Environmental News Feb. 19

es newsHeadlines: Corps: Narrower Review Of WA Coal-Export Plan; Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries; State Weighs Ban On Sewage Discharges From Boats

State Weighs Ban On Sewage Discharges From Boats
State regulators are considering a proposal that would prohibit all boats from discharging sewage into Puget Sound, whether it is treated or not. The Department of Ecology says the move would protect sensitive shellfish beds, marine life and swimming beaches from harmful bacteria, but some boat groups have raised concerns about costly retrofits. The proposed "no discharge zone" would make it illegal to dump sewage - even when treated using certain marine sanitation devices - in Puget Sound waters. It's one of many strategies identified in the Puget Sound Action Agenda to improve and protect water quality in the region. Ecology has been considering the idea for two years. It is taking public comment on a draft proposal, before it submits a formal petition to the EPA.

Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries
People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries. But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on. Now, hatcheries are facing court challenges in Oregon, California and Washington state - though state and federal officials say they are already working to address the problems they cause. The disputes illustrate a tension over how to balance the needs of wild fish with the economic and cultural needs of fishermen and tribes.

Corps: Narrower Review Of WA Coal-Export Plan
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to do a more narrow environmental review of a proposed terminal on the Columbia River to ship millions of coal to Asia. The corps said Tuesday that its review would largely focus on the entire facility site near Longview. It's a more limited approach than one announced last week by state and local regulators. The state and Cowlitz County plan to review impacts that extend well beyond the site, including global-warming effects from burning the exported coal in Asia and rail impacts as coal is shipped by train from the Rockies throughout the state. The corps' review of the nearly $650 million Millennium Bulk Terminals project is expected to take at least a year. Business leaders applauded the move.

February 19, 2014/AP