Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
11:28 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Bill Takes Aim At Aerial Pesticide Spraying On Oregon Forests

A helicopter sprays water over a recently logged slope owned by Starker Forests, near Philomath, Oregon, in a demonstration of how timber companies typically use herbicides on their tree farms.

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 8:00 am

An Oregon Senate bill introduced Tuesday would tighten rules for aerial pesticide spraying on forest land and overhaul how the state responds to complaints of drift and exposure.

The bill has been in the works since 2013, when 16 Curry County residents filed complaints with the state that they became ill after an herbicide application. Dubbed The Public Health and Water Resources Protection Act, the bill would:

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1:51 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Cougars Reported Near Bend, Sunriver

ODFW has expanded the statewide cougar hunting quota by nearly 25% for 2015.

Several mountain lion sightings have been reported in Sunriver in the past month.The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife killed a cougar after it was spotted in the heart of Bend last month.

ODFW says there's never been an attack on a human by a wild cougar in Oregon. But the population is growing, and the agency takes measures when the big cats appear in urban areas. Last month, wildlife advocates criticized cougar managers for euthanizing a mountain lion found in a Bend neighborhood.

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1:43 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Big Trainloads Of Tar Sands Crude Now Rolling Through NW

Since 2012 Union Pacific has been moving oil through Oregon on mixed freight trains. In late 2014, the railroad began moving several mile-long trains of crude oil per month through the Northwest.

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 11:41 am

Trains carrying mass loads of heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sands have begun moving through the Northwest, creating the potential for an oil spill in parts of Oregon and Washington where environmental agencies have no response plans or equipment in place.

Union Pacific now moves between seven and 10 of these mile-long trains of Canadian crude per month through Northwest states, according to railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt. They can carry more than a million gallons of oil.

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Earthfix
5:30 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Oregon Dunes Off-Road Enthusiasts Lose Trails, Gain Riding Area

Barbara Rowland rides through standing water in a deflation plane behind a vegetated foredune in the North Riding Area of the Oregon Dunes.

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 5:44 pm

Giant dunes reach up to 500 feet tall and rolling hills of open sand seem to stretch to the horizon in a 50-mile long sandbox known as the Oregon Dunes National Recreational area.

It's a popular destination for adrenaline junkies whose off-road vehicles buzz up and down the dunes of Oregon's south coast.

But the dunes are in trouble. Invasive vegetation is quickly closing in, and as open areas shrink, fights over how people use the sand have been intensifying.

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NPR Story
5:05 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Gearhart Elk Herd

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 4:48 pm

For more than a decade, a herd of elk has been hanging out in and around the up-scale coastal town of Gearhart, browsing the golf course and even taking refreshing dips in the surf. But as the herd is growing, so are concerns about safety and property destruction. We talk to the locals and wildlife experts about why the elk come here, whether they're a nuisance or an opportunity.

MORE INFORMATION

Howard Shippey's Footage of Elk Swimming

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NPR Story
9:05 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Vancouver Oil Terminal Would Mean More Gorge Oil Trains

Oil trains rest on the tracks in Portland, on the line toward on terminal in Clatskanie. Environmental groups claim that terminal's air quality permit was issued incorrectly.

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 9:40 am

Chris Hickey lives on three acres in Washougal, Washington with his wife, son and two massive dogs.

“We get salmon and steelhead up here in the creek. It’s one of the cool things about the house," Hickey said while walking across a metal footbridge above the fast moving water.

The creek is surrounded by a bamboo grove so thick the leaves practically block out the sky.

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NPR Story
12:36 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Feds Say More Details Needed From Tribe That Wants Coal Project Halted

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.

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:52 pm

SEATTLE -- A federal agency says a Puget Sound tribe has not made a convincing enough case to to halt the permitting process for the largest proposed coal export facility in the country.

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Earthfix
7:43 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Could A Community Bill Of Rights Keep Out A Gas Pipeline?

Some Southern Oregon residents are fighting the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal  proposed in Coos Bay.

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:00 am

Southern Oregon communities along a proposed natural gas pipeline route are looking for creative ways to stop the project. Douglas and Coos County residents hope a Community Bill of Rights will give them a legal avenue to assert local control.

The pipeline for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would run through the property of Stacey McLaughlin. She doesn’t want it there. And speaking out before government officials has been less than satisfying.

“It feels like a waste of my time,” she said.

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NPR Story
5:35 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Legislation Would Mandate Bigger Crews On Oil Trains

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.

A growing number of oil trains rolling through Washington has emergency responders and rail workers calling for bigger crews on board to better protect human health and the environment.

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NPR Story
5:01 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Seasons of Smoke: Exploring Two Decades of Wildfire

Copyright 2015 ERTHFX. To see more, visit .

NPR Story
7:15 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Can Northwest Forests Be Protected From Future Mega-Fires?

Fire ecologists say that the emphasis on fire suppression in the last century helped create the conditions that have lead to more extreme fires.

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 5:10 pm

WINTHROP, Wash. -- Snow blankets the landscape in north central Washington. What you can’t see is the scorched earth left from last summer’s Carlton Complex fire.

Even through the snow, Susan Prichard, a fire ecologist for the University of Washington, can see the damage. She can also see signs of recovery in the bitterbrush and aspen trees.

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NPR Story
5:00 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Tracking Columbia River Salmon With Tiny Tags

A tag for tracking salmon through dams.

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 10:54 am

Tracking salmon as they move past Columbia River dams just got a little easier. Scientists are using a new tag so small that researchers can inject it with a syringe into the fishes' bellies.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Army Corps of Engineers have been working with tags since 2001. This newest version is the smallest yet, about the size of two grains of rice. The older tags are three times heavier.

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Earthfix
3:39 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power By 2025

PacifiCorp's Carbon Plant in Utah is one of several coal-fired power plants in the company's fleet.

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 5:03 pm

A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025.

The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), targets coal-fired power coming into Oregon from out of state. Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman is scheduled to be retired in 2020.

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Earthfix
4:38 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Feds Rule Oregon's Not Protecting Coastal Waters From Logging

Looking out on the South Slough of Coos Bay. 

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 5:17 pm

Federal regulators say Oregon is not doing enough to protect water quality in coastal areas. A ruling Friday on the state’s coastal nonpoint pollution control could end up costing the state millions.

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NPR Story
2:37 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Joseph Appeals To ODFW To Control Deer Problem

Deer lose their antlers each year.

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 3:19 pm

The city of Joseph is calling on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to control its deer problem.

"Being a small town in eastern Oregon we've always had deer in town. For years they lived in the field outside of town, and then they'd migrate in, in the evening," says Dennis Sands, mayor of Joseph. "But over the last three or four years there's very little migration and they're just living in town. They have no fear of humans."

The state estimates about 200 deer are living in Joseph. They often destroy gardens and can be a hazard for drivers.

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NPR Story
12:42 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Low Fuel Prices Benefit Northwest Farmers

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 2:53 pm

Oregon farmers say that low fuel prices could mean a big boost to their bottom lines -- if prices remain low until the summer.

There's not much agricultural production happening right now in the Northwest. But if fuel prices stay down in the coming months, farmers throughout the region could feel the benefits.

Many farms rely on diesel fuel to transport products and run field machinery. Petroleum products are also used to make fertilizer.

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NPR Story
8:15 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Japan Earthquake Holds Lessons For Oregon Coast

An upended house is among the debris in Ofunato, Japan following a magnitude 9 earthquake in March, 2011.

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 8:56 pm

This story is part of a series Oregon Public Broadcasting is doing on how well the Northwest is prepared for the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that scientists say will hit along the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific Coast.

In this piece we look at:

Three times in three years Jay Wilson has returned to Kadonowaki, Japan. Each time, the weeds are a little bit taller, the concrete foundations are a little more weathered.

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3:15 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

More Oil Trains Could Roll Through Puget Sound To Shell Refinery

More than 100 people attended the hearing in Skagit County for a proposal by Shell Oil to build a rail expansion to receive oil trains at its Anacortes refinery. 

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 3:52 pm

Shell Oil wants to build more tracks at its refinery in Anacortes, Washington, to receive oil by rail. At a packed hearing in Skagit County on Thursday, more than 100 people turned up to comment on the proposal.

Shell's refinery in Anacortes is the last of Washington's five oil refineries to apply for permits to receive oil by rail from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

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NPR Story
12:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Application Brings Nestlé One Step Closer To Oregon

The East Wind Drive-In in Cascade Locks, Oregon. 

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 1:55 pm

Earlier this month, the Cascade Locks City Council voted to approve a key step in the process of opening of a proposed Nestlé water bottling plant. The unanimous decision is the latest development in a six-year-long effort to bring the multinational company to the Columbia River Gorge.

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NPR Story
3:12 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Groups Call On Port Of Seattle To Reconsider Lease To Shell Oil

Shell Oil's Kulluk drill rig, hard aground off Alaska's Sitkalidak Island in January 2013

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 4:36 pm

The Port of Seattle could soon host drill rigs and barges belonging to Shell Oil.

Earlier this month the Port Commission voted to lease Terminal 5 in West Seattle to Shell to moor and perform maintenance on drilling equipment during the winter months.

On Wednesday, EarthJustice and eight other environmental groups called on the port to reconsider its decision.

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