EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

In the wake of last week’s Trump administration announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, states are stepping up to fill the void. Washington announced a partnership with California and New York to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. Within days, Oregon and several other states signed on.

What is this U.S. Climate Alliance?

On the ferry ride from Washington to British Columbia ten activists sang songs they’d written about the water surrounding them: the Salish Sea.

They were crossing the international border for a combination march and ferry ride that would take them from Victoria to Vancouver. Their goal was to protest the expansion of a Canadian oil pipeline.

Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is confident that Oregon and other progressive states can still meet the Paris climate goals for the U.S. — despite President Donald Trump's decision to pull the country out of the international accord.

The Democratic governor told the City Club of Portland that Oregon will join a coalition of states led by California, Washington and New York working to reduce carbon emissions.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

While the fire might be out, the crash still hangs over the town.

After the crash, the city, the fire department and the school district created an intergovernmental agreement to negotiate with Union Pacific, the rail company responsible for the derailment.

Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns says the agreement is almost final.

“We’re really almost about to tie it up," she said.

The United States is stepping away from the Paris Climate Agreement, but the consequences of climate change will be more difficult to leave behind. Take ocean acidification, a major emerging threat to West Coast fisheries.

Researchers at Oregon State University have recorded some of the highest levels of ocean acidification in the world – and they exist right off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Portland Wants All Renewable Energy By 2050

Jun 1, 2017

Portland leaders say all of the city’s energy will come from renewable sources by the year 2050.

The City Council established this goal to move away from fossil fuels at Thursday’s meeting — just a few hours after President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

An 86-mile bike and walking trail between the Portland metro area and the Oregon Coast is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has given the Salmonberry Trail project $30,000 to look at the economics and health benefits of turning the old Port of Tillamook Bay rail line into a trail.

The Oregon Legislature gave its final approval Wednesday to a bill that puts permanent limits on suction dredge mining.

The practice has been controversial because of noise and concerns about harm to fish habitat and water quality.

Suction dredge, or placer mining, is a kind of motorized in-stream mineral extraction. Picture a lawnmower motor floating top of a pontoon in a river. The motor powers a large vacuum hose, which is used by a swimming miner to suck up sediment in the search for gold.

Leaders of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project unveiled their vision Wednesday for redeveloping a former paper mill that's blocking up-close views of one of the biggest waterfalls in the country.

The plans include creating public access to Willamette Falls along a riverwalk that winds through the skeleton of the old Blue Heron paper mill.

“No fear” might be an OK slogan for a bumper sticker, but it’s a terrible idea for a salmon.

Salmon are starting to lose their sense of smell and their fear of predators, according to research from federal and university scientists in Seattle.

Their preliminary work, presented in May at a symposium on ocean acidification at the University of Washington, documents yet another way carbon dioxide emissions are messing with the world's oceans.

Terrestrial is KUOW's new podcast on the environment. Each episode explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. You can hear all our episodes and subscribe here, or join our facebook group and talk this stuff out with your fellow listeners.

My husband and I have been grappling with this question – in part because we wonder if it’s the right choice for the environment.

Portland's Bike-Powered Mill Delivers A Low-Carbon Beer

May 26, 2017

Portland's Baerlic Brewing has teamed up with the Oregon Environmental Council to brew a low-carbon beer using a bike mill to grind the malt for its “Bike Crush Saison.”

The beer, scheduled to be released June 15, will be made with locally grown hops from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn. It will only be distributed within a mile of the brewery by bike or hybrid vehicle.

Washington Senator's Temporary Job Ends At EPA

May 25, 2017

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen has finished his temporary job for the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The Bellingham Herald reports that his 120-day position ended May 20.

Ericksen, a Republican from Ferndale, was hired shortly after the inauguration and during the 120-day period worked as both a state senator and a federal employee.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Jerry Brown are calling for a federal disaster declaration in response to two years of dismal ocean salmon fishing seasons.

To protect a record-low run of salmon returning to the Klamath River this year, managers have canceled the salmon fishing seasons along a 200-mile stretch of the ocean off the coast of southern Oregon and northern California. Salmon fishing opportunities are limited by low runs coastwide.

The Trump administration has given an initial thumbs-up to a plan to dig holes throughout a meadow of rare wildflowers inside the San Juan Islands National Monument.

It’s not part of any effort to eliminate the monument: It’s part of local tribes’ efforts to improve their diets and revive old traditions.

The Trump administration released its list of 27 national monuments up for review — and possible elimination – earlier in May.

The Hanford Reach National Monument along the Columbia River is on the list; the much smaller San Juan Islands National Monument is not.

Trump's Budget Proposes Selling Off BPA Grid

May 24, 2017

One of President Trump’s ideas to generate revenue is not sitting well with some Northwest utilities. The proposed budget includes a plan to sell off publicly-owned transmission lines, like those owned by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The BPA operates about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission systems in its territory, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

A proposal by Portland General Electric to sell nine oil storage tanks on the lower Columbia River has raised concerns about a potential oil-by-rail terminal in Oregon.

PGE is proposing to sell its old oil storage tanks to the fuel distributor Global Partners LP, which runs an ethanol facility at Port Westward near Clatskanie. The company has used the existing rail line and dock to ship crude oil from the facility in the past, and the additional tanks would add more than a million barrels of storage capacity, according to documents.

Several detections of the parasite cryptosporidium in Portland's main water supply earlier this year could end up costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Portland Water Bureau learned May 19 it has lost a key exemption to federal water testing rules, meaning the city must now start treating its water for the parasite.

Culvert Case Decision A 'Win For Salmon' In Washington

May 22, 2017

A big court decision could open up new habitat for salmon in Washington and end up costing the state billions of dollars. The case stemmed from poor maintenance and design of road culverts, which can block fish passage upstream.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday denied the state’s request to rehear the case. A lower court had ordered the state in 2013 to fix hundreds of road culverts.

Road culverts are those metal pipes or concrete boxes you see carrying streams underneath roads. There are thousands across the Northwest.

Recovering from a big earthquake and tsunami has lead Japan to invest in new communities called "smart cities" with interconnected electric cars, solar panels and advanced energy-saving technology.

They're eco-friendly, and they're also better prepared for when the next big one hits because they're filled with "smart homes" that supply their own power when disaster strikes.

There's nothing quite like these "smart homes" in the Pacific Northwest, but Hillsboro resident Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield rigged up a DIY version for her town home.

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