Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

11:01 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Study: Communities Must Learn To Coexist With Wildfire

Firefighter at 2012 Barry Point Fire in Southern Oregon

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:30 am

“There’s a feeling that we have control over fires, and the fact is we don’t,” said Southern Oregon University ecologist Dennis Odion.

Odion is co-author of “Learning to Coexist with Wildfire,” published in the journal Nature last Thursday. The paper examined the findings of more than 100 studies, and says wildfire should be treated like other natural disasters.

“You know earthquakes and hurricanes are viewed as something that we prepare for and do our best to withstand.”

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2:47 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Research Suggests Sea Lions Are Eating More Columbia River Salmon

New research suggests sea lions are eating more salmon in the Columbia River than previously thought.
Courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

PORTLAND -- New research suggests sea lions are eating more salmon in the Columbia River than previously thought.

Data from tracking salmon over the past five years show a significant drop in survival below Bonneville Dam. Michelle Rub, a researcher with with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, says preliminary numbers show survival dropping from 90 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2014.

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2:13 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Harm From LNG Project On Oregon Coast Could Be Offset, Report Says

Tugboats in Coos Bay
Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

That sums up the preliminary findings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement Friday for the Jordan Cove project.

“Nothing in the EIS is a surprise to us,” said Michael Hinrichs, the public affairs director for Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector.

He said the company has spent two years analyzing the potential environmental impacts of the project.

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2:00 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

NW Colleges Showcase Innovations In Campus Sustainability

Portland Community College students Andrea White (left), Xiaofeng Huang (right back) and Gaetan-Dauphin Nzowo (right) harvest spinach in the Rock Creek Learning Garden. The garden grows produce for the cafeteria. Kitchen scraps are returned as compost.
Elaine Cole

In the Reuse Room at Portland State University, everything is free and the door is always open.

Students and staff can walk into the converted mailroom anytime to donate or take supplies, ranging from three-ring binders to iPods.

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5:49 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Election Shifts Oregon Closer To Carbon Tax, Not So For Washington

Smoke stacks during a night scene in Tacoma, Wash. Election-night shifts in the Oregon state Senate moved it closer to a carbon tax. Washington might have distanced itself further.
Flickr/Tom Collins

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 5:50 pm

Environmentalists spent more than $1.5 million in Oregon and Washington in bids to secure Demcoratic majorities in state legislatures -- majorities they wanted for approving clean-fuel standards and a tax on carbon emissions.

The plan worked in Oregon. It didn't in Washington.

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4:22 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

4 Things To Know About The Columbia Generating Station Lawsuit

Environmental groups say the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant is harming fish. The groups are suing a Washington state permitting agency because they say a permit it issued violates the Clean Water Act.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Three environmental groups say the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is harming fish. The groups are suing a Washington state agency because they say it issued a permit that violates the Clean Water Act.

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12:40 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

SolarWorld To Expand, Add 200 Jobs At Hillsboro Plant

Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld is expanding its Hillsboro plant in Oregon and adding around 200 jobs.
Courtesy of SolarWorld

Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld announced Thursday it will be expanding its plant in Oregon, adding a new production line and around 200 jobs in Hillsboro.

SolarWorld U.S. President Mukesh Dulani said the expansion represents "a great turnaround" for the company, which has been fighting to maintain its market share amid fierce competition from Chinese manufacturers.

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10:38 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Portland Bike Share Company Moving To New York Under New Owners

Alta Bicycle Share, which launched citi bike, the world's largest bike sharing program in New York, wil relocate to New York City under new ownership.

Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share will be acquired by a New York company and will relocate to New York City to be run by a new CEO, under an agreement announced Tuesday.

Alta has launched bike-share programs in many cities across the country including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Melbourne, Australia. It also has plans to start a program in Portland.

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3:18 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Conservation Group Makes Huge Land Purchase Near Snoqualmie Pass

A conservation group has made the largest private land acquisition in Washington history, purchasing 47,921 acres near Snoqualmie Pass. The acquisition covers lands near three lakes: Keechelus, Kachess, and Cle Elum.
Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

A conservation group has made the largest private land acquisition in Washington history, purchasing nearly 48,000 acres near the Cascade Mountains' Snoqualmie Pass east of Seattle.

The Nature Conservancy announced Monday it has bought the land from timber company Plum Creek. The land acquisition cost about $49 million.

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1:41 pm
Sat October 25, 2014

Billionaire's Money Helps Enviros Spend Big On Northwest Races

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, takes a morning walk with his father, Len, at the Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham. More than $200,000 of the campaign money being spent to unseat Ericksen can be traced to climate activist and billionaire Tom Steyers.
Ashley Ahearn

Environmental groups are among the biggest spenders in this year’s state elections in Washington and Oregon, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to ensure Democratic statehouse control.

Most of those dollars are coming from California billionaire Tom Steyer -- the biggest super Pac donor of this election cycle nationwide.

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3:19 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

UW Receives $8 Million From Navy To Develop Tidal, Wave Energy

Andy Stewart (left) and University of Washington graduate students on the boat that will do in-water tests. The university received an $8 million grant from the U.S. Navy to develop wind and tidal power technologies.
Courtesy of University of Washington

There aren’t any tidal or wave energy projects in the Northwest right now, but researchers at the University of Washington are hoping to change that with an $8 million grant from the U.S. Navy.

Andy Stewart, lead researcher at University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, said they’re testing technologies that will work in different conditions around the world.

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1:20 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

National Parks Vandalism Cleanup On Hold During Investigation

Image widely posted on social media of alleged vandalism at Crater Lake National Park

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 1:21 pm

Although the National Park Service regularly deals with vandalism – especially in parks set in urban areas - spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet called the case especially egregious.

Picavet says the current case is complex to investigate because of the number of locations and the geography involved.

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4:45 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

How To Kill An Invasive Plant On The Metolius River

Mike Crumrine adds dye to an herbicide mixture so that he can see where he applies it. Crumrine is applying herbicides to an invasive plant, ribbon grass, that is choking Oregon's Metolius River.
Courtesy of Maret Pajutee

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 3:39 pm

SISTERS, Ore. -- Looking at the banks of the Metolius River in Central Oregon, nothing really looks wrong. But train your eye a little, and you start noticing large patches – even entire islands – covered in a thin, green grass.

Forest Service ecologist Merit Pajutee has trained her eye and turned her thoughts to the words of a 20th century ecologist.

“Aldo Leopold said that living with an ecological consciousness is like living in a world of wounds,” Pajutee said.

The wound on the Metolius River is ribbon grass.

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10:42 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Oregon Divers Find Hope In Thousands Of Baby Sea Stars

Divers with the Oregon Coast Aquarium discovered thousands of juvenile sea stars in Florence.
Courtesy of Oregon Coast Aquarium

Divers at the Oregon Coast Aquarium say they have new hope that sea stars will recover from the widespread wasting syndrome that's wiping them out all along the Pacific coast.

This month they found thousands of thumbnail-sized juvenile sea stars, commonly called starfish, on the North Jetty in Florence.

Diver Jenna Walker said her team didn't recognize them as sea stars at first because there were so many, and they were so small.

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10:53 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Ashland City Council Passes Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution

File photo of a truck at a Wyoming coal mine. Ashland has become the second Oregon city to formally come out against the investment of its dollars in coal and other fossil fuel industries.
Katie Campbell

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Ashland has joined in the nationwide movement to divest from fossil fuel. Tuesday night, the city council became the second in Oregon to pass a divestment resolution.

“We’re not going to invest, but we’re going to still use fossil fuels?” he asked.

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9:27 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Baby Orca Missing In Puget Sound And Presumed Dead

A calf born this year to a resident Puget Sound orca has not been seen recently and scientists think it may have died.

Orca enthusiasts rejoiced when a newborn calf was spotted 7 weeks ago.

But as of Tuesday morning, the endangered killer whale calf has not been seen.

L120 was the first calf born in the past 2 years. The calf's mother was spotted three times since Friday. Her baby was nowhere to be seen.

Orca experts believe the calf is dead, though no carcass has been found and it's unclear how it died.

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6:32 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Coos Bay Shipyard Cleanup Project Resumes After 14 Years

Abandoned Mid-Coast Marine shipyard site near Coos Bay
Oregon DEQ

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 8:27 pm

COOS BAY, Ore. -- State environmental officials in Oregon are taking a second look at once heavily-contaminated shipyard near Coos Bay.

Fourteen years after walking away the Mid-Coast Marine cleanup site, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is back to see if its efforts were good enough to declare the project a success -- or if there's still work to do.

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5:17 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Environmental Groups Say Oregon Got It Wrong With Oil Terminal Permit

Oil trains rest on the tracks in Portland, on the line toward on terminal in Clatskanie. Environmental groups claim that terminal's air quality permit was issued incorrectly.
Tony Schick

PORTLAND -- Local and national environmental groups filed a petition Friday claiming Oregon erred in granting an air quality permit to Oregon’s largest oil train terminal.

Their petition claims the Department of Environmental Quality should have considered pollution from the trains and ships that move oil in and out of the terminal, rather than just the terminal itself.

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10:10 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Oregon On Track To Begin Wolf Delisting Process

Oregon's wolf population is on track to cross the milestone of having four breeding pairs for three consecutive years at the end of December.
Courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon's wolf population is on track to reach a key milestone. If current trends in Eastern Oregon continue, the state can relax protections and consider removing wolves from its endangered species list next year.

Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said state rules call for launching a delisting process for wolves when Eastern Oregon has four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. A breeding pair is an adult male, adult female and at least two pups surviving to the end of the calendar year.

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11:20 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Potential For Navy War Games Alarms Peninsula Residents

Lt. Roy Walker, from the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Pacific Fleet (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The U.S. Forest Service and the Navy are addressing public concerns about a controversial training exercise.

The Navy wants to place electromagnetic radiation emitters at more than a dozen sites on federal and state land in Washington. The real time training would allow pilots to practice finding those signals.

The exercises are designed to mimic an anti-aircraft missile attack. The Navy’s John Mosher said in places like Iraq and Syria enemy forces use electromagnetic signals to locate their target in the air.

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