EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

The U.S. Department of Energy issued an emergency alert Tuesday morning at the Hanford Site north of Richland, Washington, after a tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive material was breached.

Some workers at a former chemical processing plant have been evacuated and about 3,000 others near the area at the center of the Hanford Site were directed to take shelter indoors.

Oceans Losing Oxygen As World Warms

May 9, 2017

To the list of global problems the world's oceans are facing, you can add another: They're losing oxygen.

The Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast, from central California to Alaska, is one of the hardest-hit areas.

Whether you're looking at an ocean or a glass of beer, the same fundamental chemistry holds true.

"When you warm up the water, it holds less gas," University of Washington oceanographer Curtis Deutsch said.

Oregon voters in coastal Lincoln County are considering a ballot measure that would ban aerial spraying of pesticides and herbicides.

It's a practice that became a concern last month for City of Depoe Bay Supervisor Brady Weidner when he found an email in his inbox. It said Hancock Timber was going to spray herbicides from helicopters on a recently logged track near the city’s reservoir within a few days. Weidmar was alarmed because that reservoir supplies water to the small coastal community.

Voters in Oregon's Coos County are considering a May ballot measure that would block the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project.

The measure is a product of the community-rights movement, which broadly aims to give local communities final say over corporate projects that affect them.

The Coos County measure specifically targets and bans fossil fuel transport through the county, except when it is intended for local use. It establishes a county-wide bill of rights that guarantees a "sustainable energy future" and the rights of nature to thrive.

Drivers in southwest Washington could see some relief on their commute home.

After nearly seven weeks, a stretch of state Route 503 about 20 miles east of Woodland is set to reopen in a couple days. A massive landslide recently shut down all traffic and the highway has remained closed since March 13.

Three national monuments in the Pacific Northwest are officially up for review. The Department of the Interior announced Friday that it’s opening up public comment periods for Hanford Reach, Cascade-Siskiyou and Craters of the Moon national monuments.

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read has proposed yet another plan for keeping the Elliott State Forest in public ownership.

He’s recruited Oregon State University to split the cost of buying the 82,000-acre forest out of the state’s Common School Fund, which requires the state to use the land to make money for schools.

“I went to them and said is there a way this could work?” Read said. “If we can conclude this, I really feel good about the chance to have that asset in the hands of the university in a way that benefits the state in all kinds of ways."

Scientists think they know what brought invasive green crab into Washington's inland waters last year.

In short: "the blob." That was the temporary expanse of abnormally warm water off the West Coast from 2013 to late 2015.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released her proposal Thursday for keeping the Elliott State Forest in public ownership – rather than selling it to the highest bidder.

A proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington, gained approval of a key permit Tuesday.

The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, met in executive session before voting to release the draft notice of construction air permit for the controversial project.

It's chaotic in the side yard of Butte Falls Charter School, but don't let that fool you. The middle schoolers are locked in.

"Let’s get this log done!" calls design and build class teacher Chris Mathas over the cacophony of drills and giggles.

The class is planting shiitake mushroom mycelium into three-foot oak logs. It’s a lesson that’s part ecology, part agriculture and part traditional shop class - a perfect fit for the natural resource focus of their school.

The Oregon Senate has confirmed three new members of the state’s Environmental Quality Commission.

Kathleen George, Molly Kile and Wade Mosby will replace three former members of the five-person commission who were sacked by Gov. Kate Brown in April. The former board members later said they were fired over their choice to lead the Department of Environmental Quality: Richard Whitman, one of Brown’s former advisers.

The Oregon School Boards Association is threatening to sue the State Land Board over plans for the Elliott State Forest. That message came through clearly in a three-page letter sent to the State Land Board's three members: Democrats Gov. Kate Brown and State Treasurer Tobias Read and Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

The following is an excerpt from KUOW’s new podcast, terrestrial, which explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. Subscribe to the show. And let’s talk about climate change — what to do about it and how to live with it — together via our Facebook group.

EarthFix is pleased to introduce terrestrial, a new environment-focused podcast from a journalist who’s been with us since the beginning.

Ashley Ahearn is the host of terrestrial, produced by KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio, in Seattle. Before terrestrial, Ahearn was a founding member of the EarthFix reporting team, telling environmental stories of the Northwest since 2011 for public media audiences in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

It’s Design Week in Portland! The week when all of the makers, the tallest and the smallest, get together to talk about the looks they love, the technology they’re using, and the newest concepts and products they're dreaming up. From streetwear to downtown Portland to sporting goods to candy, everything's on the drawing board.

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to help towns and cities prepare for serious railroad incidents.

The Community Protection and Preparedness Act would create a trust fund to help communities prepare for incidents involving flammable liquids like crude oil and ethanol.

Last summer, a Union Pacific train derailed and spilled thousands of gallons of crude in the small Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

A project that would export 44 million tons of coal a year from Longview, Washington, would raise the cancer risk for people living near rail lines, create traffic jams with its mile-long coal trains and increase global greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million tons.

The Millennium coal export project would be among the largest coal terminals in North America, and it would inevitably impact the environment and the surrounding community in Southwest Washington, according to a new report from state and county regulators.

Environmentalists concerned that lobbying and polite marches have failed to weaken America’s reliance on fossil fuels have started turning to more confrontational approaches.

Climate activists with the group 350 Seattle say 2,000 people from the Seattle area have signed a “pledge of resistance” to participate in civil disobedience on behalf of the global climate.

While civil disobedience is nothing new, even for climate activists, 350 Seattle organizers said interest in it has ballooned since the election of President Donald Trump.

Kill A Juniper Tree, Save A Sage Grouse

Apr 27, 2017

There’s good news for the West's imperiled greater sage grouse. New research suggests the bird has a better chance of survival when juniper trees are removed from its habitat.

The chicken-sized sage grouse's decline has happened over the same stretch of time that's seen western juniper and pinyon pine trees spread out across the bird's sagebrush ecosystem. Reasons for the trees' expansion include fire suppression, overgrazing and changing climate conditions.

As the stands grow more dense, they outcompete sagebrush. They also serve as perches for birds of prey.

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