Here’s another opportunity to speak up for our orca whales and against impacts to their critical habitat.
WRITE TO THE USCG ASKING FOR A FULL ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF PROPOSED ANCHORAGES IN ORCA WATERS.
HERE’S THE STORY:
Many of us sent letters last May to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regarding their rulemaking to establish anchorage areas on the eastern edge of our island archipelago. We asked for a full environmental review to be included.
The good news: the comment deadline has been extended. The bad news: the USCG’s new “Record of Environmental Consideration” still concludes that there will be no environmental impacts. Why? The USCG claims that because these anchorage areas are already in use, there will be no changes or impacts and that no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed.
Future use of these anchorage areas will include larger ships, increases in vessel traffic, and associated increased oil spill risk. The USCG claims there will be no impacts to our waters, the orca whales, and the neighboring federal, state, and locally protected areas. We disagree and are asking for a full environmental review.
THE IMPACTS WOULD BE TREMENDOUS! HERE ARE JUST SOME OF THEM:
* These proposed anchorage areas are next to protected areas of natural beauty and environmental significance. These protected areas have “special designation” and are “Environmentally Sensitive Areas” according to the USCG. Vendovi Island Preserve and Jack Island Preserve were made possible thanks to the San Juan Preservation Trust and all their members. Other protected areas are the San Juan Islands National Monument, San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Washington State Marine Protected Areas, the San Juan Islands Marine Preserve Area, and the San Juan County Marine Biological Preserve.
* The Tesoro Refinery is on track for approval to manufacture and export xylene, a highly toxic petrochemical. More ships with new cargos in these proposed anchorage areas could have significant environmental and human health and safety impacts.
* More and/or bigger ships demand more bunkering at the proposed anchorage areas which increases the risk of oil spills.
* Our ports are gearing up for “ultra-large” container ships that will also use these anchorage areas. Ultra-large ships will cause ultra-large noise impacts to our federally listed as endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. The rulemaking states that the “USCG finds that the proposed action would have No Effect on endangered marine mammals or marine mammal critical habitat.” We must tell them we disagree.
PLEASE SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS ASKING THE USCG TO:
* Implement this rulemaking with a full assessment of all impacts to the quality of the human environment and environmental impacts, to ensure that all the US anchorage areas in use in the Salish Sea (including Puget Sound) are codified and regulated to include all appropriate environmental impact and accident risk and oil spill risk mitigation measures with monitoring for effectiveness.
* Conduct an EIS that addresses all reasonably foreseeable future uses of the proposed anchorage areas (vessel numbers, sizes, cargos, and bunkering operations).
* Mitigate impacts by prohibiting bunkering at the proposed anchorage areas at the Vendovi and Jack Island Preserves and at William Point on Samish Island.
* Prohibit deep-draft vessels from anchoring outside of designated and codified anchorage areas.
[NOTE: This is a mouthful, but it’s lingo the USCG understands, so feel free to cut and paste this into your personal letter.]
COMMENTS ARE DUE WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2017
Online and email comments must be submitted by August 9 @ 9:00pm PST. Mail must be postmarked by August 9, 2017.
ALL COMMENTS SHOULD INCLUDE: Docket number USCG-2016-0916
Mail: Commander, USCG Sector Puget Sound, Attn: Waterways Management / USCG-2016-0916,
1519 Alaskan Way S, Seattle, WA 98134
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