EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is calling on the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Environmental Quality to take immediate action, after concerns that glass companies are releasing heavy metals into North and Southeast Portland air.

In a statement Monday, Brown ordered DEQ to begin soil testing in the affected communities. Heavy metals have the potential to linger in soil and be an exposure point for people.

Pika

Feb 11, 2016

Producers: Ed Jahn and Liz Cosko; Videographers: Nick Fisher and Liz Cosko; Editor: Michael Bendixen; Special Thanks: Outdoor Idaho, Idaho PTV

Two Democratic congressmen from Oregon said federal prosecutors should have acted much earlier to arrest Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Had authorities acted sooner, the lawmakers said it might have discouraged militants inspired by Bundy from occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Portland and Peter DeFazio of Springfield on Thursday called for tough federal prosecution against both Bundy and the militants who ended their nearly six-week long occupation the same day.

When the new baby orca L120 was spotted in just off of San Juan Island in Puget Sound, Ken Balcomb passed out cigars to celebrate.

But the long-time killer whale researcher knew that the southern resident orca pods needed a lot more than one new member. That was back in September 2014. Their numbers were down to 78, the smallest since 1985. L120 was the first baby orca born in two years.

Hundreds of people crowded into a Tacoma convention center Wednesday night to voice concerns about a methanol refinery proposed for the city’s Tideflats.

If it’s built, the refinery would be the largest of its kind in the world. It would take natural gas from British Columbia and convert it to methanol. Then it would be shipped to China to make plastics.

The $3.4 billion dollar plant is one of three proposed for Washington and Oregon by Northwest Innovation Works, a company backed by the Chinese government.

Portlanders Demand Action On Heavy Metal Air Pollution

Feb 10, 2016

Hundreds of people crowded into Cleveland High School Tuesday night with questions, concerns and demands for officials addressing Portland's air pollution.

State lawmakers this week began discussing a measure that could make Washington the first state to tax residents and businesses on their carbon emissions.

You can watch the two-hour work session, or watch the below video, which explains everything you need to know about carbon pricing in three minutes.

Second Portland Glass-Maker Suspends Use Of Cadmium

Feb 9, 2016

A second glass-making company in Portland has voluntarily suspended its use of cadmium in response to tests showing elevated levels of the metal in nearby moss.

Uroboros Glass in North Portland announced Thursday it would stop making red, yellow and orange glass colors because they rely on the use of cadmium, a heavy metal that can raise the risk of lung cancer at elevated levels of exposure.

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In December, Congress adjourned without passing legislation to ratify a trio of agreements meant to end the long-standing water wars in the Klamath Basin. This essentially killed the deal, which was arrived at through years of painstaking negotiations between farmers, ranchers, tribes and other groups.

Now, there’s a move to demolish four dams on the Klamath River through a separate regulatory process, bypassing the need for Congressional approval. This unexpected turn could shape the ongoing Klamath saga.

Oregon conservation groups say volunteers are lining up to help reverse damage done to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the ongoing occupation.

At the end of January, the Oregon Natural Desert Association put out a call for volunteers interested in doing environmental restoration at the refuge after the occupation is over. In just a week, more than 600 people from all over the Northwest have signed up.

Watch Now: Discovering Valhalla

Feb 4, 2016

Oregon Field Guide assembles its largest, most complex expedition ever to take you on an unparalleled adventure of discovery. They travel deep into the wilderness to explore and bring back the first images of a hidden geologic wonder right here in Oregon.

Related Content: Go Behind The Scenes Of OPB's Toughest Shoot

A glass facility in Southeast Portland has suspended the use of cadmium and arsenic in its operations after testing found unhealthy levels of those metals in the air nearby.

Since construction workers discovered prehistoric mammoth bones under the end zone of Oregon State University's football stadium last week, thousands of extinct animal bones and fragments have been excavated.

But one last pile of dirt is still being explored by university students in an extraordinary on-campus assignment.

Secret's Out! Have You Been To Valhalla?

Feb 3, 2016

This summer, Oregon Field Guide documented Valhalla, a half-mile gorge in the massive Mount Jefferson Wilderness. The rugged destination includes a slot canyon and is home to beautiful glades and jaw-dropping waterfalls.

Eugene-based birder Noah Strycker just completed his "Big Year." That's what birders call an attempt to rack up the largest number of bird species sightings in one year within a certain geographical area. Strycker's area? The world. He traveled to 41 countries in 2015 and saw or heard 6,042 species of birds. The previous world record was 4,341. Think Out Loud interviewed Strycker. Here are six things we learned:

1. Just planning the complicated logistics of this trip took more than four months. But it sounds like it paid off.

For decades, a growing number of consumers have turned to organic produce as a healthier alternative to vegetables and fruits grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

It turns out that organic crops are better suited for farmlands subjected to drought conditions, according to a study published today in the the journal Nature Plants.

The state inspector thought his visit to Odessa, Washington, would be routine: a knock on the door, a chat with the operators, a look around the corrugated metal warehouse where they ran a biodiesel plant.

But when Jerry French arrived at the TransMessis Columbia Plateau facility in eastern Washington this past March, the door was locked. It seemed abandoned, but he could see chemical drums inside through the windows.

It just didn’t look right, he thought.

After getting the door unlocked, French discovered the mess.

Oregon and California have struck a deal with PacifiCorp and federal regulators on a new path to removing four aging dams on the Klamath River without congressional approval.

The move was hailed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Obama administration as a key step forward after years of delays in implementing a landmark agreement designed to resolve ongoing conflicts over water.

"Oregon is moving forward in the Klamath Basin," she said in an statement. "We can't afford to sit back and wait for another crisis to batter these communities."

Following the militant occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Obama administration is weighing whether to move forward with a huge land conservation proposal in an Oregon county that has drawn strong local opposition.

A decision by President Barack Obama to protect up to 2.5 million acres surrounding the remote Owyhee Canyonlands could help cement his legacy for protecting the country’s wild lands.

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