I had just begun writing this post , around 7.45pm, when my husband called me out onto the deck with one word, "whales". We have one rule in our household, and that is no matter what you are doing, the pause button gets hit when the Orcas come by. In February it's rare to see or hear our Southern Residents, but they are unmistakeable, and tonight there were plenty, breaking the stillness with their breath. Even our 5 month old rowdy puppy was spellbound.
This took my thoughts in a different direction. The whales' appearance made me ponder on the connection between clean fuels, salmon, the health of the Salish Sea, and the lives of this iconic endangered species.
Earlier today Washington Business for Climate Action hosted a webinar on clean fuels, which I had helped organize. With speakers from The Union of Concerned Scientists, NextGen Climate America and E2 we were given a clear view of the future for Washington State, as well as the potential for the Pacific Coast. An economy running on half the oil we currently use, with an abundant and diverse source of clean fuels that can easily meet our needs. UCS has an excellent fact sheet and blog on the potential for Washington. With around 45% of our carbon emissions coming from transportation the development of a diverse supply of new clean fuels is a key component of reducing our carbon footprint.
So what does this have to do with the Orcas? One of the largest potential threats to their continued existence and to the ecosystem of the Salish Sea, is the growing quantity of oil transportation, post notably from the Tar Sands. A major oil spill would be completely devastating to a species already severely compromised by a shortage of salmon, toxic loads from persistent organic pollutants, boat traffic and noise. For a more in-depth analysis of this read this article from SeattleMag .
UCS and other studies show that we have plenty of production capacity for clean fuels here in Washington state, now we just need the political will to move forward with a clean fuels standard. For those interested find more information here.