EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

An Oregon start-up that’s trying to use kites to generate electricity has secured close to a quarter of a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agencies.

Beaverton-based eWind Solutions is working with Oregon State University to develop kites that generate power by flying in a figure ‘8’ pattern. The hope is that will make the kites pull hard on their cords, which are attached to a ground-based ratchet system that spins a power generator.

Oregon Department of Transportation

This year, state lawmakers moved to get Oregon off of coal-fired electricity  by 2030.  That means replacing one-third of the state’s power supply in just 14 years. Renewable energy will likely benefit – and in particular, Oregon’s new laws are setting up solar as a potential big winner.  JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns about the emerging landscape for solar power. 

Commissioners at the Port of Vancouver unanimously approved an amended lease with the backers of a proposed oil terminal Friday.

If Tesoro-Savage accepts the amendments, it will effectively extend the lease, giving the companies more time to receive state approval for the project.

The port and the companies were facing what amounted to an Aug. 1 deadline on the lease. Without the extension, the future the project seemed uncertain.

Fishermen Look Ahead To Slow Ocean Salmon Season

Apr 15, 2016

Fishing groups saw it coming: the counts were looking low for this year’s runs of chinook - and abysmal for coho. And now commercial and recreational fishermen are coming to terms with lower ocean salmon catch limits set Thursday by fishery managers.

The new recommended catch limits put forth by the Pacific Fishery Management Council cut the non-tribal quotas by more than half in most areas.

Bob Rees is with Northwest Steelheaders, a sport fishing group. He says low number of fish make anglers less excited to spend the money and effort to get out on the ocean.

When the dams were constructed along the Columbia River in the 1930s, tribal villages were permanently flooded.

Northwest senators are now taking the first steps to replace them.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley and Washington Sen. Patty Murray have placed a clause into a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bill that would pay for planning a new tribal village at The Dalles Dam.

Three years ago, the corps recognized it hadn’t followed through on promises to replace inundated villages.

Copyright 2016 ERTHFX. To see more, visit ERTHFX.

Building in flood zones is about to get harder across much of Oregon, due to new federal recommendations.

Is The Future Of Solar Bright In Oregon?

Apr 14, 2016

When the most recent legislative session ended in Oregon, the state’s energy future looked very different than it had just a few months earlier. Lawmakers moved to get Oregon off of coal by 2030. And that means replacing one-third of the state’s power supply in just 14 years.

Renewable energy development will likely benefit – and in particular, Oregon’s new laws are setting up solar as a potential big winner.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says two artistic glassmakers in Portland should have installed pollution controls on their furnaces under national rules that were in place for years before emissions became an issue in the city.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced the EPA’s determination in a news release Wednesday.

Vancouver Port Hears From Public On Oil Terminal Lease

Apr 12, 2016

Commissioners at the Port of Vancouver are weighing whether or not to breathe new life into what could be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The project’s backers, oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, have asked the port to extend the terms of their lease by two years.

Bullseye Glass has announced it plans to resume using cadmium in its glassmaking operation now that the company has installed a pollution control device to reduce harmful emissions.

The company voluntarily suspended its use of cadmium and arsenic in February after a U.S. Forest Service study and follow-up air testing revealed heavy metal hot spots near the Southeast Portland facility. In March, Bullseye announced plans to install a pollution control device.

The Bureau of Land Management released a new proposal Tuesday for managing the former Oregon and California Railroad forestlands in Western Oregon.

The so-called “O&C Lands” have traditionally been used to generate money for local counties, but since the 1990s, those revenues have been shrinking.

The companies backing the Jordan Cove energy project in southern Oregon have appealed a federal decision denying permits needed to move forward.

The Canadian energy firm Veresen and the Williams pipeline company propose to build a natural gas liquefaction facility and export terminal in Coos Bay. Construction of a 230-mile pipeline that will connect the terminal with natural gas supplies in the inland West is being proposed as well.

The companies filed a “request for a rehearing” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday.

Oregon House Speaker Criticizes DEQ Investigation Of Swan Island Odors

Apr 11, 2016

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek has criticized the state Department of Environmental Quality’s handling of a contentious air quality problem in North Portland, and is asking the agency to reconsider a determination that paint fumes from a truck maker are not posing a nuisance to neighbors.

Port of Vancouver commissioners are looking for input at a hearing Tuesday about how to move forward with the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The Port wants to hear from the public about how to proceed with a proposed lease amendment from the backers of the Vancouver Energy Project.

The hearing will be held at Clark College. It’s expected to last about 12 hours.

In the mornings, Jeff Mastrandea waits a good 30 seconds after turning on his faucet. He also makes sure to drink from a filter. He does this because his water is sometimes laced with unsafe levels of lead. He wants to let any water with the toxic metal drain out before he takes a drink.

When the famously pure water from Portland’s Bull Run Watershed sits overnight in the copper plumbing of his 1984 Gresham home, it corrodes the lead solder that fuses those pipes together.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture plans to spray an organic insecticide across thousands of acres of North Portland and Vancouver, Washington, over the next month to eradicate invasive gypsy moths.

The company behind a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal on Oregon’s southern coast has been busy lining up customers in Asia.

On Friday, the Canadian firm Veresen announced a preliminary purchase agreement with the Japanese trading company ITOCHU. Two weeks earlier, Veresen said it had a similar agreement in place with another Japanese firm, JERA.

Both deals are for 1.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year for 20 years. If finalized, they vouch for half the expected production capacity of the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon.

It’s not every day that the governors of both Oregon and California, the U.S. Interior secretary and the head of a major power company -- as well as representatives of multiple tribes all gather at the mouth of a river. But then, Wednesday was an historic day for the Klamath River.

Two agreements signed near the river's mouth in Northern California mean four privately-owned dams are now on track to be removed from the Klamath. It’s described as the largest river restoration project in the country.

Let's break it down.

The Port of Vancouver recommended that port commissioners vote against a lease extension with the companies backing a proposed oil terminal. The recommendation comes ahead of two port commission meetings next week.

On Tuesday, backers of the Vancouver Energy Project asked the port to extend a portion of its lease until Aug. 1, 2018.

Port officials said the recommendation is only about the amendment proposed by the company and does not affect the current lease.

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