The Gristle

Save Our Salish Sea

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

SAVE OUR SALISH SEA: As the 2018 Legislative session opens in Olympia, Democrats intend to employ their slim majorities in both houses to run as far as they’re able with an ambitious agenda.

Recognizing the need for urgent action, the Environmental Priorities Coalition proposed a number of interlocking priorities for the session. The coalition is a network of more than 20 environmental groups in Washington state that influence policy at the state level.

Overarching all is a comprehensive climate action plan that as its centerpiece will attempt to put a price on carbon pollution. Activists from climate groups across the state stormed the Capitol this week, demanding meaningful progress on climate change. Proposed bills intend to move the state into a future of clean energy and emission-free vehicles by 2045.

Next, a sustainable water management program to provide adequate water for people, farms and fish. Moving quickly on this second item, Democratic senators this week introduced a bill that would attempt to decouple legislative paralysis around the Hirst decision from the state’s approved capital budget, freeing up billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements held hostage by Republicans seeking leverage on water issues.

The third item is an oil spill prevention act championed by Sen. Kevin Ranker, the 40th District Democrat.

“Now more than ever, Washington must build upon our global leadership in addressing carbon emissions, and we can do so through innovation, including:  controlling carbon emissions through restrictive pricing, investing in clean transportation and renewable technology, and creating high standards that reduce future emissions,” Ranker said.

The oil spill prevention act also factors into a tailored package of priorities sponsored by Ranker specific to the Salish Sea.

Biologists in 2017 projected the probable extinction of the 76 remaining and endangered Southern Resident Orca population, which as the result of a series of recent juvenile deaths nears the point of no recovery. The leading factors to the decline of these creatures are starvation (the result of a decline in fish stocks) and ambient noise that impairs their hunting echolocation (worsened by an increase in heavy vessel traffic in Puget Sound).

“Increasing vessel traffic, potential oil spills, pollution, invasive species and climate change are all major threats to our incredible Salish Sea and billions of dollars in economic activity that depend upon a healthy ecosystem,” Ranker said.

“Those threats increased with the Trump announcement to open Washington state to new offshore oil and gas exploration. We must ensure we protect our state waters from the greatest threat, a major oil spill, as well as legacy contamination and invasive species that continue to put our waters and Orca whales at risk.”

According to Ranker, the 2018 Salish Sea Protection package of new legislation will commit the state to dramatically improving oil spill response, strengthening protections of orca whales, banning net pen aquaculture of invasive species, and prioritizing toxic cleanups in the nearshore and marine environment. 

The comprehensive package arrives in the form of several bills.

The first will fully fund Washington state oil spill prevention and response activities; update critical, geographical response plans; and encourage tug escorts and rescue tugs for all vessels carrying millions of gallons of oil.

“Since 2009, most of our oil preparedness response has become outdated and, in some cases, totally irrelevant,” Ranker noted. What’s happened is a marked shift in how oil is transferred across our waters, he said, morphing from tankers carrying light crude from Alaska to pipelines and barges laden with heavy tar sands oil.

The second increases enforcement of orca whale protection laws—providing for permanent dedicated enforcement vessels, while increasing support for salmon production and restoration and calls for a transboundary discussion with British Columbia of orca whale protection and preservation.

The third sunsets the hazard of Atlantic salmon net pens, and their potential to further erode the health and numbers of wild fish stocks in Puget Sound. The proposed legislation eliminates all new leases and permits for invasive Atlantic salmon net pens as well as net pens for other nonnative finfish. It also requires strengthening oversight guidelines for existing net pen operations based upon updated scientific information—the current regulations are more than 25 years old.

“We are not going to allow net pen aquaculture of Atlantic salmon or any other invasive species in our Puget Sound,” Ranker said. “It makes absolutely zero sense to spend billions of dollars to restore this magical body of water, and then allow this pollutant—the day-in, day-out release of food waste and bio-waste, disease and parasites, from these operations—in the Salish Sea.”

Another bill would focus toxic cleanups of nearshore environments and marine waters. This legislation includes provisions to speed up cleanups of contaminated properties.

“This is the third leg of the stool damaging orca populations,” Ranker explained. “Food. Noise pollution. Toxins: Just know that there is a pollution spill into the Puget Sound each year equal to the Exxon Valdez spill just from stormwater.”

The total effort, Ranker observed, was part of the Blue Wall, as West Coast states continue to push back against Trump administration directives and continue their own goals in the decline of federal support.

“We have this incredible majestic water body, the Salish Sea, that is so special to us—not just for the recreational value and the magic we feel when we look out across the water and see orcas jumping—but economically it represents billions of dollars in economic activity,” the Orcas Island Democrat said.

“For all of those reasons, it is our duty, our calling, that we protect and preserve and restore the Salish Sea.”

Past Columns
The Divisions Between Us

November 14, 2018

The Map is the Territory

November 7, 2018

Climate Kids

October 31, 2018

What The Market Won’t Bear

October 24, 2018

As Above, So Below

October 17, 2018

As Below, So Above

October 10, 2018

A Civil Disagreement

October 3, 2018

Zombie Pipeline

September 26, 2018

Too Little, Too Late

September 19, 2018

Open Secret Disclosed

September 12, 2018

Consent of the Governed

September 5, 2018

Let the People Decide

August 29, 2018

3-in-1 Oil

August 22, 2018

A Deeper Dive

August 15, 2018

Blue Wave Stalls Offshore

August 8, 2018

Mountains of Our Efforts

August 1, 2018

Vote

July 25, 2018

Trust Is Reciprocal

July 18, 2018

Pressure in the Bottle

July 11, 2018

Sharing the Pain

July 4, 2018

Events
Today
Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

You Can't Take It With You

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Seven Supermans

7:30pm|Heiner Theatre

Waiting for Godot

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Romeo and Juliet

7:00pm|Sehome High School Little Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Secret Agents, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Gardenview Montessori Holiday Bazaar

9:00am|Gardenview Montessori

Turkey Trot with GBRC

9:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Willow Creek

Christmas in the Woods Open House

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

South Fork Winterfest

10:00am|Van Zandt Community Hall

Holiday at the Port Farmers Market

10:00am|Port Transit Shed

Stuff the Trunk

10:00am|Haggen stores

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Poetry Workshops

10:00am|Mindport Exhibits

Anything Goes Arts and Crafts

10:30am|Sumas Library

Wine and Shop Weekend

11:00am|Eagle Haven Winery

Gnocchi Class

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Needle Felting Workshop

1:00pm|Skagit City School

Coffee and Conversation with Surge Artists

1:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Fishboy Holiday Show

2:00pm|FishBoy Gallery

A Local Treasure

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Beatles Sing-Along and Jam

2:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Welcome to the 20th century

4:00pm

Pacific NW Insects

4:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Wine & Beer Festival

4:00pm|Eaglemont Golf Club

Last Call Group Reading

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Sacred Heart Social Hall

A Light in the Darkness

7:00pm|Church of the Assumption

Seattle International Comedy Competition

8:00pm

Childsplay

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Seattle Comedy
Tomorrow
9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Holiday at the Port Farmers Market

10:00am|Port Transit Shed

Wine and Shop Weekend

11:00am|Eagle Haven Winery

Sedro-Woolley Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Norah Rendell and the Lost Forty

2:00pm|Bellingham YWCA

Hope-Filled Dreams

2:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Whatcom Symphony Orchestra

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Sing-Along Sound of Music

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetry Duo

4:00pm|Village Books

Four Pair, An Evening of Duets

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Traveling with the Thurbers

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

7-UP

8:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Monday
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan

Poetrynight

7:00pm|Alternative Library

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

Seattle Comedy Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web