Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
4:45 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Portland Now Generating Hydropower In Its Water Pipes

Lucid Energy installed four electric generators inside a Portland drinking water pipeline.

A Portland start-up has tapped the city's water pipes as a new source of renewable hydropower that doesn't disrupt fish migration or stream flows.

Lucid Energy has installed a series of small hydroelectric generators inside a pipe that carries drinking water to the city. The company announced Tuesday that its new in-pipe hydro system is now producing power for Portland General Electric customers.

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NPR Story
1:15 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

SSA Terminals To Pay $215,000 For Clean Water Act Violations

A ship docked at SSA Terminal 18.

SSA Terminals will pay $215,000 dollars for violations of the Clean Water Act at its Harbor Island facility in Seattle.

After several years of litigation, brought by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the company has agreed to reduce their pollution discharges into Elliott Bay. The settlement was announced in a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday.

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NPR Story
10:02 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Birders Report Population Gains For Many Puget Sound Seabirds

Volunteers from Seattle Audubon Society spot birds as part of the Puget Sound Seabird Survey, which has shown positive trends for several species. 

Citizen scientists have been monitoring seabirds in Puget Sound for the past seven years, and they have some good news to report.

In fact, of 18 species the volunteers surveyed, 14 show improvement over the past seven years.

The study did find declines in four species: the white-winged scoter, brant, western grebe and red-necked grebe.

But overall, the numbers are heartening. Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and '70s, but the new results suggest that the trend may be changing.

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Earthfix
6:45 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Outdoor Enthusiasts Join Wildlife Officials To Tackle 'Renegade Trails'

Two mountain bikers examine the new trails proposed for the Ashland watershed.

If you’ve hiked anywhere in the Northwest, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an illegal trail. Often they’re quick shortcuts or paths to off-trail viewpoints. But in extreme cases, they’re longer, surreptitiously constructed paths that wind through public and private land.

The unauthorized trails can cause a range of problems in wild areas. As more and more people spend time in the woods, closing down these illegal trails has become increasingly difficult.

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Earthfix Northwest Environmental News
10:24 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

2014 Was Earth's Hottest Year On Record: Warm In Northwest Too

2014 Global temperature anomaly map. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Credit NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Last year was the hottest year on record, according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“For the 21st century, nine out of 10 years have been warmest on record — 1998 was the only year prior to the 21st century that made the top 10,” said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Ocean temperatures were higher than land temperatures, which raised the overall global average.

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Earthfix
2:09 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Coyote Kill Contest Draws Ire From Wildlife Groups

A file photo of a coyote. The group behind Idaho's controversial coyote- and wolf-shooting derby in 2013 is seeking to expand the event for this winter.

A coyote hunting contest scheduled in Burns this weekend has drawn criticism from wildlife advocates.

This is the second year of the Coyote Classic which awards prizes to those who shoot the most coyotes during a three day period. Wildlife advocacy groups are protesting the event through social media.

The contest is legal under state law since coyotes are classified as an unregulated predator.

"Hunting of coyotes is pretty wide open." says Rick Swart, spokesperson for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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NPR Story
1:31 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Wash. Lawmakers Kick Off Session With Work On Oil-Train Safety

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 5:00 pm

"From our standpoint it simply lacks meaningful safeguards necessary to protect our communities in the face of this growing threat that we see to our land, our waters, from the movement of oil trains," said the Sierra Club's Bruce Wishart.

Ericksen's bill does not extend the barrel tax to oil that arrives by pipeline, nor does it increase transparency requirements from oil and rail companies, as Gov. Jay Inslee’s bill does.

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NPR Story
12:30 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Avian Flu Detected In Oregon Wild Duck

A male mallard duck.  A second strain of avian influenza has been detected in a mallard shot by a hunter near Eugene, Oregon.

Wildlife officials in Oregon say a mallard duck shot by a hunter near Eugene has tested positive for avian flu.

The strain of influenza (H5N2) is relatively common in Europe and Asia and has not caused any human sickness. The flu does not appear to cause illness in wild waterfowl, which have evolved with the virus. But it could kill falcons and hawks.

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NPR Story
5:09 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Judge Rules Dairies Are Contamination Yakima Valley Drinking Water

A dairy in the Yakima Valley. After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure.

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 5:45 pm

A judge ruled Wednesday that dairies are contaminating drinking water in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups after an EPA study linked the dairies to high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

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NPR Story
3:41 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

As Canada Goose Populations Recover, Northwest Farmers Pay The Price

One of thousands of Canada geese making its winter home in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Jes Burns/OPB

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:41 pm

Seven different subspecies of the Canada geese travel along a metaphorical superhighway, called the Pacific Flyway, from summer nesting grounds in Alaska down into Washington, Oregon and California.

About twenty years ago, the cackling geese stopped migrating to California and instead started stopping for the winter in Oregon. This greatly increased the pressure on agriculture in the Northwest. And there’s very little farmers can do about it.

Marie and Joe Gadotti are sick of the geese.

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NPR Story
7:52 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams Heads For Washington, DC

The Regional Arts & Culture Council celebrated Mayor Sam Adams' contributions at its pARTy in the name of Art event.

Former Mayor Sam Adams will be leaving Portland for a new job in Washington, D.C.

Adams announced on Twitter that he will join the World Resources Institute as its director of U.S. Climate Initiative.

"Adams will lead WRI's strategy to analyze and develop new policies, build political will and support coalitions that will encourage the country's transition to a strong, low-carbon economy,"according to a press release.

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NPR Story
4:49 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Fukushima Radiation Mapping In The Pacific Could Bolster Climate Science

The John P. Tully 3, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel that sampled Pacific Ocean waters for Fukushima Radiation
CCGS http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CCGS_John_P._Tully_3.jpg

Scientists tracking the radiation are using their data not just to gauge threats to human health, but to bolster the science of climate change, as well.

“This is kind of an experiment that’s never really been conducted before in our lifetime,” says John Smith of Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

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NPR Story
4:19 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Low Snowfall This Year Offers A Preview Of Warmer Climate To Come

Warm weather has left the Cascades with little to no snow at lower elevations; the only places to ski are at higher elevations.
Wil Kristin/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/wilkristin/2658117698/in/photolist-dgznNJ-8XdNbN-8XdN6W-8XaM7a-8XdN91-9NJAiA-9NEYMC-9NC9uz-9NAqQe-9NGokq-2rHoWo-9NvF6h-9Nvxqd-9NJfwE-9NsCbe-9NDgMs-9NJdLE-9NJhg3-9NJjnb-6o

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 1:00 am

With snow levels way below normal, some Northwest ski teams have been scrambling to find slopes with enough snow to hold their scheduled races.

Competitions scheduled for courses at lower elevations on Mount Hood this weekend were either canceled or moved uphill to ski resorts with higher slopes.

Right now, snow levels across the Cascades are about 70 percent below average, according to Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Warm weather has precipitation falling as rain rather than snow everywhere but the mountain peaks.

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reduce greenhouse gas emissions
6:28 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

New Oregon Rules Require 10 Percent Cleaner Fuels

New rules passed Wednesday in Oregon would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel by 10 percent over a 10-year period.
JT/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/environmentblog/7190921060/in/photolist-bXrmiA-2LXB-cYXsp3-5dXUYz-azXY88-azXTPX-azXToK-aA1EwW-aA1E8d-azXV2K-azXUqK-azXUGM-aA1Ac7-aA1Auw-aA1DDd-azXZ3Z-azXXRT-aA1ySY-azXWEF

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to pass new rules that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by 10 percent over a decade.

The rules require companies that import fuel into Oregon to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel mix. That will mean substituting alternative fuels such as biofuel, natural gas, propane or electricity for gasoline and diesel.

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NPR Story
2:36 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Washington Tribe Wants Feds To Halt Coal Project

File photo of two members of the Lummi Nation harvesting crab from Puget Sound. The tribe is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt the review of a coal terminal.
Katie Campbell/KCTS9

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:36 pm

LUMMI RESERVATION, Wash. -- The Lummi Nation issued a letter Monday to the U.S. government seeking to end the project's permitting process for a coal-shipping project encircled by their Puget Sound fishing grounds.

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NPR Story
12:40 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Seattle's Scarlet Letter For Sloppy Trash Sorters

Recology CleanScapes Driver Rodney Watkins issues a red tag.
Amy Radil/KUOW

Beware the red tag, the scarlet letter of Seattle waste.

The bright red tag says you’ve violated the city’s new trash law, making it illegal to put food into trash cans.

“I’m sure neighbors are going to see these on their other neighbors’ cans,” said Rodney Watkins, a lead driver for Recology CleanScapes, a waste contractor for the city. He’s on the front lines of enforcing these rules.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Closing The Gender Gap Among Bicyclists

Hau Hagedorn with her three sons. Experts say the responsibility of transporting children contributes to the gender gap that separates men and women when it comes to cycling. It's a challenge Hagedorn has overcome.
Courtesy of Joe Hagedorn

PORTLAND -- On most mornings, Hau Hagedorn bicycles to work with her husband, riding along with their three boys as they pedal to school.

It’s been a family ritual that began eight years ago when Hagedorn bicycled while her children rode along in a cargo trailer. It wasn’t an easy habit to start.

“I’m pretty petite and it’s quite a load when you’re hauling kids,” says Hagedorn, who lives in North Portland and works downtown. “It was hard at first, but I tried to focus on the health aspect.”

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NPR Story
7:52 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Small Seabirds Washing Up Dead on Northwest Beaches

Dead birds discovered on Christmas Eve by Ken and Cathy Denton near North Bend.
Ken Denton

Hundreds of a small, blue-footed seabird called the Cassin’s auklet have been washing up dead on Northwest beaches. So far, scientists don’t know exactly why.

Diane Bilderback is a volunteer with COASST, a University of Washington citizen science project. Until this fall, she had found very few Cassin’s auklets washed ashore.

A bit farther up the coast, near North Bend, Ken and Cathy Denton were seeing similar numbers of dead auklets.

“We’ve seen a lot of common murres, but those are common,” Ken Denton said. “This is the most we’ve seen of something else.”

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Earthfix
10:33 am
Wed December 31, 2014

New Calf For Puget Sound's Endangered Orcas Arrives Just In Time For New Year's

New calf J50 spotted with its mom, J16, on December 30th near Pender Island, B.C.
Center for Whale Research http://www.whaleresearch.com/

SEATTLE-- Orca experts with the Center for Whale Research spotted a very young calf cruising along in its mama's slip stream near Pender Island in British Columbia on Tuesday.

Ken Balcomb, the head of the Center for Whale Research, believes the calf was no more than a day or two old when he spotted it, and he couldn't say what sex it is. The baby pictures, however, are priceless. Check out a full slide show at the Center for Whale Research.

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Earthfix
6:46 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Oil Train Safety And Taxes On Lawmakers' Agenda For 2015

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.
Tony Schick/OPB

SEATTLE -- For the past few years, a growing number of trains have been bringing "rolling pipelines" of oil from North Dakota to ports and refineries in the Pacific Northwest.

And in that time, the Washington and Oregon legislatures have failed to come up with the money to pay for the cost of responding to the increasing risk of oil spills in their states. That could change in 2015.

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