Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

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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NPR Story
6:45 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Idaho Falls Behind In Energy Efficiency, As Ore., Wash. Maintain Top Tier

In the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Idaho fell nine places from 2012 to tie at 31st. Oregon and Washington maintained their ranks at fourth and eighth.

Idaho has the distinction of dropping the farthest in ranking in the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Lead author on the report Annie Downs attributed Idaho’s decline to “not keeping up with peers in utility spending and savings.”

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NPR Story
12:50 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Washington Considering New Fish Consumption Standards

An illustration of the amount of fish that can be safely consumed each day under Washington's current fish consumption standards.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is working to update the state’s fish consumption levels. Plans are to release a draft plan soon for public comment.

They range from 125 grams to 225 grams per day; the current standards are based on 6.5 grams.

The proposed higher standards are based on the diets of some coastal Native Americans.

The standards under consideration would require reducing pollution discharges by 50 percent to 97 percent.

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NPR Story
7:42 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Gilchrist State Forest May Expand By 29,000 Acres

Gilchrist State Forest is located 45 miles south of Bend, Ore. The state is looking to incorporate 29,000 acres into the forest to increase environmental, economic and recreation opportunities in the area.

The Oregon Department of Forestry is seeking public input about a property acquisition that could incorporate 29,000 acres into the Gilchrist State Forest.

The 60-day public comment period began Nov. 5 and will close Jan. 3. A public hearing will be Dec. 5 in Klamath Falls, according to an ODF press release.

The proposed acquisition includes a 3,000-acre parcel privately owned by Central Oregon Land Holdings and a 25,453-acre parcel owned by the Conservation Fund, the press release said. Both properties are adjacent to the Gilchrist State Forest.

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NPR Story
1:46 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Field Notes: Compiling A Video 'Water Handbook' For Idaho

Most of the summer water available comes from snow high in the mountains. It melts off and provides a steady stream of water in the warmer months.

(Editor’s note: EarthFix Field Notes are reporters’ personal impressions and experiences from their coverage of the Pacific Northwest. In this entry, Idaho-based Producer Aaron Kunz takes a close look at water’s scenic value, its importance to the economy, and its function as the veins and arteries of southern Idaho’s arid sagebrush steppe.)

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NPR Story
9:49 am
Wed November 6, 2013

County Council Election Results Show No Love For Coal

Environmental groups and democrats outspent conservatives for open seats on Whatcom County Council and their efforts seem to have paid off. Council members will eventually vote on permits for a proposed coal export terminal.

Editor's note: Check back for updates on this story later today.

Whatcom County, in northwestern Washington, had four seats up for grab on their seven member county council, members who will eventually vote on permits for the largest coal export terminal proposed for the West Coast.

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NPR Story
3:00 am
Wed November 6, 2013

ICYMI: Caves, Climate And Creatures

Our big project with Oregon Field Guide explored Mount Hood's glacier caves.

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 3:00 pm

In case you missed it, a roundup of some of the interesting Northwest environmental news stories (from our team and others) in October.

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