Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Documents Reveal Destruction Of Native American Archaeological Site At Cherry Point

Jay Julius is a Lummi tribal council member and fisherman. He cites the Pacific International Terminals' non-permitted actions at Cherry Point as a source of tribal opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

This is the first installment of a two-part series.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Three summers ago the company that wants to build the largest coal export terminal in North America failed to obtain the environmental permits it needed before bulldozing more than four miles of roads and clearing more than nine acres of land, including some wetlands.

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NPR Story
2:44 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Putting A Price On Wind Power's Eagle Kills

Our infographic explains how wind turbines pose dangers to golden eagles and other types of birds.

One of the country's biggest energy corporations has agreed to shell out $1 million in a settlement over the 14 golden eagles killed by its Wyoming wind turbines.

Duke Energy struck the agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday. The announcement came after the energy giant was hit with misdemeanor charges under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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NPR Story
12:04 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Artists Tell Stories Of Dead Bees

Artist Sarah Hatton has created a series of works using thousands of dead bees displayed in spirals symbolic of agriculture. She wants to bring attention to bees' decline due to pesticide use.

A headline at green blog Inhabitat mentioning ‘thousands of dead bees’ and ‘dizzying mandalas’ drew me in. The image that greeted me when I clicked through did not disappoint.

In an email, Canadian artist Sarah Hatton shared her inspiration for the series of works:

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NPR Story
8:25 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Turning Deep-Fried Thanksgiving Turkey Grease Into Biofuel

Planning a deep-fried turkey for Thanksgiving? You can recycle the used oil into biodiesel by dropping it off at New Seasons in Portland and Vancouver, Wash., next week.

I've never had deep-fried turkey, but I've heard it's delicious. It also requires several gallons of cooking oil. And when the cooking is through, it leaves behind a vat of used oil.

To biofuel companies, that's feedstock.

At least one biofuel maker would be happy to take those Thanksgiving leftovers.

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NPR Story
7:51 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Vancouver Barge Company Signs On To Coal Project

Tidewater Barge Lines, based in Vancouver, Wash., signed a deal with Ambre Energy to operate tugboats and barges needed to move the coal 218 miles down the Columbia River — if the project receives permits.

While Ambre Energy awaits state and federal permits to build a controversial coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow, the company signed a letter of intent with Tidewater Barge Lines for transportation service along the Columbia River.

Tidewater, based in Vancouver, Wash., will operate tugboats and barges needed to move the coal 218 miles down river — if the project receives permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Oregon Department of State Lands and Department of Environmental Quality.

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NPR Story
8:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

New Research: Lab Fish Fed Plastic More Likely To Develop Tumors, Liver Problems

The unaltered stomach contents of a dead albatross chick photographed on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific in September 2009 include plastic marine debris fed the chick by its parents.

The majority of the plastic pollution in the ocean, by volume, comes in the form of tiny confetti-sized particles, which, as anyone who's ever kept a pet fish can attest, resemble fish food.

And fish are fooled as well.

More than 40 species of fish, globally, are known to consume plastic.

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NPR Story
3:24 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Hungry For Climate Change Action

Using the hashtag #FastingForTheClimate hunger strikers around the world posted images of empty dishes.

SEATTLE -- Michael Foster hasn’t eaten in nine days.

He’s not on a diet, or a cleanse. The the middle-aged father of two decided spontaneously last Monday to voluntarily fast to draw attention to climate change talks happening on the other side of the world.

I spoke with Foster at lunchtime on Day 8. He was “huuuuuuuungry,” he said.

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Earthfix Northwest Environmental News
11:42 am
Wed November 20, 2013

China’s Building Boom Revives Northwest Log Export Debate

A scaler grades logs that Teevin Brothers are preparing to ship to China. It can take 37,000 logs to fill a vessel.
Credit Amelia Templeton, EarthFix

Ports along the Oregon and Washington coast are looking to reopen log yards that shut down years ago, and provide the raw material to feed China’s construction boom. But some residents in Newport Oregon say a proposal to export logs there isn’t good for the community, and will hurt Northwest mills. From EarthFix, Amelia Templeton has this report.

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NPR Story
11:30 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Group Sues Yacolt Mining Company Over Water Pollution

An environmental group is suing a mining company in Clark County for water pollution. Local resident David Rogers shows a photo of his bathtub filled with well water.

A Clark County environmental group has filed a lawsuit against a Yacolt mining operation, claiming years of pollution and violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Friends of the East Fork Lewis River claims that the Yacolt Mountain Quarry and its owners have discharged dirt, silt and other pollutants into tributaries of the East Fork. The suit names quarry operator J.L. Storedahl & Sons, Inc., company leaders and landowner Brent Rotschy as defendants.

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NPR Story
8:02 am
Wed November 20, 2013

First 'Megaload' Moves On Oregon Roads Sunday

Erik Zander of Omega Morgan discusses the megaload plans at a public meeting Monday night in John Day.

State transportation officials say Omega Morgan’s first oversized load to move through Eastern Oregon will hit the road in Umatilla the night of Sunday, Nov. 24.

Erik Zander, the Hillsboro-based company’s project manager, said at a meeting Monday night in John Day the date is not firm, as he doesn’t yet have the permit.

However, if the move does start Sunday, it could take about six nights to travel through the state under perfect conditions – or longer, with delays possible for weather and the holiday break, he said.

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NPR Story
1:56 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Tesla Fire Investigation Launched

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is taking a proactive approach addressing concerns about safety for his company's luxury electric vehicle, the Model S, after three recent car fires. On his company’s blog, Musk writes,

“While we believe the evidence is clear that there is no safer car on the road than the Model S, we are taking three specific actions ... "

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NPR Story
12:02 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Emergency Responders Prepare For Higher Risk Of Oil Spills In The Northwest

Several companies have proposed shipping more crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to the Northwest.

Northwest emergency responders are meeting in Portland Tuesday to discuss the increased potential for oil spills in the region.

Several oil-by-rail projects have been proposed in Washington state. The largest of those would be built at the Port of Vancouver if it is approved.

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NPR Story
3:26 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Recovering 'The Lost Fish'

A new documentary hopes to bring awareness to the plight of the Pacific lamprey, a prehistoric fish whose numbers have dramatically declined in recent years.

Pacific lamprey are the oldest known fish in the Columbia River System. Fossils indicate they were here 450 million years ago.

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NPR Story
12:54 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Comments On Longview Coal Export Project Reach 163,000

Millennium Bulk Terminals has proposed to export 44 million tons of coal per year through this site in Longview, Wash.

More than 163,000 public comments have flooded the environmental review of the Millennium coal export terminal proposed for Longview, Wash.

That's the number of letters, emails, and statements read aloud at public meetings as of Friday. It exceeds the 125,000 comments agencies received on the environmental review of the Gateway Pacific coal export project in Bellingham, Wash., earlier this year.

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NPR Story
10:29 am
Mon November 18, 2013

National Polling: American Electorate Sees Effects Of Climate Change And Wants Action

Professor Jon Krosnick of Stanford University has combined national survey data from the past decade on climate change.

More than 9,000 delegates from almost 200 countries are gathered in the Warsaw, Poland for U.N. meetings aimed at forging a new treaty to fight climate change, which would go into effect in 2020. But over this past weekend negotiations around international carbon markets to cut greenhouse gas emissions broke down as developing nations demanded that rich nations step up efforts to cut their emissions - rich nations like the United States.

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NPR Story
12:43 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

For Those Who Want To Avoid GMO Foods, There's An App For That

The Buycott app will tell you if a product was made by a company associated with the opposition to labeling genetically modified foods.

Mmm … lunchtime. These Beanfields Nacho Bean and Rice Chips sure are tasty. They also happen to be made by a company that hasn't fueled opposition to labeling genetically modified foods – according to the Buycott app I tried out today.

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NPR Story
2:35 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Resolving Oregon's Truffle Kerfuffle

A haul of truffles, photographed with a pair of rulers to give a sense of scale. New rules will require truffle hunters to get permission before foraging for these fungi on private and state forests in Oregon.

Oregon’s Board of Forestry moved forward Thursday to regulate truffle hunting on state and private lands.

That means truffles will became Oregon’s first regulated forest product in nearly twenty years.

Truffles aren’t mushrooms, though they are fungi. Mushrooms grow above-ground, truffles underground.

This small distinction kept truffle hunting from being regulated on state and private forestlands the way mushrooms are.

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NPR Story
12:27 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

State Blocks Permits For Two Grays Harbor Oil Terminals

Two oil-by-train terminals proposed for the Port of Grays Harbor on the Washington coast were dealt a set back when state regulators withdrew permit approval.

A state regulatory board is withdrawing its approval of permits for two crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor, Wash., saying backers have faied to address public safety and environmental issues.

The Quinault Indian Nation and several conservation groups successfully argued that permits issued for two terminals in Grays Harbor, Washington should be reversed.

"Those permits should have never been issued in the first place," said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinalt Nation.

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NPR Story
12:08 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

A Turbine That Toppled In A Windstorm

Recent winds in southcentral Washington caused a wind turbine to collapse.

The weekend before last I was out running errands around the Tri-Cities, and it was impossible to ignore the wind. Trees swayed side-to-side in a strange yoga-like dance. Shopping carts raced across parking lots. Dust clouded the air like an early morning fog.

About 40 miles away, a wind turbine bent in half.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

How Public Officials Manage To Review 200,000 Comments On Coal Exports

A scene from a Millennium coal export public comment meeting.

Across the Northwest, thousands of people are crowding into meeting rooms to submit their comments on coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

Many of them wear T-shirts in protest or in support; they wait hours for a chance to speak for two or three minutes. The crowd isn't allowed to clap or cheer so they silently wave their hands or put their thumbs up if they agree with the people speaking.

Officials listen as people sound off one by one. What happens after that?

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