Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

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.

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-Mégantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people, have a design flaw and are easily punctured.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada

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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NPR Story
11:54 am
Thu January 9, 2014

EarthFix Conversations: The Case For Carnivore Conservation

A leopard. Ecologists, including OSU's William Ripple, are arguing that large carnivores play a key role.
Kristin Abley.

In a new paper published in Science, Ripple has worked with a multinational team of a dozen carnivore biologists to make the case that the world’s largest predators are declining just as researchers begin to understand their key ecological effects. The researchers found that 61 percent of the largest land carnivores are threatened with extinction.

EarthFix: What is the main argument that you make in the article that’s coming out in Science?

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NPR Story
11:04 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Oregon Governor Gives Vision For Federal Forest Management

Gov. John Kitzhaber tells the Oregon Board of Forestry about his vision for improving federal forest management.

SALEM, Ore. -- State forestry leaders in Oregon know they alone can't change the way federal forests are managed. But they joined Gov. John Kitzhaber Wednesday in outlining the changes they'd like to see as Congress considers several bills that would change forest management.

The Oregon Board of Forestry voted unanimously on a list of recommendations that include streamlining environmental reviews to allow for more logging in some federal forest areas.

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NPR Story
4:35 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Wall Street Giant Backs Away From Washington Coal Export Project

Goldman Sachs has parted ways with a proposal to export 48 million tons of Wyoming Coals through a terminal near Bellingham, Wash.
Katie Campbell

A multinational banking giant is backing away from a proposal to build the West Coast’s biggest coal export project near Bellingham, Washington.

New York-based Goldman Sachs has sold its stock back to the companies proposing to build the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If built it would transfer 48 million tons of Wyoming coal each year from trains to ocean-going vessels bound for Asia.

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NPR Story
11:21 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Wash. Officials Say Shellfish Is Safe For China To Import

The United States exported more than $500 million worth of shellfish in 2012, with China as its biggest customer.
Katie Campbell

SEATTLE -- Washington state officials said Tuesday they found lower contamination levels when they tested geoduck clams than those alleged by China when it said geoduck imported from Puget Sound had high levels of arsenic.

China cited its findings in December when it imposed the largest ban on shellfish imports from Northwest waters -- as well as from California and Alaska -- in the region's history.

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NPR Story
5:01 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

How A 3-D Printer Helped Preserve A Sabertooth Salmon

The University of Oregon's sabertooth fossil skull, prepared for a CAT-scan.
University of Oregon

For years, museum conservators and paleontologists have yearned for a way to duplicate fragile fossils without damaging them. Now scientists with the University of Oregon say they have found a way to do just that, with the help of a relatively inexpensive 3-D printer.

They’ve starting by duplicating the skull of a particularly important fossil in their collection: a giant sabertooth salmon fossil discovered near Madras, Ore.

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NPR Story
1:30 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Oregon Bill Would Limit Household Pesticide Use To Protect Bees

Lori Vollmer, owner of Garden Fever nursery in Portland, removed pesticides containing neonicotinoid chemicals from her store shelves after an estimated 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville.
Cassandra Profita

An Oregon lawmaker is looking to restrict household use of four common pesticides that pose risks to bees.

Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-Portland, says given the toxicity of certain pesticides and their track record for killing bees, untrained home gardeners shouldn't be allowed to use them.

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Feds Issue Oil Train Alert
6:00 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Federal Agency Issues Safety Alert For Oil Trains

An oil train moves along Puget Sound, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state.
Ashley Ahearn

SEATTLE -- The alert, issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday, said that the crude oil that is coming out of the Bakken formation of North Dakota poses a “significant risk” because it is more flammable than traditional heavy crude.

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