EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

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.

Washington forestry officials have updated state guidelines for evaluating unstable slopes that, if logged, could contribute to landslides.

Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Monday to remove wolves from the state's list of endangered species.

The decision changes little in the short term for Oregon’s known population of 81 gray wolves. A state management plan would continue to permit killing wolves only if they're caught in the act of attacking or involved in repeated livestock damage.

As international leaders prepare for the next round of climate talks in Paris, the plight of climate refugees is expected to be front and center.

The question confronting these global leaders is this: how should the developed world help poor, island and coastal nations whose lands and livelihoods are threatened by sea level rise, extreme weather and other climate change-related risks?

Here in the Northwest, sea level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years.

Two of the largest timber companies in the United States, Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek, announced plans Monday to merge under the Weyerhaeuser name.

The combined company will be the largest private timberland owner in the South and the Pacific Northwest, with stock worth $23 billion and a portfolio of more than 13 million acres.

That includes 7.3 million acres of Southern yellow pine forests in the Southern U.S., 3 million acres of Douglas fir forest in Oregon and Washington, and 2.6 million acres of mixed hardwoods in Michigan and the Northeast.

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West. Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

The vast steppe-like landscape near Ephrata, Washington, stretches almost as far as you can see. Most of the sagebrush is pretty healthy, if not too dense. But this 240-acre patch of public land was burned last year.

After a failed vote of 3-4 on a less restrictive proposal, the board elected to more than double the stream-side shade requirements under the Forest Practices Act to protect cold water for fish. The rules bring Oregon closer in line with logging policies meant to keep streams cool in the neighboring state of Washington.

The new rules increase the size of the restricted areas along small and medium fish-bearing streams. They’re estimated to affect between 15,000 and 30,000 acres of forestland altogether.

Rare Blue Whale Washes Up On Oregon Beach

Nov 5, 2015

A 78-foot-long blue whale washed up on the shores of southern Oregon this week.

Though gray whales occasionally turn up on Oregon beaches when they die, it’s rare to find blue whales.

Bruce Mate, who serves as marine mammal director at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, said this is the first time he's seen a blue whale on Oregon beaches. He's been doing research in the state since 1968.

After more than five years of negotiations and much secrecy, the Obama Administration released the full text of a controversial Pacific Rim trade deal Thursday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement streamlines business between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States.

It’s a 6,000-page document that stakeholders on a number of fronts — including agriculture, manufacturing, the environment and labor — are just starting to dissect as they prepare to lobby Congress, which will likely decide next spring whether or not to ratify the deal.

California officials delayed opening its recreational crab fishing season Thursday. Scientists have found high levels of a potentially lethal toxin in Dungeness crab in California. A similar delay could come any time for California's commercial crab season.

Hugh Link, the director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, says testing is underway, but no decision has been made about Oregon's season.