EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Terrestrial is KUOW's new podcast on the environment. Each episode explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. You can hear all our episodes and subscribe here, or join our facebook group and talk this stuff out with your fellow listeners.

My husband and I have been grappling with this question – in part because we wonder if it’s the right choice for the environment.

Portland's Bike-Powered Mill Delivers A Low-Carbon Beer

May 26, 2017

Portland's Baerlic Brewing has teamed up with the Oregon Environmental Council to brew a low-carbon beer using a bike mill to grind the malt for its “Bike Crush Saison.”

The beer, scheduled to be released June 15, will be made with locally grown hops from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn. It will only be distributed within a mile of the brewery by bike or hybrid vehicle.

Washington Senator's Temporary Job Ends At EPA

May 25, 2017

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen has finished his temporary job for the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The Bellingham Herald reports that his 120-day position ended May 20.

Ericksen, a Republican from Ferndale, was hired shortly after the inauguration and during the 120-day period worked as both a state senator and a federal employee.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Jerry Brown are calling for a federal disaster declaration in response to two years of dismal ocean salmon fishing seasons.

To protect a record-low run of salmon returning to the Klamath River this year, managers have canceled the salmon fishing seasons along a 200-mile stretch of the ocean off the coast of southern Oregon and northern California. Salmon fishing opportunities are limited by low runs coastwide.

The Trump administration has given an initial thumbs-up to a plan to dig holes throughout a meadow of rare wildflowers inside the San Juan Islands National Monument.

It’s not part of any effort to eliminate the monument: It’s part of local tribes’ efforts to improve their diets and revive old traditions.

The Trump administration released its list of 27 national monuments up for review — and possible elimination – earlier in May.

The Hanford Reach National Monument along the Columbia River is on the list; the much smaller San Juan Islands National Monument is not.

Trump's Budget Proposes Selling Off BPA Grid

May 24, 2017

One of President Trump’s ideas to generate revenue is not sitting well with some Northwest utilities. The proposed budget includes a plan to sell off publicly-owned transmission lines, like those owned by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The BPA operates about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission systems in its territory, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

A proposal by Portland General Electric to sell nine oil storage tanks on the lower Columbia River has raised concerns about a potential oil-by-rail terminal in Oregon.

PGE is proposing to sell its old oil storage tanks to the fuel distributor Global Partners LP, which runs an ethanol facility at Port Westward near Clatskanie. The company has used the existing rail line and dock to ship crude oil from the facility in the past, and the additional tanks would add more than a million barrels of storage capacity, according to documents.

Several detections of the parasite cryptosporidium in Portland's main water supply earlier this year could end up costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Portland Water Bureau learned May 19 it has lost a key exemption to federal water testing rules, meaning the city must now start treating its water for the parasite.

Culvert Case Decision A 'Win For Salmon' In Washington

May 22, 2017

A big court decision could open up new habitat for salmon in Washington and end up costing the state billions of dollars. The case stemmed from poor maintenance and design of road culverts, which can block fish passage upstream.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday denied the state’s request to rehear the case. A lower court had ordered the state in 2013 to fix hundreds of road culverts.

Road culverts are those metal pipes or concrete boxes you see carrying streams underneath roads. There are thousands across the Northwest.

Recovering from a big earthquake and tsunami has lead Japan to invest in new communities called "smart cities" with interconnected electric cars, solar panels and advanced energy-saving technology.

They're eco-friendly, and they're also better prepared for when the next big one hits because they're filled with "smart homes" that supply their own power when disaster strikes.

There's nothing quite like these "smart homes" in the Pacific Northwest, but Hillsboro resident Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield rigged up a DIY version for her town home.

A controversial high-voltage transmission line running from East Multnomah County to Southwest Washington has been canceled.

The Bonneville Power Administration said Thursday that it will not build the “I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project.”

The project was under consideration for nine years. It would have run 80 miles from Troutdale, Oregon, to Castle Rock, Washington.

Construction of the $722 million voltage line and towers would have affected about 300 homeowners and property owners along the preferred route.

Weeds. Nobody wants them. But, lately, the subject has taken over everything in rural Sherman County — the talk around town, email servers, even the local high school gymnasium.

At issue is whether a large organic farm, Azure Standard, is letting its weeds spread onto neighboring property — and whether the government should do something about it. Neighboring farmers say the weeds have crept onto their fields, costing them time and money to control the problem.

The weeds include rush skeleton, Canada thistle, morning glory and whitetop.

Voters in Coos County said ‘no’ Tuesday to a measure that could have blocked a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline. The results are too close to call for a Lincoln County measure banning aerial pesticide spraying.

These Oregon measures stem from the broader “community rights” movement – and organizers say there’s more to come. The concept of community rights animated a series of similar ballot measures in Washington in recent years and it's now driving several Oregon voter initiative efforts.

NOAA/Candice Emmons

New research shows some of the orca populations that visit the Salish Sea are booming while the orcas who spend most of their time there are suffering. It comes down to what the different orcas eat.

President Donald Trump's administration has signaled it wants local residents to have more say in decisions about public lands in their backyard.

But earlier this month the Interior Department canceled upcoming meetings of local citizen groups that give input to the Bureau of Land Management on how to manage public lands.

Most people have never heard of these groups because much of their work is done behind the scenes. They’re called Regional Advisory Councils — or RACS.

Would You Compost Your Body? | Terrestrial

May 15, 2017

This is the second episode of terrestrial, KUOW’s new podcast exploring the choices we make in a world we have changed. Subscribe to the show. And join our Facebook group.

I was about 12 years old when my great aunt Gilda died.

Wild Horse Populations In Oregon On The Rise

May 15, 2017

New numbers from the Bureau of Land Management show Oregon’s wild horse and burro populations are on the rise.

Portland General Electric has suspended plans to permit two new natural gas-powered facilities. The utility sent a letter Friday afternoon to the Oregon Department of Energy and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The natural gas facilities were proposed to replace the utility’s coal-fired plant in Boardman, Oregon, which it plans to shut down by 2020. PGE says it changed course after listening to stakeholders and is now in bilateral negotiations to contract with existing resources and facilities.

Washington AG Pledges To Defend National Monuments

May 11, 2017

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is pledging to defend the state’s national monuments. Ferguson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defending the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is up for review under an executive order.

Can a state environmental-protection regulation be considered a “tax”?

That’s a central question in a lawsuit by business interests against Washington’s regulatory cap on carbon-pollution emissions that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The answer could determine whether Gov. Jay Inslee can make progress on reducing global warming emissions in the state, long one of his top priorities.

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