Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
4:56 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Public Media Call For Forest Service To Relax Wild Land Photography Rules

File photo. Public media broadcasters have submitted comments against a proposed directive requiring permits to photograph, film or record on wilderness.
Breanne Kunz

Public broadcasters are calling on the U.S. Forest Service to make a number of changes in its regulation of photography, filming and recording on public lands.

Several public media organizations jointly submitted comments Wednesday (PDF) to the Forest Service. That agency is considering a proposed directive that would require permits to film, photograph, and record in wilderness areas.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Wed December 3, 2014

How Killing Wolves Might Be Leading To More Livestock Attacks

A new study from Washington State University found killing wolves that attack wildlife increases future livestock attacks.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

This summer, the Huckleberry wolf pack killed more than 30 sheep in northeastern Washington. Wildlife officials then authorized the killing of up to four wolves. A sharp shooter accidentally killed the pack’s alpha female.

The idea behind the kill order: taking out wolves with a habit of preying on livestock will protect cattle and sheep.

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NPR Story
10:37 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Oregon Caves To Get More Protection As Bill Moves Through Congress

The River Styx runs through part of the Oregon Caves National Monument. A bill moving through Congress would expand the monument and make the river the first underground stream to be designated as 'Wild and Scenic.'
National Park Service

A national defense bill expected to pass Congress this session includes a major expansion of Oregon Caves National Monument in Southern Oregon.

The expansion involves a land transfer of 4,070 acres from the Rogue Siskiyou National Forest to the National Park Service.

It also makes the River Styx – which runs through the main cave system in the national monument – the first underground river to receive Wild and Scenic status.

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NPR Story
9:05 am
Tue December 2, 2014

EPA Releases Cleanup Plan For Seattle’s Polluted Duwamish River

File photo of a metal recycling operation on the bank of the Duwamish River. A new cleanup plan announced Dec. 2, 2014 would spent $342 million from parties being held responsible for the river's pollution.
Katie Campbell

The EPA's final decision will cost the responsible parties $342 million and will cover 177 acres of the lower Duwamish River. 960,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged from the bottom of the river, and 24 acres will be capped with clean sediment to lock away contaminants below the surface of the riverbed.

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Earthfix
7:00 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Oregon Proposes Tax Credit Rollback For Biomass

File photo of a pile of woody debris, or slash, from a logging site in Oregon's Tillamook State Forest. A proposed change in the state revenue code would reduce tax incentives that rely on such debris to fuel their biomass energy facilities.
Marcus Kauffman

The Oregon Department of Energy is proposing a change that would reduce tax incentives for biomass facilities.

Matt Krumenauer, a senior policy analyst with the agency, said the tax program was intended to offset the costs of producing, collecting and transporting biomass.

“We’ve analyzed the program and found that those costs for animal manure are much less than similar production or collection costs for other types of biomass,” he said.

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Earthfix
6:18 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Agencies Taking Comments On Oregon LNG Permits

The Oregon LNG project has changed quite a bit since it was proposed way back in 2004. It's now at a key milestone in a long permitting process.
Ken Hodge/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/40132991@N07/7501108978/in/photolist-cqR9n9-fFgH3g-fFgqFF-fFyd5o-fFycCd-fFycfS-fFggcX-fFgGDa-fFgwkx-fFxWWj-fFyniC-fFgFP8-fFxUi3-fFgyAH-fFy4hW-fFykmG-fFgka6-fFy3rm-fFxVcA-

Waypoints-blog-logo-FINAL-for-posts

The Oregon LNG liquefied natural gas project in Warrenton has reached a milestone in its seemingly endless permitting process. Three key permits are up for review and open for public comment until Jan. 17.

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NPR Story
5:15 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

From Macklemore To Chief Seattle's Descendent, Many Are Eager For Duwamish River Cleanup

Ben Haggerty, whose stage name is Macklemore, preparing to paddle the Duwamish River during an October event that was meant to raise awareness about its polluted condition and the need to clean it up.
Ashley Ahearn

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 8:15 am

SEATTLE -- Macklemore rolls up in his signature old black Cadillac, sporting black Ray-Bans and big boots.

He’s late. “Google took us on a bit of a joy ride this morning,” explains the rapper (real name: Ben Haggerty).

But fortunately, Seattle’s beloved star hasn't left concert-goers in a lurch. He's not here to perform. He’s come to this heavily industrial and polluted part of South Seattle to go for a paddle on the river he’s made his cause celebre: the Duwamish.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Protecting Northwest Forests As Bigger Wildfires Burn Longer

Susan Prichard takes a picture of an area of the Carlton Complex that was completely devestated by wildfire. The Carlton Complex was the largest fire in Washington's history.
Courtney Flatt

WINTHROP, Wash. -- This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through central Washington’s Methow Valley. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Wed November 19, 2014

3 Ways Northwest Companies Are Turning Food Waste Into Energy

Professional Formula Drift driver Matt Coffman says the Thunderbolt food waste ethanol runs his car better than regular race fuel.
Michael Werner/KCTS9

This is the second part of a three-part series, “What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away.”

A pile of food waste can make rich compost for the garden. But some Northwest companies are going beyond composting. We discovered three companies that are turning it into energy to power homes, race cars and city buses.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

No One Said Curbside Composting Would Be Easy

Lawrence Klein, facility manager of the Seattle-based composting company Cedar Grove, walks past rows of maturing compost. Plastic and metal in the food waste adds to the cost of turning waste into compost for yards and gardens.
Katie Campbell

This is the second part of a three-part series, "What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away."

Seattle and Portland are working to reduce the environmental impacts of food waste by offering curbside composting. But no one said it would be easy. The cities have faced challenges from foul odors, lack of participation and plastic contamination.

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NPR Story
6:30 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Wash. Governor Ready For New Push To Put A Price On Carbon

A file photo of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at the Capitol in 2013, calling for state action to curb the emission of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global climate change.
TVW.org

SEATTLE -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the handoff Monday for his latest run at putting a price on carbon emissions.

It happened at a gathering at Seattle City Hall, where the chair of his task force on climate change, Ada Healey, delivered a set of options to the Democratic governor.

"Here you go, there’s a bow on it. It’s red," she joked.

Options put forward for Inslee's consideration include a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system. The task force did not make recommendations on either approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

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NPR Story
4:00 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

What Climate Change Means For A Land Of Glaciers

Erin Lowery is a fisheries biologist for Seattle City Light. His job is to figure out where salmon are spawning on the Skagit River and then make sure his employers dams release the right amount of water to allow the eggs to incubate safely.
Ryan Hasert

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 9:00 am

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK, Wash. -- Jon Riedel’s white hair and light blue eyes match the icy tint of the landscape he’s studied for more than 30 years.

He moved to Washington soon after finishing his PhD at the University of Wisconsin because he says the glaciers of the Northwest are still writing the landscape, still carving out curves and valleys.

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Earthfix
12:00 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Scientists Solve Mystery Of West Coast Starfish Die-Off

Researchers analyzed hundreds of sunflower starfish to figure out what's causing sea star wasting syndrome
Cornell University

SEATTLE -- After months of research, scientists have identified the pathogen at the heart of the starfish wasting disease that’s been killing starfish by the millions along the Pacific shores of North America, according to research published Monday.

They said it’s a virus that’s different from all other known viruses infecting marine organisms. They’ve dubbed it “sea star associated densovirus.”

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Earthfix
8:45 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Northwest Cities Show Food Waste Isn't A Total Loss

Libby Mills, 7, helps her mom Sara Mills in dumping the family’s food scraps into the yard waste container. Libby says, “It’s not very di fficult just to put something in a bin.”
Katie Campbell

This is the first part of a three-part series, "What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away."

Wasting 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. certainly has its drawbacks:

It's not feeding people in need, it's expensive and it does a lot of environmental damage.

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Earthfix
4:09 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Southern Oregon University Wants To Lead Pacific Northwest in Campus Biomass

Southern Oregon University Facilities Manager Drew Gilliland wants to replace the natural gas boilers on campus with biomass cogeneration.

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 12:20 pm

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Southern Oregon University is vying to join a small but growing number of campuses around the country turning to biomass energy -- or put more simply, burning wood and forest debris -- to produce power on campus.

Tucked away on the backside of Southern Oregon University is a modest 1950s-era warehouse. Puffs of cloud-white steam emerge from the smokestack on top. They're a result of burning natural gas to produce heat for the campus.

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Earthfix
6:07 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Klamath Basin Agreements Move Toward Senate Floor

The J.C. Boyle Dam, one of four that the Interior Department has recommended for removal from the Klamath River. It runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Amelia Templeton

A long-negotiated series of agreements to manage water in the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California received Senate committee passage Thursday.

“This legislation is the result of a historic collaboration of efforts,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden during the committee meeting.

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Earthfix
3:47 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Wyden's O&C Timber Bill Clears Senate Committee

O&C Lands in Western Oregon are currently administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
BLM http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oregon_BLM_Forestry_06_(6871712301).jpg

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 3:49 pm

The substitute bill would increase harvest levels even further than in previous legislative versions - from about 350 to 400 million board feet per year.

Despite the increased logging levels, Wyden says "major environmental groups" stand by the changes. The groups include The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, Pew’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness, Pacific Rivers Council and the Wild Salmon Center.

“The legislation does this by protecting controversial lands and requiring ecological forestry in non-controversial areas,” he said.

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NPR Story
10:24 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Rogue Valley Residents Question University Biomass Proposal

A biomass plant at Missouri University. Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, wants to be the first campus in the Northwest with a power plant to run on biomass -- woody debris from the forest.
Flickr/CAFNR https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafnr/13454164705/in/photolist-muWn6q-muVhM6-muWAoN-muV5oi-muWoUW-muUBqx-muUzBx-muVfDD-muUxRD-muWioq-muWgtd-muUYSP-muUQBa-muUU1V-muUPgK-muU7qZ-muUiA4-muUfsk-muWd7U-fZeuEi

ASHLAND, Ore. - Southern Oregon University has a plan to make its campus the Northwest to install a biomass power plant.

Like many universities, Southern Oregon uses natural gas to heat its campus. But its current boiler system is getting old.

As a replacement, SOU wants to build a biomass cogeneration plant that would produce steam heat and electricity. The steam would be pumped out to campus buildings for heat. The electricity would be sold back to the grid.

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NPR Story
7:16 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Paying Wind Generators Not To Produce Power

The first powerhouse of the Bonneville Dam, 40 miles east of Portland, on the Columbia River.
WikiCommons

The Bonneville Power Administration operates the federal hydropower dams in the Columbia Basin. In springtime, during snow melt, there can be so much water in the river that – combined with the output of the dozens of wind farms that have cropped up in Oregon and Washington – there’s more electricity in the system than anyone can use.

Dam operators could dump the extra water over the spillways. But as the BPA’s Doug Johnson explains, that causes problems for salmon and other fish.

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NPR Story
6:40 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Wash. Forest Practices Board Adopts New Logging Guidelines

File photo of the Oso landslide, taken in March, 2014.
Snohomish County

Washington state essentially prohibits logging on unstable slopes -- since removing trees can worsen erosion and landslides. But it's not always obvious which slopes are unstable.

State officials Wednesday adopted a more cautious approach around slopes like the one that collapsed onto the town of Oso in March. That deep-seated landslide killed 43 people.

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