Land and Sea

Aerial monitoring of mammal behavior and vessel traffic in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is being touted in a State of the Sanctuaries report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as one of its most important new programs. Such observation could satisfy a request from Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center that NOAA study the effects that noise from ever-increasing vessel traffic has on dolphins, whales, and other wildlife.

Melting away memories of January’s bitter cold, summer-like heat infiltrated Santa Barbara County last week with some record-setting results. As the mercury rose over the past weekend, records fell, from Santa Maria south to Santa Babylon. According to the thermometer holders at the National Weather Service, on 3/11 and 3/12 Santa Maria broke heat records set more than 50 years ago, with a high-end reading of 94 degrees, while Lompoc hit 93, the Santa Ynez Valley peaked at a balmy 91, and downtown Santa Barbara maxed out at 89.

The final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for BHP Billiton’s controversial proposal to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the Santa Barbara Channel was released last week. Prepared by the U.S Coast Guard, the California State Lands Commission, and the U.S. Maritime Administration, the 3,000-page document concludes the $800 million project would lead to several “significant and unavoidable” safety and environmental concerns. The report estimates the facility would produce 219 tons of anti-ozone emissions and 35 tons of smoke each day as it generates 800 million cubic feet of natural gas. The EIR will be fundamental in upcoming hearings, as the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, and Governor Schwarzenegger are all scheduled to weigh in on the debate within two months.

To help farm workers affected by January’s crop-destroying freeze, the Santa Barbara Foundation awarded a $55,000 grant to Catholic Charities for rent-subsidy loans and other assistance, and $20,000 to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. The freeze was most devastating to the Santa Maria Valley, where an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 workers and their families are in need.


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