Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
11:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

NW Researcher Says Toxic Algae Have A Competitive Edge

Researchers take samples from Lake Taihu in China, when it was heavily contaminated with toxic algal blooms.

Pollution and climate change may be making freshwater algae blooms more toxic, according to a Northwest scientist's newly published analysis.

Oregon State University researcher Tim Otten's article in the journal Science concludes that fertilizer pollution, wastewater, and a warming climate are fueling the growth of huge mats of green scum in lakes and reservoirs.

“For instance in Lake Erie, it’s been plagued with toxic blooms that are so large you can see them from outer space,” he said.

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NPR Story
9:21 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Ore. Among 8 States Pledging To Boost Zero-Emission Vehicles

An electric car being recharged. Oregon and seven other states are pledging to put 3.3 million such zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

The governors of Oregon and seven other states pledged Thursday to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

Their goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health and boosting the economy.

The states make up 25 percent of the U.S. vehicle market. Representatives from all eight states were in Sacramento, Calif. to sign a memorandum of understanding. It lays out several steps the states intend to take. Among them:

Include zero-emission vehicles in public fleets

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NPR Story
7:53 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Putting The Spa in Spawn: Tribe Creates Refuge For Exhausted Fish

Yakama Nation biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can get another chance to spawn again in the future.

The Yakama Nation’s steelhead reconditioning program is like a retreat spa for fish. And it's changing the circle of life for the species.

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it is usually too exhausted to make it back down the river again. Often, the fish just dies.

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NPR Story
6:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Governor Inslee's Climate Hearing In Seattle Draws Large Environmental Crowd

More than 500 people came out on a foggy Seattle night to tell Governor Inslee and other politicians how to cut Washington's greenhouse gas emissions.

SEATTLE -- More than 500 people packed into a waterfront convention center on a foggy Wednesday night to tell Governor Inslee and other lawmakers what they think the state needs to do to reduce green house gas emissions.

Ideas ranged from improving public transportation to instituting policies and incentives fostering clean technology companies and alternative energy sources.

There were two big through lines in the 93 testimonies that were given during the three-hour hearing.

Putting a price on carbon

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NPR Story
4:13 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Researchers Link DDT Exposure To Obesity Generations Later

An old DDT insecticide poster. Researchers at Washington State University have linked DDT exposure to obesity generations later.

Even if you haven’t been exposed to DDT in your lifetime, researchers say it could still have an effect on you – and your weight.

Washington State University researchers have been studying how DDT affects rats. They found that three generations after rats were exposed to the insecticide, more than 50 percent of the females and more than 60 percent were considered obese.

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NPR Story
7:39 am
Wed October 23, 2013

EPA Fines Hanford Contractor For Asbestos Violations

The U.S. Department of Energy contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company faces a $115,000 fine for the way it handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The U.S. Department of Energy faces a $115,000 fine for the way a contractor handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

The alleged violations happened during building demolitions in 2009 and 2010 when federal stimulus money sped-up deconstruction projects.

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NPR Story
3:17 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Port Of Vancouver Votes Again To Approve Controversial Oil Terminal Lease

In response to protests and a lawsuit, the Port of Vancouver Commission re-voted on a controversial oil terminal lease.

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Even with two recent oil-transport accidents to point to, opponents of a controversial oil terminal weren't able to persuade port commissioners Tuesday to reverse their July approval of a lease for the project to move ahead on the Columbia River.

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NPR Story
2:08 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Mayors Argue To Cut Fossil Fuel Stock, But Skeptic Urges Softer Approach

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wants his city and other local governments to divest from fossil fuel stocks. He's pictured speaking out against coal export terminals at a coal export hearing in Seattle in December, 2012.

Investment advisors from across the country met on Friday in Seattle in hopes of cutting fossil fuels from the stock portfolios they manage.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn organized the forum on divesting from coal, oil and gas companies. McGinn wants to the city employees’ pension fund to divest because of fossil fuels’ impact on the global climate.

“Isn’t it fiscally irresponsible as well as morally irresponsible to invest in companies whose very business model depends upon destroying the climate we depend upon?” McGinn said.

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NPR Story
7:00 am
Tue October 22, 2013

The Melting Of Greenland

Boat near Ilulissat, Greenland.

Rising tides signal an inarguable remaking of our physical world that is already underway and gaining momentum.

The US is especially vulnerable. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has listed the 20 most threatened coastal cities in the world, which include Miami, New York, New Orleans.

One particularly influential contributor to sea level rise is the ice melt in Greenland.

Just two percent of Greenland is bare land, the rest is covered in ice — two miles thick in some places.

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NPR Story
11:33 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Controversial Oil-By-Rail Terminal Back On The Table For Vancouver, Wash.

The Port of Vancouver will reopen a discussion on a lease for a proposed oil-by-rail terminal project, after environmental groups sued the commission for violating public open meeting laws.

The Port Commission of Vancouver is holding a public meeting on Tuesday to reopen discussion on a controversial oil by rail terminal.

Environmental groups sued the Vancouver Port Commission earlier this summer, alleging the Port violated rules that required public meetings about the project.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

GMO Labeling Initiative Raises Environmental Concerns

Protestors show their support for labeling genetically modified crops. Researchers have reached differing conclusions about the crops’ effect on the environment.

If you’ve turned on your TV in Washington over the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard countless commercials for Initiative 522.

The ballot measure proposes to label genetically modified foods sold in the state. But behind all the campaign rhetoric, some scientists have raised environmental questions about genetically modified crops.

And those researchers have reached differing conclusions about the crops’ effect on the environment.

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NPR Story
11:04 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Protecting Life On Ocean's Floor

Image of a rockfish nestled inside a barrel sponge captured Oceana's ocean floor expedition.

Miles off the Oregon Coast, sponges and corals believed to be hundreds of years old line the ocean floor.

In August, Portlander Ben Enticknap led a weeklong expedition to capture images of such underappreciated sea life, to make a case for protecting it from bottomfish trawlers whose gear scrapes the ocean floor.

Using high-definition video from a remote-controlled submersible vehicle, the Oceana advocacy group captured footage where cameras had never been.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

The County Council Election That Could Mean Big Things For Coal Exports

Isabel VanDerslice volunteers for Washington Conservation Voters going door to door in Bellingham to talk to people about the importance of the Whatcom County Council election in the future of the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Whatcom County could one day be the home of the largest coal export facility on the west coast –- which would transfer up to 54 million tons of coal from trains onto ships bound for Asia.

The Whatcom County Council could cast the deciding votes in the permitting of the dock for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. That’s landed this election in the spotlight and it's drawing a lot of outside money.

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NPR Story
2:16 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Final Public Meeting For Longview Coal Project In Tacoma

Site of the proposed Millenium Bulk Terminal at Longview, Wash. The final meeting in Tacoma will give public a chance to weigh in on the scope of environmental review.

The final public hearing for a coal terminal proposed for Longview, Washington will be held in Tacoma on Thursday.

The Millennium Bulk Terminal could be built near Longview with a handling capacity of up to 44 million tons of coal per year. It's one of two large coal terminals under consideration in Washington. One other coal export proposal is being considered in Oregon.

The coal would arrive by train from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana and be loaded onto ships bound for Asia.

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NPR Story
1:31 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Junction City Plant Turns Commercial Food Waste To Power

Oregon’s first utility-scale facility to turn commercial food waste to electricity is up and running in Junction City.

The JC Biomethane plant captures methane from decomposing food waste and turns the gas into electricity. Its 1.5 megawatt capacity is enough to power half the homes in Junction City.

Matt Krumenauer with the Department of Energy says it’s the first project of its kind in Oregon and breaks ground nationally.

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NPR Story
2:51 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

How Hotshot Oregon Businesses Are Responding To Climate Change

Ann Radil of Nike, left, led a panel discussion with, left to right, John Harland of Intel Corporation, Michael Armstrong of the City of Portland, Justin Zeulner of the Portland Trail Blazers and Demi Espinoza of the Coalition of Communities of Color.

Leaders from Nike, Intel and the Portland Trail Blazers discussed the how they're responding to climate change at the GoGreen Conference in Portland Tuesday.

They talked about how economics and competition can spur action within the business community and how businesses can prioritize actions that will have the biggest impact.

Ann Radil, a climate scientist and director of Nike's Sustainable Product Team, led the panel discussion titled "Actions Speak Louder: Getting Serious About Climate Change."

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NPR Story
4:39 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Inslee Wants To Explore State-Only 'Cap and Trade' Scheme

Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee delivering his plan for combatting climate change to the Climate Legislative and Executive Work Group on Oct. 14, 2013.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out his wish list for how he'd like Washington state to combat global warming pollution.

It includes eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.

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NPR Story
3:01 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Mass Starfish Die-Off May Be Headed For Washington

Disembodied arms of a diseased sea star near Popham Island, 12 miles northwest of Vancouver, B.C.

Scientists in two nations are on the lookout for an underwater epidemic that is killing starfish.

In September, divers in Vancouver Harbour and Howe Sound near Vancouver, British Columbia, noticed the pizza-sized starfish known as sunflower stars wasting away and dying in large numbers.

“The sick ones tend to just fall apart in front of your eyes,” Vancouver Aquarium biologist Jeff Marliave said. “An arm will actually break off and crawl away. They turn into goo.”

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NPR Story
1:34 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Seattle Company Partners With UW To Build One-Of-A-Kind Submarine

Rendering of manned deep sea sub in development in Seattle.

A commercial submarine operator is teaming up with the University of Washington to build a new, manned deep sea sub. The five passenger mini-sub could be available for charter by oil companies or researchers beginning in 2016.

Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. currently operates two small submarines for hire. It sees a market for deeper diving manned submersibles. To that end, the small company has partnered with the University of Washington and Boeing to design a stubby, bullet shaped mini-sub with a 180 degree viewing dome in its nose.

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NPR Story
6:31 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Shutdown Halts Logging On Northwest's National Forests

Timber companies say even if a deal is reached soon at the nation's capitol, the effects from the logging hiatus could be felt all the way into next spring.

Loggers are packing up and leaving timber sales uncut across the Northwest. It's another effect of the partial government shutdown. Timber companies say even if a deal is reached soon at the nation's capitol, the effects from the logging hiatus could be felt all the way into next spring.

Timber companies received letters from the Forest Service telling them to cease operations. That's because the employees who oversee and inspect timber sales were furloughed.

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