Spokane In Full Fall Splendor

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I am leaving Spokane, Washington this morning after a glorious time exploring the woods of the Pacific Northwest. After coming out for a speech to judges and lawyers in this district, I was able to get in three days of hiking.  Spokane is one of those cities that is a dream for hikers. In literally just 20 minutes, you can find yourself in the hills and mountains of Washington.

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Trump Administration Tosses New Rule Protecting Whales Despite Support From The Fishing Industry For The Rule

220px-Sperm_whale_podPresident Donald Trump has pledged to reduce red tape and regulations for businesses in the United States.  It is a worthy goal, but it has led to some curious decisions.  For example, the Administration just tossed  a new rule intended to limit the numbers of endangered whales and sea turtles getting caught in fishing nets.  This rule however was supported by the fishing industry.  Thus, this was a rare case where conservationists and corporations agreed. It was the Trump Administration that did not agree.  Not only was the rule proposed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council had proposed the new regulation in 2015, but the federal government has been implementing the plan.

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Hut In Antarctica Yields Beautiful and Haunting Painting Of Famed Explorer Edward Wilson

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The watercolor depicts a tree creeper. Pic: Antarctic Heritage Trust

This is the type of thing that I find thrilling.  An effort to preserve a hut at Cape Adare in Antarctica led to the discovery of this beautiful 118-year-old painting by Dr. Edward Wilson.  The British polar explorer died in Antarctica on an expedition led by Capt. Robert Falcon Scott.  This incredible picture sat in a pile of papers unnoticed for over a century.

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Dawn on the Billy Goat

img_5806As many of you know, I like to do dawn hikes particularly on the Billy Goat Trail outside of Washington.  I had to share this amazing turtle from this morning.  While it is hard to gauge its size, it was huge for a river turtle (almost three feet in length). Indeed, the biggest I have seen outside of the Pacific islands. It was well inland on Bear Island on the side of a boulder.

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Study: Switching From Coal Would Save 52,000 Lives Annually In The United States

220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksWe have previously discussed studies that show the number of people killed by pollution each year — a concrete cost rarely discussed in debates like the current outcry over the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord.  In a new study published in Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews (DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.119), researchers from Michigan Technological University found that switching over to photovotaics from coal would prevent 51,999 premature deaths a year and potentially making as much as $2.5 million for each life saved.  What is interesting is that those people opposing environmental controls clearly do not view themselves in one of these groups of fatalities even though pollution tends to impact everyone fairly evenly.

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The United States and Syria Against The World? Trump Pulls Out Of The Paris Accord

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In fulfillment of his campaign promise, President Donald Trump has defied the world and pulled our country out of the Paris Accord.  The United States will now join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries outside of the agreement.  You really cannot include Nicaragua because it did not sign in protest of the agreement not going far enough (a valid objection).  That leaves us and our environmental fellow traveler, Syria.

In terms of delivery, I thought this was one of Trump’s stronger speeches though MIT scientists say that he got their data wrong.  Other experts noted that Trump was wrong on the details of the agreement regarding China’s commitments as well as its costs to the United States.

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Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider.

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