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Friday (the 13th) Morning Link Roundup: EPA Administrator Snubbing Press, Canada’s Attention Shifts to Coal Exports, Fish Consumption and More from the Wild Fish Conservancy

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Fish Consumption

A quick roundup of some of the articles that caught my eye on Twitter in the past week or so:

First, U.S. NewsWashington Whispers page has a report out on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seemingly snubbing the press after a private event at the National Press Club yesterday where she gave a presentation on the proposed clean power rule, which is certainly becoming a national topic since its release earlier this month. The U.S. News article links to a number of other grumblings regarding the relationship between Administrator McCarthy and the press, including the brief detention of a Bloomberg reporter in March after that reporter tried to ask Administrator McCarthy a question following an appearance she made in Washington, and a letter from the Society of Environmental Journalists expressing frustration with respect to how the Clean Power rule was rolled out. This is worth the read for a number of reasons, including the insights it provides on the relations between agency officials and the press, and is worth pondering given the importance of journalists in communicating complex science and policy to the public.

Second, coal exports and the Clean Power Plan rule collide in this article from our neighbors to the north, arguing that the Clean Power Plan rule’s potential carbon gains may be thwarted by exports of coal to China. The article does make some important points with respect to the idea that coal exports will increase coal combustion in China—including noting that Powder River Basin coal is already flowing out of North America through a port in Vancouver, and that there is a proposal in expand those exports through the construction of a second terminal in Surrey (a suburb of Vancouver). I continue to believe that trying to tamp down on coal combustion by restricting exports of coal is a game of Whac-A-Mole, and the points made about coal being exported through Canada, and all of this being driven by Chinese demand (rather than the supply side) are important points to keep in mind when evaluating the coal export debate.

Third, there have been a few fish consumption related pieces that have caught my eye recently. One is this calculator of individual rates, which is interesting to play around with to put the consumption rate issue in context (btw, I disagree with the statements on this page that Washington “thinks” people eat 6.5 grams of fish per day. That is an old rule that is being changed, and I don’t think there is much debate at this point regarding that rate not being reflective of current fish consumption patterns in Washington). Another article that highlights some of the political issues surrounding fish consumption rates is this editorial in the Olympian by Jim Peters of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council. This piece highlights some of the tribal concerns regarding consumption rate, and some of the issues they perceive with respect to treaty rights. More on the Tribal position on this issue is a letter the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission sent to Maia Bellon, the Director of the Department of Ecology, back in January. For what it is worth, we are now expecting a draft rule from Ecology sometime later this summer.

For those of you into Natural Resource Damage compensation, NOAA’s blog from the Office of Response and Restoration did a piece on Boeing’s work related to Plant 2 in the Lower Duwamish Waterway. This work is one of the “Early Action Areas” for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. The included video is worth watching because it provides a good history of the industrialization of the waterway and efforts being made to restore habitat functionality in that river.

Finally, the wild fish wars continue in Puget Sound. Back In January, the Wild Fish Conservancy sued WDFW regarding endangered species issues and the Chambers Creek Steelhead hatchery program. This led to a settlement where WDFW agreed to not release Chambers Creek Steelhead this year (and a suspicious break-in at a hatchery where some were released). The next step for the WFC is a challenge to the shoreline development permit for the Tokul Creek Hatchery (the same hatchery broken into back in May). This will continue to be a divisive issue in Washington, particularly because it puts different factions of the sporting community at odds with each other. Here is one reaction to this challenge by WFC.

Certainly a fair amount going on, both on a national and a local scale. And stay tuned to Science, Law & the Environment; we’re working up a Washington environmental litigation roundup for the first half of the year that will provide updates on the fish consumption lawsuit against EPA, new litigation regarding the intersection of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, along with other topics such as a rash of citizen suits filed in the past few weeks in the Western District.