Only 97 percent of doctors say I have a drinking problem.
Of the 100 medical opinions I’ve gotten, 97 of them say that my liver damage is a result of binge drinking. Two of them weren’t sure if it was caused by the booze, and one actually disputed the idea.
My friends aren’t so sure though. I’ve asked ten of them, and only four think it’s mainly the liquor at fault. So although no one denies I’m in serious danger of liver failure, there’s some uncertainty over the cause, particularly among non-doctors.
Whatever. The point is: I’m heading out to happy hour soon.
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Hanford and eastern Idaho wastes at issue.
The US Senate Energy Committee in late April issued a “discussion draft” of comprehensive legislation on how atomic wastes will be managed. Legislators draft bills routinely, but this is an unusual case for several reasons. For one, it has bipartisan backing including Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Murkowski (R-AK) and Alexander (R-TN). (Senators Feinstein and Alexander also each issued alternative proposals.) For two, and more surprising, the Senators are inviting public comments on their draft. The deadline is May 24, and comments may be submitted electronically, through the Committee’s link.
Northwesterners should pay attention.
Cascadia is home to federal atomic facilities at Hanford and eastern Idaho, where much work remains to be done. Each site is heavily contaminated with atomic and chemical wastes from past weapons-connected operations, and the US Department of Energy (DOE) is carrying out environmental cleanup in both locations. Previous Sightline posts have covered each site. At Hanford, state and local officials are most concerned about “high level” radioactive wastes, in the form of some 50 million gallons in huge underground tanks, wastes that remain in liquid form today. Among other contaminants, Idaho holds liquid and solid “transuranic” wastes, containing Plutonium or other elements of higher atomic numbers than Uranium. Elected officials have been fighting the federal government for decades, trying to get those wastes stabilized and moved out of state.
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A world map of racism, lead wars, and more.
National Journal takes a look behind the scenes at what Republican leaders and activists are saying about climate change, and it includes some good news.
The best thing I read this week was this European history told the way we’re used to hearing about Native American history. It’s funny in that way that also makes you want to cry for shame.
The best thing I heard this week was Barbara Ehrenreich on Alternative Radio talking about how in this country we have a nasty practice of kicking people when they’re down. “Do we lend a helping hand to the poor? Barely. Let them eat op-eds about values and the virtues of hard work. There’s billions to fund the latest F-whatever fighter jet but scant little for people in distress. The pounding the needy are taking is particularly severe because much of the social safety net has been shredded. Can anyone say compassion and caring?” Read more »
New rules for nearly 100 cities on managing polluted runoff.
We recently updated you on the new stormwater permits that will soon dictate how Washington State’s most populated areas manage polluted runoff that damages
water quality and can flood low-lying property. Here we’ll tackle the new Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit, which covers the next most populated areas and affects nearly 100 cities around the state.
These cities are legally obligated to try to control water that runs off pavements, roofs and streets in built areas every time it rains. Along the way, that water picks up toxic metals, motor oil, lawn fertilizers, animal droppings, and a cocktail of other pollutants before it washes into local waterways and oceans. The rules governing how cities and other jurisdictions manage this dirty runoff are contained in municipal permits, which were recently updated in Washington State and are about to kick in throughout much of the state.
There are actually two Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permits: one for western Washington and one for eastern Washington. That’s because each side of the state has very different climate conditions, soils, and geology, which are important considerations when thinking about how water moves around.
The Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit, which goes into effect on August 1, 2013, covers 80 medium and small cities and the urban portion of four counties. The Eastern Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit, which takes effect one year later, covers 18 cities and urban areas in six counties. Both will remain in effect for five years.
As you may imagine, there are significant differences between two region’s Phase II permits. In particular, the new low-impact development (LID) regulations are very different. So let’s take a look at each permit in turn.
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Thank you for an even GiveBIGGER year!
What else can we say?
HUGE THANKS to everyone who chipped in (and even chipped in extra!) to support Sightline during GiveBIG yesterday. All told, we raised $40,940 from 181 donors. From our first gift at 12:52 a.m. to our last at 11:42 p.m., you sent the message to us—over and over again—that you appreciate our work and want to see more of it.
More coal export research, more legalizing inexpensive housing, more stormwater and polluted runoff work—more of the transformative and innovative policy and communications research that will achieve a more sustainable Pacific Northwest for years to come.
So thank you. We are grateful, flattered… and full!
We upgraded this year and celebrated with platesful of homemade (well, office-made) waffles! Complete with butter, maple syrup, sliced bananas and strawberries, and the extra special topping of your generosity… well, it was a very rich breakfast.
Thank you for your support yesterday and throughout the year. A special thanks, too, to The Seattle Foundation for hosting and helping the entire community raise more this year than ever: $11.1 million. Way to GiveBIG, all!
What BC's election means for coal, oil, and gas plans.
In British Columbia’s provincial elections yesterday, the right-of-center Liberal party pulled off an astonishing upset to hang onto power. It was an election in which the politics of fossil fuel expansion played a meaningful role, particularly for the NDP, the major opposition party. With the Liberals forming another majority government, it makes sense now to reflect on the epic-scale fossil fuel exports planned for BC and its neighbors in the US Northwest.
Today, Sightline is releasing a new report in Canada, one that tallies the potential carbon emissions from fossil fuel export infrastructure planned throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Across British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington there are active proposals for seven new or expanded coal terminals, three new oil pipelines, and six new natural gas pipelines. The projects are distinct, but they can be denominated in a common currency: the tons of carbon dioxide emitted if the fossil fuels were burned. Taken together, these projects would be capable of delivering enough fuel to release an additional 761 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide.
The Northwest enjoys a reputation for leadership in clean energy and environmental policy. Yet the new fossil fuel infrastructure planned for British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington would eclipse the region’s green reputation, transforming the Northwest from an aspiring climate leader into a carbon export hub of global consequence.
You can find the full report here.
Sightline will be releasing a US version of this report soon, so American readers should keep their eyes peeled.
King County's transit agency needs a stable funding source. Really.
Metro service cuts hearing
Here’s a picture of hundreds of people who crowded into a hearing room Tuesday to protest looming and massive bus cuts at King County Metro. If this looks familiar, it’s because we went through a similar exercise two years ago. This time, if the Washington State Legislature doesn’t grant the transit agency new taxing authority to backfill an immediate $75 million budget hole, Metro says it will begin eliminating 600,000 service hours next fall, or 17 percent of the transit service it currently offers.
So what does that look like? Well, for starters, they would be the largest service cuts in Metro history. About 70 percent of current riders would be negatively affected: Some people will lose bus service entirely, some people will have to walk further to get to a stop, a lot of people’s buses will run less frequently, and a lot of buses will be more crowded.
It would, in short, be a fairly epic change in the wrong direction for a growing county that prides itself on being green and economically savvy yet hasn’t sufficiently agitated for a stable funding source for the very service that efficiently delivers people to their jobs and allows them to do errands without clogging up roads and spewing carbon pollution. Seriously, just spend a minute with this interactive map that shows just how the cuts might go down. Read more »
Toxicologist statement is huge blow to coal export backers.
Roger O. McClellan is regularly trotted out by coal export backers whenever they are trying to dismiss concerns about coal dust pollution. Yet last week in a Seattle Times opinion piece on pollution from coal transport, he called for a comprehensive review of coal export plans, including along railways:
Debate over the terminals should be grounded in scientific facts and analysis. Well-established scientific approaches should be used to evaluate any potential environmental and human-health impacts.
Scientific assessments such as the one being conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers should provide clarity and context for decisions by public officials. Science-based assessments should also identify any constraints needed to assure protection of the environment and public health. The public at large should encourage and, indeed, demand such assessments.
Good for him.
Although this is not the first time McClellan has said he supports a comprehensive review, such a plain public statement should come as a blow to coal export proponents.
When someone like McClellan calls for a comprehensive analysis of the dangers of coal dust escape from trains, it signals the true breadth of the opposition to fast-tracking approval for the proposed terminals. He has, after all, made a career of arguing for relaxed air quality standards, and he has often been paid by fossil fuel interests to provide expert testimony to government regulators. Yet as McClellan says, the Power Past Coal campaign and others are absolutely right to demand a region-wide assessment of the impacts of shipping coal.
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A week of groceries around the world, the Elwha reborn, and more.
Even after years of staring at it, I never realized until this week that the oh-so-familiar recycling symbol is in the shape of a Möbius strip.
Wow: Google’s Earth Engine now displays 28 years of satellite images, pretty much anywhere on the planet. Here’s an aerial time-lapse view of coal mining in Wyoming. Here’s the growth of Las Vegas. I won’t depress you with views of Amazon deforestation, but I’d encourage you to use the search tool to take a look at greater Seattle: the areas that were urbanized in 1984 didn’t change all that much, but you can clearly see the sprawl and clearcutting on the urban fringe. To me, aerial images like these help put debates about the health of Puget Sound in context: over the long haul, the biggest threats to the Sound come from the ways we’re changing the landscape of the watersheds that feed the sound—which is all the more reason to work to curb low-density sprawl, and the transportation infrastructure that makes it possible.
It’s something Washingtonians don’t like to think about, but a problem we stew about a lot nonetheless: “The most toxic and voluminous nuclear waste in the US—208 million liters—sits in decaying underground tanks at the Hanford Site (a nuclear reservation) in southeastern Washington State.” It may be worse than we thought. This Scientific American article warns that Hanford clean-up may simply prove too dangerous to carry out.
I know every little kid is tempted on hot days spent in the back yard. I know it’s way more fun than water delivered any other way. But, don’t let your kids drink out of the garden hose. Here’s the terrifying skinny on the high levels of hazardous chemicals, many of which have been banned in children’s products, that are found regularly in garden hoses. (The only good news: There’s a bit less lead in garden variety hoses than there was a couple years ago. But, um, there’s still lead in them too!) Read more »
How the state's largest cities will manage polluted runoff.
i want moar, flickr
In a little less than three months, Washington State’s largest cities and counties must start following new rules on how to manage dirty runoff that washes toxic metals, oil and grease, fertilizers, and other pollution into our streams, lakes, and ocean. Polluted stormwater is one of the largest threats to Puget Sound, so it’s worth taking some time to demystify just what will be required.
The updated rules of the road are contained in the state’s new Municipal Stormwater Permits, which are administered by the Washington Department of Ecology. The permits cover everything from reducing construction pollution to educating citizens on good stormwater practices as they wash cars to adopting green low-impact development techniques like roadside rain gardens, permeable pavement, and green roofs.
In this blogpost, we’ll focus on updates to the Phase I permits, which go into effect on August 1, 2013 and will remain in force for five years. The permits cover discharges from large and medium municipal separate storm sewer systems, commonly known as “MS4s,” found in the most populated areas of the state. (We’ll get into the details of the Phase II permits for smaller municipalities in a subsequent post). Read more »