Statement on the North
Dakota oil train explosion and derailment; Tacoma refinery fire
The Stand Up To Oil campaign issued the following
statement in response to the oil train derailment in Heimdal, North Dakota and the refinery fire in Tacoma,
"Today's derailment and explosion in North Dakota and the
refinery fire in Tacoma, Washington reinforce how dangerous transporting and
handling oil can be to our communities, our air quality, and our lives.
No community along the rail line is safe. This is the fifth
major crude oil train derailment in 2015. The rules recently adopted by the
USDOT leave these dangerous oil tank cars on the rails for another five to
eight years, and the public will bear the brunt of the responsibility and risk.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are five proposals
pending that would dramatically increase these risks to our communities. The
disasters are another warning that we must say no to all the proposed oil
Today also saw a fire at the US OIL refinery in Tacoma,
Washington. We urge the authorities to carefully monitor the impacts of the
smoke on the health of Tacoma residents. Previous incidents at refineries in
Anacortes, Washington and Richmond, California have shown the oil industry
often fails to explain the impacts of their industry on our public health.
These accidents reinforce the need and urgency for the
Northwest to speed its transitioning to a clean energy economy and a decrease
in our reliance on these dangerous modes of transport for these explosive
Stand Up to Oil is a growing coalition of groups opposed
to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest,
while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through
the region. Core members include: Climate Solutions, Columbia Riverkeeper,
Earthjustice, Forest Ethics, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Friends of the San
Juans, The Lands Council, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility.
For Immediate Release: April 14, 2015 Contact: Kerry McHugh, Washington
Environmental Council, 206.902.7555, firstname.lastname@example.org
Transportation Safety Bill Passes State House
passes with bipartisan support; now heads back to Senate for concurrence
WA – Today and for the second time this session, the Washington House of
Representatives passed bipartisan legislation designed to modernize our oil
transportation safety system and improve transparency with a vote of 58-40. The
bill (SB 5057) now moves to the State Senate for concurrence.
The policy measures in the updated bill were derived from a robust study and
public input process last year, and the policies have benefitted from a broad
base of support from local elected officials, emergency responders, tribes, and
environmental groups. It bears the number of a bill previously supported by the
oil industry, but it has been strengthened to reflect the key elements originally
put forth by the Governor.
the Senate considers this bill, I hope they remember the Spokane area school
children, hospital patients, and those who live and work near the busy rail
lines carrying oil trains with potentially volatile cargo," said Spokane City
Council Member Candace Mumm. "Giving our local governments and first responders
the information to plan prevention and response is a basic first step in
protecting our communities. Information is our best defense against a potential
around strong action on oil transport has increased over the last couple of
years, with derailments and explosions happening across North America, most
recently in West Virginia and Ontario, and pipeline spills in Montana and
bill is a commonsense step towards updating our laws to reflect reality – oil
trains moving through our state and oil tankers carrying tar sands and Bakken
crude over our waters," said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Environmental
Council and Washington Conservation Voters. "The House has passed these
urgently needed policies with bipartisan support twice. Delay on the part of
the Senate is unacceptable."
components of the bill include:
reporting on the volume and type of oil transported, oil spills, and other
information that will be given to first responders and that the public can
easily access through a new website.
rulemaking to adopt proven oil spill prevention measures like tug escorts for
ships carrying oil in the most vulnerable areas of Puget Sound.
state to inspect rail crossings and push for repairs to degraded rail
protections to ensure that the companies carrying dangerous crude oil shipments
through our region, not taxpayers, can pay for response after any size of spill
companies to pay for increased oil spill prevention, paredness, and response
Transportation Safety Now is one of the 2015 Environmental Priorities.
Wolf OR-7 Film Screening, Panel Discussion
Set for Spokane's Bing Crosby Theater, Friday and Saturday Night
to Highlight Wolf Recovery, Coexistence
SPOKANE, Wash.- A documentary about the gray wolf
who trekked hundreds of miles across Oregon and became the first wild wolf in California
in nearly 90 years will be screened Friday and Saturday in Spokane. The film, OR7
- The Journey, will be
followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and panel
discussion with some of the nation's leading authorities on wolf recovery and successfully
coexisting with wolves.
The film details the ongoing legacy of OR-7, a young, male gray wolf born in
northeast Oregon who traveled more than 1,000 miles to southwest Oregon and
California, prompting California to protect wolves as endangered. The documentary
describes not only the remarkable journey of OR-7 across Oregon's spectacular
wild landscapes, but the ongoing fight for gray wolves to fully recover and achieve
sustainable populations in their historic territory.
wolves once ranged widely across the United States, they were nearly eradicated
in the lower 48 by the early 20th century. Only now are they making a comeback in
some parts of the country thanks to the protections of the federal Endangered
Species Act and wolf recovery efforts in the states. Wolves have started to
return to Washington, and the post-film panel discussion and Q&A are designed
to provide information, updates, and details about how members of the public
can stay informed and get involved.
WHAT: Film screening of
the documentary OR7 - The Journey,
followed by Q&A with the filmmaker and a panel discussion with representatives
from the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, The Lands
Council, Conservation Northwest and the Endangered Species Coalition. These
groups will also be available in the lobby to provide information and answer
WHEN: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday
and Saturday, April 3 and 4; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
COST: $7.50 (plus small
handling fee if tickets purchased in advance online). Tickets can be purchased at
the door, or online at www.bingcrosbytheater.com or at www.ticketswest.com. This event is
sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered
Species Coalition, The Lands Council and Conservation Northwest.
Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to
the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Defenders of Wildlife is a national conservation
organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in
their natural communities. Founded in
1947, Defenders of Wildlife has over 1.3 million members and supporters
The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of
hundreds of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor
recreation, business and community organizations working to protect our
nation's disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.
The Lands Council is a regional conservation group that safeguards Inland Northwest
forests, water, and wildlife through advocacy and community engagement.
Northwest wild" since 1989, Conservation Northwest protects, connects and
restores old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to
the B.C. Rockies: vital to a healthy future for us, our children, and wildlife.
Court: Endangered Selkirk caribou critical habitat must be revisted
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Selkirk Conservation Alliance, The Lands Council, Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife, and were represented by attorney Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West.
Today, world renowned mountain
climber and former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley, Fayette Krause,
former Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy, Spokane Audubon Society, and
the Lands Council filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court, challenging
the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission land use classification decision
and approval of ski area expansion in Mount Spokane State Park. The decision was made on November 20, 2014 on
a split vote. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined
that the land in the PASEA provides crucial habitat for wildlife.
Roskelley, who served on the Washington State Growth Management Board said "Mt.
Spokane State Park belongs to all the citizens of the state of Washington, not
just to one small user group of skiers from the Spokane area for less than four
months a year. Their politicized decision to classify critical wildlife habitat
and an intact old growth forest on the northwest slopes of Mt. Spokane as
recreation and authorize 280 acres of clear-cuts and logging damage to this
irreplaceable alpine area fails to follow the Commission's mission."
expansion will permanently destroy some of the best northern goshawk habitat in
Spokane County, and fragment a native old growth forest that has stood for over
two centuries," said Greg Gordon of the Spokane Audubon Society.
David Bricklin, Bricklin and
Newman LLP (email@example.com), and attorney for the plaintiffs said "Classifying
these rare, old growth forests for recreational purposes is not allowed. The Commission ignored its own regulations
and policies which preclude a ski area classification for lands with high
natural resource values" citing Washington State Parks and Recreation
Commission, Policy on Protecting Washington State Parks Natural Resources
(Policy 73-04-1), Policy E.1.:
Areas of a park containing natural resources of regional or
statewide significance, unusual and/or sensitive habitats (e.g., bald eagles), or a species of concern should be classified
restrictively to allow only low-intensity uses and minor facilities
Fayette Krause has been instrumental in the preservation of
forests in the State Parks system. The
Parks Commission approved his recommendations for the first nine State Park
forests to be designated as Natural Forest Areas. Fayette Krause said "I urge that all areas at Mount Spokane State
Park identified in the Washington Natural Heritage Program's 1993 report,
including the proposed expansion area, be fully protected and designated as Natural
Mellgren, Western Law Environmental Center,(541) 359-0990
Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406
Coleman,Kettle Range Conservation Group,(509)
Conservationists Challenge Wildlife
Services' Authority to Kill Wolves in Washington
Wildlife Services Activities Threaten Wolf Recovery, Healthy Ecosystems
Wash. - Today, the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of five
conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services program challenging its authority to
kill endangered wolves in Washington state.
The National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) requires USDA to prepare an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) addressing the effects of employing Wildlife Services to kill endangered
wolves in Washington. The agency completed a less-detailed Environmental Assessment
(EA), but the document contains significant gaps and does not address specific
issues that will significantly impact wolves and the human environment. NEPA
review is designed to ensure all environmental impacts are analyzed and that
the public has an opportunity to comment, and therefore influence, activities
conducted using publicfunds.
prepared by Wildlife Services fails to provide data to support several of its
core assertions. For example, Wildlife Services claims that killing wolves
reduces wolf-caused losses of livestock, yet recentpeer-reviewed researchfrom Washington State University
directly contradicts this conclusion, finding that killing wolves actually
leads to an increase in
wolf-livestock conflicts. The EA also fails to address the ecological effects
of killing wolves in Washington, including impacts on wolf populations in
neighboring states and on non-target animals, including federally protected grizzly
bears and Canada lynx.
Services' activities related to wolves in Washington have been extremely harmful,"
said John Mellgren, attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. "The
science tells us that killing wolves does not actually reduce wolf-livestock
conflicts, but Wildlife Services is continuing its brutal assault on this iconic
animal and it needs to stop."
Services is a stand-alone federal extermination program under USDA that kills
roughly 4 million animals per year, including wolves, grizzly bears, otters,
foxes, coyotes, and birds-with almost no oversight or accountability. A 2013
internal audit revealed that Wildlife Services' accounting practices lacked transparency
and violated state and federal laws. Concerns about the program's practices and
effectiveness are the focus of an ongoing investigation by the USDA's Inspector
has experienced Wildlife Services' recklessness firsthand. Last August, Wildlife
Services' snipers mistakenly shot and killed the Huckleberry wolf pack's alpha
female during a helicopter gunning operation. The killing was in direct violation
of explicit instructions from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
(WDFW) to not kill either of the pack's alpha members. The death of the Huckleberry
pack's breeding female threatens the future of the entire pack.
Services also ‘advised' WDFW in the contentous 2012 killing of Washington's
Wedge wolf pack. In that instance, WDFW killed seven wolves after depredations
of livestock on public lands, despite the rancher's failure to take sufficient
action to protect his cattle.
Services' refusal to ensure its activities are based on the best available
science strips the public of an opportunity to meaningfully understand and
contribute to decisions impacting the health of ecosystems on which we all
depend," said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians.
"Its past time that the dark practices of Wildlife Services are subjected to
the sunshine of a transparent public process."
were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a
government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The
species began to return to Washington from neighboring Idaho and British
Columbia in the early 2000s, and the wolf population in the state has grown to 13
confirmed packs. Despite this growth, wolves in the state are far from
recovered and face ongoing threats-including the threat of being shot and
killed by Wildlife Services.
Environmental Law Center is representing the following organizations in the
lawsuit: Cascadia Wildlands, WildEarth Guardians, Kettle Range Conservation
Group, Predator Defense, and The Lands Council.
Press Release: February 17, 2015
Safety Now bill Advances in State House
for bill increased with derailment and explosion of oil trains in West
WA –Today, the House Environment Committee voted the Oil Transportation Safety
Now bill out of committee. The bill is prime sponsored by Rep. Jessyn
Farrell and Sen. Christine Rolfes.
This bill is supported by a broad range of local elected officials, emergency
responders, health care providers, and environmental groups.
trains are already traveling under downtown Seattle and along Puget Sound. We
need to pay attention to the risks to our communities," said King County
Executive Dow Constantine. "I ask the legislature to take swift action on this
Today an oil train in West
Virginia derailed and exploded, spilling oil into the Kanawha River and setting
the nearby area on fire. In response Washington Environmental Council,
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Lands Council issued the
"Today's derailment and explosion in West Virginia shows how
dangerous oil transportation can be to our waterways, communities, and
Today's accident puts the drinking water and homes of West
Virginians on the line and illustrates the frightening risks posed by oil
moving through our communities.
Here in Washington, we have an opportunity to modernize and address current
gaps in our oil transportation safety system by passing a bill that takes
action on public disclosure and oil spill prevention and response needs (HB
1449 / SB 5087). In addition, the state should not allow more oil to come
through our region, increasing the risks of spills and derailments, by saying
no to the terminal proposals in Grays Harbor and Vancouver.
Today's events are a tragedy and a warning. It's up to us to
do what we can to protect our state."
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Snowshoes and science
Mountain becomes classroom on water quantity for Post Falls students
MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK, Wash. - For T'ariq Arp, the mile-long trek up the side of a mountain here on Wednesday was well worth the exercise.
The mountain and its snowpack became the classroom for Post Falls High teacher Cindy Rust's Honors Biology class, which is studying snow science from runoff to avalanche danger.
"At least you're not sitting in a classroom learning from a PowerPoint presentation," said Arp, a sophomore, taking a break from collecting data. "A lot of us haven't been snowshoeing. Some students are hands-on, so this field trip helps them understand what's taught in the classroom better."
breath caught in clouds of frosty air, but the frigid temperatures didn't chill
the enthusiasm of the 21 students from the Community School, as they gathered
at Mount Spokane last week for a snowshoeing adventure.
This is the third year Kat Hall, conservation programs director
for the Lands Council, has taken students to Mount Spokane to learn about
winter safety and the importance of the snowpack in our region.
The field trip is part of Project Sustain, the Lands Council's
environmental education program. "The point is for the kids to realize the snow
they're digging in and throwing at their friends, will eventually be the water
they put their canoes in on the river," Hall said.
Field reports: Mount Spokane land classifications affect ski area expansion
PARKS – Land classification proposals that could make or break plans to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday in Bellingham.
South End Project aims to enlarge ATV access while protecting Colville National Forest land
For years, human activity has trashed the pristine ecosystem of Phillips Lake.
Campsites are strewn with human waste and beer cans. Signs and fences have been shot, pushed to the ground or stolen for firewood. Graffiti tags the boulders that rise high above the lake and reappears after every time it's cleaned off.
Northeast Washington ranchers have begun moving their cattle to remote Forest Service meadows, where many of the herds will spend the summer grazing in territory occupied by the state's growing wolf population.
With a high potential for conflicts, eight environmental groups have petitioned state officials to create rules that would place limits on killing wolves that attack livestock.
A small creek that flows the length of John A. Finch Arboretum will soon become a better home for fish.
But that will require removing some structures built in an attempt to beautify the park.
city parks department and several other groups will restore portions of
Garden Springs Creek with the help of a $154,000 state Department of
The natural creek, fed by springs above Finch
Arboretum, flows through the city park, along a neighborhood, under two
freeways and over a small waterfall before meeting Latah Creek near the
11th Avenue Bridge.
The city is contracting with the Lands Council on a pilot stormwater management project in the Shadle area.
are pretty excited about this," said Mike Peterson, executive director
of the Lands Council. It's the first time the council, a local
nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the quality of life and
the environment in the Inland Northwest has contracted with the city.