Community

A Desperate Call

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Like the rest of Washington, members of the Mt. Baker Group of the Sierra Club were heartbroken as we watched Tahlequah—Orca J35—desperately keeping her dead calf afloat for 17 days. Southern Resident killer whales are starving, their waters are toxic, shipping noise interferes with their hunting, and now there’s a new threat: the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Tahlequah’s determination in her 17-day show of grief was unprecedented, and if you share that grief, you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help.

While the hour is late, don’t abandon hope. There are things—big and small—we can all do. Individual actions, the groups and businesses you support, and your vote all add up to make a difference.

Most immediately, Southern Resident killer whales need to eat, and they’ve evolved a preference for Chinook salmon—a species itself in serious decline.

If you buy salmon, take a pass on Chinook for now. Also, protect the Salish Sea: Don’t use fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that can end up in the watershed. Support regulations that could increase water flow in local waterways so salmon can spawn, as well as regulations keeping manure-based pathogens from large-scale feedlots out of streams and rivers.

We all—orcas included—have a right to nontoxic water. Contact your representatives in office, vote for candidates who promise to protect the environment, and hold them accountable.

Right now, you can submit a comment to the Orca Task Force created by Gov. Jay Inslee.

After studying the issue at length, the statewide Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club recommends the following actions to best help the orcas.

We urge you to support these efforts and mention them in your comments: 1. Increase spill to 125 percent at the dams on the lower Snake and Columbia River starting 2019. This is the safest, quickest fix to increase the survival rate of young salmon migrating downstream. 2. Remove the four lower dams on the Snake River, which historically contributed over 50 percent of all the salmon coming out of the Columbia River. The power produced and jobs affected can be replaced with clean wind and solar energy, clean jobs, and increased efficiencies. And rail use can be improved so that agricultural products can go by train instead of by barge. 3. Prohibit suction dredge mining and other mechanized “recreational” mining in all critical salmon habitat. While other states prohibit it, Washington regulates it not at all, so Washington has become a magnet for this polluting, habitat-destroying practice. 4. Prioritize and accelerate salmon habitat restoration efforts including the removal of fish barriers such as culverts and other blockages. 5. Increase funding for pollution prevention programs such as run-off from city streets and agricultural areas. 6. Oppose any increase to oil traffic throughout the Salish Sea including construction or expansion of oil pipelines such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

This last issue, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline, is of particular concern to residents of Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties.

The pipeline, built in the 1950s, crosses the Nooksack and Sumas rivers and Whatcom Creek, and carries dirty tar sands oil from Alberta that British Columbia doesn’t want.

Tar sands oil is so heavy that when it spills, it sinks, and current technology can only contain oil spills on the surface. Along with the unacceptable risk of toxic spills, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic would drastically increase the noise that’s already interfering with the orca’s ability to hunt.

This is the 11th hour for the 75 remaining Southern Resident killer whales, considered the “canary in the coal mine” by many. Now we are confronted with Orca J50, a sick and starving juvenile that Lummi heroes have attempted to feed and medicate. But even they wouldn’t be able to rescue the Southern Resident killer whales from a tar sands oil spill.

In an inspiring act of self-sacrifice, Tahlequah repeatedly pushed her calf to the surface, making the tragedy uncomfortably visible to us humans, as if to say, “Look what you’ve done.” The question remains, what will we do now?

More than 14,000 people raised concerns about Ecology’s emergency response plan for the Puget Sound Pipeline. You can submit a comment to the governor’s Orca Task Force at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/srkwtfpubliccomment.

This opinion piece was contributed by the Executive Committee of the Mt. Baker Group Sierra Club

Past Columns
Saying Goodbye

December 11, 2019

Cold and Alone

December 4, 2019

Big Money Politics

November 13, 2019

A Win for the Birds

July 24, 2019

Road to ‘Nowhere’

June 26, 2019

Game Changes

April 24, 2019

Salish Sea Science

January 23, 2019

Cherry Point Amendments

January 16, 2019

Invest in the Future

September 26, 2018

Criminalizing Protest

July 18, 2018

Threshold Fund

June 13, 2018

Imprisoned Splendour

May 9, 2018

Pathways to Homeownership

April 25, 2018

Yes on I-1631

April 11, 2018

Divide-and-Conquer

October 11, 2017

Schools and Planning for Growth

September 27, 2017

Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Holiday Favorites

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Songs of Peace with Kulshan Youth Choir

5:30pm|First Congregational Church

Bellwether Premiere Wine Social

5:30pm|Lighthouse Grill

Holiday Party

6:00pm|Camber Coffee

DSA Movie Night

6:00pm|Academic West

Winter Pop-Up with Taylor Shellfish

6:00pm|Aslan Depot

Peaceful Poetry Reading

6:30pm|Village Books

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Storm Music Extravaganza

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Peace, Love, and Ukuleles

7:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Avalanche Awareness

7:00pm|Backcountry Essentials

History Holiday

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Holiday Craft Bazaar

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Drayton Harbor Shellebration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Gingerbread House Making

4:30pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Photos and Stories with James K. Papp

5:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Kids Night Out @ Western

6:00pm|Western Washington University

Lost Feast

7:00pm|Village Books

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Christmastime is Here with Skagit Symphony

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Saturday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

see our complete calendar »