EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Several detections of the parasite cryptosporidium in Portland's main water supply earlier this year could end up costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Portland Water Bureau learned May 19 it has lost a key exemption to federal water testing rules, meaning the city must now start treating its water for the parasite.

Culvert Case Decision A 'Win For Salmon' In Washington

May 22, 2017

A big court decision could open up new habitat for salmon in Washington and end up costing the state billions of dollars. The case stemmed from poor maintenance and design of road culverts, which can block fish passage upstream.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday denied the state’s request to rehear the case. A lower court had ordered the state in 2013 to fix hundreds of road culverts.

Road culverts are those metal pipes or concrete boxes you see carrying streams underneath roads. There are thousands across the Northwest.

Recovering from a big earthquake and tsunami has lead Japan to invest in new communities called "smart cities" with interconnected electric cars, solar panels and advanced energy-saving technology.

They're eco-friendly, and they're also better prepared for when the next big one hits because they're filled with "smart homes" that supply their own power when disaster strikes.

There's nothing quite like these "smart homes" in the Pacific Northwest, but Hillsboro resident Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield rigged up a DIY version for her town home.

A controversial high-voltage transmission line running from East Multnomah County to Southwest Washington has been canceled.

The Bonneville Power Administration said Thursday that it will not build the “I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project.”

The project was under consideration for nine years. It would have run 80 miles from Troutdale, Oregon, to Castle Rock, Washington.

Construction of the $722 million voltage line and towers would have affected about 300 homeowners and property owners along the preferred route.

Weeds. Nobody wants them. But, lately, the subject has taken over everything in rural Sherman County — the talk around town, email servers, even the local high school gymnasium.

At issue is whether a large organic farm, Azure Standard, is letting its weeds spread onto neighboring property — and whether the government should do something about it. Neighboring farmers say the weeds have crept onto their fields, costing them time and money to control the problem.

The weeds include rush skeleton, Canada thistle, morning glory and whitetop.

Voters in Coos County said ‘no’ Tuesday to a measure that could have blocked a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline. The results are too close to call for a Lincoln County measure banning aerial pesticide spraying.

These Oregon measures stem from the broader “community rights” movement – and organizers say there’s more to come. The concept of community rights animated a series of similar ballot measures in Washington in recent years and it's now driving several Oregon voter initiative efforts.

NOAA/Candice Emmons

New research shows some of the orca populations that visit the Salish Sea are booming while the orcas who spend most of their time there are suffering. It comes down to what the different orcas eat.

President Donald Trump's administration has signaled it wants local residents to have more say in decisions about public lands in their backyard.

But earlier this month the Interior Department canceled upcoming meetings of local citizen groups that give input to the Bureau of Land Management on how to manage public lands.

Most people have never heard of these groups because much of their work is done behind the scenes. They’re called Regional Advisory Councils — or RACS.

Would You Compost Your Body? | Terrestrial

May 15, 2017

This is the second episode of terrestrial, KUOW’s new podcast exploring the choices we make in a world we have changed. Subscribe to the show. And join our Facebook group.

I was about 12 years old when my great aunt Gilda died.

Wild Horse Populations In Oregon On The Rise

May 15, 2017

New numbers from the Bureau of Land Management show Oregon’s wild horse and burro populations are on the rise.

Portland General Electric has suspended plans to permit two new natural gas-powered facilities. The utility sent a letter Friday afternoon to the Oregon Department of Energy and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The natural gas facilities were proposed to replace the utility’s coal-fired plant in Boardman, Oregon, which it plans to shut down by 2020. PGE says it changed course after listening to stakeholders and is now in bilateral negotiations to contract with existing resources and facilities.

Washington AG Pledges To Defend National Monuments

May 11, 2017

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is pledging to defend the state’s national monuments. Ferguson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defending the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is up for review under an executive order.

Can a state environmental-protection regulation be considered a “tax”?

That’s a central question in a lawsuit by business interests against Washington’s regulatory cap on carbon-pollution emissions that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The answer could determine whether Gov. Jay Inslee can make progress on reducing global warming emissions in the state, long one of his top priorities.

Two toddlers run around Sally Garcia Acosta’s house. They squeal as they take their toy cars for a spin — to the living room, through the den, and around the kitchen corner.

Garcia Acosta sits on the couch beside a small butterfly-adorned box. It holds some of her most sacred belongings: memories of her deceased daughter, Maria Rosario Perez.

“This is her little blanket that she had in her little bassinet at that they have at the hospital,” Garcia Acosta said as she smooths out a soft purple blanket.

Washington has joined three other states to sue the Trump administration over coal leasing on public lands.

For the timber company and Native American tribe that had bid to buy the a public forest from Oregon, Tuesday was the day they learned their months spent planning, negotiating and waiting were for nothing.

Roseburg’s Lone Rock Timber and Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians were the only parties that stepped forward when the state decided to sell the Elliot State Forest. The state said the offer was good. It met all its criteria for conservation, job creation and public access.

Smith Rock State Park naturalist Dave Vick peered through his spotting scope perched on a red rock cliff. He pointed the scope toward a tall ponderosa pine, spotting a downy mass in the middle of a 6-foot-wide nest. Inside was a 2-week-old bald eagle, or eaglet, named Solo because he was the only hatchling in this year's brood.

The floppy little bird was guarded by a stately adult bald eagle — one of the two in a nesting pair that lives here year-round. Solo then stared expectantly at the parent bird, opening his beak slightly.

Oregon’s State Land Board voted unanimously Tuesday to cancel the sale of the Elliott State Forest near the southern coast.

With two new members, the three-member board had voted in February to sell the 82,000-acre forest to a timber company and a tribe to fulfill its obligation to fund public schools.

But Gov. Kate Brown wants to keep the land in public ownership. And a fellow Democrat on the board, Treasurer Tobias Read, recently changed his position to agree with her on that principle.

The U.S. Department of Energy issued an emergency alert Tuesday morning at the Hanford Site north of Richland, Washington, after a tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive material was breached.

Some workers at a former chemical processing plant have been evacuated and about 3,000 others near the area at the center of the Hanford Site were directed to take shelter indoors.

Oceans Losing Oxygen As World Warms

May 9, 2017

To the list of global problems the world's oceans are facing, you can add another: They're losing oxygen.

The Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast, from central California to Alaska, is one of the hardest-hit areas.

Whether you're looking at an ocean or a glass of beer, the same fundamental chemistry holds true.

"When you warm up the water, it holds less gas," University of Washington oceanographer Curtis Deutsch said.

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