Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
12:27 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

State Blocks Permits For Two Grays Harbor Oil Terminals

Two oil-by-train terminals proposed for the Port of Grays Harbor on the Washington coast were dealt a set back when state regulators withdrew permit approval.

A state regulatory board is withdrawing its approval of permits for two crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor, Wash., saying backers have faied to address public safety and environmental issues.

The Quinault Indian Nation and several conservation groups successfully argued that permits issued for two terminals in Grays Harbor, Washington should be reversed.

"Those permits should have never been issued in the first place," said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinalt Nation.

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NPR Story
12:08 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

A Turbine That Toppled In A Windstorm

Recent winds in southcentral Washington caused a wind turbine to collapse.

The weekend before last I was out running errands around the Tri-Cities, and it was impossible to ignore the wind. Trees swayed side-to-side in a strange yoga-like dance. Shopping carts raced across parking lots. Dust clouded the air like an early morning fog.

About 40 miles away, a wind turbine bent in half.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

How Public Officials Manage To Review 200,000 Comments On Coal Exports

A scene from a Millennium coal export public comment meeting.

Across the Northwest, thousands of people are crowding into meeting rooms to submit their comments on coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

Many of them wear T-shirts in protest or in support; they wait hours for a chance to speak for two or three minutes. The crowd isn't allowed to clap or cheer so they silently wave their hands or put their thumbs up if they agree with the people speaking.

Officials listen as people sound off one by one. What happens after that?

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NPR Story
12:22 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Study: 600,000 Bats Killed At Wind Farms In 2012

The hoary bat is one of the migrating bat species that flies through the Pacific Northwest. A study has found that more than 600,000 bats may have been killed at U.S. wind farms in 2012.

More than 600,000 bats may have been killed at wind farms in the continental U.S. last year. That’s a lot for these flying mammals, which are already suffering from a virulent disease and climate change.

At wind farms, bats are most often killed when they are struck by spinning turbine blades. They may sometimes die from a sudden change in air pressure, which harms their respiratory systems.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

China's Building Boom Revives Northwest Log Export Debate

A scaler grades logs that Teevin Brothers are preparing to ship to China. It can take 37,000 logs to fill a vessel.

If you want to know how China’s construction market is reshaping the Northwest, a Rainier, Ore. log yard is a good place to start.

The Teevin Brothers yard along the Columbia River rumbles with activity while workers prepare half a million logs for the towering ships docked across the river in the Port of Longview. A yellow stacking truck opens its pinchers and sends its payload rolling out across the ground. The air smells like sap and sawdust. Scalers wearing neon safety vests inspect the logs, stapling each with a plastic barcode.

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NPR Story
10:10 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Salmon Get A Helping Hand From Above

A Chinook helicopter descends toward a clearing near Cannon Beach's Ecola Forest Reserve for refueling Oct. 29. The helicopter relocated trees as part of a salmon habitat restoration project.

By Erick Bengel

CANNON BEACH — A salmon-friendly project, involving large tree trunks strategically placed in Ecola Creek is expected to improve fish habitat in the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve.

On a recent weekday, a Chinook helicopter recently airlifted 109 trees, mostly spruce, in the forest reserve and placed them at 19 preplanned sites along the creek, furnishing the fish with much-needed woody debris.

“One of the main deficiencies in our watershed is the presence of large wood,” said Jesse Jones, coordinator for the North Coast Watershed Association.

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NPR Story
7:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Can Mushrooms Help Fight Stormwater Pollution?

Stropharia rugosoannulata, commonly known as the Garden Giant, may hold a key to filtering stormwater runoff.

SEATTLE -- Ah, the Garden Giant. He’s a jolly fellow who roams around your garden at night tossing mulch as he merrily skips along, helping your veggies grow lush and tall.

Not quite. The Garden Giant is actually a species of mushroom, scientifically known as Stropharia rugosoannulata, that may hold a key to filtering harmful pollutants from stormwater runoff.

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NPR Story
2:00 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

EarthFix Conversations: What Chinese Demand For Logs Means For NW Mills

A scaler grades logs that Teevin Brothers are preparing for the export market in Rainier, Oregon.

China’s new demand for logs may be blunting economic troubles for timberland owners and logging crews, while making things worse for Northwest sawmills.

A strengthening Asian export market for raw logs has ports up and down the coast interested in getting back into the business. In 2011, almost a quarter of the logs harvested in the Northwest were shipped to Asia. In recent years, China has displaced Japan as the top buyer of logs from the Northwest.

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NPR Story
12:24 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Washington's Catholic Bishops Call For Broad Review Of Coal Exports

Washington's Catholic bishops are calling for broad review of the two proposed coal export terminals in the state.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Washington's four Catholic bishops have released a statement calling for “exhaustive and independent review” of the state's two coal export terminals under consideration:

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NPR Story
7:45 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Potential Problem In Hanford Waste Tanks: Flammable Gas

The deadline to cleanup Hanford Nuclear Reservation's C-Farm is possibly in jeopardy. Scientists and engineers aren’t sure now how much the newer massive double-hulled underground tanks can hold before the sludge burps up a major flammable gas bubble.

How much sludge can be dumped into a double-shelled radioactive waste tank before flammable gas might build up in a big bubble?

That's the question managers and scientists at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are asking. And they are working against the clock to solve the possible new problem.

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