Seattle To Fine Residents For Not Composting

A vote by the Seattle City Council may put the city more on par with Portland, Oregon, in terms of food waste recycling. | credit: Flickr Photo/Dianne Yee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A vote by the Seattle City Council may put the city more on par with Portland, Oregon, in terms of food waste recycling. | credit: Flickr Photo/Dianne Yee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

 

By: Kim Malcolm, KUOW

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new rule Monday governing what residents put in your garbage bin.

The idea is to increase the amount of food scraps going to compost.

Council member Sally Bagshaw said promoting this practice could reduce up to a third of Seattle’s waste ending up in landfills.

“So if we just get ourselves into the mindset of, Ok, we’re going to recycle our bottles, our papers, our cans, just as we’ve been doing for the past 25 years, and now we’re going to compost the stuff in your kitchen, really easy to reduce the amount of stuff that’s going to a landfill,” she said.

Under the new rule, garbage haulers can ticket bins that contain 10 percent or more of food waste.

Single family households would be fined one dollar on their bi-monthly bill if they exceed that amount.

Owners of multifamily buildings will face a fine of fifty dollars after the third violation.

Bagshaw’s office says the city of Seattle sends 100-thousand tons of garbage to landfills every year.

The new law is aimed at helping Seattle reach its goal of having a recycling rate of 60 percent by 2015. The change is expected to generate an additional 38,000 tons of compost material every year.

San Francisco also has a mandatory composting ordinance.

Collectors will begin tagging garbage bins with warnings Jan. 1. Fines start until July 1.

Seattle Public Utilities asked the council to consider the ordinance because the agency is falling short of its recycling and composting goals. The council vote was 9-to-0. No public hearing was required.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

Coal Export Backers Appeal Permit Denial For Columbia River Project

By Cassandra Profita, OPB

The developer of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project, as well as two project supporters, have appealed the state of Oregon’s decision to deny a permit for a dock on the Columbia River.

The state of Wyoming, the Port of Morrow and project developer Ambre Energy have all challenged the state’s permit denial by requesting a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge, according to Julie Curtis, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of State Lands. The deadline to request a hearing is Monday.

Leaders at the Port of Morrow and the governor of Wyoming have expressed support for the project in the past because of the economic benefits and jobs it would create.

The Morrow Pacific coal export project needs a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to build a dock for coal barges on the Columbia River. The project would ship nearly 9 million tons of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. It would transfer coal shipments from trains to barges at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon, and load the coal onto ships at a dock downriver in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Last month, the state denied the company’s coal dock permit application, saying that the project conflicts with the state’s policy of protecting its water resources and fisheries on the Columbia River.

Everett King, president and CEO of Ambre Energy North America, explained his company’s decision to appeal the state’s permit denial in a news release.

“The permitting process for a rail-to-barge facility should be project-specific and not influenced by the commodities involved,” he said. “It’s pretty clear the politics of coal overshadowed this process from the beginning.”

In its appeal, Ambre Energy argues that the state did not fairly evaluate the company’s permit application and improperly elevated “special interests” above “long-standing” port industrial uses. It also argues that the state went beyond the scope of review it has done in the past for similar permits.

“DSL exceeded its lawful authority while ignoring its legal obligations,” the company wrote in its appeal. “The decision must be reversed.”

Gary Neal, general manager of the Port of Morrow, said the state’s permit denial could have negative implications for his port that extend beyond the Morrow Pacific project.

“Not only does this permit denial create a road block for the well-designed Morrow Pacific project – it sets new regulatory precedent that has the risk of shutting down future development opportunities at the Port of Morrow,” he said. “We are appealing so that this political decision does not limit economic opportunity in rural Oregon.”

Opponents of the Morrow Pacific project criticized the company’s decision to appeal.

“The State of Oregon and the people of Oregon overwhelmingly rejected coal export because we are choosing a better future,” Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said in a news release. “Ambre’s appeal is a last-minute and desperate attempt to just keep hanging on. Coal is too dirty and would degrade our salmon economy.”

The Oregon Department of State Lands allows anyone who participated in the public comment process and who would be adversely affected by the permitting decision to appeal. The Oregon Department of State Lands director will decide whether the appeals have legal merit before setting a hearing date before an administrative law judge.

The permit denial followed a dispute between Columbia River tribes and project developer Ambre Energy over tribal fishing at the proposed dock site. Members of four Columbia River tribes told the state they fish at the proposed dock site, and asked the state to deny the permit to ensure their treaty fishing rights are upheld. Ambre Energy disputed those claims and argued that the dock wouldn’t interfere with tribal fisheries.

The Morrow Pacific project is one of three coal export proposals in the Northwest. The two others would transfer coal from trains to ships in Longview, Washington, on the Columbia River and near Bellingham, Washington, on Puget Sound.

Triple Rescue And Rehab Ends Well For Lucky Ospreys

Rehabbed osprey flies away after its release Wednesday in Finley, Washington.Andrea Berglin

Rehabbed osprey flies away after its release Wednesday in Finley, Washington.
Andrea Berglin

 

By Tom Banse, NW News Network

 

Three young ospreys and a parent are flying free along the Columbia River today after surviving close calls with litter.

One of these ospreys was rescued by BPA linemen last week as it dangled from its nest in a tangle of plastic baling twine near Kennewick, Washington. The other two were pushed out of a different nest near Burbank, Washington, when their mother thrashed about in a wad of derelict fishing net.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Army Corps of Engineers staff captured and cut the mother free last month. All three youngsters were rehabbed at Blue Mountain Wildlife in Pendleton, Oregon.

Center director Lynn Tompkins said the trio was released together at the first nest this week.

“The parents are still there. They’ll feed all three babies. Birds are just amazing that way. It’s like the one baby went back to his nest and he brought two friends home from camp,” Tompkins said with a chuckle.

Tompkins said the second nest was not easily accessible to stage a release there. She said ospreys have an unhealthy fondness for feathering their nests with discarded baling twine or fishing line. No one can explain why.

 


Twice earlier this year, volunteers with Tompkins’ center responded to osprey entanglements, but the birds were dead by the time rescuers arrived.

“This is as good as it gets. Three out of three,” Tompkins enthused.

She wishes more fishermen and farmers would pick up after themselves when fishing line gets snagged or hay bales are cut loose. “You know, people don’t think of the consequences of their actions, leaving all this stuff around. Or it’s not convenient or something,” Tompkins said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it has been involved in five rescues of entangled ospreys in the last three years just around its Mid-Columbia refuges.

“It’s a really big problem, and who would have thought it,” USFWS natural resource planner Dan Haas said. “It’s a miracle there aren’t more entanglements.”

Haas participated in the initial rescue of the osprey chick pair near his office in Burbank, Washington. He said he is delighted the young raptors recovered from their ordeal and were successfully released back into the wild.

“Who knows how many are dying without ever being discovered,” Haas said.

Recycling programs have started in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Idaho’s upper Salmon River valley to collect used baling twine so the ospreys can’t get it and bring it to their nests in place of lichens and grasses.

How one Pacific Northwest tribe is carving out a resistance to coal — and winning

cover_coalprotest_post

Daniel Thornton

By Amber Cortes and Grist staff, Grist, 15 Aug 2014

The Lummi Nation, a Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest, has taken an uncompromising stand against the largest proposed coal export terminal in the country: the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If completed, it would export 48 million tons of coal mined from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, and in the process threaten the Lummi’s ancestral fishing grounds and their economic survival. On Aug. 17 the Lummi people launch a totem pole journey — both a monument to protest and a traveling rally that will bring together imperiled locals, citizen groups, and other indigenous tribes for a unified front against Big Coal and Big Oil.

Grist fellow Amber Cortes visited the Lummis in the run-up to the pivotal protest to find out how they’ve been able to push back against the terminal. The result is a rich story about activism, alliances, and small victories that add up to a big resistance.

For the full story experience, click here.

Agency Reconsidering Water For Klamath Salmon

The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California's Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon. | credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California’s Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon. | credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

By: Associated Press

 

The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California’s Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon returning to spawn in drought conditions.

A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said Friday a decision is likely next week.

The bureau had earlier denied a request from the Hoopa Valley Tribe to release some water from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River to prevent the spread of a parasite that attacks salmon in stagnant waters, though it would release some once significant numbers of fish started dying.

Tribal scientists said by then it would be too late.

The tribe took their case to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when she was in Redding, California, this week, and she agreed to review the situation.

Buzzworthy Breeding To Bring Back Bumble Bees

Preparing to inseminate a queen bee.Megan Asche

Preparing to inseminate a queen bee.
Megan Asche

 

By: Tom Banse, NW News Network

 

Some scientists are going to great lengths to help the agreeable Western bumble bee make a comeback.

You might not have noticed, but this important pollinator of both flowers and greenhouse crops has nearly disappeared from the landscape. An introduced fungal disease is suspected of decimating populations of the fat and furry Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis).

Researchers with the U.S. Agriculture Department have identified some surviving colonies that show disease tolerance. Now a federal bee lab in Utah is collaborating with experts at Washington State University to reestablish the native pollinator. USDA entomologist Jamie Strange is leading a captive breeding project to improve stock fitness. That even includes artificial insemination of the small insects.

“We have this instrumental insemination that we’re working on developing at this point,” explained Strange. “It is still in its infancy, but we hope that we can actually remove sperm from the males and then inject it into the females like they do with certain honey bee breeding programs.”

Strange says commercial pollination companies that truck bee colonies from farm to farm are eager for him to succeed.  “As honey bees become more limited and more expensive, they’re looking for alternatives. We’re here to help them,” said Strange. “Growers are interested in using bumble bees to supplement pollination in berry crops, orchards and other places.”

“When you have both honey bees and wild bees present, you have improved yields from both working together,” observes collaborating entomologist Steve Sheppard at WSU. “There are certain crops where bumble bees are much better” pollinators, he said during a telephone interview.

Sheppard noted that British Columbia’s large industry of hot house tomato growers relies on non-native bumble bees for pollination. He said honey bees typically fly to the ceiling if released in a glass house.

In any event, sooner or later either species tends to get out. “If Jamie can develop a regionally more appropriate species… there could be a lot of interest to use it in Western states,” said Sheppard. Non-native imports “could displace or harm native bumble bees. That’s the logic to not take a species that does not occur in West and put in glass houses.”

Some states, including Oregon, do not even allow the import of non-native bumble bees to minimize the risk of unleashing disease or unwanted competition with native species.

Bumble bees and honey bees can be fairly easily distinguished. Bumble bees are fat and furry. The smaller and slimmer honey bee more closely resembles a wasp. Honey bees live in large hives, while bumble bees tend to cluster in smaller nests which do not produce surplus honey.

BC Mine Dam Break Threatens Northwest Fisheries

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

 

By: Ed Schoenfeld, Alaska Public Radio; Source: OPB

 

A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

Imperial Metals, the mine’s owner, issued a statement that only said the material was not acidic. Emergency officials told residents not to drink or bathe in water from affected rivers and lakes.

The spill area is in the watershed of the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B.C. The river supports a large sport and commercial fishery in Washington state.

Brian Lynch of the Petersburg, Alaska, Vessel Owners Association says some of those fish also swim north.

“The United States has a harvest-sharing arrangement for Fraser sockeye and pink salmon through provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. So any problem associated with salmon production on the Fraser will affect U.S. fishermen,” he says.

Imperial Metals did not respond to requests for comment. Its website says the mine is closed and damage is being assessed.

Provincial officials have ordered the corporation to stop water from flowing through the dam break. Imperial could face up to $1 million in fines.

Environmental groups in Canada and Alaska say Mount Polley’s dam is similar to those planned for a half-dozen mines in northwest British Columbia.

They say a dam break there would pollute salmon-producing rivers that flow through Alaska.

That could also affect U.S.-Canada Salmon Treaty allocations, including for waters off Washington state.

Pollution From Columbia River Dams Must Be Disclosed

By: Associated Press; Source: OPB

 

The Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. A legal settlement requires the Army Corps of Engineers to disclose the pollution that its dams put into the river. | credit: Amelia Templeton

The Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. A legal settlement requires the Army Corps of Engineers to disclose the pollution that its dams put into the river. | credit: Amelia Templeton

 

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to disclose the amount of pollutants its dams are sending into waterways in a groundbreaking legal settlement that could have broad implications for the Corps’ hundreds of dams nationwide.

The Corps announced in a settlement on Monday that it will immediately notify the conservation group that filed the lawsuit of any oil spills among its eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

The Corps will also apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for pollution permits, something the Corps has never done for the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, ends the year-old consolidated lawsuit by the conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper, which said the Corps violated the Clean Water Act by unmonitored, unpermitted oil discharges from the eight hydroelectric dams.

The settlement reflects the recent tack of the EPA regulating the environmental impacts of energy. The agency has recently come up with regulations of mountaintop removal for coal and fracking for oil and gas.

As part of the settlement, the Corps admits no wrongdoing, but will pay $143,000 and the consolidated cases were dismissed.

When contacted by The Associated Press, the Corps’ Northwest and national offices requested questions via email Monday and did not immediately comment on the settlement.

The settlement will allow oversight of the dams by the EPA. The agency had the authority to regulate the dams’ pollution before the settlement, but it could not compel the corps to file for a pollution permit. The Corps will also be forced to switch to a biodegradable lubricant for its dam machinery if an internal study finds that it’s financially feasible.

The Corps isn’t just a polluter, however. It’s also a regulator of pollution under the Clean Water Act. The act grants the Corps the authority to issue permits for the discharge of materials excavated from or put into U.S. waterways.

“Under the letter of the law, they have been engaged in unpermitted discharge for years,” said Melissa Powers, an environmental law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. “They should have long ago said, ‘This is how much we’re discharging. Here are the environmental impacts.’ “

Monday’s settlement will force the Corps’ hand. To discharge pollutants into waterways, the polluters must obtain permission from state and federal governments. Before the settlement, the EPA knew about the unpermitted discharges from the dams, but the Corps said in letters to state agencies that it is not accountable to the EPA.

The Corps argued in the same letters that disclosing the mechanical workings of the dam as part of an oil-discharge summary could compromise the dams’ security.

In July 2013, Columbia Riverkeeper sued and demanded to know what the Corps was sending into the water and how much of it was going in.

“When you’re not regulated under a permit, you don’t have to say what the impact (of pollution) on water was,” Powers said.

Nationally, the settlement could force all unpermitted dams to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits from the EPA.

Daniel Estrin, an environmental law professor at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York, said the settlement will make it impossible for the Corps to say that all of its pollutant-discharging dams don’t require discharge permits.

“The Corps’ acknowledgement of the need for permits in this settlement will make it difficult for other owners to successfully deny that permits are required in the face of citizen suits like the one brought (here),” Estrin said.

The eight dams affected by the settlement are the Bonneville, the John Day, The Dalles and McNary in Oregon and the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite in Washington state.

Environmentalists will be closely watching the type of permit issued by the EPA, Powers said. A “site-specific” permit would likely include limits that the Corps would have to meet on the amount of oil discharged.

If the EPA instead issues a general permit, environmentalists would be less sanguine about its prospects, Powers said. General permits are less effective in compelling change because they are issued without specific metrics that must be met, she said.

In 2009, the EPA found a host of toxins in fish on the Columbia River, including polychlorinated biphenyl, a potentially carcinogenic synthetic that was banned for production in the U.S. in 1979.

The eight dams use turbines that have shafts and hubs filled with oil or other lubricants. The oil leaks to the surface, along with oil from drainage sumps, transformers and wickets that control water flow.

Gov. Inslee’s Wastewater Plant Tour Highlights Sea Rise Woes

Dan Grenet (left), the manager of Seattle's West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, leads Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee of a tour. The visit was intended to highlight the costs of climate change; in this case, as a result of seawater incursion at the facility. | credit: Ashley Ahear

Dan Grenet (left), the manager of Seattle’s West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, leads Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee of a tour. The visit was intended to highlight the costs of climate change; in this case, as a result of seawater incursion at the facility. | credit: Ashley Ahear

 

By: Ashley Ahearn, KUOW

 

SEATTLE — When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wanted to show the connection between climate change and an unpleasant and costly consequence for his constituents, he decided to tour a sewage treatment plant.

Inslee’s visit Tuesday to the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Seattle’s Discovery Park was the latest stop on his statewide tour to raise awareness about the costs of climate change.

The problem the governor wanted to highlight: climate change is causing sea levels to rise. And that means homes and buildings that were built a safe distance from the water’s edge are increasingly becoming too close for comfort.

That message was also delivered by the White House Tuesday, when it issued a report that said global sea levels are currently rising at more than an inch per decade — and the rate appears to be increasing.

No one complained about the smell as treatment plant workers and managers led Inslee and other visitors through the facility. But there was a lot of talk about the problems with rising sea level.

Dan Grenet, the manager of the facility, showed Inslee some photographs hanging in the lobby. Waves crash over a cement wall.

“This is a photograph of Puget Sound coming into our facility – causes big problems in our pumps and piping systems and also, it’s a biological process here,” Grenet told the governor. “It doesn’t do well with salt water. Causes big problems.”

Saltwater intrusion could cost King and other shoreline counties tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades.

But during this visit, as with other stops on his climate change tour, the governor emphasized that the costs of climate change will hit from all directions.

“We’ve had $50 million in costs for fighting fires. Tens of millions of dollars of damage to the oyster industry,” Inslee said. “And here we don’t have an estimate at West Point but we know it’s significant because we know it’s not just this point its all these ancillary pumping stations that are going to have to be if not rebuilt, refortified to deal with sea water intrusion.”

Inslee’s latest task force on climate change has been charged with developing a plan to put a price on CO2 emissions. The plan is expected be presented to the state Legislature this fall.

Canoe Journey Message: Protect Our Fragile Environment

Tracy Rector/Longhouse MediaThe Heiltsuk First Nation is hosting 31 canoes from Pacific Northwest indigenous nations. That number was provided by the manager of the Paddle to Bella Bella Facebook page. Canoes arrived July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19.

Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media
The Heiltsuk First Nation is hosting 31 canoes from Pacific Northwest indigenous nations. That number was provided by the manager of the Paddle to Bella Bella Facebook page. Canoes arrived July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19.

 

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today

 

 

 

En route to the territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation, pullers in the 2014 Canoe Journey traveled through territory so beautiful it will be impossible to forget: Rugged, forested coastlines; island-dotted straits and narrow, glacier-carved passages; through Johnstone Strait, home of the largest resident pod of orcas in the world, and along the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world.

They also traveled waters that are increasingly polluted and under threat.

Pullers traveled the marine highways of their ancestors, past Victoria, British Columbia, which dumps filtered, untreated sewage into the Salish Sea. They traveled the routes that U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan plans to use to ship 400 tanker loads of heavy crude oil each year.

Canoes traveling from the north passed the inlets leading to Kitimat, where heavy crude from Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia, a project that Canada approved on June 17.

RELATED: First Nations Challenge Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline in Court

Canoes from the Lummi Nation near Bellingham passed Cherry Point, a sacred and environmentally sensitive area where Gateway Pacific proposes a coal train terminal; early site preparation was done without permits and desecrated ancestral burials.

RELATED: Lummi Nation Officially Opposes Coal Export Terminal in Letter to Army Corps of Engineers

Young activist Ta’kaiya Blaney of the Sliammon First Nation sang of her fears of potential environmental damage to come in her song, “Shallow Waters”:

“Come with me to the emerald sea / Where black gold spills into my ocean dreams.

“Nothing to be found, no life is around / It’s just the sound of mourning in the air.”

RELATED: Young Sliammon Actor/Singer Campaigns Against Pipeline

Canoes from Northwest indigenous nations arrived in Bella Bella, British Columbia on July 13; the gathering continues until July 19 with cultural celebrations, a rally against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, and an indigenous economic summit. The ceremonies are being livestreamed online at Tribal Canoe Journeys 2014 :: Qatuwas Bella Bella.

Mike Williams Sr., chief of the Yupiit Nation and member of the board of First Stewards, noted that the Canoe Journey route calls attention to the fragile environment that’s at stake. First Stewards, an indigenous environmental advocacy group, will host a symposium on “Sustainability, Climate Change & Traditional Places” from July 21–23 in Washington, D.C.

“The Canoe Journey is a really big statement to us to hang onto our culture and our way of life, and to bind people together,” said Williams, who is also a well-known musher. “In the Iditarod, there are pristine places but there are also old mining towns [on the route] where we’re told not to drink the water.”

The parallels between the water issues encountered on the Iditarod and the Canoe Journey are unmistakable, he added.

“In the Canoe Journey, there are pristine waters and there are waters that contains toxic substances,” Williams said. “There’s oil and the continuous leaking of pipelines. It happens.”

Not only does it happen, but it does not go away. Prince William Sound has never totally recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Williams said. Likewise, he added, if the Northern Gateway pipeline, the coal trains and increased shipping come to fruition, an environmental disaster is inevitable.

“It’s going to happen,” Williams said. “There has to be total, thoughtful conversation for everyone—consider all the possible impacts. And there has to be meaningful consultation with the tribes. They have to weigh in on that. We’ve got to make it 100 percent fail-safe or don’t do it.”

 

The Heiltsuk First Nation's hosting of the 2014 Canoe Journey included a rally against the Enbridge pipeline. Canoes arrived in Bella Bella, B.C., on July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19. (Photo: Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media)
The Heiltsuk First Nation’s hosting of the 2014 Canoe Journey included a rally against the Enbridge pipeline. Canoes arrived in Bella Bella, B.C., on July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19. (Photo: Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media)

 

State Senator John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes. He is the ranking member of the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, which focuses on such issues as climate change, water quality, toxic chemical use reduction and cleanup, and management of storm water and wastewater.

“I think the message is, pollution is occurring everywhere,” McCoy said of the takeaway from the Canoe Journey. “It’s a worldwide problem, and it needs to be addressed. If we keep polluting our water, we’re going to be in big trouble. Water is the essence of life.”

Canoes were underway for Bella Bella on July 9 as Governor Jay Inslee announced that he wants to increase the recommended fish-consumption rate in the state from 6.5 grams to 175 grams a day—that’s good news for indigenous peoples, for whom fish is important culturally, spiritually and as a food. But for 175 grams of fish to be considered safe to eat, businesses that pollute will have to conform to tougher pollution control standards.

RELATED: New Fish Consumption Guidelines More Political Than Scientific, Northwest Tribes Say

Inslee’s plan for how toxic substances will be controlled in expected in December. It will require legislation, McCoy said.

Jewell James is coordinator of the Lummi Treaty Protection Task Force and a leader in the effort to prevent a coal train terminal from being built at Cherry Point, a sacred area for the Lummi people and an important spawning ground for herring, an important food for salmon.

James said environmental degradation is just part of a series of historical traumas set upon Indigenous Peoples: First, the diseases that came after contact; then the treaty era and the relocation to reservations; then the cultural and spiritual oppression of the boarding school era, and then the termination era.

“Yet we continue to exist,” James said. And the Canoe Journey, now in its 23rd year, has helped “revitalize and breathe new life into our cultural knowledge” given that journey gatherings are venues for the passing down of stories about how the ancestors lived in and cared for the environment that sustained them.

RELATED: 10 Traditional Foods You Might Enjoy During a Canoe Journey

James hopes people on the Canoe Journey connect with and carry on those stories and values.

“There are messages in those stories,” he said. “And within those stories there are sacred symbols that mean something—that you have to be careful with what you do, and others have to be careful with what they do, to Mother Earth.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/17/canoe-journey-message-protect-our-fragile-environment-155904?page=0%2C1