groups have thrown their support to increased hatchery production, saying that policies to protect wild salmon have reduced fishing opportunities while doing little to save wild salmon. Christopher Dunagan writes. (Puget Sound Institute)

Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries

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