Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
4:31 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Health Officials Plan Next Steps In Birth Defect Investigation

At a meeting in Kennewick, the health department asked people to raise concerns about a rare birth defect. Since 2010, there have been 32 cases of anencephaly in central Washington. Officials are working out their next steps.
Courtney Flatt

Investigators still aren’t sure what’s causing a cluster of birth defects in central Washington, where the rate is four times the national average. Health officials met Monday to figure out what to do next.

A new public service announcement is one way health officials are trying to teach women about folic acid. It's also available in Spanish.

One of the birth defects folic acid helps prevent is anencephaly, which results in unformed skulls in babies.

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NPR Story
4:27 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

New Bill Pushes For $50 Million To Restore Columbia River

A view of the Columbia River from Washington's Wind Mountain. A new bill would authorize $50 million for pollution cleanup in the Northwest's biggest river basin.
David Steves

Two members of Oregon's congressional delegation introduced a bill Monday that would open the door to $50 million in federal funding for Columbia River pollution cleanup.

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NPR Story
10:57 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Northwest Wildfires Boost Call For Funding Reform

Fires continue to rage through tinder-dry wildlands in Oregon, Washington and California
National Interagency Fire Center

Fires continue to rage through tinder-dry wildlands in Oregon, Washington and California. Nearly a million acres have burned so far, destroying more than 200 homes.

With the nation’s eyes turned toward the Northwest, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and the Obama administration have taken the opportunity to renew their efforts to change how the federal government pays to fight and prevent wildfires.

In a conference call from Washington, D.C., Wyden said fire season in the West is changing, and fast.

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NPR Story
10:40 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Washington Vied For Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ Worth Thousands Of Jobs

A Tesla Roadster electric car.
Tesla Motors

Washington Governor Jay Inslee tried to woo electric carmaker Tesla Motors to build a massive battery factory in the Evergreen state. But according to at least one report, the company may have already broken ground near Reno, Nevada.

This isn’t just a factory. It’s a "gigafactory."

What is a gigafactory? That’s the name Tesla has given to its planned 10-million-square-foot, multi-billion-dollar battery production facility.

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NPR Story
7:37 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Oregon Oil Train Safety Report Calls For More Rail Inspectors, Fees

Reports show three oil trains a week pass through Oregon on the way to the Global Pacific oil terminal near Clatskanie, and additional oil trains pass through central and southern Oregon on their way to California once a week.
Tony Schick

A statewide rail safety report released today identifies gaps in the resources Oregon needs to prevent and respond to an oil train derailment.

The report, ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber in February, calls for more rail safety personnel and more funds to pay training emergency responders for an oil train derailment. To help pay for both of those needs, the report recommends charging fees for transporting crude oil by rail through the state.

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NPR Story
5:45 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Study: Coal Project Would Help One Puget Sound County But Others Would Pay

A council of governments in the central Puget Sound region commissioned a study by an independent consultant. It concluded that economic benefits of a proposed coal export terminal would be concentrated in Whatcom County, where it would be built.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 5:50 pm

If it’s built, the coal-exporting Gateway Pacific Terminal will create more than two thousand jobs in Whatcom County during construction and several hundred permanent jobs once it’s operational.

The outlook for the the central Puget Sound region isn’t as optimistic, according to a new economic study from the Puget Sound Regional Council issued Thursday.

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NPR Story
5:15 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Seattle Considers Fining Residents For Failing To Compost

Put too many food scraps in the trash, and you could face a $1 fine under Seattle's new proposed curbside composting rules.
szczel/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan-szczelkun/10891313263/in/photolist-hAqPZa-8ENUyr-6pD4RH-n15Pw2-7rMc8A-b6jmW-bVmSQR-4TbZbo-mZC9ki-g4x4Me-L4xSv-5uH4zA-fXq9c7-an6QBM-ezSwKX-9TKaVB-8imSbZ-8iq6xJ-9DiL

The city of Seattle might start fining residents who put food waste in the garbage instead of the compost bin -- the latest idea to push for better recycling rates.

Dozens of cities nationwide now give residents the option of putting their household food scraps in a curbside compost bin. Seattle is looking at making it a requirement.

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NPR Story
8:56 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Oil Train Tanker Cars Derail In Seattle

A train that included oil tankers carrying Bakken crude derailed early Thursday in a Seattle railyard. No oil was reported to have spilled.
Ashley Ahearn

SEATTLE -- Three tanker cars in an oil train from North Dakota derailed at a rail yard in Seattle early Thursday, but BNSF Railway says none of the oil spilled.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said a locomotive and buffer car loaded with sand also left the rails about 2 a.m. at the Interbay yard as the train with 102 cars of Bakken oil was pulling out, headed for a refinery at Anacortes.

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Earthfix
5:16 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

A State Forest In Oregon Could Be Sold To Timber Companies

The Elliott State Forest contains old-growth forest that conservation groups say shouldn't be sold to private owners.
Oregon Department of Forestry

The Elliott State Forest has been a losing proposition for the state of Oregon. Annual management costs are about $3 million dollars more than what it brings in by selling timber for logging companies to cut.

One option being considered to make money off the Elliott is to sell all 93,000 acres of the forest -- including old-growth tracts -- on the south Oregon coast to private timber companies. The proceeds of such a sale would go into the state's Common School Fund, which supports public education.

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NPR Story
2:19 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

New Safety Rules Proposed To Curb Oil Train Fires

Regulators say new safety rules should be adopted to replace DOT-111 train cars, which are prone to puncture during derailments.
Tony Schick / EarthFix

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed the most comprehensive rules to date aimed at improving the safety of trains carrying large shipments of crude oil and ethanol.

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