Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Earthfix
9:32 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Indoor Pot Farms Are Energy Guzzlers, Research Shows

Lights used in indoor pot farms can be as bright as those in operating rooms.
Flickr Photo/Fulvio Minichini

While the legalization of marijuana could be viewed as a liberal cause, the counterculture’s favorite herb isn’t exactly eco-friendly.

“Indoor pot farms are energy guzzlers,” said Seattle news analyst Joni Balter.

Californian scientist Dr. Evan Mills released a study indicating the staggering amount of energy that goes into indoor marijuana production.

“We’re talking about lighting levels that match hospital operating rooms, so that’s 500 times greater than what you and I need for reading,” Balter said.

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Earthfix
1:00 am
Fri January 24, 2014

How The Farm Bill Could Make It Harder To Track Down Pollution

Two provisions in the House version of the latest Farm Bill could limit the amount and type of information federal agencies give out about farms.
Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Butner

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency messed up. And now the mistake has led to a fight between open government advocates and farmers.

The EPA accidentally released the names and addresses of 80,000 farmers to environmental groups. That's a lot of information that's supposed to be redacted.

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NPR Story
11:02 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Methanol Plant Proposal Draws Support, Questions In Clatskanie

One of two methanol plants proposed for the Northwest would be built at Port Westward near Clatskanie.
Sam Beebe Ecotrust/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbeebe/2849062734/sizes/l/

President of NW Innovation Works Murray Godley faced a litany of questions Thursday night about his company's plan to build a $1 billion methanol plant on the Columbia River.

Godley presented the plan to the Port of St. Helens Commission at a packed meeting in Clatskanie, Ore., where people wanted to know about what kinds of jobs the plant would create, what byproducts it would release into the environment and how safe the project would be.

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Earthfix
7:26 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

New Legislation Calls For Transparency On Oil Moving Through Washington

With more oil moving through Washington by train and other transportation modes, state lawmakers want oil companies to keep environmental regulators better informed.
Katie Campbell

SEATTLE -- Washington lawmakers took up a proposal Wednesday to require more transparency from companies that transport oil through the state.

The hearing on House Bill 2347 played out before a packed committee room in Olympia. The new bill would require oil companies to file weekly reports with the state Department of Ecology detailing how much oil is being transported, what kind of oil it is, how it’s being moved and what route it’s traveling through the state.

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NPR Story
1:31 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

How Salmon Is The Lummi Nation's 'Sacred Catch'

Ramona Morris, 82, is a Lummi elder and has lived on the reservation near Bellingham, Wash., her whole life. To her, salmon is more than food: it's a way of life.
Jeff Emtman/KUOW

The Salish Sea is a network of waterways that run from northwestern Washington to British Columbia. The waters of the Salish Sea are home to some of the richest marine life on the planet. The Lummi Tribe of Northern Washington rely on the abundance of these waters, but the fish have been in decline for the last century and a half.

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Coal-burning factories leading cause
11:13 am
Tue January 21, 2014

New Study: China Exporting Goods, And Air Pollution To U.S.

A satellite image of smog over China. Westerly winds can carry air pollution from China across the Pacific Ocean in just a few days. A new study is linking air pollution in the Western United States to China’s booming exports.
NASA/NOAA

Westerly winds can carry air pollution from China across the Pacific Ocean in just a few days.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers in the United Kingdom, China and the U.S.

And within China, roughly 5 percent of emissions of carbon monoxide, black carbon, Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides came from making those exports, according to the report.

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NPR Story
6:54 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Native Fish Society Declares Victory In Case Against Sandy River Hatchery

The Native Fish Society says fishery managers aren't protecting wild chinook, coho, chum and steelhead against impacts from hatchery fish released into the Sandy River.

An Oregon-based environmental group is declaring victory in a court case against state and federal fishery managers.

The Native Fish Society says the operation of a hatchery on the Sandy River after the removal of Marmot Dam caused harm to four species of protected wild salmon and steelhead.

The group accused the National Marine Fisheries Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife of violating the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Feds Stand Pat on Columbia Dam
3:45 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Feds Stand By Current Dam, Salmon Plan For Columbia

The federal government today released its final plan to protect endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin.
Aaron Kunz

The federal government is standing by its previous plans for managing the Columbia River to prevent the extinction of its salmon and steelhead. That means little would change for dam operations on the West's biggest river -- but only if it wins court approval.

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NPR Story
9:45 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Legislation Revived To Protect 126,000 Acres Of Olympic Peninsula

The Gray Wolf River drops more than 5,000 feet in elevation on its 25-mile run from the Olympic Mountains to where it empties into the Dungeness River near the town of Sequim, Wash. This section is in National Forest and could one day be logged.
Ashley Ahearn

SEATTLE -- Washington Sen. Patty Murray on Friday introduced a bill to permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of Washington's Olympic Peninsula -- an area the size of Seattle and Tacoma combined.

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NPR Story
2:26 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Group Calls For Expanding Killer Whale Habitat Protection

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking for a major expansion in the protected habitat for Puget Sound's killer whales.

An environmental group is calling for a major expansion in habitat protection for Puget Sound's killer whales.

Research shows the endangered orcas that live in Puget Sound in the summer are venturing up and down the West Coast in the winter to forage for food. Scientists tracking these southern resident orcas have followed the whales as far north as Alaska and as far south as Monterey, Calif.

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NPR Story
2:00 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Senate Panel Questions Ecology On Review Of Coal Terminal

A coal mining operation in Wyoming. Washington lawmakers are questioning whether state environmental regulators should broadly consider transporting and burning coal when they determine the process for permitting export of coal from Washington.
Katie Campbell

Washington's top environmental regulator found herself in the hot seat Thursday during a state Senate hearing called by Republican lawmakers who disapprove her agency's scrutiny of a coal export terminal proposed for the northern shore of Puget Sound.

At issue: greenhouse gas emissions.

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NPR Story
1:30 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Spill plan For Columbia River Oil Terminal Lays Out Worst-Case Scenarios

An oil terminal at the Port Westward Industrial Park near Clatskanie, Ore., submitted its spill contingency plans to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality this month.
Sam Beebe/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/28585409@N04/2849062734/in/photolist-5kLc6h-5t1XHL-5Tw5Ci-6fYfZU-6p8WJr-6pHEB3-6tZy4T-6vUs4b-6vUsuu-6vUsUW-75E2JW-gLQsju-fAdpXR-fAdpd4-fAdiJ2-fAdqGa-gLQshW-fAdpAT-fAdqiF-g

The worst-case environmental scenario at an oil terminal on the lower Columbia River means 3.8 million gallons of crude spilling into sensitive wildlife habitat and shutting down a public drinking water intake, according to a draft response plan facility managers filed with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

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Nuclear Fallout
1:00 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Scientists Say Stop Worrying About Fukushima Radioactivity In Fish

Pete Knutson and his son, Dylan, sell their wild-caught salmon at farmer's markets around Seattle. "We had people passing on our fish this year. It was directly because they were worried about Fukushima."
Ashley Ahearn

SEATTLE -- Japan's nuclear disaster released hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water in 2011, sparking rampant speculation that a contaminated plume would reach the waters of North America's West Coast.

Three years later, such speculation is alive and well on the Internet. Consider this video shot at a beach in Northern California and posted last month to YouTube:

The videographer's Geiger counter shows elevated levels of radioactivity.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

WA Environmental Groups' Legislative Focus: Oil Trains

Environmental groups in Washington today are outlining their legislative goals for this 60-day upcoming session. One major focus: oil train safety.
Flickr Creative Commons: LisArt

Oil train safety tops the list of priorities for environmental groups, which outlined their goals Wednesday for Washington's new legislative session.

Right now, rail companies share little information with state agencies that would respond if a train derailed in the Pacific Northwest. Environmental groups would like the Washington Legislature to change that. It's 60-day session got underway this week.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Can Bikes And Orchards Coexist?

Jan Dappen rides along Wenatchee's Apple Capital Recreation Loop. The success of this loop encouraged cyclists to try to designate a more ambitious route from Wenatchee to Leavenworth. Local orchardists are fighting the designation.
WenatcheeOutdoors.org http://www.WenatcheeOutdoors.org/

The valley between Wenatchee and Leavenworth, Wash., is known for its fruit orchards. Apple, pear, and cherry trees line the county roads. In the springtime, blossomed branches reach out from tidy orchard rows.

You can glimpse the orchards from U.S. Highway 2, the most direct route between the two cities. But the most scenic way winds along 48 miles of county roads, up and down hills and across the Wenatchee River.

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No Nukes in Northwest?
4:31 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Power Planners Ponder The Northwest Without A Nuclear Plant

Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Wash. is the only nuclear power plant in the Northwest. With conflicting reports on its economic viability issued by opponents and owners of the plant, a power planning commission may order an analysis of its own
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:16 pm

Northwest power planners may do their own review to determine the impacts of shutting down the only nuclear power plant in the region.

At a meeting Tuesday, members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council discussed the wildly conflicting results of two studies on the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant.

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Prehistoric Fish
9:15 am
Tue January 14, 2014

First Land-Walking Fish Looks Like It Had 'All-Wheel Drive'

An updated rendering of Tiktaalik based on new research published in PNAS.
Kalliopi Monoyios

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:15 pm

A creature that lived 375 million years ago and is thought to have been the first fish to have made the transition to land sported large pelvic bones in addition to its leg-like front fins, new research shows, suggesting that it was a more efficient walker than previously thought.

Tiktaalik roseae, discovered in 2004 on Ellesmere Island in Nunavit, Canada, is a key transitional fossil that links lobe-finned fishes and tetrapods, the first four-limbed vertebrates at the end of the Devonian period.

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NPR Story
6:10 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Oregon Proposes Removing Hatchery Fish From Wild Fish Areas

A new plan for six species of salmon and trout in Oregon's coastal rivers would shift the balance of hatchery and wild fish.
caddiseug/Flickr

Hatchery-reared fish would get the heave ho from certain rivers along the Oregon Coast under the latest strategy to help Oregon's wild salmon and steelhead.

The new management plan proposed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would designate several coastal rivers as "wild fish emphasis areas," while increasing the number of hatchery fish planted in other coastal rivers to expand fishing opportunities in those waters.

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NPR Story
6:35 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Northwest officials receive little information on oil by rail shipments

Rail and oil companies do not have to disclose how many DOT-111 tanker cars travel through the Northwest. DOT-111 tanker cars, which exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people, have a design flaw and are easily punctured.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsbcanada/

Northwesterners are paying attention to the fiery derailments hitting other parts of North America where the oil-by-rail boom is underway.

More and more crude oil is moving across the Northwest by train. But railroad and oil companies are not required to disclose much on shipments or response strategies. That's leaving state officials without information needed to prepare for an oil train mishap.

How many shipments are moving through a given region at any given time? what kind of tanker cars they are in? What are the companies' strategies should a train derail or explode?

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NPR Story
11:54 am
Thu January 9, 2014

EarthFix Conversations: The Case For Carnivore Conservation

A leopard. Ecologists, including OSU's William Ripple, are arguing that large carnivores play a key role.
Kristin Abley.

In a new paper published in Science, Ripple has worked with a multinational team of a dozen carnivore biologists to make the case that the world’s largest predators are declining just as researchers begin to understand their key ecological effects. The researchers found that 61 percent of the largest land carnivores are threatened with extinction.

EarthFix: What is the main argument that you make in the article that’s coming out in Science?

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