EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

City Of Portland Considers Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Ban

Nov 4, 2015

Environmentalists, business leaders and children made an impassioned plea Wednesday for the City of Portland to reject any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Pete Salinger is a 13-year-old from Sunnyside Environmental School. He's studying climate change, and said when he was in Alaska this summer, tour guides pointed out glaciers that had shrunk to little more than patches of snow. “I want to be able to show my children majestic glaciers and not talk about them as something that once was. That is not too much to ask,” he said.

A Northwest senator is behind a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by going to the very start of the carbon cycle: the coal, oil and natural gas that has yet to be extracted from the ground.

Scientists have found dozens of poisoned dolphins, whales and sea lions off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California this year. They tested positive for a toxin caused by a massive algae bloom this summer in the Pacific Ocean.

Toxic domoic acid is produced by algae in the ocean, and this year the algae are thriving in the largest bloom ever recorded here. Marine mammals are poisoned when they eat fish that are contaminated.

Jes Burns/EarthFix

As cooler, wetter weather comes to the Northwest, wildfire season is coming to a close. This year’s fires are leaving behind more than just charred forests. They’re setting the stage for what’s expected to be a fundamental shift in the landscape. Because of a changing climate, what grows back could permanently look very different than what was there before. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft plan Monday for recovering threatened Snake River fall chinook salmon – fish that have to pass eight Columbia and Snake River dams to reach their spawning grounds.

In the past, nearly a half million of these fish returned to the Snake River each year. But with overfishing, dam construction and habitat loss, those numbers dropped to just a few hundred by 1992, when the fish were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Neighborhoods where non-English speaking Latinos live tend to have the most toxic air quality, according to new research out of Washington State University.

Picture a U.S. map with clusters of flaming red dots laid over it. And the dots represent hot spots for cancer-causing air pollution.

That’s one way to view Raoul Liévanos’ latest research findings. He’s an assistant professor of sociology at WSU.

Lynnwood, Wash. -- Carlo Voli moves through the crowd of protesters outside a recent public hearing in Washington. He pauses to talk to a woman holding a cardboard cutout of an oil train and directs her over to where a group holding similar train car posters is lining up to complete the phrase “No More Exploding Oil Trains.” One by one, as the crowd grows, local politicians, tribal members and activists take the microphone to urge opposition to a proposal to bring oil by rail to Shell’s refinery in northern Puget Sound.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has formally recommended removing gray wolves from the state endangered species list.

The agency released its recommendation to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Thursday. The Commission will vote on the recommendation next month.

The wolf population in Eastern Oregon reached the conservation target for delisting in January. The state delisting process was triggered when Eastern Oregon reached four breeding pairs of wolves for three consecutive years.

The Bureau of Land Management has opened an internal investigation after the federal agency allowed an Oregon-based contractor to spray pesticides on public land without a valid license.

The spraying in early October prompted the Oregon Department of Agriculture to secure a restraining order to stop Applebee Aviation from operating while its license was suspended. ODA also fined Applebee Aviation $40,000.

When summer began this year, signs weren’t good for water in the Willamette River Basin.

Record low snow packs had already melted, spring precipitation was well below average, and — for some cities — it had been the hottest June on record.

By the time summer was over, the Detroit Lake Reservoir had dried up to an unprecedented level. And according to the Department of Agriculture, Oregon is still experiencing severe drought.

“When it comes to coal, here at Crow you’re not going to have controversy,” said Darrin Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow tribe. Two years ago, he signed an agreement giving Cloud Peak Energy — one of the nation’s biggest coal companies — an option to lease 1.4 billion tons of coal on the reservation. He argued the jobs and revenue the agreement will provide are essential to his community.

A new study suggests that Puget Sound shellfish producers could expand some of their operations without significantly affecting the environment.

Researchers undertook the study to determine what would happen if more areas along Puget Sound were devoted to the farming of giant geoduck clams.

Rising demand from China is driving the push to expand Puget Sound aquaculture. Some residents are opposed to increased shellfish farming.

Dam Removals

Oct 22, 2015

Producer/Writer: Jes Burns, EarthFix Videographer/Editor: Kerin Sharma Graphics: Madeleine Pisaneschi

Additional Photography: KCTS Television, Prelinger Archives, River Design Group, WaterWatch of Oregon

In the past decade, several high-profile dam removals have happened in the Northwest.

Visit the EarthFix website to learn more about this story:

Wilderness advocates delivered more than 30,000 petitions to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore) Portland office Tuesday in support of designating Crater Lake and the surrounding area as protected wilderness.

The proposed boundaries for the Crater Lake Wilderness would make the National Park into a 75-mile, 500,000-acre corridor of protected area.

That's two-and-a-half times the size of the current park.

Wilderness designations are used to limit human activity, and can even include bans on motorized vehicles.

Refugees and recent immigrants in Oregon face unique challenges when preparing for a possible Cascadia megaquake. Communities from Burma, Nepal, Somalia, Iraq, and other countries each bring different languages, experiences, and cultural associations that are not always addressed by standard emergency preparedness sessions.

Washington officials are delaying the environmental review of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River.

The Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were scheduled to complete their joint environmental reviews next month for the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Wash.

USGS Looks To Twitter For Speedy Quake Alerts

Oct 11, 2015

The U.S. Geological Survey is exploring the use of Twitter to collect and analyze accounts of earthquakes around the world.

It's undeniable that we live in the age of the smartphone. When something interesting happens, people pull out their phones to tell everyone about it — even when it’s an earthquake.

By monitoring Twitter for words like “earthquake,” and by filtering out longer tweets — under the assumption people experiencing a quake aren’t very chatty — the USGS has been able to develop a new way to send rapid quake alerts.

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Oct 9, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

"If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary," says Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. "Beekeepers are running out of options."

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Oct 9, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

In 2014 Oregon Field Guide set off to explore the possible findings of a new cave system rumored to exist inside the glacier on the crater's south side of Mt St. Helens.

The segment aired with a fascinating story of its discovery but the shoot did not end as hoped. This behind-the-scenes view will reveal the difficult challenges and circumstances that lead to a dramatic departure from the crater.

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