EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Video: When Enforcement Lags For Livestock Grazing Rules

Mar 17, 2016

The federal government permits livestock grazing on more than 240 million acres of public land — an area bigger than Texas and Oregon combined.

And despite all its regulations to protect the land from livestock damage, some of those rules aren’t being fully enforced.

This 1-minute video explains what’s at stake with America’s unenforced grazing rules:

Last week an overwhelming majority of voters in Malheur County rejected the idea of a national monument in a corner of southeast Oregon known as the Owyhee Canyonlands, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. Ultimately, the executive branch of the federal government has authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create national monuments on federal lands.

Uroboros Glass has signed an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality that prohibits the use of cadmium, chromium and nickel to protect public health until pollution controls can be installed on the company's furnaces.

On a cold January morning, a posse led by a former Army company commander named Matt Shea rolled into the Harney County Courthouse and wanted to speak to the sheriff.

But this wasn’t a group of militants, or outlaws. They were state lawmakers from four western states, including Oregon. Most of them were members of a group called the Coalition of Western States, or COWS.

Winter is usually when cyclists store away their mountain bikes and switch to skis or snowboards. But that’s changing, now that fat bikes have rolled onto the scene.

Fat bikes are the monster trucks of the cycling world. With tires about twice as wide as a regular mountain bike’s, fat bikes provide more traction so they can travel over almost any surface. They bounce over hard-crusted snow and plow through drifts of soft powder.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission decided Tuesday to postpone a vote on new air pollution rules for colored glassmakers.

The decision followed numerous calls for the board to delay its decision and give the public more time to weigh in.

Forest Service lichenologist Sarah Jovan hardly has to walk half a block from her office in downtown Portland to find the type of shaggy, green moss she used to discover the city’s hidden hot spots of toxic air pollution.

“I mean, it’s just everywhere,” she said. “You can see it on all these trees here, across the street. For a sample you’d need probably a couple handfuls.”

Fishery Managers Consider Closing Ocean Salmon Seasons

Mar 14, 2016

To protect fragile runs of coho, regional fishery managers are considering a rare total closure of Oregon and Washington ocean salmon fisheries north of Cape Falcon, near Manzanita, Oregon.

State, tribal and federal fishery managers have three options for non-treaty ocean salmon fisheries north of Cape Falcon. Two options would permit some salmon fishing this year, but one would close both recreational and commercial ocean fisheries for chinook and coho salmon.

Managers are not considering a total closure option for salmon fisheries south of Cape Falcon.

Work is resuming at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Employees had to stay away during the 41-day armed occupation. During that time, some critical work on controlling the common carp got missed.

The carp is an invasive species that really messes up bird habitat on Malheur Lake. Linda Beck is a fish biologist at the refuge. She says they were planning to divert water away from the lake and catch thousands of pounds of carp before they got there. But that was supposed to happen in January; then, the occupation got underway.

Derek Bowen is standing on top of small, enclosed trailer, at the edge of a grassy park in Eugene. It’s overcast and misty but an acronym on the side of this air monitoring station is clear: LRAPA – Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.

Bowen comes down a ladder with a small cylindrical filter in hand. It's been collecting super-tiny particles from car exhaust and wood burning that get lodged in people’s lungs.

We have binders full of stuff for you today. As it turns out, many are full of women.

Qcut And The Quest For Jeans That Fit -

A new Oregon start-up is hoping to provide relief from long, torturous hours of finding jeans that fit. Owner Crystal Beasley, a former Mozilla software developer, has developed an algorithm that pairs users with the right blue jeans out of a selection of some 300 different fits. We learn about some of the potential behind the new technology.

Painfully Honest Job Descriptions for Portland Women in Tech -

Federal energy regulators Friday denied an application to build a liquefied natural gas terminal and accompanying pipeline in Southern Oregon.

In a 25-page final order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission didn’t focus on the Jordan Cove LNG terminal itself. Instead they pointed to the Pacific Connector Pipeline, which would have brought natural gas 230 miles from south-central Oregon to Coos Bay. From there it would be liquefied and put on ships bound for Asia.

After warning Oregon that its rules don’t adequately protect water in coastal streams from logging, two federal agencies are denying the state $1.2 million in grant funds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sent a letter this week notifying the state’s natural resources director that Oregon hasn’t done enough to prevent pollution from forestry practices like logging and road building.

Portland environmental photographer Gary Braasch described himself as a witness to climate change. He dedicated himself to making images that helped the rest of the world witness it too. Braasch died this week while snorkeling and photographing Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.

The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.

The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.

They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.

Erin Meeker lives within a half mile of Bullseye Glass in Portland. Her 2-year-old goes to daycare across the street from the artistic glass factory.

Meeker is one of the seven people who’ve filed a lawsuit against the glassmaker with help from the Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback.

“My No. 1 concern is our health and our neighbor’s health,” she said.

The artistic glass maker at the center of Portland’s toxic air pollution controversy is taking steps to control its emissions.

Bullseye Glass submitted a notice Friday to Multnomah County that it intends to install a pollution filtration system called a baghouse. It’s meant to capture particulate that would otherwise escape from the company’s glass-melting furnace.

The recent discovery of heavy metal pollution in some Portland neighborhoods has left residents wondering whether they should see a doctor.

Multnomah County Health Department said Friday those most exposed are those who spent significant amounts of time within half a mile of Bullseye and Uroborus Glass. Those are the two art-glass makers linked to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium pollution in Southeast and North Portland.

A few dozen Portlanders rallied at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday to demand stronger action against air polluters, in light of recently discovered concentrations of heavy metals.

"Clean air now! Clean air now!" they chanted as they delivered a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality's downtown Portland office.

Brown said she'll review the request, but added that legislators helped the air quality cause in the regular session.

One of the last actions Oregon lawmakers took before adjourning Thursday was passing a landmark clean-energy bill.

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill lays out a timeline for Oregonians to stop paying for electricity from coal-fired power plants through its two largest utilities, PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric.

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