Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
2:30 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's Climate Legislation Gets A Hearing

Brenna Davis, director of sustainability at Virginia Mason medical center, speaks at a rally in support of Governor Inslee's climate legislation. 

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 11:36 am

Gov. Jay Inslee has been pushing for a “polluters pay” carbon reduction plan for the majority of his time in office. Tuesday marked the first time that plan went before the state legislature, when the House Environment Committee held a hearing of HB 1314. The bill, which was drafted by the governor’s office, has 37 sponsors, all Democrats.

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NPR Story
11:57 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Portland Brewery Puts Low-Carbon Beer On Tap

Migration Brewing's Little Foot Red has half the carbon footprint of the brewery's traditional red beer.

Some people ride a bike instead of driving a car to reduce their contributions to climate change. Others shrink their carbon footprint by installing solar panels on their rooftops. Now, a Portland brewery has another suggestion: Drink low-carbon beer.

Migration Brewing introduced its new low-carbon brew on Thursday. It's a variation on the brewery's longtime red beer Blood, Sweat and Red, with half the carbon footprint. They call it the Little Foot Red.

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NPR Story
4:30 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Startup Seeks To Distill Solar-Powered Alcohol

Vodka martini.

A new distillery in the Tri-Cities is hoping to solar power your alcohol.

The founders of Solar Spirits are planning to distill vodka, gin and eventually whiskey – they would become one of the first distilleries in the Northwest to use solar power. The group calls their process “craft tech.”

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Fri January 23, 2015

A Republican And A Democrat Walk Into A Bar - To Talk Climate Change

Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) talks with Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) after a committee meeting at the Washington State senate. 

This legislative session is looking like the make-or-break for any action on climate change from the Washington state legislature.

As Governor Jay Inslee and the Democrats continue to push for a cap and trade system, Republicans continue to voice strong opposition. Is there a middle ground?

You be the judge of that. Listen in as two leading senators - one Republican, one Democrat - sit down for a beer with EarthFix's Ashley Ahearn and talk about climate change -- with some detours in the conversation to discuss baby goats and Santa Claus, too.

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NPR Story
1:24 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Oregon Water Treatment Company Wants To Turn Sewer Water Into Beer

Finalists in the Clean Water Services homebrew competition.

Clean Water Services of Hillsboro has an advanced treatment process that can turn sewage into drinking water.

The company, which runs four wastewater treatment plants in the Portland metro area, wants to show off its "high-purity" system by turning recycled wastewater into beer.

But under current rules, the state of Oregon wouldn't allow anyone to drink it.

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NPR Story
11:15 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Can Coastal Communities Survive A Tsunami?

The Yachats Fire Department building is 65 years old and just 20 feet above sea level.

The town is looking into a bond measure to move it to higher ground.

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 12:00 am

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 consider:

Communities up and down the Oregon Coast have known about the threat of a tsunami for years.

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NPR Story
11:15 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Jan. 26, 1700: How Scientists Know When The Last Big Earthquake Happened Here

A ghost forest of tree stumps emerges at low tide near Neskowin in Tillamook County. The trees are believed to be the remnants of forests growing before the last major earthquake and tsunami hit.

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 12:00 am

At approximately 9 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Jan. 26, 1700, a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake occurred on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 600-mile stretch between Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Cape Mendocino, California.

Oral traditions of native people living in the Cascadia region reference numerous events of shaking and flooding in this time period, but those stories can’t be dated to specific calendar years.

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Earthfix
11:15 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Why Build A Hospital In A Tsunami Zone?

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 12:00 am

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:

Gold Beach City Administrator Jodi Fritts was angry — or, as she put it in an email to state officials: "Incredible Hulk ANGRY."

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NPR Story
11:48 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Just Call Ashland 'Bee City, USA'

Southern Oregon hopes to attract more than just tourists now that Ashland has held up its end of the deal in becoming the state's second Bee City, USA.

The Ashland Daily Tidings reports City Council members first approved the resolution to make Ashland an official pollinator destination in December, and now with the city's first sign, the tagline is official.

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NPR Story
4:45 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Portland Now Generating Hydropower In Its Water Pipes

Lucid Energy installed four electric generators inside a Portland drinking water pipeline.

A Portland start-up has tapped the city's water pipes as a new source of renewable hydropower that doesn't disrupt fish migration or stream flows.

Lucid Energy has installed a series of small hydroelectric generators inside a pipe that carries drinking water to the city. The company announced Tuesday that its new in-pipe hydro system is now producing power for Portland General Electric customers.

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NPR Story
1:15 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

SSA Terminals To Pay $215,000 For Clean Water Act Violations

A ship docked at SSA Terminal 18.

SSA Terminals will pay $215,000 dollars for violations of the Clean Water Act at its Harbor Island facility in Seattle.

After several years of litigation, brought by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the company has agreed to reduce their pollution discharges into Elliott Bay. The settlement was announced in a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday.

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NPR Story
10:02 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Birders Report Population Gains For Many Puget Sound Seabirds

Volunteers from Seattle Audubon Society spot birds as part of the Puget Sound Seabird Survey, which has shown positive trends for several species. 

Citizen scientists have been monitoring seabirds in Puget Sound for the past seven years, and they have some good news to report.

In fact, of 18 species the volunteers surveyed, 14 show improvement over the past seven years.

The study did find declines in four species: the white-winged scoter, brant, western grebe and red-necked grebe.

But overall, the numbers are heartening. Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and '70s, but the new results suggest that the trend may be changing.

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Earthfix
6:45 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Outdoor Enthusiasts Join Wildlife Officials To Tackle 'Renegade Trails'

Two mountain bikers examine the new trails proposed for the Ashland watershed.

If you’ve hiked anywhere in the Northwest, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an illegal trail. Often they’re quick shortcuts or paths to off-trail viewpoints. But in extreme cases, they’re longer, surreptitiously constructed paths that wind through public and private land.

The unauthorized trails can cause a range of problems in wild areas. As more and more people spend time in the woods, closing down these illegal trails has become increasingly difficult.

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Earthfix Northwest Environmental News
10:24 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

2014 Was Earth's Hottest Year On Record: Warm In Northwest Too

2014 Global temperature anomaly map. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Credit NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Last year was the hottest year on record, according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“For the 21st century, nine out of 10 years have been warmest on record — 1998 was the only year prior to the 21st century that made the top 10,” said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Ocean temperatures were higher than land temperatures, which raised the overall global average.

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Earthfix
2:09 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Coyote Kill Contest Draws Ire From Wildlife Groups

A file photo of a coyote. The group behind Idaho's controversial coyote- and wolf-shooting derby in 2013 is seeking to expand the event for this winter.

A coyote hunting contest scheduled in Burns this weekend has drawn criticism from wildlife advocates.

This is the second year of the Coyote Classic which awards prizes to those who shoot the most coyotes during a three day period. Wildlife advocacy groups are protesting the event through social media.

The contest is legal under state law since coyotes are classified as an unregulated predator.

"Hunting of coyotes is pretty wide open." says Rick Swart, spokesperson for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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NPR Story
1:31 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Wash. Lawmakers Kick Off Session With Work On Oil-Train Safety

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 5:00 pm

"From our standpoint it simply lacks meaningful safeguards necessary to protect our communities in the face of this growing threat that we see to our land, our waters, from the movement of oil trains," said the Sierra Club's Bruce Wishart.

Ericksen's bill does not extend the barrel tax to oil that arrives by pipeline, nor does it increase transparency requirements from oil and rail companies, as Gov. Jay Inslee’s bill does.

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NPR Story
12:30 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Avian Flu Detected In Oregon Wild Duck

A male mallard duck.  A second strain of avian influenza has been detected in a mallard shot by a hunter near Eugene, Oregon.

Wildlife officials in Oregon say a mallard duck shot by a hunter near Eugene has tested positive for avian flu.

The strain of influenza (H5N2) is relatively common in Europe and Asia and has not caused any human sickness. The flu does not appear to cause illness in wild waterfowl, which have evolved with the virus. But it could kill falcons and hawks.

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NPR Story
5:09 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Judge Rules Dairies Are Contamination Yakima Valley Drinking Water

A dairy in the Yakima Valley. After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure.

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 5:45 pm

A judge ruled Wednesday that dairies are contaminating drinking water in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups after an EPA study linked the dairies to high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

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NPR Story
3:41 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

As Canada Goose Populations Recover, Northwest Farmers Pay The Price

One of thousands of Canada geese making its winter home in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Jes Burns/OPB

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:41 pm

Seven different subspecies of the Canada geese travel along a metaphorical superhighway, called the Pacific Flyway, from summer nesting grounds in Alaska down into Washington, Oregon and California.

About twenty years ago, the cackling geese stopped migrating to California and instead started stopping for the winter in Oregon. This greatly increased the pressure on agriculture in the Northwest. And there’s very little farmers can do about it.

Marie and Joe Gadotti are sick of the geese.

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NPR Story
7:52 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams Heads For Washington, DC

The Regional Arts & Culture Council celebrated Mayor Sam Adams' contributions at its pARTy in the name of Art event.

Former Mayor Sam Adams will be leaving Portland for a new job in Washington, D.C.

Adams announced on Twitter that he will join the World Resources Institute as its director of U.S. Climate Initiative.

"Adams will lead WRI's strategy to analyze and develop new policies, build political will and support coalitions that will encourage the country's transition to a strong, low-carbon economy,"according to a press release.

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