EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Washington's Largest Solar Project Coming To Tri-Cities

Jun 12, 2017

The Tri-Cities could soon be home to the largest utility-scale solar power project in Washington. A French company will develop the project on land that used to be part of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The company, Neoen, is hoping to build a 20-megawatt solar project in the desert just north of Richland.

Oregon utility regulators are considering a request by Portland General Electric to sell nine oil storage tanks on the Columbia River near Clatskanie.

The sale has raised concerns that the fuel distribution company Global Partners LP is buying the storage tanks so it can operate an oil-by-rail terminal.

Four West Coast senators are calling on the Trump administration to declare a salmon fishery emergency and provide aid to economically struggling coastal communities.

Washington state regulators approved two permits Thursday for a proposed plant that would make and export methanol along the Columbia River in Kalama.

More than 100 people testified before the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Vancouver Wednesday. It was one of the last opportunities for the public to sound off on a proposed oil terminal there.

The council heard more than seven hours of testimony from both critics and supporters of a controversial plan to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver.

The Washington Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision Thursday in a ruling that suggests the Port of Vancouver violated public meetings law while negotiating a lease for an oil terminal.

The court largely sided with environmental groups who argued the port commissioners violated the public meetings law by excluding the public from deliberations about the controversial Tesoro-Savage oil terminal lease.

4 Ways Portland's Willamette Riverfront Could Change

Jun 7, 2017

Several stretches of the Willamette River in downtown Portland are poised for a makeover in the coming decade.

Now, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority both say the Willamette is clean enough to swim in, though they suggest you might want to shower afterward.

Here's a rundown on the changes on the horizon for the Willamette in central Portland.

A years-in-the-making plan to protect sage grouse from extinction is being reconsidered. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is bringing the plan, which took years to devise, back to the drawing table.

Zinke announced Wednesday the creation of a review team to reevaluate the state and federal sage grouse plans. He wants future efforts to highlight innovative conservation strategies and give more control to the 11 Western states that make up sage grouse habitat.

A Skagit County, Washington, jury found climate activist Ken Ward guilty Wednesday of second degree burglary for turning off an oil pipeline.

Ward, a Corbett, Oregon resident, was one of five activists who took part in the pipeline protest, turning off valves on Oct. 11 to stop the flow of oil from Canada into the U.S. in October. His case was the first to reach a jury verdict.

Fire Managers Declare Start To Fire Season In Oregon

Jun 7, 2017

The Oregon Department of Forestry says wildfire season has officially begun in four regions of the state.

Mike Shaw is the district forester for ODF’s Central Oregon district. He said this year’s heavy snowpack made for a slightly later-than-usual start to the season.

“As the snowpack melts and recedes to higher elevation, the lower- and mid-elevation ground becomes available to burn, provided we don’t get much spring rain,” Shaw said.

In the wake of last week’s Trump administration announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, states are stepping up to fill the void. Washington announced a partnership with California and New York to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. Within days, Oregon and several other states signed on.

What is this U.S. Climate Alliance?

On the ferry ride from Washington to British Columbia ten activists sang songs they’d written about the water surrounding them: the Salish Sea.

They were crossing the international border for a combination march and ferry ride that would take them from Victoria to Vancouver. Their goal was to protest the expansion of a Canadian oil pipeline.

Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is confident that Oregon and other progressive states can still meet the Paris climate goals for the U.S. — despite President Donald Trump's decision to pull the country out of the international accord.

The Democratic governor told the City Club of Portland that Oregon will join a coalition of states led by California, Washington and New York working to reduce carbon emissions.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

While the fire might be out, the crash still hangs over the town.

After the crash, the city, the fire department and the school district created an intergovernmental agreement to negotiate with Union Pacific, the rail company responsible for the derailment.

Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns says the agreement is almost final.

“We’re really almost about to tie it up," she said.

The United States is stepping away from the Paris Climate Agreement, but the consequences of climate change will be more difficult to leave behind. Take ocean acidification, a major emerging threat to West Coast fisheries.

Researchers at Oregon State University have recorded some of the highest levels of ocean acidification in the world – and they exist right off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Portland Wants All Renewable Energy By 2050

Jun 1, 2017

Portland leaders say all of the city’s energy will come from renewable sources by the year 2050.

The City Council established this goal to move away from fossil fuels at Thursday’s meeting — just a few hours after President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

An 86-mile bike and walking trail between the Portland metro area and the Oregon Coast is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has given the Salmonberry Trail project $30,000 to look at the economics and health benefits of turning the old Port of Tillamook Bay rail line into a trail.

The Oregon Legislature gave its final approval Wednesday to a bill that puts permanent limits on suction dredge mining.

The practice has been controversial because of noise and concerns about harm to fish habitat and water quality.

Suction dredge, or placer mining, is a kind of motorized in-stream mineral extraction. Picture a lawnmower motor floating top of a pontoon in a river. The motor powers a large vacuum hose, which is used by a swimming miner to suck up sediment in the search for gold.

Leaders of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project unveiled their vision Wednesday for redeveloping a former paper mill that's blocking up-close views of one of the biggest waterfalls in the country.

The plans include creating public access to Willamette Falls along a riverwalk that winds through the skeleton of the old Blue Heron paper mill.

“No fear” might be an OK slogan for a bumper sticker, but it’s a terrible idea for a salmon.

Salmon are starting to lose their sense of smell and their fear of predators, according to research from federal and university scientists in Seattle.

Their preliminary work, presented in May at a symposium on ocean acidification at the University of Washington, documents yet another way carbon dioxide emissions are messing with the world's oceans.

Pages