For the first time in the history of the country, the federal government has threatened to withhold funds over a state’s inability to keep their coastal waterways clean. Surprising as it may be, Oregon is right in the crosshairs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has 56 different criteria that need to be met, and while Oregon has done well in most areas, others are lacking.
The state isn’t taking this lying down, however, arguing that their methods are working and that pulling funds would do nothing but undermine efforts.
A final decision will be made in May.
The Pacific lamprey, a long time stable in tribes’ diets of the Pacific Northwest, have declined in numbers over the years to the point of just becoming a seasonal specialty. Despite the fact that they look like toothed snakes from hell, efforts are being made to create a hatchery for them in similar fashion to the salmon hatcheries that already exist. Easier said than done.
While raising salmon has been done for years, the task of a full on lamprey hatchery won’t be quite so simple, with many years of research as well as trial and error ahead before a safe and stable atmosphere can be created. Thankfully there are teams around the world working on this very problem, including successful researchers in Finland.
Eventually advocates and researchers in our neck of the woods hope to increase numbers and re-insert the lamprey back into the ecosystem in stable numbers.
Dust Getting You Down? Coal’s Got a Wallet for That
The federal group responsible for safety and business disputes in the transportation sector, the Surface Transportation Board, recently ruled that coal companies must start using treatments to keep dust from the coal itself blowing out willy-nilly all over the place. Costing between 10 cents and 75 cents per ton of coal, these “topper agents” will reduce the amount of dust escaping by about 85 percent – although that number has yet to be independently verified.
On the other hand, Columbia Riverkeeping and other environmental groups have filed lawsuits, claiming that the “topper” treatments don’t work as claimed and that the BNSF Railway Company has been telling the feds what a big problem coal dust spillage has been while giving a completely different story to the public that suggests it’s no big deal.
With the new rules going into effect on Sunday, Jan. 12, the truth of the matter will out itself sooner rather than later.
by Johnny Beaver