Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
8:00 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Washington Legislature Fails To Pass Any Oil Train Legislation

Increased oil train traffic had put public pressure on Washington lawmakers to act, but none of this session's oil-train bills passed before the Legislature adjourned Friday.
flickr/Russ Allison Loar https://www.flickr.com/photos/11072040@N08/6184231577/in/photolist-aqtNAn-9d8NnY-dMMvL1-9bXnje-fa6tG7-cCoWk1-cCp1fU-cCp3yQ-cCoSAq-cCoYf1-cCoUqj-cCoP3Q-cCoR5b-cCoLWY-cCoJUo-cCoD3Q-cCoGSL-foFREg-eQovqh-

SEATTLE -- More oil is moving through Washington state from the Bakken oil fields, putting public pressure on elected officials to pass laws protecting public health and the environment.

Bakken oil from North Dakota and Montana has proven extremely flammable, causing several explosions in North America, including one that killed 47 people in Quebec last July.

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NPR Story
3:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Congress Studies New Way To Fund Massive Wildfires

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell discusses the wildfire forecast at a news briefing in Boise. She's flanked by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (left) and Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (Right, L-R).
Aaron Kunz

BOISE, Idaho -- A coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans gathered in Boise today [Monday] to tout a proposal that would change the way the federal government pays for firefighting operations in the West and beyond.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined all four federal senators from Oregon and Idaho, an Idaho congressman, as well as Idaho’s governor at the National Interagency Fire Center.

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Earthfix
2:55 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Oregon Says Coal Export Project Will Need To Lease More Land

A project to transfer coal from trains to Columbia River barges and eventually to ocean-going ships will require additional permits, Oregon regulators recently decided.
Katie Campbell

Developers of the Morrow Pacific coal export project on the Columbia River already have land leases with the Port of St. Helens and the Port of Morrow.

But according to the Oregon Department of State Lands, they're going to need a couple more.

In Oregon, the state owns all the land submerged in water -– including riverbeds.

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Earthfix
2:35 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

How Industry Specs And A Federal Loophole Allow Railroads to Avoid Response Planning Oversight

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell discusses the wildfire forecast at a news briefing in Boise. She's flanked by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (left) and Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (Right, L-R).
Aaron Kunz

Neither states nor the federal government have oversight over how railroads plan for responding to spills from trains carrying crude oil, meaning environmental regulators cannot identify gaps in the plans or verify a railroad's abilities to carry them out.

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NPR Story
2:18 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Judge Reduces Hatchery Releases On Sandy River

A federal judge has ruled an Oregon state fish hatchery must limit the number of hatchery-bred fish it releases. The goal is to protect wild salmon and steelhead stocks, which could interbreed with the hatchery fish.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

A new court decision reduces the number of hatchery fish releases into Oregon's Sandy River this year.

The Sandy River Hatchery will be allowed to release 200,000 coho salmon this year. That's less than the 300,000 coho hatchery managers were planning to release.

Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said in a statement that the reduction won't harm sport fishers.

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NPR Story
4:02 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Ladder To Help Lamprey Swim Upstream

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Dam on the Columbia River. The Army Corps of Engineers has installed new lamprey passage system – the first of its kind for lamprey.
Flickr Creative Commons: USFWS Pacific

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Lock and Dam on the Columbia River. Dam managers have installed new lamprey passage system -– the first of its kind for the toothy, eel-like fish.

Pacific lamprey numbers have dropped dramatically in the past 25 years. No one is really sure why – but fish biologists suspect difficulty swimming upstream is partly to blame.

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Mt. Ashland Throws In Towel
12:43 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Lost Season For An Oregon Ski Area

The Mt. Ashland ski area in Southern Oregon will not open this season due to a regional drought and a lack of snow. Here's what it looked like in early 2013, when the slopes were open for business.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 12:45 pm

Oregon’s southernmost ski resort, Mt. Ashland, announced Friday that it will not open due to lack of snow. That’s the first non-opening in the mountain’s fifty-year history.

A snowpack of less than 20 inches and forecasts for March temperatures in the 60s weighed in the final decision, said Kim Clark, general manager of the non-profit ski resort.

“The daffodils are up and the trees are blooming down here, and people are starting to think about springtime activities unfortunately,” Clark said.

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NPR Story
1:36 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Talks Set In Beijing On West Coast Shellfish Ban

Geoduck clams harvested from Puget Sound, along with most shellfish from the West Coast of the U.S., have not been allowed into China. But an upcoming meeting in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials could ease that ban.
Katie Campbell

SEATTLE -- There are signs of a thaw in the icy trade relations between the United States and China over a Chinese ban on imported shellfish from the West Coast of the U.S.

Chinese officials have agreed to meet next week with U.S. counterparts to discuss China’s import ban on shellfish harvested from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and part of California.

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NPR Story
1:05 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Conservationists Say They'll Sue Over Privatization Of State Forest

The marbled murrelet, a federally protected seabird that nests in the coastal forests of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
Thomas Hamer, Hamer Environmental LP/USFWS

Conservation groups want timber companies to know they'll sue if an endangered seabird's habitat is threatened by logging. The groups object to the potential privatization of the Elliott State Forest in Oregon's Coast Range.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

EarthFix Conversation: Using Environmental Law To Combat Climate Change

Mary Wood is the founder of the University of Oregon's Environment and Natural Resources Law Program.
Courtesy of University of Oregon http://around.uoregon.edu/content/phil-it-video-mary-wood-philip-h-knight-professor-law

Can environmental laws protect the planet from climate change? They haven't so far, according to University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood. But she says one day they could.

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