Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
5:45 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Chinese Documents: Tainted Geoduck Shipments Came From SeaTac And Ketchikan

About 5 million pounds of wild geoduck are harvested from Washington waters every year. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. geoduck exports go to China.

SEATTLE -- New details have been released about geoduck shipments that Chinese officials say contained high levels of inorganic arsenic and the toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP.

In response to their testing, the Chinese government instituted Dec. 3 a ban all U.S. harvested geoduck clams and other bivalve shellfish from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

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NPR Story
6:16 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Officials In U.S. Stumped By China's Claim Of Tainted Northwest Shellfish

This diver is legally harvesting wild geoduck from 40 feet below the surface of Puget Sound.

Environment and health officials in the U.S. say they are puzzled by China’s decision to ban shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska. State officials say their records don’t show the same unsafe toxin levels that were detected by a lab in China.

China says it found toxins in two shipments of geoducks. These giant clams harvested in Puget Sound and Alaska can go for $150 a pound. Washington’s shellfish industry overall is worth $270 million, and China is the top export market.

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NPR Story
5:58 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban

Blake Severns inspects a wild geoduck just plucked from the bottom of Puget Sound. Severn is a diver with the the Washington Department of Natural Resources Aquatics Resource Division.

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States -- an unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest export market.

China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

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NPR Story
8:12 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Opponents Dominate Spokane Oil Train Hearing

A proposal to ship North Dakota crude oil by train to Vancouver, Wash., mostly drew opponents to a public hearing in Spokane.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A proposal to ship North Dakota crude oil by train to Vancouver mostly drew opponents to a public hearing Wednesday night in Spokane.

Most of the 75 people at the state hearing cited risks of train derailments, spills or fires as well as global climate change from using oil.

The Spokesman-Review reports the proposed terminal at the Port of Vancouver could result in up to four oil trains a day passing through Spokane.

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NPR Story
9:49 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Vancouver Asks For Thorough Oil Study

Vancouver city officials have drafted comments calling for thorough review of the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal.

By Aaron Corvin

Vancouver neighborhoods cut off from fire and police protection by increased train traffic. A highly volatile commodity traveling near homes. An industrial area prone to liquefying in an earthquake.

Those are among more than 100 areas of concern the city of Vancouver wants state regulators to include in their examination of the environmental impacts of a proposed oil-by-rail operation at the Port of Vancouver.

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NPR Story
3:02 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Top Officials OK Sale Of Oregon State Forestland To Private Buyers

The marbled murrelet is at the center of a controversy over the sale of state forestland on the south Oregon coast.

Oregon's top elected officials got behind a controversial plan Tuesday to sell off pieces of the south coast's Elliott State Forest to private interests.

Gov. John Kitzhaber described the move as testing the water for a future deal to move the rest of the Elliott into private ownership, potentially in the hands of a conservation group.

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NPR Story
8:43 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Cold Snap Brings Unhealthy Air To Klamath Falls

Smoke coming from fireplaces and wood stoves has been linked to a host of health effects including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and asthma attacks.

Twenty below zero. That was the record breaking low in Klamath Falls, Ore. this weekend. Temperatures are higher this week, but have remained below freezing.

Wood smoke is one of the leading causes of fine particulate pollution, and in Klamath Falls, a blanket of cold stagnant air has trapped that pollution close to the ground, triggering an air quality health alert.

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NPR Story
12:13 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Reports of Christmas Tree Disease in Oregon Have Been Exaggerated

Root rot is one of many pathogens that can affect fir trees grown on Christmas tree farms.

Dozens of headlines this week have claimed that a humble mold is threatening to ruin Christmas. CBS News and the Associated Press reported that phytophthora root disease is killing Christmas trees across the country.

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NPR Story
9:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Biomass Proposal in Lakeview Sparks Concern Over Particulate Pollution

The Iconic sign welcoming visitors to Lakeview, Ore. Some residents aren't sure they're ready to welcome a new biomass plant's air pollution, considering their woodstove use is already being limited.

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 6:05 pm

Environmental regulators have approved an air pollution permit for a proposed biomass power plant in the southern Oregon town of Lakeview - despite skepticism in this remote community where wood stove smoke is already making it hard to meet clean air standards.

According to a revised permit issued last week, the biomass cogeneration plant that energy company Iberdrola wants to build will be allowed to emit up to 32 tons of fine particulate pollution a year.

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NPR Story
3:26 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

The Cost Of Energy Efficient Windows

Two prefabricated houses serve as experiements for researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Researchers found that triple-paned windows are energy efficient, but expensive.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- If you’re looking to keep out the winter cold, triple-paned windows will do the trick. But Northwest researchers have found have found it can take decades before savings from these highly insulated windows pay you back.

Researchers are using two identical homes to test some of the latest advances in energy efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, and most recently, windows.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Northwest Urban Areas Among Trendsetters For Commute Transportation

A new report on U.S. transportation trends shows Portland had the biggest increase in percentage of workers who biked to work.

If urbanites’ behavior is any indication, American workers are driving less and biking more. A new transportation study of the biggest U.S. urban areas shows a decline in driving and an increase in biking to work.

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NPR Story
7:44 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Groups Aim To Boost Logging, Restoration In Olympic National Forest

Mount Townsend Trail in the Olympic National Forest. Timber and environmental groups will try collaborating to boost both logging and habitat restoration in the forest.

Timber industry and environmental groups will make a stab at collaboration to boost both logging and habitat restoration in the Olympic National Forest.

Olympic National Forest was ground zero for some of the hottest conflicts of the timber wars of the 1990's. Periodically, local environmental groups still file lawsuits and current timber harvest rates are a fraction of historic levels.

Now, the office of Congressman Derek Kilmer has convinced sometimes antagonistic groups to focus on areas where they can agree.

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NPR Story
7:37 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Weather Delays Megaload Shipment In Eastern Oregon

A megaload bound for Alberta tar sands sits on the shoulder of Highway 395 near Pendleton, Ore. Weather is delaying the shipment

A blast of winter weather blanketed Eastern Oregon roads in snow and ice Tuesday, once again delaying movement of the megaload convoy bound for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

The controversial shipment of massive refinery equipment left the Port of Umatilla Monday night, arriving at its first extended parking turnout off Highway 395 just south of Pendleton. It will remain there until conditions improve, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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Earthfix
7:17 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Three Things About The Political Pep Rally In Klamath Falls

A mat of algae in the Sprague River, an important tributary in the Upper Klamath Basin.

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 9:17 pm

But that's what's in the works for Wednesday morning, when U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Gov. John Kitzhaber will all converge on Klamath Falls to hail the almost-done deal for dividing up scarce water in a thirsty corner of the Northwest.

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NPR Story
7:26 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Megaload Pulls Out Of Northeast Oregon Port Despite Protesters

Cathy Sampson-Kruse is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. Police arrested her after she laid down in front of the so-called megaload bound for Canada.

A massive load of oil equipment is on its way to Canada, along a winding route that began near Hermiston, in northeast Oregon.

Protesters tried to stop the shipment by getting in the way. But the so-called megaload rumbled forward, on its journey through Oregon and Idaho.

About two-dozen protesters held signs and blew horns while police kept them away from the truck and trailer. The megaload takes up two lanes and stretches 380 feet.

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NPR Story
10:00 am
Fri November 29, 2013

EarthFix Conversation: Author Calls For Philosophical Shift On Use Of Hatcheries In The Northwest

Author Jim Lichatowich's new book takes a hard look at the use of fish hatcheries in the Northwest.

In the late 1800s, when dams were first built around the Northwest, salmon and steelhead stocks began to decline. Fish hatcheries were put forth as a solution. Wild fish were taken from Northwest rivers and spawned in captivity, ensuring future generations of fish could be released back into the wild every season.

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NPR Story
2:00 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Idaho Company Pushes 'Poop' Compost In Super Bowl Ad Contest

Author Jim Lichatowich's new book takes a hard look at the use of fish hatcheries in the Northwest.

A small Northwest compost company is one of four finalists vying for a free 30-second Super Bowl ad.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Displaced By Development, Urban Goat Herd Needs A New Home

Twelve goats living in Portland's Central Eastside Industrial District will have to move out so a developer can break ground on a new apartment building.

A dozen goats tromp around on their very own playground while traffic zooms by in Southeast Portland's industrial district.

Here, on the city's so-called "goat block," bike tours and families with children stop to visit the goat herd outside a chain-link fence. Each goat has a name and a "friendliness" rating posted outside the fence and once a day, a caretaker walks one of the friendly goats around the neighborhood for people to pet.

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NPR Story
12:08 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

New Hope For An Endangered Deer

Workers move an endangered 159-pound buck into a crate to be transported to a refuge 60 miles away. Biologists moved the deer because a dike could have breeched at any moment. Now biologists are recommending to list the deer as threatened.

Washington's Columbian white-tailed deer have had a rough time surviving. In fact, their population fell so much they were once thought to be extinct.

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Earthfix
9:17 am
Tue November 26, 2013

How Wyden’s O&C Bill Walks The Line Between Logging And Conservation

Foresters visit an old clear-cut on BLM land near Roseburg, Oregon.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a bill that sets the stage for sweeping changes in the management of 2.1 million acres of federal forest in Western Oregon.

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