EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Armed with a flashlight and a spear under the cover of night, Tom Kaye creeps toward his targets on the edge of a pond near Corvallis.

"There's the one we're going to go after first," he said. "I can see some twinkling eyes and then there's several all the way up the shore."

Invasive American bullfrogs have taken over the pond, and that's bad news for native species.

Seafloor Samples Reveal Ghosts Of Blobs Past

Nov 25, 2015

A huge mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is causing problems off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The so-called “blob” is being blamed for toxic algae blooms, which have caused marine mammal deaths and crabbing closures.

New evidence shows this isn’t the first time the blob has appeared off the Northwest coast.

Environmental elder statesman William Ruckelshaus was awarded the highest civilian honor in the country Tuesday. He was at a ceremony in Washington D.C. to accept the Medal of Freedom, one of 17 awarded.

KUOW/EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn spoke with Ruckelshaus last week, before he departed for Washington, D.C.

Mediation At The Paris Climate Summit

Nov 25, 2015

Gregg Walker will be headed to the Paris climate talks next week. But the OSU Speech Communications professor won't be there as a negotiator; he'll be there as an observer and a researcher as a part of the non-profit Mediators Without Borders. Walker has been to 20 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summits, and is an expert in environmental conflict resolution.


Q&A: Vancouver Oil-By-Rail Environmental Review

Nov 24, 2015

Washington state released a detailed report Tuesday assessing the environmental impact of a proposed rail-to-marine oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

If built, the project would be the largest of its kind in the country.

It could move 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily by train from North Dakota to Vancouver. From there, the oil would be transferred onto ships and sent to West Coast refineries.

Here’s a closer look:

New Wolf Pack Confirmed In North-Central Washington

Nov 24, 2015

Wildlife officials have confirmed a new wolf pack near the towns of Twisp and Omak in North-Central Washington.

They've named the pack Loup Loup, recognizing prominent landmarks within the pack's range in Methow Valley, including Loup Loup Pass.

Where Do Seattle-Area Crows Go At Night?

Nov 24, 2015

Lauren Linscheid of Seattle sees crows flying every day toward Lake City Way. “I want to know where they’re going and why,” Lauren told KUOW’s Local Wonder team. Reporter Ashley Ahearn was dispatched to investigate.

Washington state has released a detailed environmental assessment of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The draft report was released Tuesday by the state’s Energy Site Evaluation Council. It considers the oil-by-rail project’s possible impacts to things like environmental health, noise, and emergency preparedness in the event of an oil spill or explosion.

A study from the University of Washington shows coal trains are releasing more pollution into the Columbia River Gorge than freight trains.

The trains emitted about twice the particulates as diesel freight trains, according to the study.

The study also found that coal trains with uncovered cars were major polluters of the Gorge. They polluted at six times the rate of diesel trains.

Environmental elder statesman William Ruckelshaus may not have decided where to display the Presidential Medal of Freedom he will be receiving at a White House ceremony Tuesday.

But he has decided how to have a little fun with it.

Washington state is scheduled to release a detailed environmental assessment Tuesday of the proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The Wildfire Conundrum: Building In The Woods

Nov 20, 2015

Editor's Note: The Wildfire Conundrum is a collaboration between the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest and Jefferson P

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first genetically modified salmon as safe for human consumption. The approval concludes nearly 20 years of reviews looking at whether the fish are safe to eat and what environmental impacts they'll have. Here are the answers to some key questions about these fish:

What's different about these salmon?

The National Remedy Review Board is meeting in Portland this week to consider the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) current strategy to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The Wildfire Conundrum: Weeding The Forest

Nov 18, 2015

Editor's Note: The Wildfire Conundrum is a collaboration between the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest and Jefferson Publ

Severely polluted environmental sites all around the country have been designated as Superfund sites. In Oregon, the Portland Harbor was designated such a site in 2000 after an extensive evaluation process. Human and ecological health is at risk from the chemicals that made their way into the river as a byproduct of industry and other human activity.

Washington is taking legal action against Volkswagen in the wake of a diesel vehicle scandal. Back in September, Volkswagen admitted to installing special software in some of its diesel vehicles, causing them to give false readings during pre-sale air quality tests. Forty-seven states, including Washington and Oregon announced investigations.

Now Washington has given the company formal notice that they violated the state’s Clean Air Act.

Environmental Update: Wolves

Nov 16, 2015

Earlier this month, Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to remove wolves from the state’s list of endangered species. We'll learn more about how that decision came about, and what it will mean for the state's wolf population going forward.


Producer: Vince Patton Videographer/Editor: Michael Bendixen Animation: Todd Sonflieth

Additional Photos & Video: The Bend Bulletin-Ryan Brennecke, Brent McGregor, Vince Patton

The Oregon Cascades are full of holes from which water pours forth. We call them springs.

President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last week because of environmental concerns, but the decision may not be enough to keep Canada’s controversial tar sand oil locked in the ground.