EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Goats In Boats: An Answer To Invasive Species On Islands?

Oct 25, 2013

It could have been just another adventure for Clayton and New York, two goats living in Northeast Portland. But on this trip, they also had a mission.

“It started with just seeing if we could take the goats canoeing,” said Travis Williams, whose girlfriend Erica Somes originally bought the two goats to help out on backpacking trips.

Managers of some of the biggest pension funds in the world are worried about the profitability of fossil fuel companies, according to a report from The Associated Press (via NPR).

Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia are aligning their efforts to reduce carbon pollution, according to a wire service report.

The Reuters article quotes California Gov. Jerry Brown saying he plans to sign an agreement to formally align his state’s climate and clean-energy policies with those of his two neighboring West Coast states and the Canadian province to the north.

NW Researcher Says Toxic Algae Have A Competitive Edge

Oct 24, 2013

Pollution and climate change may be making freshwater algae blooms more toxic, according to a Northwest scientist's newly published analysis.

Oregon State University researcher Tim Otten's article in the journal Science concludes that fertilizer pollution, wastewater, and a warming climate are fueling the growth of huge mats of green scum in lakes and reservoirs.

“For instance in Lake Erie, it’s been plagued with toxic blooms that are so large you can see them from outer space,” he said.

The governors of Oregon and seven other states pledged Thursday to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

Their goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health and boosting the economy.

The states make up 25 percent of the U.S. vehicle market. Representatives from all eight states were in Sacramento, Calif. to sign a memorandum of understanding. It lays out several steps the states intend to take. Among them:

Include zero-emission vehicles in public fleets

The Yakama Nation’s steelhead reconditioning program is like a retreat spa for fish. And it's changing the circle of life for the species.

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it is usually too exhausted to make it back down the river again. Often, the fish just dies.

SEATTLE -- More than 500 people packed into a waterfront convention center on a foggy Wednesday night to tell Governor Inslee and other lawmakers what they think the state needs to do to reduce green house gas emissions.

Ideas ranged from improving public transportation to instituting policies and incentives fostering clean technology companies and alternative energy sources.

There were two big through lines in the 93 testimonies that were given during the three-hour hearing.

Putting a price on carbon

Even if you haven’t been exposed to DDT in your lifetime, researchers say it could still have an effect on you – and your weight.

Washington State University researchers have been studying how DDT affects rats. They found that three generations after rats were exposed to the insecticide, more than 50 percent of the females and more than 60 percent were considered obese.

The U.S. Department of Energy faces a $115,000 fine for the way a contractor handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

The alleged violations happened during building demolitions in 2009 and 2010 when federal stimulus money sped-up deconstruction projects.

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Even with two recent oil-transport accidents to point to, opponents of a controversial oil terminal weren't able to persuade port commissioners Tuesday to reverse their July approval of a lease for the project to move ahead on the Columbia River.

Investment advisors from across the country met on Friday in Seattle in hopes of cutting fossil fuels from the stock portfolios they manage.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn organized the forum on divesting from coal, oil and gas companies. McGinn wants to the city employees’ pension fund to divest because of fossil fuels’ impact on the global climate.

“Isn’t it fiscally irresponsible as well as morally irresponsible to invest in companies whose very business model depends upon destroying the climate we depend upon?” McGinn said.

The Melting Of Greenland

Oct 22, 2013

Rising tides signal an inarguable remaking of our physical world that is already underway and gaining momentum.

The US is especially vulnerable. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has listed the 20 most threatened coastal cities in the world, which include Miami, New York, New Orleans.

One particularly influential contributor to sea level rise is the ice melt in Greenland.

Just two percent of Greenland is bare land, the rest is covered in ice — two miles thick in some places.

The Port Commission of Vancouver is holding a public meeting on Tuesday to reopen discussion on a controversial oil by rail terminal.

Environmental groups sued the Vancouver Port Commission earlier this summer, alleging the Port violated rules that required public meetings about the project.

GMO Labeling Initiative Raises Environmental Concerns

Oct 18, 2013

If you’ve turned on your TV in Washington over the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard countless commercials for Initiative 522.

The ballot measure proposes to label genetically modified foods sold in the state. But behind all the campaign rhetoric, some scientists have raised environmental questions about genetically modified crops.

And those researchers have reached differing conclusions about the crops’ effect on the environment.

Protecting Life On Ocean's Floor

Oct 17, 2013

Miles off the Oregon Coast, sponges and corals believed to be hundreds of years old line the ocean floor.

In August, Portlander Ben Enticknap led a weeklong expedition to capture images of such underappreciated sea life, to make a case for protecting it from bottomfish trawlers whose gear scrapes the ocean floor.

Using high-definition video from a remote-controlled submersible vehicle, the Oceana advocacy group captured footage where cameras had never been.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Whatcom County could one day be the home of the largest coal export facility on the west coast –- which would transfer up to 54 million tons of coal from trains onto ships bound for Asia.

The Whatcom County Council could cast the deciding votes in the permitting of the dock for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. That’s landed this election in the spotlight and it's drawing a lot of outside money.

The final public hearing for a coal terminal proposed for Longview, Washington will be held in Tacoma on Thursday.

The Millennium Bulk Terminal could be built near Longview with a handling capacity of up to 44 million tons of coal per year. It's one of two large coal terminals under consideration in Washington. One other coal export proposal is being considered in Oregon.

The coal would arrive by train from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana and be loaded onto ships bound for Asia.

Oregon’s first utility-scale facility to turn commercial food waste to electricity is up and running in Junction City.

The JC Biomethane plant captures methane from decomposing food waste and turns the gas into electricity. Its 1.5 megawatt capacity is enough to power half the homes in Junction City.

Matt Krumenauer with the Department of Energy says it’s the first project of its kind in Oregon and breaks ground nationally.

Leaders from Nike, Intel and the Portland Trail Blazers discussed the how they're responding to climate change at the GoGreen Conference in Portland Tuesday.

They talked about how economics and competition can spur action within the business community and how businesses can prioritize actions that will have the biggest impact.

Ann Radil, a climate scientist and director of Nike's Sustainable Product Team, led the panel discussion titled "Actions Speak Louder: Getting Serious About Climate Change."

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out his wish list for how he'd like Washington state to combat global warming pollution.

It includes eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.