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

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Events
Today
Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden Park

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Art Auction Gala

5:30pm|Lightcatcher Building

Photography Exhibit Opening

6:00pm|Fourth Corner Frames and Gallery

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Quieting the Monkey Mind

7:00pm|Village Books

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

VoicePlay

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Courthouse Vaudeville

7:30pm|Territorial Whatcom County Courthouse

Choir of Man
Tomorrow
Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Martin Luther King, Jr. Conference

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

Larrabee Old Growth Exploration

9:00am|Fairhaven Parkway Park & Ride

Winter Fitness Hike

10:00am|Whistle Lake

Winter Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Plant Classes

10:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Rockport, Concrete, Marblemount

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

The Basics of Sprouting

10:00am|Blaine Library

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Washington Remembers

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

When voices are silenced

12:00pm

MONA Openings

1:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Travel to the Philippines

1:30pm|Blaine Library

Rioja Tasting

2:00pm|Siefert & Jones Wine Merchants

Bellingham Roller Betties' Double Header

5:30pm|Lynden Skateway

An Evening with the Artist

6:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Be IN the Show

6:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Unity Ball

7:00pm|The Majestic

Blue Abode Comedy Show

7:00pm|Blue Adobe Bar

Time Travel Sound Sessions

7:00pm|Anacortes Museum

The Shame of Losing

7:00pm|Village Books

Eagle Talk

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Hot House at the Courthouse

7:30pm|Territorial Whatcom County Courthouse

Fire and Grace

7:30pm|First Congregational Church

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Sunday
Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Nookachamps Winter Runs

9:00am|Skagit Valley College

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Rockport, Concrete, Marblemount

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Sips of the Season

1:00pm|Galloway's Cocktail Bar

Bill Evans

2:00pm|Nancy's Farm

Resolutions with the Bellingham Chamber Music Society

3:00pm|First Congregational Church of Bellingham

Poetry with Douglas Cole

4:00pm|Village Books

Seven Comedians

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

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