Thursday, April 20, 2006

Problems at Biodiesel Refinery

By Warren Cornwall Seattle Times staff reporter
"It's an industry praised by environmentalists and heavily funded by state lawmakers. But it turns out that the promise of locally produced biodiesel also comes with the potential for pollution - and one of the state's first large-scale refineries is already running into trouble. "The state Department of Ecology has warned the operators of a biodiesel-crushing plant in Creston, Lincoln County, a small town near Spokane, that the company has committed an 'egregious' violation of state air-quality laws by emitting toxic methanol vapors without a permit. "State investigators also say they have found spills of vegetable oil or biodiesel at the site. Now they are demanding that the owners of the company, Air Energy, show that they can properly handle the plant's industrial waste."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Earthjustice Press Release Concerning Wild versus Hatchery Steelhead

Earthjustice: Newsroom
"Seattle, Washington-- Six conservation organizations have filed a two-pronged challenge to a decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service to reclassify upper Columbia River steelhead stocks as threatened rather than endangered based on the agency's 2005 decision to count both wild and hatchery-raised fish together, even though the agency conceded that hatchery fish pose a threat to the survival and recovery of the wild steelhead. "'The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect wildlife's ability to sustain itself in the wild. And that means the focus in on wild steelhead in rivers, not steelhead that are produced in hatcheries,' said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. She represents Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, Pacific Rivers Council, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Native Fish Society, and the Sierra Club in the litigation. "The suit asks the court to set aside the downlisting of upper Columbia steelhead, declare the listing policy inadequate, and order the administration to reconsider a request to consider wild and hatchery fish separately."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"The Real Acme"

Normally, I restrict this blog to matters of environmental law -- endangered fish, polluted water, nasty chemicals, etc. However, when I see a particularly interesting and provocative writing on another area of the law, I will link to it if I feel it has great social import. Today I feature a disquisition on the finer points of tort law by one Mr. Iowahawk.


"Once upon a time in the postwar, before the advent of EPA and OSHA and the Consumer Products Safety Commission and weenies in bike helmets and multilingual warning stickers on stepladders, crazy people walked this earth. Good, fun-loving Americans who knew that "instructions" were something you threw in the trash along with the empty Falstaff bottles. A halcyon era filled with manly men who savored the wholesome virtues of a rugged game of un-seatbelted automotive chicken. "Where did they all go? Perhaps it was the feminization of culture, or the rise of litigation, or the cumulative toll of various maimings. All I know is that entire industries were once devoted to sating their demand: tether lawn mowers. Home blowtorches and 110 electric welders. Oly party balls. And for the kids, Jarts and clackers and Thing Makers and M-80s. But there is one name that stands alone at the apex of the daredevilry supply industry: the Turbonique Company of Orlando, Florida."
Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 07, 2006

It's All About the Fish

"Conservation groups Thursday challenged a new government policy that includes hatchery fish in counts used to determine the status of dwindling salmon and steelhead runs. "In a federal court lawsuit the plaintiffs also challenged the downlisting of upper Columbia steelhead -- from endangered to threatened -- that has resulted from that policy. "'The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect wildlife's ability to sustain itself in the wild. And that means the focus is on wild steelhead in rivers, not steelhead that are produced in hatcheries,' said Patti Goldman of Earthjustice. "Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of six plaintiff groups against the National Marine Fisheries Service and its regional director, Bob Lohn."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Natural Gas & Coal Plays in Washington State

By Steve Wilhelm Puget Sound Business Journal
"As fossil fuel prices rise, companies worldwide are adding Washington to their short lists for promising gas, oil and coal reserves."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ecology Hosting a Meeting in Walla Walla on Water Metering

From WA Dept. Ecology:
"Residents of the Walla Walla area will have a chance to get their questions answered about water measuring or "metering" at a public meeting being held in early April. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5th, at the Walla Walla Community College. A Superior Court ruling required the Department of Ecology to measure 80 percent of the water being used in 16 river basins in Washington. These are the river basins where fish runs are the most threatened. Experts will explain the reasons for the requirement, who needs to comply and how to get financial help."
Ecology contact is Jani Gilbert, public information manager, 509-329-3495; cell phone, 509-990-9177

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Army Corps of Engineers is Scoping on Seattle's Alaskan Way Seawall

Federal Register
"SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed seawall rehabilitation project along the Elliott Bay shoreline in Seattle, WA. The seawall, known as the Alaskan Way Seawall, is experiencing significant decay and deterioration, leading to structural instability along the Seattle waterfront and central business district. Seawall structural instability is putting a tremendous amount of public and private infrastructure, development, and transportation linkages at risk of damage due to wave and tidal erosion, and hence potential for undermining and collapse. In addition, the failure of the seawall would result in a high risk to public safety and substantial environmental degradation. The purpose of the proposed rehabilitation effort is to protect the public facilities and economic activities along the Elliott Bay shoreline from storm damages associated with failure of the existing seawall. "DATES: Submit comments on the scope of issues to be addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by April 30, 2006. "ADDRESSES: Address all comments concerning this notice to Ms. Aimee Kinney, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, Environmental Resources Section, PO Box 3755, Seattle, WA 98124-3755. Submit electronic comments and other date [sic] to "FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding the scoping process or preparation of the DEIS may be directed to Ms. Aimee Kinney"