EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

A Furry Predator Returns To the Wilds of Washington

Dec 3, 2015

It's been more than 70 years since anyone saw the weasel-like fisher in Washington's south Cascades.

But on Thursday, wildlife officials introduced seven of these elusive carnivores into the woods of Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

It didn't take long for the furry, cat-sized mammals to make a run for the woods, away from a gathering of about 50 people who came to watch and photograph the event.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden on Thursday released draft legislation he says will help solve long-standing water conflicts in the Klamath Basin. The bill is drastically different from what tribes, farmers and others negotiated as part of the Klamath restoration agreements.

Simon Winchester On The Pacific Ocean

Dec 3, 2015

For his latest book of nonfiction, Simon Winchester has taken on nearly 64 million square miles. "Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers" is divided into 10 chapters encompassing singular events in the ocean's history, including nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll, and the invention of surfing.


A voter initiative that would put a tax on carbon emissions has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2016.

The measure would impose a tax of $25 for every ton of carbon emitted when fossil fuels are burned. Backers of the measure say that will increase some consumer prices, like what people pay for gasoline. The measure also calls for carbon tax's revenue to be used to lower the state sales tax, effectively eliminate the B&O tax on manufacturers and to provide rebates to lower income households.

Klamath Basin Water Agreement Could Fall Apart

Dec 2, 2015

Over a decade ago, a whole bunch of people who didn't agree on much started meeting.

They all wanted access to some of the water in the Klamath River basin. What they didn't agree on was how much the others should have access to.

But the farmers and ranchers and anglers and tribal members and power companies and politicians kept meeting, and eventually they came up with a series of grand compromises.

Boat speed is a big problem for Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales, according to new research published Wednesday.

Armed with a flashlight and a spear under the cover of night, Tom Kaye creeps toward his targets on the edge of a pond near Corvallis.

"There's the one we're going to go after first," he said. "I can see some twinkling eyes and then there's several all the way up the shore."

Invasive American bullfrogs have taken over the pond, and that's bad news for native species.

Seafloor Samples Reveal Ghosts Of Blobs Past

Nov 25, 2015

A huge mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is causing problems off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The so-called “blob” is being blamed for toxic algae blooms, which have caused marine mammal deaths and crabbing closures.

New evidence shows this isn’t the first time the blob has appeared off the Northwest coast.

Environmental elder statesman William Ruckelshaus was awarded the highest civilian honor in the country Tuesday. He was at a ceremony in Washington D.C. to accept the Medal of Freedom, one of 17 awarded.

KUOW/EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn spoke with Ruckelshaus last week, before he departed for Washington, D.C.

Mediation At The Paris Climate Summit

Nov 25, 2015

Gregg Walker will be headed to the Paris climate talks next week. But the OSU Speech Communications professor won't be there as a negotiator; he'll be there as an observer and a researcher as a part of the non-profit Mediators Without Borders. Walker has been to 20 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summits, and is an expert in environmental conflict resolution.


Q&A: Vancouver Oil-By-Rail Environmental Review

Nov 24, 2015

Washington state released a detailed report Tuesday assessing the environmental impact of a proposed rail-to-marine oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

If built, the project would be the largest of its kind in the country.

It could move 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily by train from North Dakota to Vancouver. From there, the oil would be transferred onto ships and sent to West Coast refineries.

Here’s a closer look:

New Wolf Pack Confirmed In North-Central Washington

Nov 24, 2015

Wildlife officials have confirmed a new wolf pack near the towns of Twisp and Omak in North-Central Washington.

They've named the pack Loup Loup, recognizing prominent landmarks within the pack's range in Methow Valley, including Loup Loup Pass.

Where Do Seattle-Area Crows Go At Night?

Nov 24, 2015

Lauren Linscheid of Seattle sees crows flying every day toward Lake City Way. “I want to know where they’re going and why,” Lauren told KUOW’s Local Wonder team. Reporter Ashley Ahearn was dispatched to investigate.

Washington state has released a detailed environmental assessment of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The draft report was released Tuesday by the state’s Energy Site Evaluation Council. It considers the oil-by-rail project’s possible impacts to things like environmental health, noise, and emergency preparedness in the event of an oil spill or explosion.

A study from the University of Washington shows coal trains are releasing more pollution into the Columbia River Gorge than freight trains.

The trains emitted about twice the particulates as diesel freight trains, according to the study.

The study also found that coal trains with uncovered cars were major polluters of the Gorge. They polluted at six times the rate of diesel trains.

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.