Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ecology Approves Groundwater Right for Clark County Chip Maker

"The Ecology Department has approved additional rights to water for Japanese-owned S - E - H America, which operates in Clark County. "The new water paves the way for the silicon wafer manufacturer to make bigger, 12-inch wafers and keep its operations in Washington. "Silicon wafers are used to make computer microchips found in today's electronic devices. "A key condition of the state's water right approval directs SEH to monitor the underground aquifer to make sure their withdrawal does not harm water levels."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Finding on Petition to List Puget Sound Steelhead as an Endangered or Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act

EPA: Federal Register
"SUMMARY: We (NMFS) have completed an updated Endangered Species Act (ESA) status review of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations in the Puget Sound area (Washington). We initiated this review in response to a petition received from Mr. Sam Wright on September 13, 2004, to list Puget Sound steelhead as a threatened or endangered species. We have determined that naturally spawned winter- and summer-run steelhead populations and two hatchery steelhead stocks, below natural and manmade impassable barriers, in the river basins of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and Hood Canal (Washington) constitute a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and hence a ``species'' for listing consideration under the ESA. After reviewing the best available scientific and commercial information, evaluating threats facing the species, and taking into account those efforts being made to protect the species, we conclude that the Puget Sound steelhead DPS is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we are proposing that the Puget Sound steelhead DPS be listed under the ESA as a threatened species. We will announce the timing and location of a public hearing to be held in the Puget Sound area, and propose 4(d) protective regulations and critical habitat for the Puget Sound steelhead DPS in subsequent Federal Register notices."

Link to Text of Initiative 933, a Ballot Measure Concerning Government Regulation of Private Property


"I, Sam Reed, Secretary of State of the State of Washington and custodian of its seal hereby certify that, according to the records on file in my office, the attached copy of Initiative Measure No. 933 to the People is a true and correct copy as it was received by this office."

Read the six page PDF file.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Building on a Brownfield? Concerned about endangered critters?

By Sharon Kophs, brownfields program manager for Washington State Community, Trade and Economic Development
"The purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to conserve the nation's natural heritage for the enjoyment and benefit of current and future generations. As such, the ESA directs all federal agencies to participate in conservation of species endangered or threatened with extinction. "Section 7(a)(2) of the act charges federal agencies with ensuring their activities "will not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitats." This means any project using federal funds must comply with Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA through a consultation process. This includes all projects using EPA 128 grant, direct brownfields assessment or cleanup grants, and cleanup funding through Brownfields revolving loan funds. "EPA Region 10 requests its nonfederal partners and grantees to provide sufficient information to make such a determination. Generally, the ESA consultation is conducted as part of a project's eligibility determination for an assessment pilot, or before initiating construction work for a cleanup site. A consultation may need to be completed for each phase if conditions change."

Read the rest. It's a good place to start on a critical part of your project, giving several useful links to helpful websites and offering excellent advice. Plus, Ms. Kophs can be a good ally to have.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Farm Bureau & Building Industry Association Challenge Puget Sound Orca Listing

"Farming and industry groups in Washington state sued to remove Puget Sound's several dozen killer whales from the endangered species list, saying the designation will result in unnecessary water and land-use restrictions."

"Gregoire signs Columbia River bonding authority"

"Gregoire signed a measure appropriating $200 million in bonding authority for Columbia River water storage projects. The legislation is part of a larger Columbia River management plan the governor signed last month. She praised the plan as the tonic to end a 30-year stalemate over competing water needs in Eastern Washington."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Center for Environmental Law and Policy Not Happy with New Columbia Basin Law

"Gov. Christine Gregoire and the Legislature last month enacted two laws that will have a major effect on the Columbia. When government shuts out key information, government risks making bad decisions -- and that is what happened when Olympia produced the new Columbia River Management Plan."
This law -- see my previous posts -- will be the cause of much future litigation. This shot from the environmentalists is just a ranging shot, more will follow. How can environmentalists -- who think there are already too many dams -- not object to the construction of more? Object they can and object they will.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Dams in Western Washington?

By ADAM WILSON- The Olympian - Olympia, Washington
"Growth in Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater threatens to outstrip the area's supply of freshwater. Lacey has enacted an effective ban on development outside its city limits as it comes close to using the maximum amount of water to which it has a legal right. [Governor] Gregoire, speaking to the Olympia Rotary Club, said a shared-used concept, as well as building storage to lessen the effect of high-demand periods in the summer, could be the answer."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne Selected to Lead Interior Department"

By MICHAEL JANOFSKY - New York Times {Free registration required}
"'He represents a continuation of five years of an administration policy of exploiting public lands for oil and gas development and other resource extraction,' said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. 'President Bush could not have named a Western governor more in line with this administration.'"

And you were expecting what exactly?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Recreation at Proposed Black Rock Reservoir?

"Hoping to make a better case for Black Rock, local governments are close to launching a study to show the economic benefits of a major resort complex around the proposed reservoir. Benton and Yakima counties and the Port of Sunnyside are planning a one-year study of the benefits of designating the proposed reservoir, 40 miles east of Yakima, as a master planned resort."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Wells Fargo Invests $1.9 Million in Ecotrust Forests LLC to Protect Forestland in Washington State"

Wells Fargo Press Release
"Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) and Ecotrust Forests LLC announce Wells Fargo's $1.9 million investment to support the purchase of 3,243 acres of Olympic Peninsula forestland in the Sooes River watershed. The investment is part of Wells Fargo's recently announced Ten-Point Environmental Commitment which will direct $1 billion to environmental business opportunities and equity investments. 'We want to be a leader in this important area of corporate citizenship and investing in our communities,' said Patrick Yalung, regional president for Wells Fargo in Washington. 'Our partnership with Ecotrust provides Wells Fargo with an important opportunity to help conserve the pristine geography in the Olympic Peninsula.' "

Seattle P-I: Second thoughts about the Columbia River Bill

"Legislators, lobbyists and others heaped on the praise when Gov. Christine Gregoire declared 'the gridlock is over' as she signed the first of two bills needed to start the dam-building campaign. The second is expected to pass today or Thursday. But left largely unsaid is the fact that the new laws are really only the uncertain start of a solution to Eastern Washington's water problems."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"NMFS study of Makah whaling reopened and expanded"

KONP / Local News
"March 3rd, 2006 - 6:18am (Seattle) -- The National Marine Fisheries Service has reopened and expanded the scope of public comment for an environmental study of the Makah Tribe's request to conduct whale hunting under its treaty rights. The agency has decided to expand the scope of the study to include not only the effects of issuing quotas to the Makah through a waiver of the Marine Mammals Protection Act moratorium on taking marine mammals, but also on the effect of issuing quotas under the Whaling Convention Act. A whale hunt could not take place without the federal agency's authorization under both statutes. The new deadline for written or electronically mailed public comment specifically about expansion of the study's scope is 5 p.m. March 29th."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Some Stevens County Residents Not Happy With GMA

BY MAGGIE ULMER Statesman Examiner Online
"The Board of Stevens County Commissioners held what may be its last hearing on the comprehensive plan section of the Growth Management Act on Feb. 21. What they heard at the last session was anything but an endorsement of the county's work with the contentious growth management conundrum."

Thurston County Appeals Grow Management Board Decision

By Jennifer Latson: The Olympian
"The county is appealing a ruling from a state agency that found some of the county,s land-use rules violated state policy meant to prevent sprawl. The July 20 ruling by the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board found that the county's urban growth areas were too big, and that zoning rules in rural parts of the county allowed too much housing density. A Supreme Court commissioner decided Tuesday that the court will consider legal briefs on the case, and will send it to the Court of Appeals or take the case itself. County officials bypassed lower courts to bring their case to the state's highest court in hopes they could get a ruling faster and not face subsequent appeals."