Home & Garden Special section
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014 | Vol. 115, No. 19 | WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM | 75¢
Hearings on turbine plan start Thursday
County meeting turns into scold-fest
By JESSIE STENSLAND
By JANIS REID
The Island County hearing examiner will listen for two days to arguments regarding permits for a proposed tidal turbine pilot project in waters off Whidbey Island. The Tulalip Tribes and the PC Landing Corp. are appealing permits issued by Island County for the temporary installation of two tidal energy generators in Admiralty Inlet and related onshore equipment structures. The project is proposed by Snohomish Public Utility District. The hearing starts Thursday, March 6. Craig Collar, assistant general manager of the PUD, said the appeals are nothing new, but are the same issues the parties brought up in challenges to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, or FERC. He said FERC rejected the appeals and is expected to issue a license shortly. Whidbey Environmental Action Network, or WEAN, filed as an intervenor with FERC. Members of the environmental group said they’re concerned about the on-land portion of the project, which could impact a scarce plant community. Marianne Edain of WEAN said the group is interested in sustainable alternatives to fossil and nuclear fuels, but technology that may do damage in other ways is not a true alternative. “We would love to see a genuine test of this technology,” she said in an email.
For publicly reprimanding Treasurer Ana Maria Nunez Monday, Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson drew fire from her fellow commissioners. Commissioners scolded Johnson, saying she acted unprofessionally and made a “spectacular display” of the issue. At the root of the issue was a difference in the appearance of 2014 tax statements mailed last month from those issued in 2013. Changes led some Camano residents to believe their taxes increased. Nunez said that was a “misperception” and a clarification letter would be mailed this week. While the issue turned out to be a miscommunication with the public, Johnson expressed displeasure with how Nunez handled the situation. “I feel I’m standing in front of the principal, which I’ve never done,” Nunez said. The letter that was sent to printers last week from Nunez to the public appears to place blame on the county Assessor’s Office, said Johnson. “If you have any questions about the levy itself, please call the Assessor’s office,” the letter states. Johnson first briefly questioned County Assessor Mary Engle, establishing that Engle gave the Nunez’s office correct tax data for both 2013 and 2014. Johnson then called up
Photo by Wallie Funk
Orcas are corralled during the Penn Cove round up in 1970. Whale advocates hope a decision by federal regulators will lead to the release of Lolita, the last surviving orca from the roundup.
Decision gives whale advocates new hope
‘This is the best shot Lolita’s ever had for returning home’ By JUSTIN BURNETT Whidbey News Group
A 20-year quest to bring home Lolita, the last of seven orcas captured from Penn Cove decades ago, has resulted in a small but significant victory. In late January, National Marine Fisheries, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced that the whale is considered a member of the Southern Resident orca population, which is listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The decision is not yet official, nor is there any guarantee that Lolita will be released from captivity, but it would afford her all the same protections as her Puget Sound relatives. “This is the best shot Lolita’s ever had for returning home,” said Howard Garrett, a founder of Whidbey Island-
based Orca Network, a group that has lobbied for the whale’s release for two decades. “Finally, something is bearing fruit,” he said. LOLITA WAS captured in the famous orca roundup of 1970 in Penn Cove. An estimated 90 members of L-pod were corralled and seven, including the then 4- to 6-yearold Lolita, were taken and sold to marine parks around the world. Miami Seaquarium has been Lolita’s home since. She is the only surviving member of the capture. Six orcas died in captivity within five years. That roundup and others eventually led to a court decision banning orca captures in Washington state and helped pave the way for the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. GARRETT AND the nonprofit group have helped lead the fight for Lolita’s release. He lived in Miami for two years protesting her captivity. The Orca Network holds annual commemorations in Penn Cove and, most recentSEE LOLITA, A12
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