EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon Signs On To Sell Only Emission-Free Vehicles By 2050

Dec 14, 2015

Oregon — along with a group of five countries and seven states — used the Paris climate change conference to set lofty new emission goals.

The International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance announced the goal of having all new cars sold within its jurisdiction be emission-free by 2050.

That jurisdiction includes Oregon and seven other states, as well as Quebec, Canada; Germany; the Netherlands; Norway and the United Kingdom.

Dave Nordberg, with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, called it an aspirational goal, but not outside the realm of possibility.

The city of Longview began drilling a series of test wells Monday along the Cowlitz River to search for a new drinking water source.

The city is considering whether to pursue a new well system that would allow it to once again get its water from the Cowlitz River.

“It’s really driven by our customers,” said Amy Blain, a project engineer with the city of Longview. “They’re unhappy with our current water source.”

In January 2013, Longview began to get its water from ground wells.

Northern spotted owl numbers are declining across the Northwest, and the primary reason is the spread of the barred owl, according to a new analysis published Wednesday.

Federal scientists have been keeping tabs on spotted owls for more than 20 years now.

“We have a lot of data that suggests that they’re in real trouble,” said study co-author Eric Forsman, a retired U.S. Forest Service biologist.

Environmental Update: Crayfish

Dec 8, 2015

We check in with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns about how crayfish introduced to Crater Lake to feed sport fish are now competing with native newts.


The Paris climate talks have shifted the spotlight to a group of international leaders being dubbed as “sub-nationals” -- but one of those leaders from the Pacific Northwest prefers a different title.

Two men have been arrested in Portland on charges of smuggling wildlife into the U.S. after allegedly using an online business to ship orangutan skulls and other endangered wildlife parts through the mail.

Federal agents arrested Eoin Ling Churn Yeng, 35, and Galvin Yeo Siang Ann, 33, on Friday afternoon when they arrived to meet with a business associate. Both men were identified as Malaysian nationals.


Farmers challenging a Southern Oregon county’s voter-approved ban on genetically engineered crops have agreed to settle. If approved by the court, Oregon’s first countywide ban will have cleared a final legal hurdle.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for most of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. It runs through Wednesday.

Oregonians Address Climate Change In Paris

Dec 4, 2015

Two prominent Oregonians were in France Friday for the United Nations conference on climate change.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales spoke at a panel entitled "Financing City Action."

Hales said action on climate change happens slowly on the national level, but can be much faster locally. He gave the example of Portland’s recent fossil fuel resolution, which opposed new fossil fuel infrastructure in the city.

People have been fighting about scarce water resources in the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California for decades. After nearly 10 years of negotiations, a series of agreements were reached. They were designed to provide irrigation certainty for farmers and ranchers while preserving river and fishery health.

But Congressional approval for these locally negotiated pacts is needed for them to move forward. And after years of delays, the Klamath Restoration Agreements are approaching an end-of-the-year deadline.

Biologist Mark Buktenica scours the shoreline of Crater Lake. He scans white sun-bleached rocks, takes a step, flips a rock.

Scan, step, flip.

A Furry Predator Returns To the Wilds of Washington

Dec 3, 2015

It's been more than 70 years since anyone saw the weasel-like fisher in Washington's south Cascades.

But on Thursday, wildlife officials introduced seven of these elusive carnivores into the woods of Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

It didn't take long for the furry, cat-sized mammals to make a run for the woods, away from a gathering of about 50 people who came to watch and photograph the event.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden on Thursday released draft legislation he says will help solve long-standing water conflicts in the Klamath Basin. The bill is drastically different from what tribes, farmers and others negotiated as part of the Klamath restoration agreements.

Simon Winchester On The Pacific Ocean

Dec 3, 2015

For his latest book of nonfiction, Simon Winchester has taken on nearly 64 million square miles. "Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers" is divided into 10 chapters encompassing singular events in the ocean's history, including nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll, and the invention of surfing.


A voter initiative that would put a tax on carbon emissions has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2016.

The measure would impose a tax of $25 for every ton of carbon emitted when fossil fuels are burned. Backers of the measure say that will increase some consumer prices, like what people pay for gasoline. The measure also calls for carbon tax's revenue to be used to lower the state sales tax, effectively eliminate the B&O tax on manufacturers and to provide rebates to lower income households.

Klamath Basin Water Agreement Could Fall Apart

Dec 2, 2015

Over a decade ago, a whole bunch of people who didn't agree on much started meeting.

They all wanted access to some of the water in the Klamath River basin. What they didn't agree on was how much the others should have access to.

But the farmers and ranchers and anglers and tribal members and power companies and politicians kept meeting, and eventually they came up with a series of grand compromises.

Boat speed is a big problem for Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales, according to new research published Wednesday.

Armed with a flashlight and a spear under the cover of night, Tom Kaye creeps toward his targets on the edge of a pond near Corvallis.

"There's the one we're going to go after first," he said. "I can see some twinkling eyes and then there's several all the way up the shore."

Invasive American bullfrogs have taken over the pond, and that's bad news for native species.

Seafloor Samples Reveal Ghosts Of Blobs Past

Nov 25, 2015

A huge mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is causing problems off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The so-called “blob” is being blamed for toxic algae blooms, which have caused marine mammal deaths and crabbing closures.

New evidence shows this isn’t the first time the blob has appeared off the Northwest coast.

Environmental elder statesman William Ruckelshaus was awarded the highest civilian honor in the country Tuesday. He was at a ceremony in Washington D.C. to accept the Medal of Freedom, one of 17 awarded.

KUOW/EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn spoke with Ruckelshaus last week, before he departed for Washington, D.C.