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Around California: Fish,F-35s,Fuel & Freight

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More Salmon

Cold Pacific water temps may not be good for rainfall across the Golden State this winter but they seem to to be a key beneficial factor in expected salmon returns up Northern California rivers this fall. A recent report noted “Changes in ocean temperatures, which switch from cooler to warmer every decade, can affect salmon survival in the Pacific Ocean.” The cold water has improved conditions for ocean salmon survival in the past few years as more in fish come back to spawn.

California fall Chinook salmon runs are are expected to be up again this year according to the preliminary analysis from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). The Council’s preseason report, released in late February said more than 834,000 fall Chinook are forecast for the Sacramento River system compared to  618,000 in 2012 and lows  a few year s back of only 41,000 fish in 2009. PFMC expects the Klamath River ocean abundance for age 4 fish is 331,000  – highest since 1986.

High Hopes For F-35 Deployment in Lemoore
Concerns that the Navy’s F-35  basing in Lemoore in coming years could be in trouble due to  the feds budget were eased last week with a Bloomberg story that said the military was committed to buying more of the jets. The story says the Pentagon wants more planes despite its soaring cost.
“ Buying 29 F-35s next year, the same number Congress approved for the current year, would mean stability after reductions from planned purchases for three consecutive years.” says the article.
“Over the past three years, the Pentagon deferred planned purchases of 425 F-35s until after 2017.
The F-35 funding to be proposed for fiscal 2014 “will help calm any anxieties amongst the partner nations” buying the jets, Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an interview.”

Bringing the F-35s to Lemoore will mean replacing seven FA-18 Hornet squadrons with F-35C stealth fighters starting in 2015 say Capt  Eric Venema. A new 40 aircraft training squadron would be added to the  base. Adding it up Venema says an additional 750 military personnel and contractors would come to Lemoore, along with 1,600 military dependents. The basing would mean some $242 million in new construction projects as well.
Earlier this year the Navy announced they had selected Lemoore over El Centro to be the west coast home for the squadrons. That decision will be finalized late this year.

Too Much Ethanol Fuels Red Ink
A surplus of ethanol nationwide has helped idle scores of Midwest ethanol plants. In California Pacific Ethanol just reported a loss in the latest quarter but said margins were improving now.Corn prices are easing this week. Net sales were $197.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to $241.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2011.“Both as a step toward qualifying for advanced biofuel and to take advantage of favorable pricing, we purchased sorghum as feedstock for producing ethanol from local, Midwest and international markets,” CEO Neil Koehler said in the company’s fourth quarter earning release

Truck/Train Freight Activity Higher
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.6% in February after increasing 1% in January. (The 1% gain in January was revised down from a 2.4% increase ATA reported on February 19, 2013.) Tonnage has now increased for four straight months, which hasn’t happened since late 2011

. Over the last four months, tonnage gained a total of 7.7%. In February, the SA index equaled 123.6 (2000=100) versus 123.0 in January. The highest level on record was December 2011 at 124.3. Compared with February 2012, the SA index was up a solid 4.2%, just below January’s 4.6% year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4.4%. In 2012, tonnage increased 2.3% from 2011.

American freight railroads are shipping more carloads in the latest industry report with less coal but 57% more oil moving by rail than a year earlier. That could help spell relief for California motorists says recent LA Times story.

“In 2008, BNSF, a railroad that serves the West Coast, moved 1.3 million barrels of oil. In 2012, it moved 100 million barrels. Most of BNSF’s oil originates in North Dakota.

“You could say that ‘there’s a train a-coming,'” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, “and its carrying oil.”
Patrick DeHaan, senior energy analyst for GasBuddy.com, said that access to cheaper domestic crude should mean that California gasoline prices will be cheaper in the long run.”

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