EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

A new audit finds that Klamath irrigators should not have received millions of dollars in taxpayer money. The money was used to pay farmers not to use scarce water supplies from streams and rivers in the Klamath Basin straddling Oregon and California.

Coal shipments are moving by rail through the Northwest and on to Asia, whether Washington and Oregon approve export terminals or not.

The latest evidence came Thursday, when a company backing a proposed coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow on the Oregon side of the Columbia River announced it was leaving the project. Instead, it is exporting coal to South Korea through a terminal in Canada.

At full capacity, the Morrow Pacific project would have handled an estimated 8 million metric tons of coal per year.

After nearly 50 years on the endangered species list, Columbian White-Tailed deer are moving up in the world.

Their numbers along the Columbia River have more than doubled since the species was listed in 1967. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is upgrading their status from "endangered" to "threatened."

Officials are celebrating the occasion in Ridgefield, Washington, where the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge has played a key role in the deer's recovery.

There's about one month remaining to submit proposals to buy Oregon's Elliott State Forest.

The Oregon Department of State Lands says so far, no one has expressed interest in the 82,000 acre property in southwest Oregon.

The state values the land at $220 million and says whoever buys it would have to maintain public access on at least 50 percent of the site. The new owner would also have to preserve part of it for old-growth timber and protect fish habitat.

But some conservation groups say those guidelines will be hard to enforce if private investors buy the land.

Protesters -- all from the Pacific Northwest -- were arrested Tuesday at all five sites across the northern U.S. where pipelines deliver oil from Canada’s oil sands to American refineries.

The pipelines cross the U.S.-Canadian border in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state.

Scientists Try Trapping To Halt Puget Sound's European Crab Invasion

Oct 11, 2016
CSIRO via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Grason and Sean McDonald trudge through the mud of San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay on the hunt for something they hope not to find: A 3-inch menace: the European green crab.

In late August, a single adult male was found for the first time in Washington’s inland sea. University of Washington researchers responded, arriving at the location of that first sighting with hundreds of traps in tow.

MercyCorps Helping Haiti Recover From Hurricane Matthew

Oct 7, 2016

Hurricane Matthew has carved a trail of devastation across southern Haiti, killing more than 800 people. Oregon-based MercyCorps is there.

Speaking from her office in Port-au-Prince, MercyCorps Haitian director Jessica Pearl says farmers were badly hit by the storm.

“The banana trees have just been broken in half essentially," she said. Pearl says soil has washed away and the crops aren't able to be recovered.

The company behind the oil-by-rail terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver announced new safety measures Friday. It hopes they will quell fears about the project.

Oil company Tesoro says it wants to prove to the community and regulators that it takes safety concerns seriously.

Oregon Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy has ruled Linn County’s suit against the state can become a class action.

That means 14 other counties and dozens of other taxing districts can join together to sue the state.

The chair of the Linn County Commission, Roger Nyquist, called it good news.

“In practical terms it moves the time line up it also I would think indicate to the state that the dollars involved here are a fairly big number and they ought to address the issue,” he said.

The lawsuit is seeking $1.4 billion dollars in damages.

If you could make energy companies pay $25 for every ton of carbon pollution they emitted, would you?

What if that tax meant your gasoline cost 25 cents more per gallon and your electric bill went up? But wait. Consider that the revenue from that tax cut the state taxes on sales and businesses and gave money back to low-income families in the form of a rebate.

Sixteen years ago, the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery was declared a federal disaster.

The fleet's catch limits on groundfish like rockfish, black cod and Dover sole, were dramatically slashed to protect severely overfished species.

On Friday, the White House recognized Oregon Trawl Commission leader Brad Pettinger for his role in leading the way to recovery.

Federal land managers have made little progress in recovering damaged rangelands across the West or clearing the many backlogged acres that have never been studied for ecological health, according to new figures from the Bureau of Land Management.

The new data show the BLM assessed an average of 3.5 million acres per year between 2013 and 2015. At that rate, it would take about 17 years before the agency could finish grading all of its rangeland. It started the process in 1998.

Oregon Health Authority Offers Free Soil Tests

Oct 5, 2016

The Oregon Health Authority is offering free soil screenings at a public meeting in Portland next week.

The event comes after concerns about toxic metals in the air.

Whether you’re growing a lettuce in a window box or your whole yard’s been turned over to vegetables, health officials say it's good to know what's in the soil.

OHA spokeswoman Julie Sifuentes said people can bring soil samples from anywhere in their yard.

Swan Lake Valley is a patchwork of farm fields and grazing land about 20 minutes from Klamath Falls. The slopes of the surrounding juniper-scattered hills rise sharply from the valley floor, brown against the green of hay and alfalfa below.

Gov. Kate Brown's Natural Resource Policy Director Richard Whitman will be stepping in as the next interim director of the troubled Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Whitman as a replacement for interim director Pete Shepherd, who was appointed by the commission in April. Whitman will assume the position Oct. 15 and stay in the role until a permanent director is hired.

'The Names Of The Stars' | UCC President

Oct 3, 2016

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For the past decade, hikers on the Timberline Trail have had to contend with a hazardous gap in the 40-mile loop around Mount Hood. Now, those days are gone. The U.S. Forest Service recently completed a new route that reconnects the loop.

The rugged trail winds its way through alpine forest and meadows, past waterfalls and over numerous glacier-fed drainages as it circumnavigates the volcano.

Uroboros' Impending Closure Deals Another Blow To NW Art Glass

Oct 1, 2016

Portland art glass manufacturer Uroboros just announced that the company plans to close the plant that it has operated on North Kerby Ave. in Portland for more than 43 years.

In a letter to customers and the business community, the company attributed its decision to close to the fact that its business model and location have “lost viability for the long term.” Uroboros intends to phase out production of sheet glass by late November and continue making some specialty products until mid-2017.

Train traffic congestion and railroad noise are two of the major impacts of the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Washington, according to an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The agency released its draft environmental impact statement on the project Friday, outlining the potential environmental damage to air, water, fish, wildlife, and communities. The agency will be taking public comments on the review until Nov. 29.

Regulators say an oil terminal proposed for a coastal Washington state harbor poses several environmental problems.

The state Department of Ecology identified those problems in its final environmental review released Friday for the Westway oil terminal proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam, Washington.