Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Earthfix
1:38 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Elliott State Forest Management Decisions Near

Elliott State Forest
Francis Eatherington https://www.flickr.com/photos/umpquawild/7364545846/in/set-72157604830218384

ASHLAND, Ore. -- When the State of Oregon agreed last spring to sell three tracts of the Elliott State Forest to timber companies, conservation groups mobilized in opposition.

Now people will have an opportunity to speak to the decision-makers in person at a special meeting of the State Land Board in Coos Bay.

Wednesday, Oct. 8

3-6 p.m.

1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay

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Earthfix
5:47 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Proposed Oregon Nickel Mine Fails To Secure Key Permit

The Kalmiopis Wilderness. A nickel mine proposed for a roadless area outside the wilderness has run into difficulty in the permitting process.
WikiCommons

ASHLAND, Ore. -- It’s difficult to use water when there’s no water flowing. Or so discovered a UK-based mining company this week when Oregon regulators denied one of the many permits required before development of a nickel mine can get underway in Southern Oregon.

The Red Flat Nickel Corporation wants to use water from a creek in the Kalmiopsis Roadless Area in Southwest Oregon for exploratory drilling. It proposed to siphon off 10 gallons per minute from a small creek.

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NPR Story
5:00 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Landslide Safety All Over The Map In Washington

Jim Simon looks over the Ledgewood Beach bluff from the unmowed lawn of a condemned home on Whidbey Island.
John Ryan/KUOW

The deadly Oso landslide in March sparked a debate over Snohomish County’s apparent failure to protect residents at the base of a known landslide zone.

But Washington state is dotted with landslide-prone slopes, and many counties and cities do less than Snohomish County to keep homes away from harm.

Most counties’ rules set buffers at 50 feet or less, although landslides often travel hundreds of feet. The Oso slide was an extreme case; it traveled more than 3,000 feet.

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NPR Story
3:47 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Tidal Power Project In Puget Sound Abandoned By Utility

A crew deploying a "sea spider" in 2011 to collect data from the floor of Puget Sound in Admiralty Inlet. After eight years of testing and permitting processes, the Snohomish County PUD has decided to halt the project.
Ashley Ahearn

A long-awaited tidal energy project in Puget Sound has come to halt. The project was set to generate electricity and connect it to the grid – the first project of its kind in the world. But it just got too expensive.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District had hoped to install two underwater turbines in Admiralty Inlet near Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island. The pilot turbines would have generated enough power for about 200 homes and stayed in the water up to five years.

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NPR Story
7:00 am
Tue September 30, 2014

We Are All To Blame For The Oso Slide

Dan Miller, a geomorphologist, hikes to a potential debris field in the North Cascades to look for signs in the landscape of landslides.
Katie Campbell

As a geomorphologist, Dan Miller has extensively studied the land formations and landslide history of the Stillaguamish Valley and Steelhead Haven. Miller and other scientists knew it to be a hazardous place, long before the devastating slide occurred.

Read and hear other stories from Oso by EarthFix partners KUOW and KCTS 9.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Why The Northwest Is the New Frontier For Geothermal Energy

One of several geothermal exploration sites in Oregon is Newberry Crater, where a company has found a lot of underground heat but no geothermal fluid.
Bill Reynolds/Flickr

PORTLAND -- The Geothermal Energy Association chose to hold its annual meeting in Portland this year, and leaders say that's in part because they see the Pacific Northwest as a new frontier for the industry.

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NPR Story
8:19 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Forest Service Chief Says No, You Won't Be Charged To Take Photos

File photo of Mt. Hood. The chief of the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that you will not be charged for taking photos on U.S. Forest Service land.
Andy Barrett / Wikimedia

Under fire from free speech advocates and nature enthusiasts, the U.S. Forest Service, said Thursday it has absolutely no intention of charging people to take pictures on public land.

Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.

“There's no way that our proposal will infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights,” he said.

Tidwell said journalists and the public will NOT be required to get a permit or pay a $1,500 fee to bring their cameras into wilderness areas.

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NPR Story
10:01 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Swinomish Tribe Prepares For A Changing Climate

EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran meeting with Swinomish Tribal Council Chairman Brian Cladoosby at the Swinomish Reservation to discuss a new $750,000 grant to help the tribe prepare for climate change.
Ashley Ahearn

La Conner, Wash. -- The Swinomish people have lived near the mouth of the Skagit River north of Seattle for thousands of years. Now, climate change threatens their lands with rising seas and flooding.

The Obama administration recently awarded the tribe a large grant to help cope with climate change.

The entire Swinomish reservation is pretty much at sea level, on a spit of land tucked into Skagit Bay.

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NPR Story
10:35 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Going For Launch With The Salmon Cannon

Washington Deparment of Fish and Wildlife crews load 30-pound fall chinook salmon into the salmon cannon. The cannon sucks the fish up to a truck at 22 miles per hour. The fish will then be driven to a nearby hatchery.
Courtney Flatt

WASHOUGAL, Wash. -- Salmon may soon have a faster way to make it around dams. There’s a new technology that’s helping to transport hatchery fish in Washington. It’s called the salmon cannon -- yes, you read that right.

First, let's set the record straight: there’s not really an explosion. But the salmon cannon does propel fish from one spot to another.

That was demonstrated Tuesday, when the salmon cannon transported fish from southwest Washington’s Washougal River to a nearby hatchery. The goal is to make the move easier on the fish, in three steps.

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NPR Story
4:19 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Seattle To Fine Residents For Not Composting

A vote by the Seattle City Council may put the city more on par with Portland, Oregon, in terms of food waste recycling.
Flickr Photo/Dianne Yee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new rule Monday governing what residents put in your garbage bin.

The idea is to increase the amount of food scraps going to compost.

Council member Sally Bagshaw said promoting this practice could reduce up to a third of Seattle's waste ending up in landfills.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Portland Wins International Climate Leadership Award

Portland won an international urban sustainability award for a plan to improve walkability in neighborhoods citywide.
Jeff Gunn/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffgunn/8238712112/in/photolist-dy2y5y-ir51Mb-op34Qi-f2Z3SG-f2Y65A-f2JKMK-f2YYVA-f2JJn2-g83KzW-krPTH6-dv2NaN-o7PF8S-aj5yd1-5X3BGH-8U4LMC-dy2tSq-g83ARU-nRyHxd-GSoLY-8RwWj

The city of Portland is one of nine cities worldwide to receive an international City Climate Leadership Award.

The awards honor cities for urban sustainability and leadership on climate change on behalf of the climate leadership group C40 and the Berlin-based engineering firm Siemens. Winners were selected from a pool of 87 applications.

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NPR Story
10:41 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Ocean Winds Responsible For Climate Change In The Northwest, Study Says

The Oregon Coast at Pacific City. A new study says changing wind patterns from the Pacific Ocean are the primary reason for climate change in the Northwest
Flickr/Randy Kashka https://www.flickr.com/photos/randykashka/5165576091/in/photolist-dVcjfA-dK7kiW-dK1Srg-hqFee-8SsVNK-dK7kfw-fVvhMT-8vKu9c-ecDM16-8QvLnZ-bzLPYp-7YgSZA-2UPByQ-5zaJgD-7UkiF5-bkhvSG-2UKck2-i2Gb38-ea6BiC-xF

SEATTLE – Changing wind patterns are the primary cause of warming temperatures in the Northwest, according to a study published Monday.

The authors lined up historical wind data with coastal sea surface temperature in the Northeastern section of the Pacific Ocean since the beginning of the 20th century. They found that up to 90% of the warming in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California is driven by changes in wind patterns.

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NPR Story
4:03 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Biologists Try To Figure Out Large Fall Chinook Runs

A chinook salmon photographed in the Snake River in 2013. That year's run set records. Biologist aren't sure exactly why fall chinook runs have been so high in recent years.
Aaron Kunz

Thousands of fall chinook salmon are swimming up the Columbia River every day right now. This year’s migration is expected to be one of the largest in recent years. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why fall chinook have made such a big comeback.

Salmon and steelhead restoration has been a big push throughout the Northwest -- from Puget Sound to coastal streams to the Columbia-Snake River Basin -- where fall chinook were nearly extinct by the 1960s.

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NPR Story
2:12 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Train Spills 2,000 Gallons Of Diesel In Washington

Absorbent boom is place in the Columbia River as a precaution where a BNSF locomotive leaked diesel fuel to the rail bed.
Courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology

A rock punctured a BNSF train engine Friday outside Pasco, Washington, causing about 2,000 gallons of diesel to spill along the tracks. The engine held about 3,000 gallons of diesel.

None of the fuel has leaked into the Columbia River, a BNSF spokesman said.

The boulder tumbled early Friday morning from nearby cliffs and onto the track, where the train ran atop it. The 108-car train was carrying freight to Seattle.

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NPR Story
2:02 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

BNSF Gives Safety Assurances After Seattle Leaders Raise Oil Train Concerns

Oil trains in a railyard. BNSF Railway recently outlined its measures to assure that such trains can safely travel through the city of Seattle.
Tony Schick

SEATTLE -- The Northwest's biggest oil-by-rail transporter is giving its assurances that it can safely move millions of gallons of volatile crude through the city of Seattle.

BNSF Railway's letter describing its safety measures follows a report by Seattle public safety agencies highlighting several weaknesses in the city’s ability to respond to an oil train accident.

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NPR Story
6:36 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Dying Starfish Could Get Help From Congress

West coast sea stars are dying by the millions from a mysterious disease.
Katie Campbell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Researchers have been scrambling for more than a year to make sense of a strange disease that’s causing West Coast starfish to die by the millions.

Now it looks like help could be coming from Congress.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck from Olympia introduced a bill Thursday that would dedicate federal funds for researching the epidemic, which has now spread along North America’s Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico and in some places on the East Coast as well.

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NPR Story
6:05 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound's Polluted Tale

A mussel is opened for analysis at the WDFW lab. Volunteers and WDFW used mussels to test for contaminants at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound.
WDFW

SEATTLE -- Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound.

And in some places, it's pretty contaminated.

This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound.

After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results.

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Earthfix
5:09 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Oil Train Protesters Block Tracks To Oregon Shipping Terminal

Demonstrators attempting to block the tracks where they expected an oil train to travel en route to a facility near Clatskanie, Oregon.
Courtesy of Portland Rising Tide https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8Tw30qC0uQib2xlLXk0cERaeVk&usp=sharing

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 11:45 pm

Protesters set up a human-occupied tripod over tracks along a route that follows the Columbia River to a train-to-barge crude oil facility near Clatskanie, Oregon.

Portland Rising Tide activist Sunny Glover sat on top of the tripod for about nine hours and locked herself to it as police tried to arrest her. Police cut down the tripod one section at a time and arrested Glover around 11:30 Thursday night.

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NPR Story
3:05 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Algae Bloom Tested In Portland's Willamette River

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is testing water samples taken from the Willamette River in Portland.
Kayo Lackey

State officials are testing water from a stretch of the Willamette River near downtown Portland. The tests come after a trail of scum appeared in the river between Ross Island and the Fremont Bridge.

The water is being checked to see what species of blue-green algae is involved. That’ll give health experts an idea of the level of toxins and whether the bloom might be harmful to people.

Rebecca Hillwig with the Oregon Health Authority says it’s unusual to have an algae bloom in such a large, relatively fast-flowing river.

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NPR Story
1:51 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Study Links Flame Retardants In The Columbia To Household Laundry

An aerial view of the Columbia River. A group opposing the use of flame retardants in clothing and children's products has produced a study showing that such toxic chemicals are getting into the river from laundry water.
Amelia Templeton

A study published Wednesday reveals household laundry water is washing chemical flame retardant pollution into the Northwest's biggest waterway.

Scientists with the Washington Toxics Coalition tested household dust as well as laundry wash-water from 20 homes in the Washington cities of Longview and Vancouver. They also took samples of incoming and outgoing water from two wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Columbia River. They detected flame retardants in all of those tests.

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