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.”

Sugar Ray
Past Columns
Marina Lacuna

February 20, 2019

New Bites at the Apple

February 13, 2019

Coal Folds

February 6, 2019

Refocusing the Narrative

January 29, 2019

Old Town, Old Story

January 23, 2019

Ranker Unanchored

January 16, 2019

‘Alternative Methods’

January 9, 2019

Top Stories, 2018

January 2, 2019

Et Tu, #MeToo

December 26, 2018

Turn That Corner

December 19, 2018

Paradigms in Collision

November 28, 2018

Leftover Turkey

November 21, 2018

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

Events
Today
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Makerspace Classes

5:00pm|Bellingham Makerspace

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

The Addams Family

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

7:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

The Book of Help

7:00pm|Village Books

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Salish Sea Early Music Festival

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Heavy Metal

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

Richard III

7:30pm|Phillip Tarro Theater

Cupid's Arrow

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Serial Killers, Episode Four

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Kinky Boots
Tomorrow
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

The Addams Family

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Cupid's Arrow

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Richard III

7:30pm|Phillip Tarro Theater

Fragrance Lake 50K

6:00am|Larrabee State Park

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Smelt Run

9:00am|La Conner High School

Children's Literature Conference

9:00am|Performing Arts Center

Community Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Whatcom Falls 5K

10:00am|Whatcom Falls Park

Assistance League Anniversary Sale

10:00am|Assistance League

Kids Cooking Class

11:00am|Chuckanut Center

Recreation Northwest EXPO

11:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Hearty Party 5K

11:00am|Max Higbee Center'

Wildlife Photography with Andy Porter

11:00am|Padilla Bay Estuarine Research Reserve

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Wine Tasting with Duckhorn Vineyards

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

"Beatlemania/Beatlemedia

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Forestry and Wildlife Panel

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Waterway Tour

2:00pm| I & J Waterway

Wildfire and Resilience

3:00pm|Deming Library

The Fellowship of Fire

4:00pm|Village Books

Dancer Panel

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

An Evening with Steve Mayo

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

MacMaster and Leahy Trove Web
Sunday
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Drag Brunch, Celebrity Impersonation

11:00am|Rumors Cabaret

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Seabirds of the Salish Sea

1:00pm|REI

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Interfaith Music Festival

3:00pm|First Congregational Church

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|The Majestic

Heavy metal Hollywood

4:00pm

Clover Group Reading

4:00pm|Village Books

see our complete calendar »

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