EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Portlanders pride themselves on their cutting-edge green buildings.

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Green Building Council rated several Portland buildings Platinum — the highest level certification in the council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, or LEED.

The city scored many "firsts" in the U.S. for Platinum ratings: the first condominium in the Henry in the Pearl; the first historic renovation in the Gerding Theater; and the first med-science facility in OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing, to name just a few.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley says he does not believe President Obama will designate the Owyhee Canyonlands as a national monument before leaving office on Friday.

Merkley said Interior Secretary Sally Jewel told him a monument designation for the eastern Oregon lands has been shelved.

Obama has taken a series of monument actions in recent months, including expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

The timber industry thinks it may able to reverse President Barack Obama's expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon.

The president's decision to add 48,000 acres to the 65,000-acre national monument was praised by environmentalists and Oregon's two senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

But a timber industry trade group argued that Obama misused his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

New research shows Dungeness crab fisheries could suffer as the Pacific Ocean grows more acidic.

Increasing acidification from carbon pollution will drive down food supplies for crab, according to new scientific modeling from the University of Washington and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a tiny island laboratory in the Northwesternmost corner of Washington, one marine biologist is on a mission: scan every known fish species in the world.

It’s a painstaking and smelly task, but one that promises to fundamentally change the way scientists and educators look at marine anatomy.

President Obama on Thursday announced an anticipated expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

The monument is currently about 65,000 acres in Jackson County, east of Ashland. The expansion adds 48,000 acres to the monument.

The president issued a statement announcing the expansion, saying his administration has tried "to protect the most important public lands for the benefit of future generations."

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that two proposed fossil fuel terminal projects in Grays Harbor cannot go forward without further environmental review.

The court Thursday sided with the Quinault Indian tribe and four environmental groups in overturning a 2015 appeals court decision that the two projects were not subject to review under the state’s Ocean Resources Management Act.

There's good news for Oregon after a historic round of snowfall led to Gov. Kate Brown declaring a state of emergency Wednesday: The state should be mostly free from snow for the rest of the week.

But temperatures east of the Cascades and in the Columbia River Gorge will remain dangerously low through the end of the week, with some possible flooding due to melting snow.

Clam shells and pebbles crunch underfoot on the shore of the Lummi Nation’s Portage Bay in northwest Washington. At the lowest tides, Lummi fishermen can walk out to harvest clams.

“Usually, it’s during the nighttime,” says 25-year-old Lummi tribal fisherman Lonnie James Jr, who’s been digging clams since he was six. “We go out there with headlights and a rake and a bag and have to dress warm and inch down in the ground, flip flop it over,” he explains. “You’re bent over for five or six hours.”

Union Pacific Railroad is suing Oregon's Wasco County and Columbia River Gorge commissioners in an effort to push through a proposed track expansion.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the company asked a federal court to preempt a Wasco County ordinance that is blocking the company from expanding its track through the Columbia River Gorge.

It was a historic evening for Portland and surrounding areas Tuesday night as record snowfall led to one of the snowiest days ever recorded at the Portland International Airport.

By 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said it recorded 6.5 inches at their offices near the airport.

“That makes this the ninth snowiest calendar day at PDX since 1940,” said Colby Neuman, a meteorologist with the NWS in Portland. The agency also described it as the snowiest day in the Portland and Vancouver area since Jan. 20, 2008.

Central Oregon's Big Bad Winter Continues

Jan 11, 2017

School districts in the Portland metro area were already canceling school Wednesday as snow began to fall at a rate of one inch per hour Tuesday night.

While that’s significant, this winter has been particularly hard on central Oregon. Another winter storm is hammering that region with even more snow.

Clint Burleigh, a lieutenant with the Bend Police Department, said his vehicle has studded snow tires and all-wheel drive, and he still struggled to get around town Tuesday.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit over dams in the Columbia River Basin are asking the court to order federal agencies to spill more water over the dams this spring to help threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead

Conservation groups together with the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Todd True, an EarthJustice attorney representing the conservation groups, said new science shows spilling more water over the dams in the spring will improve the survival rate of imperiled fish by helping them reach the ocean.

The Navy is scraping the hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard just outside of Bremerton. The goal is to prevent potentially invasive species from traveling with the ship when it’s towed to Texas to be dismantled.

Port Of Vancouver Names CEO Finalists

Jan 10, 2017

The Port of Vancouver has named three finalists for CEO.

The candidates include: Edward Galligan, the executive director for the Port of Olympia; Arthur Scheunemann, the former CEO of the economic development council for Seattle and King County; and Julianna Marler, the Port’s current interim CEO.

The finalists were chosen from about 80 applicants, according to Port officials, who hope to have a new CEO in place by March.

The next CEO will be tasked with navigating how to handle what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

Predicting Toxic Algae Blooms Just Got Easier

Jan 9, 2017

Scientists at Oregon State University have figured out a way to predict outbreaks of a dangerous neurotoxin called domoic acid in the Pacific Ocean. The toxin is produced during algae blooms and can make crab and shellfish unsafe to eat.

A few years back, Oregon State University researcher Morgaine McKibben noticed that the ocean off Oregon had warmed considerably. It was part of a natural climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

2016 was the year one modest Forest Service research project turned the Northwest’s storied art glass industry upside down.

Samples taken near two Portland art glass factories were shown to carry dangerously high concentrations of heavy metals. These companies make supplies for glass artists all over the world, from stained glass church windows to fancy light fixtures in big hotels — even most the blown glass holiday ornaments you might have had hanging around the house last month.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is raising the price of cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site from $746 million to $1.05 billion in a final plan that calls for more dredging and capping of contaminated soil along a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River.

West Coast lawmakers are seeking a permanent ban on offshore drilling along the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Democrat-sponsored bills have been introduced into both the Senate and House of Representatives.

There have been no oil and gas lease sales off the West Coast since 1984. But as the Trump administration prepares to take office, concerns are growing that could change.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality drafted a report that identified logging as a contributor to known risks for drinking water quality in communities up and down the Oregon coast.

But the report has never been published.

It was scrapped by the agency after intense pushback and charges of anti-logging bias from the timber industry and the state’s Department of Forestry, according to interviews and public records.

Pages