EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Federal energy regulators Friday denied an application to build a liquefied natural gas terminal and accompanying pipeline in Southern Oregon.

In a 25-page final order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission didn’t focus on the Jordan Cove LNG terminal itself. Instead they pointed to the Pacific Connector Pipeline, which would have brought natural gas 230 miles from south-central Oregon to Coos Bay. From there it would be liquefied and put on ships bound for Asia.

After warning Oregon that its rules don’t adequately protect water in coastal streams from logging, two federal agencies are denying the state $1.2 million in grant funds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sent a letter this week notifying the state’s natural resources director that Oregon hasn’t done enough to prevent pollution from forestry practices like logging and road building.

Portland environmental photographer Gary Braasch described himself as a witness to climate change. He dedicated himself to making images that helped the rest of the world witness it too. Braasch died this week while snorkeling and photographing Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.

The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.

The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.

They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.

Erin Meeker lives within a half mile of Bullseye Glass in Portland. Her 2-year-old goes to daycare across the street from the artistic glass factory.

Meeker is one of the seven people who’ve filed a lawsuit against the glassmaker with help from the Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback.

“My No. 1 concern is our health and our neighbor’s health,” she said.

The artistic glass maker at the center of Portland’s toxic air pollution controversy is taking steps to control its emissions.

Bullseye Glass submitted a notice Friday to Multnomah County that it intends to install a pollution filtration system called a baghouse. It’s meant to capture particulate that would otherwise escape from the company’s glass-melting furnace.

The recent discovery of heavy metal pollution in some Portland neighborhoods has left residents wondering whether they should see a doctor.

Multnomah County Health Department said Friday those most exposed are those who spent significant amounts of time within half a mile of Bullseye and Uroborus Glass. Those are the two art-glass makers linked to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium pollution in Southeast and North Portland.

A few dozen Portlanders rallied at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday to demand stronger action against air polluters, in light of recently discovered concentrations of heavy metals.

"Clean air now! Clean air now!" they chanted as they delivered a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality's downtown Portland office.

Brown said she'll review the request, but added that legislators helped the air quality cause in the regular session.

One of the last actions Oregon lawmakers took before adjourning Thursday was passing a landmark clean-energy bill.

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill lays out a timeline for Oregonians to stop paying for electricity from coal-fired power plants through its two largest utilities, PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric.

Wolf advocates are watching to see if Gov. Kate Brown will sign legislation they say slams the door on legal challenges to Oregon’s lifting of endangered-species protections for the gray wolf. Brown said on Thursday that her office will review the legislation before making a decision.

On a bipartisan vote of 17-11 Wednesday, the state senate ratified a decision state wildlife regulators made last November to remove the gray wolf from the Oregon Endangered Species List.

Seven plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit against Bullseye Glass, a Southeast Portland manufacturer accused of emitting unhealthy levels of toxic heavy metals into that air.

Environmental testing by the U.S. Forest Service recently revealed the issue. Researchers found that moss throughout Portland pointed to “hot spots” with concentrations of toxic heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, nickel and lead.

3rd Portland Company In Toxic Metal Pollution Spotlight

Mar 2, 2016

A third Portland company faces scrutiny for toxic metal pollution.

At a meeting of the Milwaukie City Council Tuesday, state environmental regulators said they will delay issuing a new air quality permit for Precision Castparts due to concerns over metal emissions.

Precision Castparts makes airplane components. One of its large factories sits on the boundary between Southeast Portland and Milwaukie.

That's also where scientists found high concentrations of nickel in moss they were studying.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said Tuesday that she is not aware of any coordination between her office and the White House about a conservation proposal for the Owyhee.

Last year, Portland-based Keen Footwear launched a campaign to convince President Obama to designate 2.5 million acres in southeast Oregon as an Owyhee Canyonlands national monument.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Dick Pedersen is stepping down effective mid-March, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday.

Pedersen's resignation follows weeks of public outcry and criticism of DEQ over the discovery of unhealthy levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air in Southeast Portland.

DEQ Deputy Director Joni Hammond will replace Pedersen as interim director until a permanent successor can be named.

Families near two Portland glass manufacturers say they need more help from state regulators.

Last month, warnings were issued about elevated levels of airborne arsenic and cadmium near the Bullseye and Uroborus glass companies.

Environmental regulators have said a novel U.S. Forest Service study of heavy metals trapped in moss tipped them off to problems with toxic emissions at Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland.

But they’ve received a string of complaints dating back decades about the artistic glass manufacturer, according to documents released under Oregon’s open records law.

When Tacoma residents sized up a proposal to build a methanol plant and shipping facility, they saw it mostly as a source of toxic air pollution with a mighty thirst for water and a voracious appetite for electricity.

So the Chinese-backed company behind the project said it wanted to pause the environmental review.

The stretch of public land where Angie Ketscher grazes her cattle is so expansive she’s never seen the whole of it.

Neither has its owner, the Bureau of Land Management.

Ketscher’s ranch is one of four that turn their cattle out to feed on this nearly 300,000 acre parcel of the sagebrush sea.

Standing on a ridge above her ranch, Ketscher pointed across a narrow, treeless valley. Her permit begins on the other side and runs to three separate mountains in the far distance. By horseback, it would take three days to cover that distance.

The Global Reach Of Bullseye Glass

Feb 26, 2016

Glass artists are coming to terms with a world that has a bit less color in it.

Over the past few weeks you've heard us report on the emissions tests that revealed unhealthy levels of heavy metals near the Bullseye and Uroboros glass plants in Portland. Both companies suspended production of some colors. It's making ripples in the supply available to artists far beyond Oregon.

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