Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
5:09 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Judge Rules Dairies Are Contamination Yakima Valley Drinking Water

A dairy in the Yakima Valley. After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure.

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 5:45 pm

A judge ruled Wednesday that dairies are contaminating drinking water in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups after an EPA study linked the dairies to high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

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NPR Story
3:41 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

As Canada Goose Populations Recover, Northwest Farmers Pay The Price

One of thousands of Canada geese making its winter home in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Jes Burns/OPB

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:41 pm

Seven different subspecies of the Canada geese travel along a metaphorical superhighway, called the Pacific Flyway, from summer nesting grounds in Alaska down into Washington, Oregon and California.

About twenty years ago, the cackling geese stopped migrating to California and instead started stopping for the winter in Oregon. This greatly increased the pressure on agriculture in the Northwest. And there’s very little farmers can do about it.

Marie and Joe Gadotti are sick of the geese.

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NPR Story
7:52 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams Heads For Washington, DC

The Regional Arts & Culture Council celebrated Mayor Sam Adams' contributions at its pARTy in the name of Art event.

Former Mayor Sam Adams will be leaving Portland for a new job in Washington, D.C.

Adams announced on Twitter that he will join the World Resources Institute as its director of U.S. Climate Initiative.

"Adams will lead WRI's strategy to analyze and develop new policies, build political will and support coalitions that will encourage the country's transition to a strong, low-carbon economy,"according to a press release.

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NPR Story
4:49 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Fukushima Radiation Mapping In The Pacific Could Bolster Climate Science

The John P. Tully 3, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel that sampled Pacific Ocean waters for Fukushima Radiation
CCGS http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CCGS_John_P._Tully_3.jpg

Scientists tracking the radiation are using their data not just to gauge threats to human health, but to bolster the science of climate change, as well.

“This is kind of an experiment that’s never really been conducted before in our lifetime,” says John Smith of Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

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NPR Story
4:19 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Low Snowfall This Year Offers A Preview Of Warmer Climate To Come

Warm weather has left the Cascades with little to no snow at lower elevations; the only places to ski are at higher elevations.
Wil Kristin/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/wilkristin/2658117698/in/photolist-dgznNJ-8XdNbN-8XdN6W-8XaM7a-8XdN91-9NJAiA-9NEYMC-9NC9uz-9NAqQe-9NGokq-2rHoWo-9NvF6h-9Nvxqd-9NJfwE-9NsCbe-9NDgMs-9NJdLE-9NJhg3-9NJjnb-6o

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 1:00 am

With snow levels way below normal, some Northwest ski teams have been scrambling to find slopes with enough snow to hold their scheduled races.

Competitions scheduled for courses at lower elevations on Mount Hood this weekend were either canceled or moved uphill to ski resorts with higher slopes.

Right now, snow levels across the Cascades are about 70 percent below average, according to Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Warm weather has precipitation falling as rain rather than snow everywhere but the mountain peaks.

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reduce greenhouse gas emissions
6:28 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

New Oregon Rules Require 10 Percent Cleaner Fuels

New rules passed Wednesday in Oregon would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel by 10 percent over a 10-year period.
JT/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/environmentblog/7190921060/in/photolist-bXrmiA-2LXB-cYXsp3-5dXUYz-azXY88-azXTPX-azXToK-aA1EwW-aA1E8d-azXV2K-azXUqK-azXUGM-aA1Ac7-aA1Auw-aA1DDd-azXZ3Z-azXXRT-aA1ySY-azXWEF

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to pass new rules that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by 10 percent over a decade.

The rules require companies that import fuel into Oregon to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel mix. That will mean substituting alternative fuels such as biofuel, natural gas, propane or electricity for gasoline and diesel.

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NPR Story
2:36 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Washington Tribe Wants Feds To Halt Coal Project

File photo of two members of the Lummi Nation harvesting crab from Puget Sound. The tribe is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt the review of a coal terminal.
Katie Campbell/KCTS9

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:36 pm

LUMMI RESERVATION, Wash. -- The Lummi Nation issued a letter Monday to the U.S. government seeking to end the project's permitting process for a coal-shipping project encircled by their Puget Sound fishing grounds.

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NPR Story
12:40 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Seattle's Scarlet Letter For Sloppy Trash Sorters

Recology CleanScapes Driver Rodney Watkins issues a red tag.
Amy Radil/KUOW

Beware the red tag, the scarlet letter of Seattle waste.

The bright red tag says you’ve violated the city’s new trash law, making it illegal to put food into trash cans.

“I’m sure neighbors are going to see these on their other neighbors’ cans,” said Rodney Watkins, a lead driver for Recology CleanScapes, a waste contractor for the city. He’s on the front lines of enforcing these rules.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Closing The Gender Gap Among Bicyclists

Hau Hagedorn with her three sons. Experts say the responsibility of transporting children contributes to the gender gap that separates men and women when it comes to cycling. It's a challenge Hagedorn has overcome.
Courtesy of Joe Hagedorn

PORTLAND -- On most mornings, Hau Hagedorn bicycles to work with her husband, riding along with their three boys as they pedal to school.

It’s been a family ritual that began eight years ago when Hagedorn bicycled while her children rode along in a cargo trailer. It wasn’t an easy habit to start.

“I’m pretty petite and it’s quite a load when you’re hauling kids,” says Hagedorn, who lives in North Portland and works downtown. “It was hard at first, but I tried to focus on the health aspect.”

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NPR Story
7:52 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Small Seabirds Washing Up Dead on Northwest Beaches

Dead birds discovered on Christmas Eve by Ken and Cathy Denton near North Bend.
Ken Denton

Hundreds of a small, blue-footed seabird called the Cassin’s auklet have been washing up dead on Northwest beaches. So far, scientists don’t know exactly why.

Diane Bilderback is a volunteer with COASST, a University of Washington citizen science project. Until this fall, she had found very few Cassin’s auklets washed ashore.

A bit farther up the coast, near North Bend, Ken and Cathy Denton were seeing similar numbers of dead auklets.

“We’ve seen a lot of common murres, but those are common,” Ken Denton said. “This is the most we’ve seen of something else.”

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Earthfix
10:33 am
Wed December 31, 2014

New Calf For Puget Sound's Endangered Orcas Arrives Just In Time For New Year's

New calf J50 spotted with its mom, J16, on December 30th near Pender Island, B.C.
Center for Whale Research http://www.whaleresearch.com/

SEATTLE-- Orca experts with the Center for Whale Research spotted a very young calf cruising along in its mama's slip stream near Pender Island in British Columbia on Tuesday.

Ken Balcomb, the head of the Center for Whale Research, believes the calf was no more than a day or two old when he spotted it, and he couldn't say what sex it is. The baby pictures, however, are priceless. Check out a full slide show at the Center for Whale Research.

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Earthfix
6:46 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Oil Train Safety And Taxes On Lawmakers' Agenda For 2015

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.
Tony Schick/OPB

SEATTLE -- For the past few years, a growing number of trains have been bringing "rolling pipelines" of oil from North Dakota to ports and refineries in the Pacific Northwest.

And in that time, the Washington and Oregon legislatures have failed to come up with the money to pay for the cost of responding to the increasing risk of oil spills in their states. That could change in 2015.

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Earthfix
2:30 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Another Threat To Spotted Owls: Fire

Logging and barred owls are major threats to the Northwest’s spotted owl. But there’s another threat that’s increasing every year for the endangered bird: fire.
Flickr Creative Commons: FireHawk Hulin

Northern spotted owls living in central Oregon are scrappier than their westside counterparts. They have to search harder for food, and habitat isn’t as plum as the lush forests on the other side of the Cascade Mountains.

Laurie Turner, a forest wildlife biologist for the Deschutes National Forest, said in this sort of fringe habitat, spotted owls need more space, especially breeding pairs.

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NPR Story
12:58 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

25 Years After Exxon Valdez, U.S. Mandates Double-Hulled Oil Tankers

A docked oil tanker. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 gave ship owners 25 years to phase out their single-hull tankers. That deadline arrives on Jan. 1, 2015.
Flickr/Cavalier92

Oil tankers bring about 15 million gallons of oil every day into Washington state. Starting Jan. 1, those ships are required to have double hulls.

The oil-spill prevention measure has been in the works for decades, ever since Capt. Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez onto Alaska's Bligh Reef in 1989. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, killing thousands of seabirds and sea otters, devastating the region's fisheries and unleashing action in Washington, D.C.

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NPR Story
3:53 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Feds Consider Endangered Species Listing For Monarch Butterfly

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether the iconic monarch butterfly should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
TexasEagle/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/texaseagle/4839884878/in/photolist-o1yGtm-8pN5Cs-q5gM6V-aooWaQ-9MpAxV-nLbxtG-8nFFa1-5C2TtW-gtM6vR-aqTikx-5xUNYB-arF1gD-bGSucc-gSSUas-pDm2He-pH36aG-esf9VN-gBKGTF-5eVrjf-5n

The monarch butterfly is in line for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday it is launching a year-long status review of the monarch population in response to a request from conservation groups.

The iconic butterflies face threats from pesticide use and habitat loss – particularly from the loss of milkweed plants, which are the sole food source for monarch caterpillars.

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Earthfix
1:00 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Oregon Expands Its Electronics Recycling Program

On Jan. 1, Oregon's electronic waste recycling program will start accepting keyboards, mice and printers.
Mosman Council/ Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/mosmancouncil/3361174611/in/photolist-681U7p-681UcT-681Uf6-83eLpS-83eLt1-83bCxe-83eLwd-83eMq5-83eNWU-83eM79-83eL1U-dQNjYf-5yEtZb-9qvRPU-aPW9q4-fjVstx-5yAfta-5yAcPX-681U44

Oregon is expanding its electronic waste recycling program. Starting Jan 1, Oregon e-waste collection facilities will start accepting printers, computer keyboards and mice for recycling.

For the past six years, the Oregon E-Cycles program has collected computers, monitors and televisions for recycling at 270 drop-off sites across the state.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Conservation Group Collects Christmas Trees For Salmon Habitat

Members of the Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited toss used Christmas trees into a side channel of the Necanicum River on the Oregon Coast.
Michael Ellis

Most Christmas trees get kicked to the curb and ground up into mulch after the holidays. But a Portland-area conservation group is trying to change that.

The Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited has found used Christmas trees make great salmon habitat when placed in coastal waterways.

Next month, they're launching the third year of a program they call Christmas for Coho. They'll collect used Christmas trees on three Saturdays in January and place them in the Necanicum River, coastal stream in northwest Oregon.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Oregon Cougar Hunting Limits Expand As The Big Cats Move Into Populated Areas

ODFW has expanded the statewide cougar hunting quota by nearly 25% for 2015.
Craig Hyatt https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigalberthyatt/4314951516/in/photolist-nWcXNb-4CqZ81-dngW4h-5wUoUN-uxRb8-7ziRWw-4KQxWt-RdNqF-5EkmcX-dZee5s-7iUkjj-6cjzej-dTG74j-nMfCz-AtW65-9cnL2E-2GACmE-ymjzu-7zifKN-4

Oregon hunters will be able to bag more cougars next year, following wildlife officials' increase in the number that can be killed statewide.

By the 1960s, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the cougar population in the state had fallen to about 200 animals. The reason, said spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy, was bounty hunting: killing animals for financial reward.

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NPR Story
4:41 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Future Of Oregon LNG Terminal Could Hinge on 1957 Easement

Liquefied natural gas in transport. A legal battle over property rights between the Oregon LNG project and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could decide the future of proposed LNG exports in Warrenton, Oregon.
Ken Hodge/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/40132991@N07/7501108978/in/photolist-cqR9n9-fFgH3g-fFgqFF-fFyd5o-fFycCd-fFycfS-fFggcX-fFgGDa-fFgwkx-fFxWWj-fFyniC-fFgFP8-fFxUi3-fFgyAH-fFy4hW-fFykmG-fFgka6-fFy3rm-fFxVcA-

The company behind a project to export liquefied natural gas from the northwest corner of Oregon has run into a new challenge: The federal government might have permanent rights to use the site of its proposed shipping terminal.

The Oregon LNG project proposes a terminal on the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton, on the mouth of the Columbia River, that would receive North American natural gas via pipeline and ship it overseas.

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Earthfix
1:00 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Oregon Turns To Redemption Centers To Boost Return Of Empty Bottles And Cans

A row of sparkling clean reverse vending machines greet customers at the grand opening of the Medford BottleDrop center.
Jes Burns/EarthFix

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:07 pm

Major changes are underway, with more on the horizon for Oregon’s pioneering bottle deposit system.

Those changes -- the biggest since the Bottle Bill's adoption a generation ago -- have been slowly playing out as grocery stores close their return stations in favor of centralized off-site redemption centers.

And the state will soon determine if the deposit paid for each bottle and can of soda, water or beer will remain at a nickel or double to a dime.

Those changes are all about increasing the rate of empties -- and deposits -- that get returned.

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