Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Hot, Dry Summer
9:43 am
Wed May 14, 2014

3 More Ore. Counties Seek Emergency Drought Declarations

The Mount Ashland ski area failed to open this winter due to a lack of snow.
Michael Clapp / OPB

An Oregon advisory board is recommending that Gov. John Kitzhaber approve emergency drought declarations for three more counties.

Josephine County is still compiling its official request, but continuing dry conditions in Southern Oregon prompted the Oregon Drought Council to recommend its approval once that request comes in.

In Eastern Oregon, the council is recommending drought declarations for Wheeler and Grant counties, where stream flows are running well below normal.

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NPR Story
6:02 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Vandal releases 25,000 Steelhead From Seattle-Area Hatchery

A juvenile steehead trout.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Someone broke into a fish hatchery east of Seattle Tuesday morning and released 25,000 hatchery steelhead.

Officials think the vandal was someone who likes to fish. More specifically, someone who isn’t pleased about a recent legal victory for wild fish groups.

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NPR Story
7:30 am
Tue May 13, 2014

EarthFix Conversation: The X Prize of Ocean Acidification

A file photo of a Taylor Shellfish operation on Puget Sound. Ocean acidification threatens shellfish and other aquatic life. A Washington congressman wants prize money to give researchers more incentive to solve the ocean acidification puzzle.
Katie Campbell

A lawmaker from Washington state wants to see federal research money offered as a prize to scientists who find solutions to the problem of ocean acidification.

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., plans to pursue that strategy next week by introducing legislation that would employ the model used by the X Prize to advance private spaceflight.

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NPR Story
7:29 am
Tue May 13, 2014

New Study: Glacial Collapse In Antarctica 'Unstoppable'

New research suggests a glacial section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could "collapse" more rapidly than previously expected, causing more extreme sea level rise.

SEATTLE -- New research from the University of Washington and other institutions provides detailed predictions for the collapse of an ice shelf in West Antarctica.

When the Thwaites Glacier melts, it could trigger even more extreme sea level rise than scientists previously thought.

Thwaites Glacier has been called the “weak underbelly” or the “cork in the bottle” of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Once it goes, a lot of other ice goes too.

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Oregon's famous lone wolf
2:45 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Oregon's Wandering Wolf May Have Met His Mate

Remote camera photo of OR7 captured May 3 on U.S. Forest Service Land in southern Oregon's Jackson County.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Oregon's famous lone wolf isn't so lonely anymore.

Biologists say it appears the wandering wolf OR-7 has found himself a mate.

Their evidence came from trail cameras set up in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon.

The cameras captured an image of a black wolf in the area where they've been tracking OR-7 with a GPS collar. Then they captured an image of that same wolf squatting to pee.

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NPR Story
1:28 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Listening Session Scheduled About Central Washington Birth Defects

Three counties in Central Washington have seen an unsually high number of babies born with anencephaly from 2010-2013. No one is sure of the cause. Taking prenatal folic acid is one way to prevent the fatal birth defect.
Wikimedia Commons: Ragesoss

For the past three years, Central Washington has seen unusually high numbers of babies born with a rare birth defect. No one has determined a cause. Public health officials are holding two listening sessions this week to learn more from community members.

For babies born with anencephaly, the defect is fatal. During the first four weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s brain and skull do not form completely.

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NPR Story
9:49 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Washington DNR Promises Tighter Controls On Logging Near Landslide Zones

Washington Department of Natural Resources image shows 2004 clear-cut (near dotted purple line) extending into no-logging zone (marked with yellow line) at site of the March 22, 2014, Oso landslide.
Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington State officials announced new restrictions on logging near landslide zones Friday afternoon.

The change in policy comes six weeks after a landslide near the town of Oso killed at least 41 people.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources will require a detailed geological study before approving logging on any unstable slopes where a landslide could harm public safety.

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NPR Story
5:45 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Opponents Challenge Coast Guard LNG Approval

Opponents of liquefied natural gas are challenging the U.S. Coast Guard's approval of the Oregon LNG liquefied natural gas project in Warrenton, Oregon.
Ken Hodge/Flickr

On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will take up Columbia Riverkeeper's case against the U.S. Coast Guard's approval of a liquefied natural gas project on Oregon's north coast.

Back in 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a letter of recommendation for the Oregon LNG project in Warrenton, Oregon.

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NPR Story
5:27 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Local Coal? A Mom And Pop Coal Mine Near Seattle Looks To Get Back To Work

This photo, probably taken between 1905 and 1910, shows a group of coal miners at the early entrance of a mine near Newcastle, Washington. Coal mining could return to eastern King County under a proposal that many residents oppose.
Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. -- Environmentalists have launched a full-on offensive against coal export terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon, but they might want to take a look closer to home.

A small open pit coal mine just outside of Seattle is looking to get back in business.

The John Henry Mine, formerly the Black Diamond Mine, has been in operation on and off since the late 1800s, but it closed down in 1999.

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NPR Story
12:51 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Wyden, Merkley Want Transparency For Shipments Of All Oil, Not Just Bakken

Tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil are stationed at a former asphalt plant near the Willamette River in Northwest Portland. The plant was recently purchased by Arc Logistics.
Tony Schick

Oregon's two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, on Friday urged the Department of Transportation to expand its call for greater transparency to include all shipments of crude oil, not just that produced in the Bakken region of North Dakota.

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