Trump administration rolls back protections on wetlands. Legal battle will ensue

The battle over the Clean Water Act has shifted into high gear. The EPA  has decided to rollback Obama era protections to wetlands. The definition of wetlands and their importance to underground aquifers has been established by science. That science has allowed the expansion of how pollution migrates to “navigable waterways” as defined by the CWA. That the ex-head of the EPA Scott Pruitt as well as the current (ex coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has chosen on numerous occasions to ignore their scientists recommendations, to choose development and industry over protections means that the battle will shift to the states, where progressive states like ours, who have implemented strong Critical Areas Ordinances and Shoreline Master Plans, are capable of holding off the outcomes of this ruling. Likely a Supreme Court battle will ensue over the next few years.

NPRs version of the story here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/11/675477583/trump-epa-proposes-big-changes-to-federal-water-protections

NY Times article here:

Washington Post coverage:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/20/trump-to-roll-back-obamas-climate-water-rules-through-executive-action/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3787695342fe

National Resource Defense Council view

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/trumps-attack-clean-water-what-you-need-know

A right wing analysis of the rollback can be found here:

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/421091-epa-restores-common-sense-to-overaggressive-water-regulations

 

 

 

 

Hope

The other day a woman came up to me and asked, “How do you have hope for the environment with a President like this?” It’s an interesting question and worth an answer.

The key reason I have hope that we will get through this and on to a better day, is by looking at how far we have come. In my life of 65 years, I have personally watched a polluted river burn in Ohio, smelled the steel mills of south Chicago spewing massive amounts of toxic pollution into the air, ran with all the other children behind DDT smoggers in our neighborhood on a regular basis every summer, and witnessed the pollution of Los Angeles at its worse. There was no organic food movement when I was a child. No one imagined that cars could run on battery power.

Since then, the country, with help from both the old Republican Party and Democrats, has put  into action thousands of laws to protect us, our children, our food, air and water. The laws are so ingrained that many of the voters who supported Donald Trump and his minions in the current incarnation of the Republican party, have forgotten just why the laws are there. That we have huge numbers of eagles in our area is because of public pressure, and science research recognizing the dangers of DDT and Congress passing a law that a President signed banning its use in the U.S.

The splitting of news media into real news (now labeled fake news by Trump) and a propaganda machine called Fox News,  which has through clever programming become one of the most watched news media in the country, has worked to dumb down those watching it and created a population who no longer understands what we have gained by the laws that it rails against.  This was by intent. As documented in numerous news reporting a small cadre of people  started working on the program to take control of America back in the 1970s. They were reactionary to the events happening in the 60s. They have all but succeeded in their goals, but whether the population will continue to support them remains to be seen.

As Trump and his administration go about tearing down the laws and even the notion of using science to make decisions, those inside those institutions are not willingly going along with the destruction. Outside the organizations, there is a coordinated effort to take the Trump administration to court over these blatant attacks on our resources. We will lose some of these battles to be sure. But when it’s all over, I have no doubt that future administrations will come along and rebuild these laws.

When looking at these laws, it is undoubtedly true they often are laws that were built and added onto over the decades since the 1970s, and probably can be improved. A rewriting of them by future administrations and Congresses can be hoped to improve on them,  not destroy them.

The bigger concern is the lack of desire to even admit to global warming and do anything about it by Trump. As many of the world’s leading climate scientists said last week, we have not much time left to avoid global catastrophe. Over the last decade we witnessed from afar the creation of a global class of climate refugees.  This year, we are witnessing the creation of a class of climate refugees here in the U.S. As we have seen in the Southeast U.S. just this last two months, and the forests of Northern California this summer and last summer, along with numerous smaller incidents that don’t make “ink”  in the news. The poor along the Gulf Coast of Florida, the backwaters of South and North Carolina, the areas around Redding and Santa Rosa California, and elsewhere are facing a horrendous future as they watch their entire homes and places of work blown to bits or burned to ash. Given that it has been reported by Money magazine and other real news sources that 6 in 10 Americans don’t have $500 savings, it points to an unrecoverable situation for those who are affected by global warming.

While each of us can do some small thing to help, like use less fossil fuels or install solar panels, this looming global catastrophe is waiting on leadership from the U.S. to move towards a true solution. Our country is the largest global polluter closely followed by China and India. We have to lead in order to really change anything. Luckily, the economics of solar have created a financial incentive that even Trump can’t lie his way around. Coal is doomed by the costs of solar. It’s happening already. And states such as ours are taking the initiative because of popular demand, to move towards sustainable energy sources. But there is a huge amount of work yet to be done.

Once we were challenged by a true leader, President Kennedy, and supported in that challenge by President Johnson and Republican President Nixon, to put a man on the moon in 10 years. We did it. Out of that effort, came huge benefits to our society and to the rest of the planet. When the next true leader comes along, it will be up to us to get ourselves out from under the rule of fossil fuels to a solar and wind powered future. It will not be easy. It will disrupt numerous industries and jobs (just ask the coal miners in Kentucky).  But the outcome will eventually create a better world. Unfortunately, in the meantime we have to protect ourselves from the planet doing what it is programmed to do with a rise in greenhouse gasses, absorbing the heat in the oceans, which fuels hurricanes and creates ocean acidification, among other problematic scenarios.

My hope is in  two things that humans have had in their favor over the last 100,000 or more years,  ingenuity and tools. We have created our way out of so many seemingly insurmountable problems, from bacteria caused illnesses with penicillin to  sewer, light and transportation systems to support cities of tens of millions of people. I trust in our ability to find a way through the next hundred years.  A good place to start is to vote in politicians who believe in science and recognize the problem for what it is. That starts next week. The decision is yours to make.

 

 

 

Video on NOAA work to breed oysters resistant to ocean acidification – Crosscut & PBS

Local PBS show ReInventors highlights the work of NOAA Manchester’s research facility as they race to find a hybrid oyster that can survive ocean acidification. A very good quick look at the problem, with animation, and the possible solution. If we are going to have seafood survive, this will likely hold the possibility. As it is currently going, we don’t have long before the oceans will be too acidic for shellfish to survive.

The story

https://crosscut.com/2018/10/can-these-super-oysters-survive-our-screwed-oceans

The video

https://youtu.be/WP8J0-90VoM

New Genetic Research Shows the Legacy of Fish Farm – Hakai Magazine

The fish farming industry has been saying for the last number of years that this couldn’t happen. Well, it apparently has. While this could not happen here because of the distinct species, it does add fuel to the fire that these farmed fish are just not a good idea. We have no idea what additional information the industry, along with certain departments in WDFW and NOAA who seem to be simply mouthpieces for the industry, are not investigating, or actually hiding from the public.

Newfoundland’s great fish jailbreak took place on September 18, 2013, when a damaged sea pen, roiled by currents and tides, discharged 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into the frigid freedom of Hermitage Bay. Cooke Aquaculture, which owned the failed pen, swiftly set about controlling the damage in the media, if not the ocean. Seals and other predators would scarf up the rogue salmon, the company assured the CBC. The fish, it added, “pose[d] no threat to the environment.” A new genetic analysis, however, refutes that dubious claim. Researchers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have shown that the fish fled Hermitage Bay, fanning out and infiltrating many of southern Newfoundland’s rivers. There, the escapees interbred with their wild cousins—potentially weakening the gene pools of imperiled populations. Ben Goldfarb reports. (Hakai Magazine)

New Genetic Research Shows the Legacy of Fish Farm

 

 

 

UPDATE: Nature Conservancy Supports Atlantic Farmed Salmon – Boycott Needed? No

As of today, the Nature Conservancy web site no longer shows the page referred to below. There is no mention of Mr. Jones, and a search of their listing of scientists, senior leadership, issue experts and volunteer leadership has no listing of Mr. Jones. The web site has some modifications showing the good work they are doing with aquaculture around the world, which I have always supported in the past. Since they have chosen not to communicate with me since my emails and phone conversations of two weeks ago, I am assuming that things have changed there, for what appears to be the better.

I am going to leave this original post up, because I am sure that people will wonder what happened to it if I take it down, and I want this post to show that I am asking any of you that reach this page to hold off taking any action against The Nature Conservancy until further notice. Given that The Nature Conservancy had such an interview in place for some time (weeks?) it would be good to see them post a page discussing the controversies here in the Pacific Northwest to show that there are environmental concerns we face, and are looking forward to working with the Nature Conservancy in the future to come up with solutions that can be supported by all of us.

Thanks in advance.  AL BERGSTEIN – EDITOR


THE ORIGINAL POST

The Nature Conservancy has come out in support of farmed Atlantic Salmon in their latest online and printed magazine. In an interview with aquaculture program manager Robert Jones, he states:

So can I buy farm-raised salmon?

I do. You have to compare it against every other terrestrial animal: Switching from beef to salmon or pork to salmon is a good environmental choice providing that the producer has done its job reducing the environmental impact. I think, for example, that the Norwegian industry is doing better than others. The Scottish also do a pretty good job. So, yes, I do believe that aquaculture, when done sustainably, is a smart environmental choice.”

Mr. Jones does not offer any explanation or overview of the controversy of net pens in British Columbia, Washington State, or Alaska (which has a ban on them). No mention of our Washington’s new ban on farming Atlantic salmon. No mention of massive overuse of anti-biotics to combat diseases rampant in the Pacific off Chile. Also not mentioned is the fact that Norway is shipping diseased fish embryos to North America. No mention of issues with farming shrimp around the world nor the documented slave trade of workers employed by the industry.

and https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2015/12/16/how-to-find-shrimp-thats-not-produced-by-slave-labor-in-thailand/?utm_term=.aab952613539

The Nature Conservancy refused to give me access to Robert before writing this article. In looking at his background on Linked In I find that Robert came from the very agency, NOAA, that has supported farmed salmon with spurious research that only looked at effects of the net pens in the waters under the pens, and ignored disease vectors, effects farther from the pens, sea lice, and the like.

Also, it appears Robert Jones has pulled his Linked In resume since my inquiries.

To be clear, I am not saying that all farmed fish is a problem. But it is clear that farming Atlantic Salmon has become a serious environmental issue in many parts of the world.

It is time to wake up The Nature Conservancy. They have allowed a person into their upper management who appears to be unable to view the environmental problems of the farmed Atlantic salmon industry with a non biased eye. Please feel free to forward this article.

Please join me and others in supporting a ban on donations to the Nature Conservancy in any form, until they change this position and offer a balanced approach to aquaculture around the world. Please call your local Nature Conservancy office and let them know you will be donating during the fourth quarter of the year to other environmental organizations. 

 

 

 

 

WDFW authorizes transfer of Atlantic salmon into net pens

Note the new location to get future alerts on farmed salmon issues at the bottom of the story.

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has authorized Cooke Aquaculture to transport about 800,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon from the company’s hatchery in Rochester, Wash., to existing net-pen facilities in Puget Sound.

WDFW issued the fish transport permit this week after working to ensure Cooke had met all of the state’s requirements for fish health.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed legislation to phase out Atlantic salmon net pen operations in Puget Sound as soon as 2022. Cooke is continuing its operations in the meantime.

On Aug. 2, Cooke submitted applications to move a total of 800,000 1-year-old Atlantic salmon from its Scatter Creek facility in Rochester to two different net pen locations in Puget Sound.

Both WDFW and Cooke tested samples of the fish, which met the state’s health requirements, including testing negative for all forms of the fish virus PRV (piscine orthoreovirus), said Ken Warheit, WDFW’s fish health manager.

Cooke typically transports fish eggs from an Iceland facility to Scatter Creek, where the eggs grow into smolts before being moved to net pens. In May, an exotic strain of PRV that shows up in north Atlantic waters was detected in a different batch of smolts at Cooke’s Scatter Creek facility. WDFW denied the company’s request to transfer those fish into net pens.

The state also requires that Cooke leave its net pens empty (or “fallow”) for at least 30 days before transferring fish there. Warheit noted that Cooke will also meet this requirement as it transfers fish in October and November.

Cooke will move about 400,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon to its Cooke’s Hope Island facility in Skagit Bay and another 400,000 fish to its Orchard Rocks facility (Kitsap County) in Rich Passage.

All future notifications about Atlantic salmon transfer permits will be posted online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/salmo_salar/ where people will be able to sign up for email notifications in the near future.

See related story: https://olyopen.com/2018/08/27/alexandra-morton-and-sea-shepherd-take-water-samples-in-pa-harbor/

 

In WSU Stormwater Runoff Research, Coho Salmon Die Quickly,Chum Survive

More data that shows how complicated the salmon recovery effort is.

On April 20, 2018, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin reported that Washington State University (WSU) scientists discovered that different species of salmon have varying reactions to polluted stormwater runoff.

In a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution, scientists found that coho salmon became mortally ill within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater. But chum salmon showed no signs of ill- effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.

The study can be found at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026974911734527X?via%3Dihub

“It really surprised us,” said Jen McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment. “Not that the coho were affected so quickly, but how resistant the chum were. We saw no impact at all in the chum’s post-exposure blood work.”

Stormwater is toxic to fish because it can include carcinogenic hydrocarbons, metals, and other organic compounds, most of which have yet to be identified.

McIntyre and her team collected stormwater runoff in large tanks from a highway in western Washington. Then they placed salmon in that water for four hours or until the fish showed signs of illness. Blood samples were then taken from all of the fish.

Only a few coho lasted four hours before having to be removed. In blood tests, the team found a significant increase in lactic acid concentrations and their blood was much thicker. Their blood pH was thrown off and the amount of salt in their plasma decreased significantly.

The chum test results showed none of those changes, all these fish lasting the full four hours without showing any signs of distress or sickness.

 

“These fish are very closely related,” said McIntyre, who works at WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center. “They’re the same genus, but obviously something is significantly different physiologically. We just don’t know what that difference is yet.”

The study was done at the Suquamish Tribe Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery, with fish donated by the Suquamish Tribe.

McIntyre worked on the project with fellow WSU scientists, along with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

McIntyre and her team noticed a few clues for where to start their next round of investigations: studying what makes the chum nearly impervious to toxic runoff. One is that the coho appeared hypoxic, meaning they weren’t getting enough oxygen. But the water had plenty of oxygen, so they’ll look at blood circulation issues, how the fish metabolize oxygen in their muscles, and a few other areas.

“We don’t know if the thicker blood is a symptom of the problem, or if that’s the initiating event that then causes the oxygen deprivation,” McIntyre said. “There’s a lot of work still to come, but this really narrows down where we need to look.”

They’re also hoping that looking further into chum will turn up clues about how they resist the effects of toxic runoff.

In a later study, not included in this paper, McIntyre and her team conducted a prolonged exposure test on chum. Those fish swam in the stormwater runoff for four days and none of them got sick.

“We’re still trying to understand how they’re unaffected,” she said. “It’s actually really impressive.”

Another problem for the coho is that scientists don’t know what particular contaminants in the runoff are causing the problems.

“There’s a whole variety of heavy metals and hydrocarbons in that water,” McIntyre said. “And a whole bunch of chemicals we are working with scientists at the University of Washington in Tacoma to identify so that we can protect more delicate species like coho salmon from the effects of human pollution.”

McIntyre’s research is part of a grant from EPA.

For more information, Jen McIntyre can be reached at jen.mcintyre@wsu.edu.

Source:    http://www.cbbulletin.com/440562.aspx

 

 

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