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BPA toxicity debate approaches regulatory decisions at both state and federal levels

As Washington state authorities get ready to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from drink cans and customer sales receipts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has agreed to take a fresh look at the potential dangers of BPA. Washington Department of Ecology has issued its “Regulatory Determinations to the Legislature,” which specifies that safer …

Governor Inslee appoints Dennis McLerran as chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council

This is a reprint of a press release from the Puget Sound Partnership. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJune 10, 2022 MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, 360.819.3045, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Dennis McLerran as chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. McLerran has served as the vice …

New Puget Sound Action Agenda will include revised ‘targets’ to express recovery goals

UPDATE, TUESDAY, MAY 17 / WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 Environmental review has been completed for the draft 2022-2026 Puget Sound Action Agenda, and the Puget Sound Partnership announced a public comment period for the SEPA checklist (PDF 818 kb) and determination of nonsignificance (PDF 134 kb), as required by the State Environmental Policy Act. Comments will …

Governor’s renewed salmon strategy faces decisive period in the current Legislature

State legislation designed to enhance salmon habitat by requiring protective buffers along streams has been set aside pending further discussions over the coming year. Meanwhile, several other salmon-protection measures proposed by the governor could move forward with decisive funding from the Legislature. The buffer bill (HB 1838), named the Lorraine Loomis Act, would prohibit degradation …

North Pacific expedition gets underway aboard four ocean-going research ships

A North Pacific research expedition is underway, with projects said to be bigger, bolder and more scientifically sophisticated than cruises in 2019 and 2020. Four research vessels carrying more than 60 scientists from various countries will span out across the Pacific Ocean to increase their understanding of salmon — including migration, environmental stresses, availability of …

Scientists look for answers in methane bubbles rising from bottom of Puget Sound

In 2011, sonar operators aboard the ocean-going Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson inadvertently recorded a surprising natural phenomenon, as the 274-foot ship traversed through Puget Sound while returning to port at the University of Washington. At the time, researchers on board were focused on a host of other projects. They might not have known that …

Ecology, EPA now under the gun to adopt new water quality criteria for aquatic creatures

Long delays in updating state water-quality standards to protect orcas, fish and other aquatic species appear to have finally caught up with the Washington Department of Ecology and its federal counterpart, the Environmental Protection Agency. In a court ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman of Seattle found that Ecology has “abdicated its duties” …

Understanding the cold-water needs of salmon and helping them to survive

Salmon need cold water. This general statement is something I’ve been hearing since I first began reporting on these amazing migrating fish years ago. Cold water is a fact of life for salmon, known for their long travels up and down streams, out to saltwater and back. But colder is not always better. Questions about …

Map showing a marine heat wave known as "the blob" which spread across the northeastern Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016. Image: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory, Data: Coral Reef Watch

Modeling “the blob” in the Salish Sea

In late 2013, a marine heatwave that scientists dubbed “the blob” began warming the ocean throughout the Northeast Pacific, causing temperatures to rise almost 3°C above normal. The disruption severely depressed salmon returns. Whales, sea lions and seabirds starved, and warm water creatures were suddenly being spotted off the coast of Alaska. In Puget Sound, temperatures also jumped, but the effects of the blob …

Recovery of Puget Sound species could hinge on better understanding of ecosystems

A recent report from the Puget Sound Partnership helps us understand the difficulty of restoring the Puget Sound ecosystem. What caught my attention in the State of the Sound report was that after 20 years of protecting and restoring streams, wetlands, shorelines and estuaries, we have not increased overall fish and wildlife populations, and some …

Puget Sound meets 2020 bulkhead-removal goal; new indicators will chart the future

In a turnabout that offers hope for Puget Sound’s nearshore ecosystem, old bulkheads are now being removed faster than new bulkheads are being constructed, according to permit figures provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. In fact, officials with Puget Sound Partnership recently announced that the agency’s 2020 goal for reducing shoreline armoring …