Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
5:04 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Ag Secretary In Oregon To Tout Conservation Partnerships

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Portland Thursday. He was in the Northwest to tout a new conservation program.
Alexi Horowitz

PORTLAND -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met Thursday with Oregon conservation leaders to discuss a new effort to get farmers and conservation groups working together.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program was created by the Farm Bill that passed this year in Congress. Lawmakers set aside $1.2 billion for the program. Partnerships around the country are competing for a share of the money for initiatives that protect soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

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NPR Story
11:52 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Oregon Nickel Mine Proposal Runs Into Stiff Opposition

North Fork of the Smith River, near Hiouchi, California.
PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

ASHLAND, Ore. -- A Britain-based company is making preliminary moves that could lead to a 4,000-acre open-pit nickel mine being established in the headwaters of the Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon.

The firm says it’s at the beginning of a long process of evaluating whether such a mine would even pencil out. But opponents in Oregon and California are taking no chances. They’re going all-out to kill it in the cradle.

Barbara Ullian minces no words.

“The best time to stop a mine is before it starts,” she says.

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NPR Story
1:39 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Wildfire Destroys Homes, Burns More than 2,000 Acres In South-Central Oregon

Julie Moseley is one of many residents living outside Sprague River, Oregon, who lost their homes to a wildfire.
Devan Schwartz

SPRAGUE RIVER, Ore. -- The Moccasin Hill wildfire has burned about 2,500 acres and destroyed up to 20 homes, forcing residents to seek shelter while waiting for federal aid to arrive.

Red Cross volunteers set up in the community center to help the victims.

Whistler’s Trading Post, one of a few stores in town, extended its hours and expanded its operations, serving food, taking in horses and providing overnight shelter for displaced residents.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Feds Phase Out Bee-Harming Pesticides In Northwest Wildlife Refuges

By 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to phase out the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Pacific Northwest.
Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/5695870557/in/set-72157626541514605

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 2:23 pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to eliminate the use of bee-harming pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Pacific region by 2016.

A new rule phases out the use of neonicotinoid pesticides – a class of chemical that has been linked to several bee die-offs in Oregon in the past two years, including one that killed 50,000 bumblebees in a Wilsonville parking lot.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

What's Killing Clams? Solve This Low Tide Mystery

Why did so many healthy clams turn up dead at low tide last week?
Joshua McNichols/KUOW

One of the lowest tides of the year this weekend revealed a "crime scene" at the beach at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.

The victims: thousands of clams that died in the prime of their lives. Each bivalve victim has a tiny hole drilled near its hinge.

Also strewn on the beach were gray rubbery things that looked like toilet plunger heads. The Beach Naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium say concerned citizens have collected them in buckets, upset that someone would have dumped so much litter on the beaches.

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NPR Story
12:33 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Lottery Winner Fined For Illegal Land Clearing On San Juan Island

The cleared property in December.
Washington Department of Ecology

Washington state officials have fined a Virginia man $79,000 for illegal clearing of a San Juan Island shoreline.

It’s trouble Dave Honeywell of Fredericksburg, Virginia, wouldn’t have gotten into if he hadn’t just won the lottery.

The computer scientist with the Department of Defense won a $217 million Powerball lottery last year. Then he plunked down a reported $6 million to buy a resort called the Mar Vista on San Juan Island.

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NPR Story
6:37 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Oregon Shuts Down Sewage Disposal Company After Numerous Violations

Oregon suspended the disposal license of All Out Sewer and Drain Service Inc., a company that handled waste from septic tanks and portable toilets, after the company committed numerous violations of state and federal law.
Bert CR/Flickr

Oregon environmental regulators suspended the license of a waste disposal service this week after the company committed numerous state and federal laws.

Among its transgressions, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: cutting a hole in a pipe leading to a publicly owned water treatment plant in Longview, Washington, and illegally dumping the sewage into it at night. The plant wasn’t authorized to handle such sewage.

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NPR Story
5:54 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

New Polling Shows Support In Northwest For Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Most Northwest residents in a recent survey said they think global warming is an urgent priority for state and local governments to address.
Heidi Nielsen/GoodWorks

The survey was conducted for EarthFix by the independent and nonpartisan firm, DHM Research. A representative sampling of 1,200 residents of Washington, Idaho and Oregon participated and 62 percent of them said they consider it an urgent priority for state and local governments to address global warming.

A majority of respondents also registered support for specific proposals to reduce the emission of carbon that contributes to climate change.

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NPR Story
5:49 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

A Debate On The Proposed Killing Of Cormorants To Save Salmon

Three cormorants on East Sand Island
Vince Patton

PORTLAND -- The public got its first chance to weigh in on the government's plan to kill nearly 16,000 cormorants nesting on an island near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed the lethal approach as the best way to reduce the number of birds that congregate at East Sand Island and feast on young salmon and steelhead making their way beyond the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.

Supporters and critics spoke out Thursday at the Matt Dishman Community Center in Northeast Portland.

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NPR Story
3:39 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Tribes: Fishing Rights Not For Sale

About 70 people gathered in May, 2014 to protest the proposed coal export facility in Boardman, Oregon. Yakama Nation and Lummi Nation tribal members spoke at a ceremony before people fished at treaty-protected fishing sites.
Courtney Flatt

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have a message for coal shippers: their fishing rights are not for sale.

This blunt response comes after two years of talks between the tribes and Ambre Energy – the company that wants to build a coal export terminal on a part of the river that the tribes consider historic fishing grounds protected by their treaty with the federal government.

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NPR Story
1:45 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Washingtonians Could Safely Eat More Fish Under New Water Pollution Rules

Pollution standards introduced by Gov. Jay Inslee would allow Washington residents to safely eat more fish.
Flickr Photo / Michael B

Washington's pollution standards would be made much tougher -- making water clean enough that people can safely eat a daily serving of locally caught fish and shellfish -- under a plan laid out by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The governor announced Wednesday that he wants Washington to set the same fish-consumption standards that guide water pollution rules in Oregon.

As a consequence, waters in Washington would be clean enough that people can consume 175 grams of fish a day, up from the current standard of 6.5 grams a day.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Poll: Most Northwest Residents Support Oil Trains But Don't Know Much About The Issue

Tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil are stationed at BNSF Railway's Willbridge Yard in Northwest Portland. The train come into Portland through the Columbia River Gorge, headed for a terminal in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Tony Schick

A 56-percent majority of Northwest residents support the transportation of oil by rail to reach West Coast refineries, with the refined oil being used for domestic purposes, according to a new DHM Research poll for EarthFix.

However, a 54-percent majority said they have heard or read little or nothing about oil trains.

The poll surveyed 1,200 residents across the Northwest – 400 each in Oregon, Washington and Idaho from June 25-30. The margin of error for each state’s results was 4.9 percent. the three-state regional results had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

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NPR Story
12:12 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Activists Arrested At Protest Of Eugene Biomass Plant

Protesters outside a Eugene biomass plant.
Cascadia Forest Defenders

Three people were arrested at a protest Monday at the Seneca-Jones Biomass plant in north Eugene.

The state of Oregon recently finalized the sale of a nearly 800 acre tract of the Elliott State Forest called East Hakki Ridge to Seneca Jones.

Environmentalists with Earth First! and Cascadia Forest Defenders say the area is home to the federally protected marbled murrelet.

As for East Hakki Ridge, Payne says Seneca has "no immediate plans" and that it will be "managed" with its other 165,000 acres of tree farm.

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Earthfix
6:12 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Poll: More Northwest Residents Support Coal Export

A new DHM Research survey of Northwest residents finds that support for coal exports through the Northwest is up from where it was last year, when the issue was the subject of public debate and news coverage.
Heidi Nielsen/GoodWorks

More people in the Northwest support coal export terminals than oppose them. Those are the results of a new survey. But people who took the survey didn’t feel very strongly about why they supported coal exports.

For the third year in a row, a public opinion poll for EarthFix asked Northwest residents how they felt about transporting coal through the region. That coal would then be exported to Asia.

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Earthfix
5:29 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Euthanized Cougar In Portland Reawakens Regional Debate

This cougar was captured after several sightings in a Northeast Portland neighborhood. It was eventually euthanized.
Courtesy of the Portland Police Bureau

A decision by state officials to euthanize a cougar in east Portland last week is drawing criticism from some wildlife experts – and raising questions on how concerned residents should be.

Brooks Fahy is the executive director of Predator Defense, a conservation group based in Eugene.

He says Portland residents shouldn’t be too surprised by a cougar sighting.

“Cougars have been moving through East Portland and Northwest Portland ... it’s nothing new,” Fahy said.

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NPR Story
3:56 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Conservationists Push To Expand Rogue River Wilderness Area

Pete Wallstrom, owner of Momentum River Expeditions,would like to see more environmental protection for the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 1:00 am

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, many conservationists are pushing for an expansion of the wilderness surrounding the iconic Rogue River.

Each year, the Rogue River in Southern Oregon welcomes a busy summer season of rafters, kayakers and fishers.

Robyn Janssen, the clean water campaigner with Rogue Riverkeeper, rowed a boat down the river during a recent trip to discuss the wilderness proposal.

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Earthfix
1:00 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Most Northwest Residents Say They Want Labeling For Genetically Modified Food

A DHM Research survey of Northwest residents was conducted in June, just as a campaign gets underway for an Oregon ballot measure requiring labeling of genetically modified food. A 2013 proposal in Washington enjoyed early support but was voted down.
Heidi Nielsen/GoodWorks

Oregon voters will likely decide in November whether the state should require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Early polling shows strong support. But will it end up being defeated like similar measures in California in 2012 and Washington in 2013?

A new poll for EarthFix of Oregon residents puts support for labeling genetically engineered foods at 77 percent.

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NPR Story
5:28 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

3 Oil Trains Travel Through Oregon Each Week

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state.
Katie Campbell

Newly released documents show that three trains are hauling oil from North Dakota each week to a Columbia River shipping terminal in northwestern Oregon.

Oregon became the latest state to make public the rail industry's reports on how many trains are carrying oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota.

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NPR Story
7:17 am
Thu July 3, 2014

A Northwest Utility Steps Back From Coal, Pivots To Natural Gas

Portland General Electric's Carty Generating Station will come online in two years. The natrual gas plant will power up to 300,000 homes.
Courtney Flatt

BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Even before the Obama administration’s recent proposal to curb carbon from coal-fired plants, some utility companies were turning away from coal and using more natural gas.

Exhibit A: Portland General Electric’s plans for its Boardman, Oregon location. It’s building a natural gas plant while shutting down its coal plant.

Construction crews are busy at PGE’s newest natural gas generating station. They’re getting ready to pour a concrete foundation for the plant.

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NPR Story
7:17 am
Thu July 3, 2014

A Northwest Utility Steps Back From Coal, Pivots To Natural Gas

Portland General Electric's Carty Generating Station will come online in two years. The natrual gas plant will power up to 300,000 homes.
Courtney Flatt

BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Even before the Obama administration’s recent proposal to curb carbon from coal-fired plants, some utility companies were turning away from coal and using more natural gas.

Exhibit A: Portland General Electric’s plans for its Boardman, Oregon location. It’s building a natural gas plant while shutting down its coal plant.

Construction crews are busy at PGE’s newest natural gas generating station. They’re getting ready to pour a concrete foundation for the plant.

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