Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
2:00 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

EarthFix Conversations: What Chinese Demand For Logs Means For NW Mills

A scaler grades logs that Teevin Brothers are preparing for the export market in Rainier, Oregon.

China’s new demand for logs may be blunting economic troubles for timberland owners and logging crews, while making things worse for Northwest sawmills.

A strengthening Asian export market for raw logs has ports up and down the coast interested in getting back into the business. In 2011, almost a quarter of the logs harvested in the Northwest were shipped to Asia. In recent years, China has displaced Japan as the top buyer of logs from the Northwest.

Read more
NPR Story
12:24 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Washington's Catholic Bishops Call For Broad Review Of Coal Exports

Washington's Catholic bishops are calling for broad review of the two proposed coal export terminals in the state.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Washington's four Catholic bishops have released a statement calling for “exhaustive and independent review” of the state's two coal export terminals under consideration:

Read more
NPR Story
7:45 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Potential Problem In Hanford Waste Tanks: Flammable Gas

The deadline to cleanup Hanford Nuclear Reservation's C-Farm is possibly in jeopardy. Scientists and engineers aren’t sure now how much the newer massive double-hulled underground tanks can hold before the sludge burps up a major flammable gas bubble.

How much sludge can be dumped into a double-shelled radioactive waste tank before flammable gas might build up in a big bubble?

That's the question managers and scientists at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are asking. And they are working against the clock to solve the possible new problem.

Read more
NPR Story
6:45 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Idaho Falls Behind In Energy Efficiency, As Ore., Wash. Maintain Top Tier

In the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Idaho fell nine places from 2012 to tie at 31st. Oregon and Washington maintained their ranks at fourth and eighth.

Idaho has the distinction of dropping the farthest in ranking in the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Lead author on the report Annie Downs attributed Idaho’s decline to “not keeping up with peers in utility spending and savings.”

Read more
NPR Story
12:50 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Washington Considering New Fish Consumption Standards

An illustration of the amount of fish that can be safely consumed each day under Washington's current fish consumption standards.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is working to update the state’s fish consumption levels. Plans are to release a draft plan soon for public comment.

They range from 125 grams to 225 grams per day; the current standards are based on 6.5 grams.

The proposed higher standards are based on the diets of some coastal Native Americans.

The standards under consideration would require reducing pollution discharges by 50 percent to 97 percent.

Read more
NPR Story
7:42 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Gilchrist State Forest May Expand By 29,000 Acres

Gilchrist State Forest is located 45 miles south of Bend, Ore. The state is looking to incorporate 29,000 acres into the forest to increase environmental, economic and recreation opportunities in the area.

The Oregon Department of Forestry is seeking public input about a property acquisition that could incorporate 29,000 acres into the Gilchrist State Forest.

The 60-day public comment period began Nov. 5 and will close Jan. 3. A public hearing will be Dec. 5 in Klamath Falls, according to an ODF press release.

The proposed acquisition includes a 3,000-acre parcel privately owned by Central Oregon Land Holdings and a 25,453-acre parcel owned by the Conservation Fund, the press release said. Both properties are adjacent to the Gilchrist State Forest.

Read more
NPR Story
1:46 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Field Notes: Compiling A Video 'Water Handbook' For Idaho

Most of the summer water available comes from snow high in the mountains. It melts off and provides a steady stream of water in the warmer months.

(Editor’s note: EarthFix Field Notes are reporters’ personal impressions and experiences from their coverage of the Pacific Northwest. In this entry, Idaho-based Producer Aaron Kunz takes a close look at water’s scenic value, its importance to the economy, and its function as the veins and arteries of southern Idaho’s arid sagebrush steppe.)

Read more
NPR Story
9:49 am
Wed November 6, 2013

County Council Election Results Show No Love For Coal

Environmental groups and democrats outspent conservatives for open seats on Whatcom County Council and their efforts seem to have paid off. Council members will eventually vote on permits for a proposed coal export terminal.

Editor's note: Check back for updates on this story later today.

Whatcom County, in northwestern Washington, had four seats up for grab on their seven member county council, members who will eventually vote on permits for the largest coal export terminal proposed for the West Coast.

Read more
NPR Story
3:00 am
Wed November 6, 2013

ICYMI: Caves, Climate And Creatures

Our big project with Oregon Field Guide explored Mount Hood's glacier caves.

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 3:00 pm

In case you missed it, a roundup of some of the interesting Northwest environmental news stories (from our team and others) in October.

Read more
NPR Story
3:31 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

A Week For Polar Bears, Too

Conservation group Polar Bears International is hoping to bring awareness to the snow white bears with Polar Bear Week.

First there was Shark Week. Now conservation group Polar Bears International is hoping to bring the same fame (and awareness) to the snow white bears with Polar Bear Week.

Read more
NPR Story
1:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Five Unexpected Ways Climate Change Will Impact the Northwest

Native fishermen on the Pacific coast are seeing fewer cold water animals and reporting more sightings of warmer water species. Humboldt squid are being reported in waters off OR, WA, and BC. Ten years ago, sightings north of San Diego were rare.
Read more
NPR Story
1:42 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Are 'Megaloads' In E. Oregon's Future?

A 'megaload' along a highway in Idaho. A transport company is eyeing an Eastern Oregon highway to move these oversized loads of equipment needed in the oil fields of Alberta, Canada.

JOHN DAY – Industrial hauler Omega Morgan, at the heart of a controversial “megaload” project in Idaho, is eyeing U.S. Highway 395 through Eastern Oregon as a possible route for at least three oversized shipments, starting in late November.

Crews were in John Day, Mt. Vernon and other sites along the highway last week, measuring intersections and checking power line locations to see how the route might work.

Read more
NPR Story
5:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

A Fashionable Climate Model

Some clever and well-dressed scientists are using a pun to spur some fun educational outreach. The Climate Models Calendar features climate scientist.

Some clever and well-dressed scientists are using a pun to spur some fun educational outreach.

Read more
NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Northwest Governors Face Legislative Roadblocks On Climate Agreement

From left to right: British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Gov. Jerry Brown signing a regional climate agreement last week.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Washington Governor Jay Inslee set ambitious goals when they signed a regional climate change agreement last week with the leaders of California and British Columbia.

But the governors can't reach those goals without their state legislatures, and both governors face legislative roadblocks to upholding the agreement – particularly when it comes to putting a price or a cap on carbon emissions.

Read more
NPR Story
3:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Obama Taps Wash. Governor For Climate Change Adaptation Panel

Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee will be serving on a panel formed by the White House to advise the federal government on ways to adapt to a warming planet.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will soon help advise the White House on how to respond to the effects of climate change. President Barack Obama appointed Inslee Friday to a task force that includes governors, mayors and tribal officials.

The group will advise the federal government on climate issues like increasing wildfires and ocean acidification, and extreme heat waves. Obama first mentioned establishing the task force in a speech on climate change this June.

Read more
NPR Story
1:15 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Feasting On "Trash Fish" For Sustainability

Wolf eel is one of the "trash fish" on the menu for a sustainable food fundraiser in Portland Nov. 10.

When commercial fishermen go out to catch salmon, halibut or black cod, they also bring in some other, lesser-known species.

Wolf eel, sand dab, and skate wing can be delicious, too. But they’re usually thrown out because nobody wants to buy them. Hence, these “trash fish” get wasted even though they could be served on a white tablecloth and paired with wine.

Read more
NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Making The U.S. More Energy Efficient, One Building At A Time

A new, highly efficient rooftop heating and cooling unit could reduce a commercial building's energy costs by an average of 41 percent.

Read more
NPR Story
7:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Spread Of Stink Bugs Alarms Growers, Scientists

Brown marmorated stink bug on an olive branch in the Willamette Valley. The malodorous invasive bug has gone from a worry to a certifiable nuisance for some Northwest farmers and gardeners.

A malodorous invasive bug has gone from a worry to a certifiable nuisance for some Northwest farmers and gardeners. The name of this insect is a mouthful: the brown marmorated stink bug.

Researchers say the population really seems to have taken off this year. With the approach of winter, these stink bugs are leaving the fields and may just crawl into your home.

"A little bit like sweaty socks"

Read more
NPR Story
6:27 am
Fri November 1, 2013

New Report: Puget Sound Still In 'Critical Condition' But Don't Unplug Life Support Yet

Orcas surface in the waters of Puget Sound against the backdrop of Seattle. Washington's urbanized inland sea remains plagued with pollution and other challenges -- including a declining resident orca population -- according to a new report.

SEATTLE -- The state agency that's leading the cleanup of Puget Sound has released its latest annual report on the health of Puget Sound.

Last year Puget Sound Partnership referred to the Sound as a patient in “critical condition.” This year things don’t look much better.

Read more
NPR Story
6:00 am
Fri November 1, 2013

New ‘Vanishing Ice’ Exhibit Reveals A Changing Climate Through The Art of the Arctic

Orcas surface in the waters of Puget Sound against the backdrop of Seattle. Washington's urbanized inland sea remains plagued with pollution and other challenges -- including a declining resident orca population -- according to a new report.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The polar regions of the world have long been a source of awe and wonder.

But that inspiration often comes second hand. Most of us won’t see these places up close with our own eyes.

Instead we rely on photographers, filmmakers, painters and writers who journey to far flung frozen lands to capture their extreme nature and raw beauty.

Read more

Pages