Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Klamath Water Woes
5:21 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Could An Alliance Of Tribes And Farmers Solve Klamath’s Water Woes?

The Klamath Basin spans northern California and southern Oregon and has seen frequent water crises between the farming, ranching, tribal and environmental communities.
Devan Schwartz

A second straight year of water shutoffs in the arid Klamath Basin is drying up ranchland and forcing many ranchers to sell their cattle early.

But the water woes have created an unlikely alliance that could lead to a historic solution.

Scott White is the Klamath Basin watermaster. He has the difficult task of telling ranchers to turn off the water they use for cattle and crops.

“It was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do – it was a terrible feeling,” said White.

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NPR Story
4:21 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Appeals Board Finds Bias, Orders County To Re-Vote On LNG Pipeline

A proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline in northwestern Oregon will get another vote by Clatsop County commissioners, following a recent state appeals board ruling.
Flickr Creative Commons

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals says Clatsop County will have to vote again on a controversial liquefied natural gas pipeline after determining one of its commissioners was biased against the project.

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EarthFix
4:00 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Scientists Close In On What’s Killing Sea Stars

An ochre star's arm dangles by a thread, one of the signs of sea star wasting syndrome.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 1:00 am

ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. -- Drew Harvell peers into the nooks and crannies along the rocky shoreline of Eastsound on Orcas Island. Purple and orange starfish clutch the rocks, as if hanging on for dear life.

Watch the video:

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NPR Story
9:08 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Report: Urgent Recommendations For Tesoro Refinery Safety Were Suppressed

Tesoro's Anacortes oil refinery in May.
John Ryan / KUOW

In the months following a deadly refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, in April 2010, federal investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board were ready to issue urgent safety recommendations. But management at the agency blocked the release of their urgent alert.

It then took the Chemical Safety Board another three and a half years to issue recommendations for making the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes safer.

Those are some of the scathing conclusions of a Congressional inquiry into mismanagement at the Chemical Safety Board.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed June 25, 2014

How Washington Is Working To Increase Latino Fishers

Valeria Quinones, left, fishes with her family, Daniel Guerra, Elizabeth Guerra, and Ricardo Quinones during a fishing event geared to get more Latino people fishing.
Courtney Flatt

WENTACHEE, Wash. -- About 150 people line the shoreline at the Beehive Reservoir in north central Washington. Spanish and English mix, as anglers plunk lures into the lake. And just as quickly as the lures sink to the bottom, rainbow trout bite down on the chartreuse-colored bait.

"You've got a bite," someone on the shoreline shouts.

The small reservoir is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Wenatchee. But Norma Gallegos said it’s a trip made by only a few of the city’s Hispanic residents.

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NPR Story
5:53 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

More Than 15 Oil Trains Per Week Travel Through Washington

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state.
Katie Campbell

The public learned Tuesday just how many trains are hauling oil from North Dakota through Washington:

Fifteen per week through 10 different counties, according to railroad notifications released by the Washington Military Department.

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NPR Story
10:58 am
Mon June 23, 2014

BNSF Won't Seek Injunction To Stop Release Of Oil Train Info In Washington

Tank cars carrying crude oil at BNSF Railway's Willbridge Yard in Northwest Portland. BNSF Trains carry Bakken crude through Washington and into Portland, where they transfer to a shortline headed to a terminal in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Tony Schick

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:04 am

BNSF Railway says it's not going to court before Monday's deadline to block Washington state from releasing oil train notification information under its public records law.

"BNSF does not intend to file an injunction regarding prospective handling of the information provided," spokeswoman Courtney Wallace wrote in an email Monday. "The determination about how such information is controlled or communicated is ultimately a decision for the federal government and subsequently the Washington State Emergency Response Commission."

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NPR Story
9:42 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Scientists Take A Look Deep Beneath Mount St. Helens

The crater of Mount St. Helens. Scientists plan to study magma flows under Mount St. Helens this summer.
Contributed photo / Dan Miskimin

If you're hiking in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in July or August, and you feel the earth rumble briefly, it could just be scientists trying to plumb the depths of the Northwest’s most active volcano.

Scientists are peppering Mount St. Helens with thousands of sensitive instruments this summer to understand what makes the volcano tick.

The seismometers and magnetic devices will measure underground vibrations and electromagnetic fields up to 100 miles underground.

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Earthfix
4:00 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Combating Algae One Dollar At A Time

Toxic algae blooms contributed to closing some of some of Oregon's lakes, ponds and reservoirs for a combined total of more than 700 days in 2013 alone.
Oregon Health Authority

Millions of dollars in new funding to help combat harmful algae in Oregon and throughout the country are just a presidential pen stroke away.

Toxic algae blooms contributed to closing some of Oregon’s lake, ponds and reservoirs for a combined total of more than 700 days in 2013 alone.

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NPR Story
7:34 am
Fri June 20, 2014

What Climate Change Could Mean For Your Grape Juice

Washington State University researcher Markus Keller is looking into ways to continue growing juice grapes a warming climate. If summers get too hot, it will be trouble for Washington's most widely planted grape variety.
Courtney Flatt

PROSSER, Wash. -- The sun beats down as researcher Markus Keller leans in to inspect his experimental vineyard.

“As you can see here, there’s a lot of flowers forming on the different shoots,” Keller says.

The grape leaves hang down like a curtain over the rows of vines. This year’s crop looks to be strong.

For connoisseurs of fine grape jellies and juices, this is a reason to rejoice. For collectors of fine wines? Not so much.

These are Concord grapes -- which make up 99 percent of the variety that go in to juice and jelly production, Keller says.

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