EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new plan Friday that would keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership by borrowing money on the bond market.

In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered more water releases from dams on the Klamath River to flush out parasites causing deadly disease outbreaks in salmon.

In recent drought years, scientists have found extremely high rates of a disease caused by an intestinal parasite known as Ceratanova shasta in salmon populations protected under the Endangered Species Act.

This is the second part in our series on wildlife and lead ammunition. Read part one here.

It was a typical phone call for Martha Jordan. Someone had found a sickly-looking swan; Jordan had better come collect the body.

This is the first part in our series on wildlife and lead ammunition. Read part two here.

California condors can nest in cliff-side caves or large burnt-out trees. That’s exactly what the coastal bluffs and forests around Redwood National Park offer.

The massive birds once lived around the park just south of the Oregon-California border. They held a place of high esteem for the Yurok Tribe.

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In a new report, the Oregon Global Warming Commission says the state isn't expected to come within striking distance of its 2020 or 2050 goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The commission says the latest numbers show "a perilous reversal" in the downward trend of emissions from cars and trucks over the past few years. In short, people are driving more – and in bigger vehicles.

The National Academy of Sciences has chosen Oregon State University marine studies professor Jane Lubchenco for its highest award.

The Public Welfare Medal honors those who promote science for the benefit of humanity.

The academy said it chose Lubchenco for her "successful efforts in bringing together the larger research community, its sponsors and the public policy community to focus on urgent issues related to global environmental change."

Lubchenco was the administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2009 to 2013.

Irrigators from Southern Oregon and Northern California are in federal court this week. They’re arguing the U.S. government owes them millions of dollars in compensation for water shut-offs 16 years ago.

A major drought in 2001 made water in the Klamath Basin scarce. Federal regulators cut off irrigation to hundreds of farms to ensure there was enough water in the rivers for endangered salmon and other fish.

The farmers say the irrigation water is property that was taken without compensation. This is prohibited by Constitution’s 5th Amendment.

Video: This Is What Trump's EPA Looks Like So Far

Jan 30, 2017

Since taking office, on Jan. 20 President Donald Trump's administration has done a lot to shake things up at the Environmental Protection Agency. His nominee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, could be up for a confirmation vote as soon as Wednesday.

Get caught up on the big picture in 100 seconds with this explainer video by OPB's John Rosman and KCTS/EarthFix's Ken Christensen.

A temporary freeze on grants and a halt on communications at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have left Northwest tribes, state agencies and nonprofits uncertain about the future of their environmental programs, which rely on hundreds of millions of federal dollars.

That freeze was in place for several days before the Trump administration lifted it Friday. But regulators at state agencies in Oregon and Washington have received little guidance on changes from EPA headquarters or the White House and are now questioning the future availability of federal money and data.

On October 13, 2016 a 95-foot-long tug ran aground off the coast of Bella Bella, British Columbia, spilling an estimated 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The fuel swept into the waters where the Heiltsuk First Nation harvests shellfish, giving members of the tribe front-row seats to the circus that unfolded as spill-response teams tried to clean up the mess.

Democrats in the Washington Legislature are looking to bolster the state’s oil spill prevention efforts.

An expansion of a Kinder Morgan oil pipeline through British Columbia is expected to increase oil tanker traffic in Washington’s Salish Sea sevenfold. Meanwhile, Washington’s Department of Ecology estimates a shortfall of $4 million in its oil spill prevention program.

White House advisor and former Washington state Sen. Don Benton is part of the team implementing the president’s agenda at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Benton was sworn in as senior advisor Saturday, he said. The job is a temporary position, but could be extended. During the campaign, Benton served as Trump’s campaign chairman in Washington.

Biologist Shaun Clements stands in the winter mist in a coastal Oregon forest. He’s holding a small vial of clear liquid.

“We should be safe mixing it now, right?” he asks his colleague Kevin Weitemier above the sound of a rushing stream a few feet away.

Weitemier brings a second vial, full of stream water. In deliberate, seeming choreographed movements, usually associated with ritual, they pour the liquid back and forth between the small containers to mix -- two, then three times — never spilling a drop.

Clements looks down at the clock. It’s 12:29 pm.

Oregonians may be seeing a rare site in the coming years. A proposal to reintroduce the highly endangered California condor in Redwood National Park could mean North America’s largest land bird will once again take flight over the Pacific Northwest.

The California condor once soared over the West, from Baja to British Columbia.

6 Washington Fisheries Receive Disaster Designation

Jan 20, 2017

Unusual ocean and climate conditions have significantly reduced the number of fish available for American Indian tribes and commercial fleets to catch. That's led to the federal government's declaration that six fisheries in the state can now seek assistance to help bring things back to normal.

Why A Small Texas Town Wants Oregon’s Nuclear Waste

Jan 19, 2017

Communities from Oregon to New York may be clamoring to get nuclear waste out of their backyards, but one small town in west Texas is actively vying to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — at least for the next century or so.

“We don’t see it as some big, you know, dangerous, terrible, ominous figure," said Julia Wallace, executive director of the Andrews Chamber of Commerce. "It’s just another day’s work.”

In the final three months of 2016, railroads hauled 618 million gallons of oil through Washington. That means more than 1,500 rail cars every week hauling flammable crude through the state.

Those numbers come from new reports from the Washington Department of Ecology, which for the first time detail what kinds of oil are moving through which communities in the state, and in what amounts.

Operators of the biggest dam in the Northwest will now have to reduce oil spills that pollute the Columbia River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation settled a lawsuit Thursday with the environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper.

Three Oregon conservation groups say a new plan to manage National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin doesn’t do enough to protect habitat. The groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Medford to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider additional options.

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