(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
No, the micro-organisms in the photo aren’t The Blob – that’s what scientists are calling a pool of warmer-than-normal water that’s enabling effects such as more-extensive-than-usual algae blooms. The state Ecology Department gathered reporters today to talk about what they’re seeing, and followed it up with this news release:
Washington is feeling the heat this summer, and Puget Sound is no exception. It’s been hot and dry, with all kinds of weather records being set. The unusually hot temperatures don’t end at the water’s edge; record-breaking temperatures are being in recorded in Puget Sound, too.
Scientists noted warming temperatures as “the Blob” from the Pacific Ocean migrated in to Puget Sound. And concerns about warmer-than-normal temperatures have only increased as the drought continues to heat up and dry out the state.
“We’re measuring water temperatures in the Sound 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal from our past 25 years of record keeping,” said Christopher Krembs, Ecology senior oceanographer. “We’re seeing warm water everywhere, from Olympia to Bellingham.”
Monitoring work by the Washington Department of Ecology and other scientific partners in county, state and federal agencies suggests that these warm conditions are causing negative side effects on the Puget Sound marine environment.
There has been an increase in harmful algae blooms, shellfish closures, lower dissolved oxygen levels, and unfavorable conditions for salmon and other cold-loving marine species.
Scientists are keenly interested in the unusual conditions and how they impact Puget Sound. It is important to understand the impacts of warm water and weather. Warm water inherently holds less oxygen and fosters disease. By collaborating to better understand the Blob and drought, monitor and improve water quality, and track marine life, the state can better prepare for climate change.
Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said, “The overall weather conditions of the last year or so are expected to occur much more commonly in the future decades. The present short-term climate event therefore provides an opportunity to better understand how the region will be impacted by global climate change, and the potential adaptations that could be undertaken to reduce its deleterious effects.”
Lead Ecology computer modeling scientist Mindy Roberts added, “Our computer modeling team has found that warmer ocean water and lower summer river flows decrease the amount of oxygen available throughout Puget Sound, which is not good news for fish. We should learn as much as we can this year to be better prepared for the future.”
Not only are rivers low, but they are also warm, with 80 percent of monitored streams running less than the 25th percentile of usual. “We’ve been seeing flows for months that mimic typical flows for September,” said Jim Shedd, Ecology surface water hydrologist.
“It’s proving difficult to push the Blob out of Puget Sound with these low-flowing, warm rivers caused by drought. We’re not getting enough estuarine circulation. Without circulation, whatever gets into Puget Sound, be it warm water or pollution, is going to stick around,” Shedd said.
(WSB file photo)
Get out on the water and experience Seattle’s “river for all” firsthand – this summer’s series of Duwamish River community kayak tours is about to start. First one is at 6 pm this Wednesday night (July 29th), focusing on the river’s birds, fish, and other wildlife. Here’s how to RSVP – when you do, you’ll get details including whether they’re launching from West Seattle or South Park.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency opens public-comment period on Nucor air permit and emission-calculation changeJuly 23, 2015 at 9:27 am | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 2 Comments
A month-long public-comment period is now open for two matters related to Nucor, the steel mill in North Delridge – renewal of its Air Operating Permit and also a proposed Order of Approval for a change in the way it “determines the amount of sulfur dioxide” that it’s releasing. While the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says these involve NO change to what Nucor is, and is allowed to, emit, they want to hear from you if you have something to say, so we’re republishing the notice that just arrived in our inbox:
Thanks to Mark Ahlness of Friends of Lincoln Park for the photo of one of two new signs installed at the park, “part of an effort to raise awareness that the forest floor is alive, that the habitat (home to many creatures and essential to our well being) is in the process of being restored by Friends of Lincoln Park volunteers, and that it needs protection and ongoing maintenance.” He says FLP worked with the Seattle Nature Alliance, whose initial membership drive funded the signs, installed by Seattle Parks, as were two similar signs placed in Schmitz Preserve Park last September. (For more on why staying on the trails matters, see this story we reported and published last March, about a student researcher’s work with FLP on the issue.)
Celebrating West Seattle salmon and stewardship, at streetside as well as creekside: Troop 40255′s projectJuly 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, Westwood, WS culture/arts | 1 Comment
A ribbon-cutting today celebrated West Seattle’s newest public art – created by Brownie Girl Scout Troop 40255 at the bus-stop shelter on northbound 35th SW at Cloverdale. It tells the story of salmon, and shows our state’s terrain.
From left in the photo are Molly Gazewood, Marley Strackhouse Parks, Alana Bass, Tannée Heinen, Natalie Aguilar Fox. While inviting us to the event, Marcia Strackhouse explained that it was both a celebration of the art itself and of the people who inspired it:
Most of these young people have grown up along the Fauntleroy Creek Watershed, and in their schools, preschools and day care centers, Judy Pickens (and husband Phil Sweetland) have been there to ensure our youth understood their impact on the environment and our salmon. … As Troop Leaders, we were so impressed with their knowledge at ages 8 and 9. They know the cycle of Salmon, understand the importance of maintaining and
keeping our creeks, rivers, and ocean clean, as do many of our West Seattle youth. They have become environmental stewards.
Judy was there for the ribbon-cutting celebration, and accepted a bouquet:
Judy and Phil have kept the Salmon in the Schools program going locally, from egg deliveries to the creekside events at which fry are released each year.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 7:06 PM SUNDAY: Still a few hours of light left … so if you haven’t been out patroling your neighborhood, and/or your nearest park, consider this:
made sent that, explaining:
When my kiddo was little, I used to say “In this town, what’s on the ground is swept into the Sound.” So if you see bits and pieces of the things that went bang, pop, and KABOOM on your block, please consider sweeping them up. Grab a bucket, broom and perhaps a neighbor and make a little outing out of it.
Here’s some of what Karen found near 29th and Othello:
She added, “Unfortunately, there is a lot more fireworks debris in the storm drains that I can’t
get to. It will all end up in the Sound with the next big rainfall.”
Some of the holiday-leftover trash and debris was already near the Sound in the first place: . We also heard from Chris Porter, who lives near Lincoln Park and spent time there this morning to help clean up. It wasn’t just fireworks debris he found:
The spectacular fireworks last night are only secondary to the enormous disaster of trash left behind the next day. I spent this morning picking up as much fireworks debris and trash as I could. I have forgotten about what happens to parks after summer holidays.
East to west, north to south, many other West Seattle neighbors were also out today, cleaning up the mess somebody else left behind. Travis Houston sent photos from Riverview Playfield:
We also stopped by Riverview before neighbors were done with their herculean cleanup:
Crossing the peninsula over to Alki, Kim sent the next photo, saying this was what just one small part of Bar-S Playfields looked like before she got to it with her broom:
Even in the unincorporated area where fireworks are legal on the 4th of July, the “legal” time period expired 18+ hours ago … but we’re still hearing dispatches on the scanner, including a fireworks call at Highland Park Elementary a short time ago and “brush fire” calls around the city (see photos in earlier reports here, here, and here).
ADDED MONDAY MORNING: Just sent by Chris:
I picked up a box full of spent fireworks debris on the playground at Gatewood Elementary this morning. The haul included one live mortar. Glad I found it and not some kids.
This Tuesday in West Seattle, you’re invited to an open house about the Duwamish River watershed – the next step in an umbrella strategy announced by the county and city last year. Here’s the invitation:
People with an interest in enhancing and revitalizing the Green/Duwamish Watershed are invited to share their ideas at a series of upcoming open houses hosted by King County, City of Seattle and the University of Washington’s Green Futures Lab.
King County, the City of Seattle and the University of Washington’s Green Futures Lab seek input on a strategy to create a healthy, prosperous future in the Green/Duwamish Watershed.
Public participation is vital. It will lead to greater understanding of current projects, priorities and plans in the watershed. Input will also help foster development of a framework to support better outcomes for local cities, forests, farms, rivers, diverse communities, and Washington State’s industrial core. The focus of the strategy is protecting, preserving and enhancing the watershed’s air, land and water.
Each meeting will focus on a specific section of the watershed. Meetings take place from 5 to 7 p.m. (The first one is the only one in West Seattle, as follows:)
Tuesday, June 30
Duwamish River and Nearshore Communities
Camp Long (West Seattle)
Environmental Learning Center – Main Hall
5200 35th Ave SW
Short presentations at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. will ensure everyone gets an overview of this exciting opportunity. Participants will be able to visit several information stations, and meet one-on-one with strategy representatives to ask questions and share feedback:
· What priorities are not currently represented in our maps and fact sheets?
· What are aspirations for the Green/Duwamish Watershed communities?
· What are the threats to healthy air, water, land and people in the Watershed?
· Where and what are the opportunities for the Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy to create a robust, connected open space system?
For more backstory, check out this page on the county website.
By Patrick Sand and Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
We are here not to walk on the water, but to walk on the Earth.
That was the heart of a quotation offered by Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Father Jack Walmesley as he welcomed more than 150 people to an interfaith gathering last night, “Praised Be,” celebrating the encyclical letter on the environment, “Laudato Si,” issued earlier in the day by Pope Francis, which begins:
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. …
Underscoring that the Earth should be cared for on behalf of future generations as well as ours – it is described in the encyclical’s subtitle as “our common home” – a copy of the Pope’s message was carried into the church by OLG sixth-grader Emily Amesquita (top photo).
OLG parishioners Dan and Robyn Campbell, introduced as committed environmentalists, talked about losing a tree in their yard and having to answer their three-year-old’s question about where the squirrels would live.
They built a little house for the squirrels, they explained, saying it was a “teaching moment,” helping them to instill in their children a reverence for the Earth and how we must all take care of it.
Father Walmesley also spoke of understanding “the breath of God,” not just how it is experienced on Earth but how scientists have seen through the Hubble Telescope and in other ways that it is alive in the galaxies and stars whose light reaches us now from across seemingly endless space. We’re here, he said, to understand the complexity of the world that St. Francis of Assisi understood and that Pope Francis has called all people to understand now.
Those in attendance also heard from Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University.
She spoke about the theology of the encyclical and how it applies to daily life.
Then Emily carried the encyclical out of the church, as people followed, invited to stay and learn more about living sustainably
Before the service, visitors were invited to see and consider the sustainability-focused features of OLG’s 3-year-old Parish Life Center.
In our photo under some of the center’s solar panels are, from left, visiting Father Thomas J. Marti; LeeAnne Beres of Earth Ministry; the center’s architect Richard Glasman; OLG pastoral assistant Frank Handler; and Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry, who also had spoken during the service. (Earth Ministry’s mission is “inspiring and mobilizing the religious community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future.”)
WHAT NOW? The back of the event program offered advice for “taking action on Laudato Si,” listing simple lifestyle changes such as:
Eating lower on the food chain
Walking or taking the bus more often
Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs
Insulating or installing solar on our homes and parishes
Purchasing used items
Not buying toxic cleaning or lawn products
Generally using fewer resources
P.S. The encyclical, the second by Pope Francis, was written in Italian but can be read in English here.
Tomorrow, worldwide news will be made by a major statement expected from Pope Francis, about the environment and climate change (some of it’s already been leaked). Then tomorrow night, Seattle-area Catholics will follow it up with an event here in West Seattle. The announcement:
Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical on the environment will be celebrated at a 7 p.m. service Thursday, June 18, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 7100 35th Ave. SW.
All are invited to the 7 p.m. service to gather with local Catholic, ecumenical, and environmental leaders to honor Pope Francis’ call to protect the Earth. Speakers include:
· Fr. Jack Walmesley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Parish
· Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University
· Dan and Robyn Campbell, parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe
· Jessie Dye, program & outreach director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light
There will also be the opportunity for a tour of the parish grounds, which feature solar panels, a children’s solar kiosk, a rain garden, a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat peace garden, green buildings, and other energy-saving measures that have made the parish a leader in environmental sustainability.
Background: On the morning of June 18 in Rome, the Vatican will release the first comprehensive Catholic moral statement on caring for creation in the face of climate change. The pope’s encyclical, titled “Praised Be” (or Laudato Sii in Latin), is expected to make three key points: 1) Catholic teaching calls for protecting God’s creation; 2) humans cause climate change, which is a serious moral issue; and 3) the time to act is now – specific personal and public policy measures are needed to address global warming.
The encyclical will explicitly name climate change as one of the greatest threats to life on Earth, which poses particular challenges here in the Pacific Northwest where glaciers are melting, drought and forest fires are intensifying, and fossil fuel projects threaten Native American and other communities.
“’Praised Be,’ a call from Pope Francis to inspire us to care for creation, will resonate with Catholics throughout the region,” predicts Father Jack Walmesley, Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor.
All are invited to the event at OLG – more info here.
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for the video, showing the cleanup we previewed here on Sunday – the blocks and cable left behind (deliberately, by agreement of all those concerned) when the “Solar Pioneer” protest barge moved west after first dropping them in the popular Cove 2 dive zone. The official post-cleanup news release from GUE Seattle declares it “a complete success”:
Two teams of GUE Seattle SCUBA divers entered the water (Monday) at 7:00 AM and located the debris field consisting of concrete blocks and steel cables.
(Photos courtesy GUE Seattle)
The five GUE Seattle divers attached mooring line and buoys so a commercial salvage operation could easily locate and remove the debris. At approximately 9:00 AM, a commercial dive team from Global Diving & Salvage arrived on site and deployed surface-supplied divers into the water.
After approximately three hours of work, the Global Diving & Salvage dive team had safely successfully removed all debris without causing any further damage to the dive park.
On Monday, May 19th, 2015, an environmental activist group moored a barge known as the Solar Pioneer in Alki Seacrest Park in protest of Shell’s Polar Pioneer Arctic drilling rig housed at Seattle’s Harbor Island Terminal 5. In the process of mooring, the activist group dropped concrete blocks and thick steel mooring cables and inadvertently damaged a popular underwater park known as Alki Cove 2. As the barge rose and fell with the tides, the steel mooring cables swept the area underneath, causing additional collateral damage to the marine environment as well as endangering recreational divers. Today, the Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) Seattle cleanup project was successfully completed and all concrete blocks and the steel mooring cables were recovered and properly disposed of.
We would like to sincerely thank Royal Dutch Shell, Foss Maritime, and John Sellers (the operator of the Solar Pioneer), for financially contributing to the cleanup effort and future restoration work; Laura James for her assistance in video documentation; and Global Diving & Salvage for their skillful work in removing the debris without causing any additional environmental damage.
The Polar Pioneer, as reported here early Monday morning, has left Seattle, headed north; the Solar Pioneer was still off Don Armeni as of sunset.
8:38 PM: Before the “Solar Pioneer” protest barge moved to its spot off Don Armeni Boat Ramp, you might recall, it originally anchored further east, off Seacrest. That brought some concerns about possible danger to divers and damage to wildlife, so it moved; “Diver Laura” James was involved with making that happen, and now reports that the blocks and cables left behind in the “Cove 2″ area will be removed tomorrow. You’ll see them in her video, embedded above (it has music and explanatory captioning). She explains: “Seacrest Park Cove 2 is the most popular dive site in Seattle, home to the world’s largest octopus and numerous other varieties of marine life. When the tide changed, the cable attached from the anchor blocks to the barge overhead swept across the underwater landscape, damaging the fragile habitat and destroying the homes of underwater creatures. When it was noted that damage was occurring, the cables were dropped and the barge was moved further towards Duwamish Head. The blocks and cable are slated for removal on Monday by Global Diving & Salvage, Inc., thanks to Washington State Department of Natural Resources, GUE Seattle, concerned individuals … and the Northwest Dive Community at large, who took note and voiced concern.” A spokesperson for those responsible for the barge told The Seattle Times last month that “We clearly didn’t have any intention of doing damage to a dive park. It was an honest mistake.” We’re checking on who’s covering the cleanup cost.
9:01 PM: We won’t be able to get a direct answer on that any sooner than tomorrow but there’s more backstory in this post on the Northwest Dive Club website (intended primarily to warn divers away from the area tomorrow, but also explaining why).
(Photo by Eilene Hutchinson)
That’s part of what Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network, friends, and volunteers found during their Alki Beach cleanup Saturday morning. From Robin Lindsey:
After learning that 360 billion cigarette butts are discarded each year in the US (you can just imagine the numbers worldwide!), volunteers spread out along Alki Beach and the sidewalks with buckets and bags. They returned with over 5,000 butts and amassed a large amount of trash in under two hours. Passersby were astounded and very grateful. People in cars yelled out their support as they drove by the dedicated people plucking up all sorts of toxic and dangerous trash along the street.
Before heading out, the volunteers got educational encouragement:
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
Daoud Miller from Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists (photo above) spoke briefly to more than 80 volunteers, asking them to make sure to hceck trash before removing it in case an invertebrate had claimed it as “home.” He was available all morning to engage with participants and inform them about the small critters that live along the shoreline. Peggy Foreman, education specialist from NOAA, talked passionately about the Arroyos gray whale who died in 2010 with a disturbing amount of human trash in his stomach.
Seal Sitters, Seattle Parks and Recreation, ACC and PAWS (co-sponsors of the event) thank everyone who helped make the beach safer for marine life yesterday!
More photos and details from Saturday are in Robin’s full report on Seal Sitters’ blubberblog website.
Thanks to Lamont Granquist for that photo from earlier this week – yes, taken from a distance, while a Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network volunteer guarded the pup near Alki Point Lighthouse. We saved it so we could publish it with this reminder of tomorrow morning’s beach cleanup on Alki – meet Seal Sitters at Statue of Liberty Plaza (61st/Alki) at 9 am; the cleanup continues until 11:30, but whatever time you can give to it will be appreciated. The cleanup is in honor of Sandy the seal pup who died in 2012 after getting tangled in marine debris, and the Arroyos gray whale whose 2010 necropsy revealed a belly full of trash. Whatever you clean from the beach tomorrow (or any other day) will be that much less pollution in our waters – if it’s left on the beach, it’ll get into Puget Sound eventually.
(May 2015 photo of ‘Solar Pioneer,’ with Polar Pioneer in background, by David Hutchinson)
While Shell’s Arctic-offshore-drilling vessels might be leaving as soon as June 10th, opponents have announced another round of protest events in West Seattle. According to an online schedule (found earlier on this webpage, but it’s timing out as we write this), they’re including two “welcoming” events today and Thursday at the park adjacent to Delridge Community Center and a gathering tomorrow night across the street at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, as well as “land blockades” as soon as Friday and a Friday night flotilla near the People’s Platform/Solar Pioneer barge off Don Armeni Boat Ramp.
ADDED 6:25 PM: We went over to the Delridge CC park to check on the “welcoming” event and found two people under a canopy along with this sign near the corner of Delridge and Genesee:
They told us someone had already sent police over to check on them; the officers stopped by, and left.
(back to original report) Meantime, the state Department of Natural Resources confirmed to WSB that Shell has responded to its questions about whether the drilling platform is too big for T-5, but hasn’t made the response public yet, saying DNR staffers are “reviewing” it.
(Photo by Dennis Hinton – creekside sign created by Taproot School)
One incredibly busy month of visits by salmon-raising schools – starting with Pathfinder K-8 on April 30th (WSB coverage here) – is over at Fauntleroy Creek. Judy Pickens has the wrapup report:
The last of 20 salmon releases in Fauntleroy Creek occurred May 28 when second- and fourth-graders from Concord Elementary brought their coho to Fauntleroy Park.
All told, volunteers with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council hosted 750 students this year and an additional 175 adults and younger siblings. Their participation in the Salmon in the Schools program resulted in the release of nearly 1,700 fry that will spend the next year in the creek.
Also this spring, volunteers documented 31 coho smolts leaving the creek for two years in saltwater, a dozen more than in 2014.
Next big season for volunteers on the creek will be this fall, when they watch for returning spawners – 19 last year.
Got something to get rid of? Your next chance is in The Junction on Saturday. Thanks to SBK Recycling for the reminder – they’re part of a free electronics recycling/shredding event, 10 am-1 pm in Saturday in the West Seattle Junction Association parking lot off 42nd SW between SW Oregon and SW Alaska. SBK’s website has the list of what they’ll accept.
Thanks to Tamsen for the photo from Lincoln Park, and also to Linda for a sighting report from the nearby Lowman Beach area: As has been happening every year for a while, warm weather and long days are bringing reddish water to the West Seattle shores, and today marks the first report we’ve received this year. It’s almost always a NONTOXIC bloom called noctiluca – you can see earlier photos in our first report from last year and from 2013 (both of those were in May, too). Here’s a state webpage with more information, plus a way to report sightings, which they’re interested in studying.
Shell @ Terminal 5: County says it can’t access the sewer system on-site for wastewater; city appeal-hearing date setMay 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 36 Comments
(UPDATED 2:16 PM with additional new information regarding appeal of city ‘interpretation’ re: Polar Pioneer mooring)
(May 15th photo of Polar Pioneer at T-5, by Long Bach Nguyen)
ORIGINAL 12:46 PM REPORT: Just in from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division:
King County’s Industrial Waste Program today denied a permit application for discharge of wastewater from the Alaska Venture Shell Facility at Terminal 5 into the County’s regional sewer system.
“Everyone has to follow the rules, even multinational corporations,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
(UPDATED 9:54 PM with added photos – scroll down)
2:02 PM: That’s just one section of the anti-Arctic-offshore-drilling “flotilla” that’s amassed in Elliott Bay this afternoon. Even if you haven’t been down by the water, you’ve probably noticed the helicopter flyover, circling North Admiral to the bay and back. Hundreds of people with kayaks and canoes started arriving before 9 am, organizing in groups along the Harbor Avenue shore; the traffic peaked a couple hours ago but will pick up again when this is over in late afternoon. An onshore program is scheduled at Jack Block Park, where this portable video sign has been showing a live feed of the kayakers, as well as this logo:
A barge off Seacrest, dubbed “The People’s Platform,” is expected to be showing “projections” in the evening. Here’s an aerial we just received from local photographer/pilot Long Bach Nguyen:
Meantime, on sea and land, police have been very conspicuously in view, from this bicycle pedal-by …
… to a patrol boat on the water and two mast-equipped command vehicles parked with an overview of JB Park and Terminal 5:
Two command vehicles visible from the Jack Block Park road pic.twitter.com/HJBteN8nK6
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 16, 2015
T-5 is where the drill platform Polar Pioneer has been docked since Thursday, but no word of any arrests or clashes. The date for today’s protest, as well as a demonstration on land Monday, was announced weeks ago, even before it was known when the PP would arrive; the drillship Noble Discoverer, which Shell also expects to use in the Arctic, remained docked in Everett at last report.
2:10 PM: Our crew at Jack Block says the flotilla participants are paddling by now, getting closer to the Polar Pioneer:
From our partners at The Seattle Times, via Twitter:
— Seattle Times Photo (@SeaTimesPhoto) May 16, 2015
2:56 PM: Our crew says the flotilla is heading back out of the Duwamish River (Terminal 5 is at its mouth) and toward Jack Block Park.
3:25 PM: What was supposed to be a program of speakers at Jack Block scheduled for around 2 pm hasn’t started yet. So if you’re trying to keep track of when the outbound traffic might start in the area – all bets are off.
4:43 PM: Big outbound traffic as of about 4 pm, us included. More photos later.
ADDED 9:54 PM: As promised – more photos of the sights from and near Jack Block Park over the course of the day, now that we’ve had time to go through what we have – starting with Native canoes that joined the flotilla:
Part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s presence:
One person we recognized in the flotilla – Sustainable West Seattle co-founder Bill Reiswig:
One other view, for geographic context – Long B. Nguyen shot this in the early going today – it shows where Polar Pioneer is, in relation to Jack Block Park (Seacrest is not far off the right edge of the image, which you can click for a larger view):
While this has been promoted as a three-day “Festival of Resistance,” we don’t know of anything tomorrow; Monday morning is the on-land demonstration near the low bridge, scheduled to start around 7 am – so it could affect the morning commute – our most recent mention is here.
(Added: Photo by Admiral 935, looking north on California SW as PP passed)
1:29 PM: We’re launching as-it-happens coverage now that the Polar Pioneer is close to Seattle – destination: West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – and media as well as spectators are getting in place. We’re starting at Seacrest, where TV crews are converging, as well as some drilling opponents who say they plan to “unwelcome” PP; they’ve put up red “warning” flags on the pier and some kayakers are in the water.
Also spotted: City Councilmember Mike O’Brien:
Meantime, after slowing to a near-stop for a while across the Sound from Shoreline, Polar Pioneer and its accompanying vessels are on the move again. Updates to come.
1:39 PM: Texter says it’s in view in the distance from Alki Point. We’re setting up near Anchor/Luna Park to see it when it rounds the bend. Photos? email@example.com – thanks!
Coming into view by West Point pic.twitter.com/5N19bncQeM
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 14, 2015
1:47 PM: Visible now coming up to West Point. (Added)
(Photo by Gary Jones, taken from Alki Point as Polar Pioneer passed West Point)
Kayakers head out past Duwamish Head pic.twitter.com/8nSImk4N58
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 14, 2015
Kayakers are off Duwamish Head. As mentioned in our earlier coverage when it left Port Angeles around 1:30 am, the rig has four Foss vessels with it – Andrew Foss, Garth Foss, Lindsey Foss, and Pacific Star – and, since then, has added three Coast Guard vessels.
2 PM: A police boat has taken up position near the navigation marker off Duwamish Head. The kayakers are still floating just offshore. (added) The police boat came over for a closer look at them:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 14, 2015
2:25 PM: It’s in Elliott Bay now, traveling at 7 knots, 13 hours after leaving Port Angeles. Meantime, that’s NOT a TV helicopter circling over us on the Duwamish Head shore, that’s Guardian One.
3:01 PM: We’ve been on Twitter (and live on Periscope) for the past half-hour as the Polar Pioneer passed Duwamish Head. Lots of spectators.
Helicopters overhead, kayakers, Coast Guard, other vessels on the water.
3:16 PM: Co-publisher Patrick Sand has headed east/southeast to Don Armeni, where a protest sign is about to be hoisted or floated. He sent this photo:
(added) Here’s what it looked like – yes, it was tethered:
(added) Chief Seattle’s great-great-grand niece, Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen, watched with her daughter from Jack Block Park. Thanks to Ann Anderson for this photo:
Ann also shared this one, in which you can see a tribal canoe out with the group on the water:
Speaking of sending photos, thanks to everyone who’s done that – just starting to check them. Polar Pioneer remains stopped in the bay.
— Justin Hirsch (@justindhirsch) May 14, 2015
3:44 PM: It’s on the move again, heading south, toward the port. We’ll see if it goes all the way to T-5, where, as we reported yesterday, the city says it would be in violation of the Port’s permit and could be cited.
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) May 14, 2015
4:36 PM: Kevin‘s tweeted photo shows the Polar Pioneer as it rounded the bend and headed into the mouth of the Duwamish River, where it’s arrived at T-5:
— Joe Conley (@Kawnliee) May 15, 2015
We’re back at HQ right now getting ready for some evening coverage (unrelated) and will be adding more photos.
(Thanks to Scott for this view from Riverside, looking toward the “low bridge”)
5:08 PM: For some, seeing it might be their first word about all this – we were reminded of that by a phone call. Same way that the shutdown of T-5 last summer surprised some who didn’t make the connection until they saw the vast, empty stretch. But no, it’s NOT here to drill in local waters. It’s scheduled to stay here for a matter of weeks before leaving for the offshore Arctic drilling for which Shell recently won a key federal approval. But first – opponents are continuing with their plans for a “festival of resistance” this Thursday through Saturday. We talked today with Seattle Police to ask about their plans; they acknowledged a briefing this morning but said that on the water it’s Coast Guard jurisdiction, on port land it’s Port Police jurisdiction – they’re just standing by to see if anything happens outside those two areas. We are awaiting the port’s answer to our questions about whether they are planning any different access policies at Jack Block, for example. Meantime – it’s been three months since the Port’s CEO announced the signing of the lease with Foss, which said it in turn had a deal to bring the Shell vessels here.
ADDED EARLY FRIDAY: David Hutchinson photographed the Polar Pioneer, docked, with the latest “kayaktivist training” class, which had headed out from Seacrest earlier in the evening.
That was billed as the last training class before Saturday’s long-scheduled on-the-water protest. More on that later today.
(May 4th image courtesy Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce webcam)
4:59 PM: While the oil-drilling platform Polar Pioneer is no longer in view on the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s webcam, it’s still in the PA harbor – but apparently not for long. The Peninsula Daily News reports that the Polar Pioneer will be towed to West Seattle’s Terminal 5 tomorrow. That, despite the city Department of Planning and Development declaring that mooring Shell’s rigs at T-5 is not covered in the Port’s existing permits, and despite the Port Commission’s vote yesterday afternoon (WSB coverage here) to formally inform T-5 interim tenant Foss of that. Foss, meantime, as reported here last night, has filed its appeal of the DPD “interpretation”:
The Port Commission, as also noted in our Tuesday report, voted to appeal the ruling of the DPD, whose director Diane Sugimura answered questions at yesterday’s meeting. Meantime, Foss also expects Shell’s drillship Noble Discoverer, now starting its second day docked in Everett, to move on to T-5. And Arctic-drilling opponents are continuing to plan for an on-the-water protest Saturday plus one on land Monday.
6:11 PM UPDATE: Wondering what the city might do if the Shell rigs really do show up despite the DPD interpretation? We sent that question to Mayor Ed Murray‘s office. The reply:
The mayor expects the Port to have the proper permits in place before an off-shore oil drilling rig comes to Terminal 5. The Port Commission is also on record saying a rig should not come to Elliott Bay before the proper permits are in place.
Should Shell bring the rigs to Terminal 5 before the appropriate permits are in place, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development will evaluate the situation and could issue a notice of violation. There are monetary penalties associated with operating without the necessary permits. … Foss and the Port have said they intend to file an appeal. Even after an appeal is filed, the City is not prevented from moving ahead with enforcement actions.
1:42 AM THURSDAY: We’ve been checking MarineTraffic.com all night and it looks like Polar Pioneer and its accompanying tugs are finally headed out of Port Angeles, as of minutes ago.
AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: 75 speak during Port Commission’s first all-T-5/Shell meeting; commissioners pass two motionsMay 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 43 Comments
(9:44 PM UPDATE: Foss’s appeal document added, after coverage of 75 speakers at Port Commission meeting, followed by commissioners passing both motions – as Shell drillship Noble Discoverer arrived in Everett)
12:58 PM: Just as Seattle port commissioners are about to start their meeting on the controversial Terminal 5 lease to Foss/Shell, we received that photo of one of the Shell offshore-drilling rigs that is expected to wind up here for a while: The Noble Discoverer, which, as we reported earlier, entered Washington waters early today. Jason Mihok photographed the ND (and Foss tugs) as they passed Port Townsend – he was on board the Victoria Clipper. Meantime, we’re at Pier 69 (steps from the Clipper’s HQ, in fact), where the commission chambers are overflowing – we in fact are sitting on the floor in the back of the room. We’ll be chronicling the meeting as it unfolds.
1:05 PM: The meeting has begun. Commissioner Stephanie Bowman is leading it; her co-president Courtney Gregoire is absent “for health reasons.” Bowman urges civility, saying her 70-year-old mom is in the front row so if you’re rude to the commission, you’re rude to her mom. This will start with public comment, and #1 is the one elected official Bowman has mentioned as being here – Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel, who chairs the Senate’s Resources Committee and “the special committee on the Arctic.” She urges the commission to “stand firm” on the lease with Foss/Shell.
…and the other half of the meeting room. pic.twitter.com/uhvdoXBUME
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 12, 2015
#2 – a speaker who says he’s from a faith-based community: “Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing … It is my hope and prayer that this commission will … find a sustainable path leading to the right side of history.” Drilling in the Arctic “is not on the right side of history,” he continues.
#3 – Anthony Edwardson from Barrow, AK, chair of Arctic Inupiat Offshore, “asking the commission to honor (the lease). … We have partnered with Shell to be sure they do right in our waters.”
#4 – Mohawk, a speaker who urges the commission to “follow the Seattle city laws” in terms of the DPD interpretation that said the drilling vessels’ docking is not allowed under existing port permits.
#5 – Hugh, who also has come from Alaska, “imploring you to understand the far-reaching effects of your decision to our communities on the North Slope.” He too chairs an Alaska Native corporation, he says. “The environmental community doesn’t have a plan for our people. … We are the people of the Arctic – we live it, day by day. They would like to place us in a diorama in a museum.”
#6 – John Hobson from Wainwright, Alaska; he and we believe all of the Alaskan Natives who have spoken so far spoke to the Seattle City Council yesterday as it considered its resolution opposing drilling and asking the Port Commission to reconsider the T-5 lease. “There are people involved who want the same things you have -” like education and sanitation. “We want to impress on you that the Arctic isn’t just a place of polar bears.”
#7 – Stu Yarfitz. He is a Seattle resident who says he has two questions: How will the commission respond if the city DPD issues a stop-work order? And he asks about Terminal 5′s future – why is the modernization work not happening now, when that was the reason it closed last year?
/AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE CONTINUES/ - click ahead if reading this from WSB home page) Click to read the rest of AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: 75 speak during Port Commission’s first all-T-5/Shell meeting; commissioners pass two motions…
FOLLOWUP: Shell drillship Noble Discoverer now in WA waters; Port Commission meeting details now publicMay 12, 2015 at 3:59 am | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 1 Comment
Hours after federal approval of Shell‘s Arctic offshore-drilling plan, and hours before the Seattle Port Commission‘s public meeting about the Terminal 5/Foss/Shell lease, one of Shell’s two designated drill rigs entered Washington waters. We reported Sunday night that the drillship Noble Discoverer had done a turnaround off the Washington coast and went out of tracking range; early this morning, it reappeared, and entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s still headed for Everett first, Shell told The Seattle Times (WSB partner), also saying the other designated driller, Polar Pioneer, is to be towed this week to T-5 from Port Angeles (where it remains visible on webcam as of this writing). (June 2012 photo of Noble Discoverer by Long Bach Nguyen)
As for the Port Commission’s meeting this afternoon, the agenda details finally have been added. They include two potential motions: The first one comes down to, the port can’t/won’t do anything about the city interpretation disallowing the drill rigs until “if and when this code interpretation is deemed a final decision by the City of Seattle.” (The way the Hearing Examiner process works, that usually takes months.) The second one seeks to have the port appeal the city interpretation too. Today’s meeting is set to start at 1 pm at port HQ at Pier 69 on the downtown waterfront and will start with a public-comment period.
9:04 AM: The Noble Discoverer is just now passing Port Angeles.
Shell @ Terminal 5: Pivotal week begins with federal approval of Arctic offshore-drilling plan; City Council resolution passageMay 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 16 Comments
(Monday midday image from Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce webcam, republished with permission)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:18 PM: In our update last night on the events surrounding the plan for Shell to bring its Arctic-offshore-drilling rigs (including Polar Pioneer, above, still in Port Angeles) to Terminal 5 in West Seattle, we described this as a “pivotal week.” And since that update last night, it’s become even more so: This morning, the federal government issued its approval for Shell’s revised plan to drill six wells in the Chukchi Sea this summer – read the announcement here. This comes just before the City Council is scheduled to vote during its 2 pm meeting today on this resolution expressing opposition to Arctic offshore drilling and asking the Port of Seattle to reconsider its lease with Foss bringing Shell vessels to T-5. (The Port Commission‘s meeting on lease-related issues is at 1 pm tomorrow.) Representing a coalition of anti-drilling groups, Earthjustice has reacted by saying, “The project Interior approved today is bigger, dirtier, and louder than any previous plan, calling for more sound disturbances and harassment of whales and seals, more water and air pollution, and more vessels and helicopters. It also runs the risk of a catastrophic oil spill that could not be cleaned in Arctic waters.”
3:33 PM UPDATE: The City Council passed the aforementioned resolution unanimously. City Councilmember Mike O’Brien said it’s not possible to just abruptly stop using oil, but “a just transition” must be worked on; Councilmember Kshama Sawant, whose amendment to the resolution also won unanimous approval, said that while the jobs created by the drilling-related work are important, the more important issue is that of oil executives’ profits – she accused them of “hoodwinking” people into thinking it’s the environment vs. jobs. And Councilmember Nick Licata said the environment is “changing rapidly” and a resolution like this is a “small step” toward action to try to slow that rate of change. The comment period before their deliberation and vote included Alaskan Natives who had come from areas close to the prospective drilling zone to express their support for Shell.
This week promises to be pivotal in the ongoing controversy over and scrutiny of the plan for two Shell-leased drill rigs to come to the Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5 in West Seattle before heading to the Arctic Ocean.
One of those rigs, the drillship Noble Discoverer, took an unexpected – at least to observers – turn this weekend.
As noted here Thursday, Noble Discoverer is expected to stop in Everett this week. Foss Maritime has indicated that the city of Seattle’s suggestion that it’s not coming here is inaccurate, so the expectation is that it would then proceed to T-5.
We’ve been checking online vessel tracker MarineTraffic.com relatively often for any signs of the drillship coming into range – it was last “seen” by tracking signal when it was off Honolulu two weeks ago (at which time, it’s since been revealed, it failed a Coast Guard inspection).
Looking at MT very early this morning, we noticed Noble Discoverer had been in tracking range for a while starting Saturday morning, approaching the entrance to the Strait of Juan De Fuca – but then disappeared from tracking. Almost concurrently, we received a note from Robert, pointing to this online observation with a few more specifics, showing that the ship had turned around and gone back out of tracking range. Here’s what MT’s records show:
MT tracking doesn’t pick up until relatively close to the coast, so we don’t know quite where the drillship is now – just that it’s out of range, shown as having been last “seen” at 2:43 am today (our time) sailing away from the Washington coast, about 18 hours after it had become visible while sailing toward it.
Meantime, Shell’s other drill rig, the platform Polar Pioneer, has now spent three weeks in Port Angeles (where this webcam points toward it around the clock); here in Seattle, the Port Commission takes up the T-5 lease/city interpretation situation in public session Tuesday afternoon, and opponents of offshore Arctic drilling plan a series of protests here in (and off) West Seattle starting later in the week, culminating in an early-morning march from Harbor Island to T-5 one week from tomorrow .
The mayor’s office has just announced new directors for two city departments – including a new director for the Department of Neighborhoods, though it’s a name many will recognize. Here’s the official announcement:
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today named Jessica Finn Coven to serve as director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) and Kathy Nyland to serve as director of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Bernie Matsuno, who has served as director of DON since 2011, will be stepping down effective June 2.
Finn Coven comes to OSE after serving as Washington Director of Climate Solutions since 2011. Previously she worked at the U.S. Climate Action Network and Greenpeace. She serves on the board of directors of Washington Conservation Voters and Puget Sound Sage.
“Jessica brings deep connections to Seattle’s environmental community,” said Murray. “Her commitment to environmental justice will lend strength to Seattle’s new Equity and Environment Initiative. The benefits of progressive environmental policy must reach all our diverse communities more equitably, including low-income families, immigrants and people of color.”
“Anyone who knows Jessica appreciates her deep knowledge of environmental policy,” said Rashad Morris of the Bullitt Foundation. “Her commitment to economic and racial equity makes this an especially strong choice as Seattle works to bridge issues of sustainability and social justice.”
“Seattle has long been a proof point that we can create more broadly shared prosperity by prioritizing a clean and healthy environment,” said Finn Coven. “Mayor Murray has been a leader throughout his career on sustainable transportation solutions and equitable responses to climate change. I’m absolutely thrilled to join his team and to be part of Seattle’s next chapter in clean energy development and ensuring the health of all Seattle’s family.”
Finn Coven will be paid $132,000 and start at OSE on June 12. Finn Coven replaces Jill Simmons, who announced her decision to step down as director of OSE in April.
Nyland is currently a senior policy advisor on land use and planning in the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation. She is a former chief of staff to City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Before joining city government, she served on several community councils, founded the Georgetown Merchants’ Association and chaired Seattle’s City Neighborhood Council.
“During my first year as mayor, Kathy has become a trusted advisor,” said Murray. “Her personal history as a community advocate, her strong relationships with neighborhood leaders throughout the city, and her policy acumen make her the natural choice to step into this role. I look forward to her leadership in community conversations on private development, public investments and support for vibrant neighborhoods in our city.”
“I am honored by this opportunity to continue to serve the Mayor and the city in this new role at the Department of Neighborhoods,” says Nyland. “I’ve long believed that our communities are our strongest resources and I look forward to bringing more voices to the table. We want to support and strengthen all our neighborhoods in Seattle.”
Nyland joins DON on June 2 and will earn $136,000.
Matsuno came out of retirement to serve as director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, intending to serve only a few months, but staying on for more than four years. She developed and expanded new community programs at DON, including the People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE) and the Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison (POEL) program to expand civic engagement, especially in underrepresented communities.
“Bernie has been a true champion of our neighborhoods and a helpful advisor to me on community issues and needs,” said Murray. “She has advocated effectively for the community to have a greater voice in City government and their neighborhood – an important role that the department will sustain.”
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to serve in Mayor Murray’s administration, but I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life,” said Matsuno. “I’m excited about this transition and intend to continue my professional work for the people of Seattle, as well as volunteer in my community.”
“Bernie Matsuno was one of my first and best hires 27 years ago,” said Jim Diers, former DON director. “Bernie initiated a powerful leadership development program and innovative outreach strategy to ensure that all voices are heard. I’m excited that Bernie is passing the torch to Kathy Nyland, someone who I have long admired for her leadership of the Georgetown neighborhood. I know that she believes deeply in the department’s mission and I can’t wait to see what she does in taking it to the next level.”
Matsuno will continue to lend her expertise to future City community-engagement projects.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:02 PM SUNDAY: Most of the time when we mention a city councilmember’s visit to West Seattle, it’s in connection with a meeting or a walking tour, staples of an elected official’s life. But Councilmember Mike O’Brien came here this morning for something entirely different:
He was among those who participated this morning in the latest round of “kayaktivist” training in advance of the on-water demonstrations planned when Shell‘s Arctic-offshore-drilling rigs get to Terminal 5. The activist coalition that’s organizing them has been leading kayak training with Alki Kayak Tours at Seacrest, roughly twice a week for the past few weeks. Our partners at The Seattle Times covered this morning’s session too, and photographer Ken Lambert went out on the water for this photo he tweeted:
— Ken Lambert (@SeaTimesFotoKen) May 4, 2015
The Times’ story with Ken’s photos is here. O’Brien chairs the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, which on Tuesday will consider a resolution that voices opposition to Arctic offshore drilling and urges the Port of Seattle to reconsider the lease with Foss that is bringing the Shell rigs here. The first to arrive in Washington waters, the drilling platform Polar Pioneer, is still in Port Angeles; a Chamber of Commerce webcam there still has it in sight; live image here, and here’s a screengrab from earlier today (used with the PA C of C’s permission):
No date set for its expected tow to Terminal 5; the other drill rig Shell has said it hopes to use in the Arctic Ocean this summer, the drillship Noble Discoverer, left its latest stop, off Honolulu, more than a week ago and is not back in MarineTraffic.com range yet. The only Shell ship to visit Terminal 5 so far, the icecutter Aiviq, is back there now after some time in Port Angeles. As announced in mid-April, the anti-drilling coalition has set May 16-18 for a “festival of resistance” starting with a kayak flotilla.
ADDED 8:42 AM MONDAY: Regional news orgs are reporting that Mayor Murray announced at a breakfast event today that the city has determined new/renewed permit(s) will be needed before Shell’s rigs can come here. We’re working to find out more and will have a separate story soon.
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