Did the US Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests? – Truth Out

The continuing saga of the Navy taking over more land, sea and air space, with the implied notion that they “own” it. We need a good lawyer out here that can stop this nonsense.  A good read by Truth-Out’s local writer Dahr Jamail.

“The Navy has an astonishing sense of entitlement to public lands and waters,” Sullivan said about how the Navy has approached the public’s concerns over its operations. “Northwest Training and testing range manager Kent Mathes told me last year after a public meeting, ‘We own the airspace and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.'”

As Truthout previously reported, if it gets its way, the Navy would be flying Growler jets – electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming – in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day. Naval surface fleet ships will also be participating by homing in on ground-based emitters – a topic that was never discussed in the Navy’s environmental assessment.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33387-us-navy-allegedly-broke-federal-laws-to-push-forward-electromagnetic-war-training-over-national-forests

Draft Environmental Review Released For Oil Terminals On Washington Coast – KUOW

Hoquim and Aberdeen ports are being slated for crude oil shipments by possible building of oil shipment facilities for trains coming from the Bakken fields in North Dakota. The plan is for 1178 more oil trains and 638 more oil tankers to be added to the Gray’s Harbor area a year. These trains would be carrying huge quantities of highly flammable crude, much the same as the oil that destroyed the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-Mégantic_rail_disaster for more on that). The plan is for up to 1188 oil trains per year coming into the area. Additionally, the Draft EIS talks about significant impact to the Quinault Tribal fisheries in the area, as the tribe will not be able to fish while boats are present, which essentially is all the time. As stated in the Draft EIS: “Tribal members would not be able to fish when ships or barges are moving through the area.” I guess it’s up to the Tribe to determine whether this particular fishery is worth fighting for, or whether there are other areas they can fish that are less impacted. It will be interesting to see what the Tribe has to say on this.

Also of interest is the trade off that the cities see in adding this highly polluting industry to their area. We all know that Hoquim and Aberdeen have been one of the poorest locations in the State, ever since the collapse of the logging industry due to the disastrous federal policies of allowing raw logs to be shipped to Japan in the 1980s. This  turned what had been an industry that was highly functioning with extraction and higher value processing jobs into a third world country where only cutting and transport of logs was done, wiping out mills across the area in short order. The Federal government green light to massive cutting with no concerns of market conditions or any need for local mills,  led to a short lived boom until the resources were gone. Meanwhile the industry blamed environmental organizations for suing to stop the destruction of all remaining forests to save what little habitat was being left due to a lack of oversight and planning by the Federal Government.

And so the proposal is to continue to eat away at locations where salmon can be fished and create a very large possible oil spill concern, one that not only would impact the Gray’s Harbor area but also the entire Washington and Oregon coast, if one of these vessels sank during a large storm due to mechanical failure. The trade off is to give much needed jobs to at least some of the people in the Gray’s Harbor area. How badly is this oil needed with the downturn in the Chinese economy, and other issues? Is the trade off of possible destruction of our recreational use of the Pacific Coast worth it to support the oil industry and it’s desire to sell their product to China and Japan? You can read and comment on the draft EIS if you wish at the link below.

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/graysharbor/terminals.html

KUOW summary story:

The Washington State Department of Ecology has just released its draft environmental review of two proposed oil terminals on the Washington coast. A third proposed terminal has not yet begun the environmental review process. The terminals could be built in Grays Harbor, near Aberdeen, doubling current vessel and train traffic levels there. (KUOW)

http://kuow.org/post/draft-environmental-review-released-oil-terminals-washington-coast

Protecting The Olympic National Park From Noise Pollution- Outside Magazine

Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.

And meet the man who’s made it his mission to keep it that way

Outside Magazine profiles Gordon Hempton, the acoustic ecologist who is documenting the “quietest place in the US”. His work has identified the Hoh River Valley as the quietest place in the US, and by doing so, he has put himself squarely into the controversy over the Navy’s plan to expand the use of the airspace over it for what the Navy themselves claim could be around the clock training sorties.

A must read for any of us concerned about protecting the silence that we cherish in our environment out here on the Peninsula.

http://www.outsideonline.com/2000721/americas-quietest-square-inch-and-preserving-natural-sounds

Jefferson County SMP to finally be adopted! Dec 16th

No really! After local adoption, the County will then forward the new Shoreline Master Program (SMP)  to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-January 2014.

From Michelle McConnell of the Department of Community Development:

Monday, December 16, 2013

City of Port Townsend’s Cotton Building

(former Police station)

607 Water Street – downtown

See the Board’s agenda (to be posted on Friday) for final estimated time (likely ~ 10:30am). The meeting is open to the public – please note this is not a public hearing.

This has been a long and collaborative project for our community and your involvement has been important – whether you just tuned-in or have been following this for years, whether just tracking progress via web & email updates, submitting comments, attending the many public hearings and outreach events, or participating in the extensive advisory committees and Planning Commission process.  The result is an updated Shoreline Master Program that is robust and flexible, rooted in current science, reflective of local values, and better able to address the diversity of our approximate 500 miles of lake, river, and saltwater shorelines under SMP jurisdiction.  The SMP gives us all a much-improved toolbox for allowing appropriate waterfront development in balance with our fragile natural resources:  Let’s Do More With Our Shores:  Protect – Use – Develop – Restore!

Cargo Ship Loses Steering just west of Port Angeles. Towed safely to PA for repairs.

Another reason all our work on getting rescue tugs and others involved in the protection of the Strait was a good idea. This time the rescue tug was not needed, but another tug from PA came to the rescue. I’ll update this story if there is reason to.

A cargo ship lost steering off Port Angeles just after midnight Wednesday and was towed into the Port Angeles Harbor for repair. The state Department of Ecology received a report from the state Emergency Management Division that the Grand Quest lost steering 6 nautical miles northwest of Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just after 12:15 a.m. The Grand Quest is a 587-foot Panama-flagged auto carrier that left Astoria, Ore., at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, and was on its way to Tacoma, according to the ship’s GPS locator beacon. The Brian S., a Port Angeles-based tug, towed the ship to anchor in Port Angeles at about 3 a.m., said Petty Officer Katelyn Tyson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Cargo ship loses steering, towed to Port Angeles for repairs  http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130704/NEWS/307049991/cargo-ship-loses-steering-towed-to-port-angeles-for-repairs

Derelict Fishing Gear Funding Received – NW Straits Foundation News

The Northwest Straits Foundation received $660,000 to finish the job of removing derelict fishing nets from shallow subtidal waters of Puget Sound. The Foundation estimates there are 500 shallow water derelict nets left to remove. The Foundation is aiming to complete the work by December 31, 2013. Funding comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This funding will be combined with current and pledged funding from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, NOAA Marine Debris Program, ConocoPhillips Migratory Bird Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Lucky Seven Foundation, Tulalip Tribes and private donations.

The new funding also pays for a new response and retrieval program designed to prevent future re-accumulations of derelict nets by responding to reports of newly lost nets immediately. The Foundation will be developing this new program in close coordination with the Puget Sound fisheries co-managers.

Environmental Lawsuit Forces Changes to Sand and Gravel Permitting

Another reason why sometimes lawsuits actually work to change behavior for the better. This lawsuit has forced a change on 950 businesses that sometimes dump polluted water into streams, lakes and the Sound. While I have been critical of Puget Soundkeepers Alliance in the past, due to their heavy handed approach to the copper pollution problem of boatyards, this seems to have been a worthwhile approach.

Political action and sometimes lawsuits, is important in this time where so many environmental groups are simply focusing on restoration projects, because the money is there. We can restore all we want, but if the people who want to destroy the environment (either purposely or not) are allowed to continue bad behavior, then the efforts will ultimately fail.

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Department of Ecology modifies state’s sand & gravel permit

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has modified the state’s Sand and Gravel General Permit.

The permit is part of Washington’s responsibilities in administering the Clean Water Act.

The changes, while relatively minor, represent increased environmental protections. For example, the new permit reduces the level of turbidity and solids that facilities may discharge into Washington’s waters, and it requires portable operations to provide public notice prior to their activities.

The action settles an appeal of the permit by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (PSA). The Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association intervened in the appeal, supporting Ecology’s original permit.

The state’s sand and gravel permit regulates water discharges from sand and gravel operations, rock quarries, and similar mining operations. The permit also covers concrete batch operations and hot mix asphalt operations, and sites that stockpile mined materials.

Untreated discharge water from sand and gravel operations can harm fish, aquatic life and water quality.

Ecology held a public comment period and convened a public hearing and workshop on the permit modification.

The permit covers about 950 facilities in Washington. The changes go into effect Oct. 1, 2011. The new permit and public comments about the changes are posted online here.

If you have questions about the permit, contact Ecology’s Gary Bailey at 360-407-6433 or email gary.bailey@ecy.wa.gov .

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