Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Earthfix
4:47 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Oregon Leaders Question Oil Train Safety Officials At Briefing

Dan Heister of the Environmental Protection Agency explains how his agency responds to oil spills at a briefing Tuesday.
Cassandra Profita

At a briefing held Tuesday at Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's request, oil train safety officials from the public and private sectors answered questions from state lawmakers, tribal and local government leaders and community members about preparing for and responding to derailments and spills.

The briefing was held in northwest Portland's Linnton Depot along the Columbia River. The site lies along the Portland and Western Railroad line that carries oil trains to the Global Partners oil terminal near Clatskanie, Ore.

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NPR Story
4:29 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Wash. Gov. Inslee Signs Executive Order On State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions

Governor Jay Inslee signed the new executive order atop a solar panel at Shoreline Community College.
Ashley Ahearn

SHORELINE, Wash. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed an executive oder aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The order creates a task force and charges it with deciding how to tax and cap carbon emissions at the state level. The task force will present a plan to the state Legislature at the beginning of 2015.

The executive order also calls on state agencies to work on phasing out coal power, improving energy efficiency in buildings and exploring the impacts of a low carbon fuel standard – among other things

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Earthfix
3:02 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Federal Government Finds Harmful Contaminants In Columbia River Fish

An osprey soars with a fish in its talons. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey says osprey are among the species harmed by contaminants in the lower Columbia River.
Matt Shiffler Photography/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/mshiffphotography/6608431509/in/photolist-dyxUrH-e3Y8pp-eePYi3-bwyk7Q-dxov4j-6PQGAE-b4XWsi-iiCEhr-4Edpw-4wvdCX-i5MFsk-kHw4eS-6RXw47-muB96B-fa5RPM-3M7NT-4N1ngV-8dPHWu-bAVz

The U.S. Geological Survey has found high levels of toxic substances in the Columbia River everywhere from sediments to resident fish to osprey eggs.

The results of a six-year study of the Columbia River downstream from the Bonneville Dam were announced on Tuesday.

USGS hydrologist Steven Sobieszczyk says the contaminants –- which come largely from household products -– hadn’t been effectively tested for in the past.

“In a lot of cases, there’s not even thresholds set for safe and unsafe because we’ve never looked for them before,” Sobieszczyk said.

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NPR Story
10:44 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Nearly 150-Year-Old Federal Mining Law Could Need Update

Highly acidic mine runoff flows from a culvert near the abandoned Formosa mine near Riddle, Oregon.
Liam Moriarty/Jefferson Public Radio

The federal legislation that regulates mining for copper, zinc, gold and many other minerals was originally signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. In ways, the law reflects a 19th century view of natural resources: limitless and there for the taking.

Now, a legacy of pollution at tens of thousands of abandoned mines across the West is prompting an Oregon congressman to head a new effort to revise the General Mining Act of 1872.

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NPR Story
8:13 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Residents Voice Fear And Concern On Grays Harbor Oil Terminals

About 100 people gathered at Hoquiam High School Thursday night for a meeting on proposed train-to-ship oil terminals on the Washington coast's Grays Harbor
Ashley Ahearn

HOQUIAM, Wash. -- More than 100 people gathered at the local high school Thursday night with questions and concerns about proposals to build train-to-ship oil terminals in their community.

The projects proposed for Grays Harbor are part of a regional increase in oil train traffic from North Dakota to the Pacific Northwest. And although the Bakken oil fields are more than 1,000 miles away, the boom is raising a lot of concern in this small city on Washington’s coast.

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Earthfix
10:18 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Groups Sue Over Lack Of Conservation Plan For Klamath Basin Refuges

The six Klamath Basin wildlife refuges in Southern Oregon and Northern California have yet to receive a federal conservation plan.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 2:18 pm

Oregon conservation groups are going to court to pressure a federal wildlife agency into completing its overdue plan for managing six wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin, which straddles the Oregon-California border.

The three groups say they're hoping that a consequence of their lawsuit will be that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes action to get more water to the refuges, which migrating waterfowl and other birds depend on.

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Earthfix
3:10 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Industry Ponders How To Pay For Electric Car Charging Without Stimulus Money

Will putting solar panels on top of electric car charging stations make them more cost-effective?
Courtesy of Drive Oregon

Over the past four years, the federal government has picked up the tab for 20,000 electric car charging stations installed across the country.

For a growing number of electric vehicle drivers, that's great. It means they have a lot more options for places to recharge, thanks to stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But now that federal money has been spent, and there are still a lot of places without charging stations. So, the electric vehicle industry is now wondering: Who's going to pay for the next 20,000 chargers?

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Southern Oregon Pesticide Case Highlights Gaps In State Oversight

The yellow helicopter belonging to Steve Owen of Pacific Air Research was at the center of an investigation into alleged overspray during an aerial herbicide application onto forestland in Curry County.
Oregon Department of Agriculture

Steve Owen should not have been ferrying gallons of herbicides by helicopter over homes near Gold Beach, Ore.

But when John Burns glanced up from his pruning he saw the tail of Owen's helicopter high overhead. Neighbor Keith Wright noticed it dip between two trees as he tinkered with his fire department’s Humvee. A slight vibration and hum filled the room in Kathyrn Rickard’s home where she sat, studying.

The National Guard was out looking for pot farms, they each thought — not an uncommon or alarming sight in southwestern Oregon.

Then came the smell.

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Earthfix
4:37 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Investigators Link Bee Die-Off To Unauthorized Hives In Oregon

A honeybee. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is investigating a die-off southwest of Portland in Sherwood.
Flickr/Brad Smith https://www.flickr.com/photos/57402879@N00/248636075/in/photolist-nYjQT-5fntxz-fgZ9od-899FXx-6aTDPG-7F5QEA-ph56x-bCGC2G-52wQSg-e6WTco-6e1sBG-ebf52v-Jy9Fp-FFCMo-4kii5y-5BFfjJ-4DqYXh-ehtwk-g23pT7-d5QvQ-

Investigators have discovered 30 unauthorized commercial honeybee hives near the site of a large bee die-off in Sherwood southwest of Portland.

Observers reported thousands of dead honeybees on a busy stretch of Highway 99W on Sunday.

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NPR Story
3:49 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

New Study: Mercury Found In Sport Fish In Remote Northwest Lakes

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey shows some fish in the West's pristine, alpine lakes like Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park (pictured here) have high mercury levels.
U.S. Geological Survey/John Pritz

SEATTLE — Some bad news for backcountry in the West: Some of the fish in the region's wild alpine lakes contain unsafe levels of mercury, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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