EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Scientists think they know what brought invasive green crab into Washington's inland waters last year.

In short: "the blob." That was the temporary expanse of abnormally warm water off the West Coast from 2013 to late 2015.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released her proposal Thursday for keeping the Elliott State Forest in public ownership – rather than selling it to the highest bidder.

A proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington, gained approval of a key permit Tuesday.

The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, met in executive session before voting to release the draft notice of construction air permit for the controversial project.

It's chaotic in the side yard of Butte Falls Charter School, but don't let that fool you. The middle schoolers are locked in.

"Let’s get this log done!" calls design and build class teacher Chris Mathas over the cacophony of drills and giggles.

The class is planting shiitake mushroom mycelium into three-foot oak logs. It’s a lesson that’s part ecology, part agriculture and part traditional shop class - a perfect fit for the natural resource focus of their school.

The Oregon Senate has confirmed three new members of the state’s Environmental Quality Commission.

Kathleen George, Molly Kile and Wade Mosby will replace three former members of the five-person commission who were sacked by Gov. Kate Brown in April. The former board members later said they were fired over their choice to lead the Department of Environmental Quality: Richard Whitman, one of Brown’s former advisers.

The Oregon School Boards Association is threatening to sue the State Land Board over plans for the Elliott State Forest. That message came through clearly in a three-page letter sent to the State Land Board's three members: Democrats Gov. Kate Brown and State Treasurer Tobias Read and Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

The following is an excerpt from KUOW’s new podcast, terrestrial, which explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. Subscribe to the show. And let’s talk about climate change — what to do about it and how to live with it — together via our Facebook group.

EarthFix is pleased to introduce terrestrial, a new environment-focused podcast from a journalist who’s been with us since the beginning.

Ashley Ahearn is the host of terrestrial, produced by KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio, in Seattle. Before terrestrial, Ahearn was a founding member of the EarthFix reporting team, telling environmental stories of the Northwest since 2011 for public media audiences in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

It’s Design Week in Portland! The week when all of the makers, the tallest and the smallest, get together to talk about the looks they love, the technology they’re using, and the newest concepts and products they're dreaming up. From streetwear to downtown Portland to sporting goods to candy, everything's on the drawing board.

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to help towns and cities prepare for serious railroad incidents.

The Community Protection and Preparedness Act would create a trust fund to help communities prepare for incidents involving flammable liquids like crude oil and ethanol.

Last summer, a Union Pacific train derailed and spilled thousands of gallons of crude in the small Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

A project that would export 44 million tons of coal a year from Longview, Washington, would raise the cancer risk for people living near rail lines, create traffic jams with its mile-long coal trains and increase global greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million tons.

The Millennium coal export project would be among the largest coal terminals in North America, and it would inevitably impact the environment and the surrounding community in Southwest Washington, according to a new report from state and county regulators.

Environmentalists concerned that lobbying and polite marches have failed to weaken America’s reliance on fossil fuels have started turning to more confrontational approaches.

Climate activists with the group 350 Seattle say 2,000 people from the Seattle area have signed a “pledge of resistance” to participate in civil disobedience on behalf of the global climate.

While civil disobedience is nothing new, even for climate activists, 350 Seattle organizers said interest in it has ballooned since the election of President Donald Trump.

Kill A Juniper Tree, Save A Sage Grouse

Apr 27, 2017

There’s good news for the West's imperiled greater sage grouse. New research suggests the bird has a better chance of survival when juniper trees are removed from its habitat.

The chicken-sized sage grouse's decline has happened over the same stretch of time that's seen western juniper and pinyon pine trees spread out across the bird's sagebrush ecosystem. Reasons for the trees' expansion include fire suppression, overgrazing and changing climate conditions.

As the stands grow more dense, they outcompete sagebrush. They also serve as perches for birds of prey.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced climate legislation Thursday to completely phase-out fossil fuels.

Called the "100 by 50 Act," it aims to run 100 percent of the country on clean and renewable energy by 2050.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., supported the launch. “Mr. President your job is to listen to the scientific community which is virtually unanimous in telling us that we’ve got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” he said.

Paul Savino’s first patient of the day collapsed under the weight of an overgrown child. He's seen these symptoms before.

“What we have here are a couple of dowel joints that have popped and one that has snapped,” he said. “But the patient will survive, I dare say.”

A piece of sandpaper, some wood glue and 20 minutes later, the toddler-sized wooden chair was back on its feet.

Environmental groups gathered Wednesday outside the Portland General Electric headquarters in Portland to protest the utility’s effort to permit two new natural gas plants to replace its coal-fired power plant, which is scheduled to shut down in 2020.

The protesters carried signs that read: “We want #cleanenergy not #frackedgas,” and they danced to their own rendition of the song “YMCA” that asked: “Why, PGE? The wind can do it, so why, PGE?” The protest coincided with a PGE shareholders meeting at the utility's headquarters in downtown Portland.

Copyright 2017 ERTHFX. To see more, visit ERTHFX.

The salmon cannon made a big splash a few years ago on local news stations and even had a cameo on HBO’s "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver. Soon, it could propel fish into its biggest project yet.

Even with all the hubbub around its name, the salmon cannon isn’t so much an explosion as a flexible plastic tube that sucks fish up and over obstructions — like dams.

Initial numbers show that bottle and can returns are up statewide after the deposit increased from a nickel to a dime on April 1.

Full statewide numbers aren’t in yet, but the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative is tracking how many bottles are returned to its Bottle Drop Centers.

Scientists, students, and families carried signs and chanted “Earth Day is every day.” Some, like Barbara Martin, even dressed for the occasion.

“I’ve got on my lab coat with my stethoscope and my sign says ‘Got Polio? Me neither. Thanks, science,’” said Martin, who was also sporting a green knit hat with an ohm symbol in the middle, the electrical sign for resistance.

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