Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
2:26 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Group Calls For Expanding Killer Whale Habitat Protection

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking for a major expansion in the protected habitat for Puget Sound's killer whales.

An environmental group is calling for a major expansion in habitat protection for Puget Sound's killer whales.

Research shows the endangered orcas that live in Puget Sound in the summer are venturing up and down the West Coast in the winter to forage for food. Scientists tracking these southern resident orcas have followed the whales as far north as Alaska and as far south as Monterey, Calif.

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NPR Story
2:00 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Senate Panel Questions Ecology On Review Of Coal Terminal

A coal mining operation in Wyoming. Washington lawmakers are questioning whether state environmental regulators should broadly consider transporting and burning coal when they determine the process for permitting export of coal from Washington.
Katie Campbell

Washington's top environmental regulator found herself in the hot seat Thursday during a state Senate hearing called by Republican lawmakers who disapprove her agency's scrutiny of a coal export terminal proposed for the northern shore of Puget Sound.

At issue: greenhouse gas emissions.

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NPR Story
1:30 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Spill plan For Columbia River Oil Terminal Lays Out Worst-Case Scenarios

An oil terminal at the Port Westward Industrial Park near Clatskanie, Ore., submitted its spill contingency plans to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality this month.
Sam Beebe/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/28585409@N04/2849062734/in/photolist-5kLc6h-5t1XHL-5Tw5Ci-6fYfZU-6p8WJr-6pHEB3-6tZy4T-6vUs4b-6vUsuu-6vUsUW-75E2JW-gLQsju-fAdpXR-fAdpd4-fAdiJ2-fAdqGa-gLQshW-fAdpAT-fAdqiF-g

The worst-case environmental scenario at an oil terminal on the lower Columbia River means 3.8 million gallons of crude spilling into sensitive wildlife habitat and shutting down a public drinking water intake, according to a draft response plan facility managers filed with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

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Nuclear Fallout
1:00 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Scientists Say Stop Worrying About Fukushima Radioactivity In Fish

Pete Knutson and his son, Dylan, sell their wild-caught salmon at farmer's markets around Seattle. "We had people passing on our fish this year. It was directly because they were worried about Fukushima."
Ashley Ahearn

SEATTLE -- Japan's nuclear disaster released hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water in 2011, sparking rampant speculation that a contaminated plume would reach the waters of North America's West Coast.

Three years later, such speculation is alive and well on the Internet. Consider this video shot at a beach in Northern California and posted last month to YouTube:

The videographer's Geiger counter shows elevated levels of radioactivity.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

WA Environmental Groups' Legislative Focus: Oil Trains

Environmental groups in Washington today are outlining their legislative goals for this 60-day upcoming session. One major focus: oil train safety.
Flickr Creative Commons: LisArt

Oil train safety tops the list of priorities for environmental groups, which outlined their goals Wednesday for Washington's new legislative session.

Right now, rail companies share little information with state agencies that would respond if a train derailed in the Pacific Northwest. Environmental groups would like the Washington Legislature to change that. It's 60-day session got underway this week.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Can Bikes And Orchards Coexist?

Jan Dappen rides along Wenatchee's Apple Capital Recreation Loop. The success of this loop encouraged cyclists to try to designate a more ambitious route from Wenatchee to Leavenworth. Local orchardists are fighting the designation.
WenatcheeOutdoors.org http://www.WenatcheeOutdoors.org/

The valley between Wenatchee and Leavenworth, Wash., is known for its fruit orchards. Apple, pear, and cherry trees line the county roads. In the springtime, blossomed branches reach out from tidy orchard rows.

You can glimpse the orchards from U.S. Highway 2, the most direct route between the two cities. But the most scenic way winds along 48 miles of county roads, up and down hills and across the Wenatchee River.

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No Nukes in Northwest?
4:31 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Power Planners Ponder The Northwest Without A Nuclear Plant

Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Wash. is the only nuclear power plant in the Northwest. With conflicting reports on its economic viability issued by opponents and owners of the plant, a power planning commission may order an analysis of its own
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:16 pm

Northwest power planners may do their own review to determine the impacts of shutting down the only nuclear power plant in the region.

At a meeting Tuesday, members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council discussed the wildly conflicting results of two studies on the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant.

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Prehistoric Fish
9:15 am
Tue January 14, 2014

First Land-Walking Fish Looks Like It Had 'All-Wheel Drive'

An updated rendering of Tiktaalik based on new research published in PNAS.
Kalliopi Monoyios

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:15 pm

A creature that lived 375 million years ago and is thought to have been the first fish to have made the transition to land sported large pelvic bones in addition to its leg-like front fins, new research shows, suggesting that it was a more efficient walker than previously thought.

Tiktaalik roseae, discovered in 2004 on Ellesmere Island in Nunavit, Canada, is a key transitional fossil that links lobe-finned fishes and tetrapods, the first four-limbed vertebrates at the end of the Devonian period.

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NPR Story
6:10 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Oregon Proposes Removing Hatchery Fish From Wild Fish Areas

A new plan for six species of salmon and trout in Oregon's coastal rivers would shift the balance of hatchery and wild fish.
caddiseug/Flickr

Hatchery-reared fish would get the heave ho from certain rivers along the Oregon Coast under the latest strategy to help Oregon's wild salmon and steelhead.

The new management plan proposed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would designate several coastal rivers as "wild fish emphasis areas," while increasing the number of hatchery fish planted in other coastal rivers to expand fishing opportunities in those waters.

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NPR Story
6:35 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Northwest officials receive little information on oil by rail shipments

Rail and oil companies do not have to disclose how many DOT-111 tanker cars travel through the Northwest. DOT-111 tanker cars, which exploded in Lac-M├ęgantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people, have a design flaw and are easily punctured.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsbcanada/

Northwesterners are paying attention to the fiery derailments hitting other parts of North America where the oil-by-rail boom is underway.

More and more crude oil is moving across the Northwest by train. But railroad and oil companies are not required to disclose much on shipments or response strategies. That's leaving state officials without information needed to prepare for an oil train mishap.

How many shipments are moving through a given region at any given time? what kind of tanker cars they are in? What are the companies' strategies should a train derail or explode?

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