EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Port of Vancouver commissioners are looking for input at a hearing Tuesday about how to move forward with the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The Port wants to hear from the public about how to proceed with a proposed lease amendment from the backers of the Vancouver Energy Project.

The hearing will be held at Clark College. It’s expected to last about 12 hours.

In the mornings, Jeff Mastrandea waits a good 30 seconds after turning on his faucet. He also makes sure to drink from a filter. He does this because his water is sometimes laced with unsafe levels of lead. He wants to let any water with the toxic metal drain out before he takes a drink.

When the famously pure water from Portland’s Bull Run Watershed sits overnight in the copper plumbing of his 1984 Gresham home, it corrodes the lead solder that fuses those pipes together.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture plans to spray an organic insecticide across thousands of acres of North Portland and Vancouver, Washington, over the next month to eradicate invasive gypsy moths.

The company behind a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal on Oregon’s southern coast has been busy lining up customers in Asia.

On Friday, the Canadian firm Veresen announced a preliminary purchase agreement with the Japanese trading company ITOCHU. Two weeks earlier, Veresen said it had a similar agreement in place with another Japanese firm, JERA.

Both deals are for 1.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year for 20 years. If finalized, they vouch for half the expected production capacity of the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon.

It’s not every day that the governors of both Oregon and California, the U.S. Interior secretary and the head of a major power company -- as well as representatives of multiple tribes all gather at the mouth of a river. But then, Wednesday was an historic day for the Klamath River.

Two agreements signed near the river's mouth in Northern California mean four privately-owned dams are now on track to be removed from the Klamath. It’s described as the largest river restoration project in the country.

Let's break it down.

The Port of Vancouver recommended that port commissioners vote against a lease extension with the companies backing a proposed oil terminal. The recommendation comes ahead of two port commission meetings next week.

On Tuesday, backers of the Vancouver Energy Project asked the port to extend a portion of its lease until Aug. 1, 2018.

Port officials said the recommendation is only about the amendment proposed by the company and does not affect the current lease.

Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon is an increasingly popular destination. In the past five years, visitation increased from 450,000 to about 700,000 day use visitors.

Scott Brown, the park manager, said he's glad to see so many people enjoying the high desert attraction. But all those additional visitors, hikers and rock climbers tax the resources and infrastructure at the park.

“Many days of the year now, particularly in the spring and the fall, there’s no parking available," Brown said. "The restrooms, there’s long lines. There’s more trail maintenance.”

Supporters of a resolution to one of the West's most protracted water wars made their way to a remote location on the Northern California coast to witness the signing of two major agreements Wednesday that could make history.

The new deals move the region a big step closer to the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, which runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California. It also ensures that farmers will not be financially responsible for restoration of salmon runs once the dams are gone.

Backers of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver have asked for an amendment to their lease with the port. Port commissioners plan to discuss the request in a series of public meetings next week.

Officials with the Vancouver Energy Project said Tuesday they need more time to complete Washington’s permitting process.

Federal and state officials will announce two agreements Wednesday designed to pick up where the failed Klamath River Basin pact left off. It's the latest development in the long-standing fight over water in this region that straddles the state line between Southern Oregon and Northern California.

After Congress failed to act last year, the hard negotiated deal fell apart. It would have removed four dams on the Klamath River for salmon, while providing water certainty for farmers.

A panel of ocean scientists from Washington, Oregon and California said Monday that local action on the West Coast — one of the regions of the world hardest hit by ocean acidification — could soften the blow of this rapidly worsening global problem.

While acidification's main cause is carbon dioxide emitted globally, the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel said it's urgent to fight the phenomenon close to home as well as globally.

Counties across Oregon are turning toward a little-known federal policy as a means to have more say in how federal lands in their backyards are managed.

These counties are using “coordination,” an obscure provision in two federal environmental policy laws that require agencies to coordinate with local governments in land use planning.

Baker County Chair Bill Harvey describes coordination as putting local and federal governments on “equal footing.”

The Serious Ramifications Of A Deadly Bat Disease In Washington

Apr 4, 2016

KUOW's Jeannie Yandel talks with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns about a deadly fungus called white nose syndrome that's killed millions of bats on the East coast. In March, a single bat with white nose syndrome was discovered in Washington state. Burns talks about what the spread of this syndrome could do to the state's ecosystem and agriculture.

Last summer, Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden visited the seven natural wonders of Oregon, which include Crater Lake and Mount Hood.

What he heard again and again, he said, were stories of people trying to get outdoors but being stymied by government bureaucracy.

“We heard that people were getting up at 6 a.m. to wait in line in effect to wait again for the prospect of getting a permit,” Wyden said.

The environmental review for what could be the largest coal export terminal in the country appears to have been put on hold.

SSA Marine is the company behind the proposed rail-to-ship coal terminal planned for the Puget Sound shoreline near Bellingham, Washington. It announced Friday that opposition from the Lummi Tribe was the main reason for its decision.

The tribe’s fishing grounds surround the project site, and the Lummi had asked the federal government to deny the permits for the coal terminal because it would violate their treaty fishing rights.

Health officials announced Friday that they have discovered a small but "statistically significant" increase in the number of bladder cancers in North Portland between 1999 and 2003.

The Oregon Health Authority has been looking at cancer rates in neighborhoods around two glass manufacturers in Portland after a notable increase in air pollution was detected earlier this year.

The manufacturers had been using heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic to color glass, and elevated levels were found nearby.

Oregonians listening to the Pandora streaming music website might hear a seemingly surprising commercial about Gov. Kate Brown and the environment.

The new ad, from the environmental advocacy group Oregon Wild, complains about how Brown has handled issues ranging from Portland air pollution to endangered wolves. It charges that she “is failing to protect the things that make the state special.”

Scientists were ecstatic. After years of worrying about the killer whale population in Puget Sound, eight baby orcas were born and thriving.

Then came photos of their bellies. Most of the babies are boys, they realized.

At least five – but probably six – of the new orcas are male. One remains a mystery. And just one is a girl. They call her Scarlet and say she’s spunky and growing like a weed.

But if she’s the only female, that means she’s the only whale in this age group that could conceive.

The Wild Fish Conservancy filed a lawsuit Thursday that accuses two federal agencies of violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to consider the impacts of Columbia River Basin hatcheries on threatened and endangered wild fish and their habitat.

A devastating disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States has now been confirmed in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time white nose syndrome has been found west of the Rocky Mountains.

In mid-March, a hiker on a mountain trail east of Seattle found an ailing bat and brought it into a local animal hospital. Two days later, the bat was dead. A government lab confirmed it had an advanced case of white nose syndrome.

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