EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Could Slower Ships Help The Orcas?

Jan 5, 2018

 

This story first appeared at Crosscut.com

To the human eye, big ships cruising along the west side of San Juan Island this summer might have looked like they were traveling in slow motion. To the perceptive ears of killer whales, those same ships might have sounded a little bit quieter.

Oregon Sues Monsanto For PCB Clean-Up Costs

Jan 4, 2018

Oregon is suing the agro-chemical company Monsanto to help clean up toxic chemicals in the environment. The Attorney General’s Office filed suit Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The suit is seeking at least $100 million to cover decades of cleanup of a now-banned group of chemicals called PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, which the company manufactured.

Washington’s commissioner of public lands is calling on the state legislature to put a price on carbon to try to curb emissions in the state.

But Hilary Franz differs with Gov. Jay Inslee about how to use the money.

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Portland City Council did not violate the U.S. Constitution with a 2015 resolution that banned new fossil fuel terminals.

The Trump administration announced a new plan Thursday that would allow offshore oil and gas drilling in the ocean off the West Coast for the first time since 1984.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan would open up 90 percent of the country's outer continental shelf to oil and gas leasing, including an area off the coast of Oregon and Washington.

As oil and gas drilling has gotten closer and closer to homes and communities, residents continue to wonder: Is it safe? How does it work? What are the tradeoffs? And, should I be worried?

The public media journalism hub Inside Energy has teamed up with the National Science Foundation-supported team, AirWaterGas, to address these kinds of concerns — along with this single, driving question:

A backlog of outdated air pollution permits is endangering public health and frustrating business owners, according to a newly released audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.

After a mysterious disease killed millions of sea stars up and down the West Coast in recent years, they’ve shown some signs of recovery in pockets of southern California. But, in the Pacific Northwest, they’re still suffering.

About 100 yards down a steep shrubby slope, there’s a low post supporting a green and blue plastic jug. It’s straight out of a psychedelic Tupperware party.

“This is a blue vane trap,” says Sydney Watkins, an Oregon State University field technician.

Watkins can’t see the ultraviolet light reflecting off the funnel-shaped mouth of the trap, but bees can.

“The bees really like the UV, so that's what attracts them,” she says. “We can look inside to see if we got anything.”

She peers through the narrow opening.

How Drones Are Helping Washington's Moose

Dec 22, 2017

Deep in the forests of northeastern Washington, snow blankets the ground. Through the trees, it’s hard to see the moose wandering in the woods.

But from a bird’s eye view? You can see a little brown splotch — with antlers.

Wildlife researchers are ditching the usual (costly, time consuming and invasive) ways they count moose. They’re taking to the sky and taking a new drone for a spin.

A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change.

Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations.

They’ve been called devil fish. They’re No. 1 on the hit-list for invasive aquatic life in Washington waters.

And they’re creeping farther and farther down the Columbia River system.

So far, northern pike have reached Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir that's impounded behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Oregon Democratic lawmakers unveiled more details Wednesday for their plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

With the February legislative session only two months away, some Democrats are hoping to gather momentum to turn a cap-and-trade proposal into law during the six weeks they are in Salem this winter.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, helped draft the policy and said he hopes Oregon could eventually serve as a template for other progressive states to emulate when passing similar carbon-capping proposals.

Portland City Council voted to create a community outreach program to improve communications about the health and safety hazards associated with eating fish from the Portland Harbor Superfund area.

The vote came just one day after the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement finalizing the next big step in Superfund cleanup.

  

Although it's been decades since the Patterson-Gimlin film turned a Northwest legend, Bigfoot, into a household name, the footage and stories behind it still remain fascinating 50 years later.

The filmmakers, and namesakes of the film, are two former rodeo men from Yakima County in Washington. One, Bob Gimlin, still lives there. Roger Patterson died in 1972. They shot the footage off the banks of Bluff Creek in Northern California.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s attempt to lower the Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions has suffered a setback:  A judge's ruling that the state can't implement parts of his signature Clean Air Rule.

The ruling, issued last Friday, strikes down the Washington Department of Ecology’s plans to curb greenhouse gases from imported petroleum and natural gas products. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the state needs the Legislature to pass a law okaying that part of the rule.

State and Portland city officials have agreed on a compliance schedule that outlines how the city plans to build and construct a water filtration plant in the Bull Run Watershed that will treat water for the parasite cryptosporidium.

The agreement marks the official end of a variance that made Portland the only city in the country that didn't have to treat its water for the parasite. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the next big step in cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site: inking an agreement for how pollution levels will be tested.

Four Washington landowners in the Moses Lake area are facing stiff penalties after illegally pumping more than 500 million gallons of water from a declining aquifer.

That illegally pumped water could have provided water to more than 4,000 homes for a year.

The Odessa aquifer in central Washington has been rapidly losing water since 1980. But that didn’t stop the four  landowners from illegally using the water to irrigate their alfalfa, timothy hay and potatoes last season.

Trump Administration Suspends Efforts to Bring Back Northwest Grizzlies

Dec 19, 2017
MICHAEL WERNER/KCTS9

The Trump administration is suspending efforts to bring back Washington’s grizzly bear population. That would leave the Northwest with fewer than ten of the imperiled bears.

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