EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Officials In U.S. Stumped By China's Claim Of Tainted Northwest Shellfish

Dec 13, 2013

Environment and health officials in the U.S. say they are puzzled by China’s decision to ban shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska. State officials say their records don’t show the same unsafe toxin levels that were detected by a lab in China.

China says it found toxins in two shipments of geoducks. These giant clams harvested in Puget Sound and Alaska can go for $150 a pound. Washington’s shellfish industry overall is worth $270 million, and China is the top export market.

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States -- an unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest export market.

China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A proposal to ship North Dakota crude oil by train to Vancouver mostly drew opponents to a public hearing Wednesday night in Spokane.

Most of the 75 people at the state hearing cited risks of train derailments, spills or fires as well as global climate change from using oil.

The Spokesman-Review reports the proposed terminal at the Port of Vancouver could result in up to four oil trains a day passing through Spokane.

Vancouver Asks For Thorough Oil Study

Dec 11, 2013

By Aaron Corvin

Vancouver neighborhoods cut off from fire and police protection by increased train traffic. A highly volatile commodity traveling near homes. An industrial area prone to liquefying in an earthquake.

Those are among more than 100 areas of concern the city of Vancouver wants state regulators to include in their examination of the environmental impacts of a proposed oil-by-rail operation at the Port of Vancouver.

Oregon's top elected officials got behind a controversial plan Tuesday to sell off pieces of the south coast's Elliott State Forest to private interests.

Gov. John Kitzhaber described the move as testing the water for a future deal to move the rest of the Elliott into private ownership, potentially in the hands of a conservation group.

Cold Snap Brings Unhealthy Air To Klamath Falls

Dec 9, 2013

Twenty below zero. That was the record breaking low in Klamath Falls, Ore. this weekend. Temperatures are higher this week, but have remained below freezing.

Wood smoke is one of the leading causes of fine particulate pollution, and in Klamath Falls, a blanket of cold stagnant air has trapped that pollution close to the ground, triggering an air quality health alert.

Dozens of headlines this week have claimed that a humble mold is threatening to ruin Christmas. CBS News and the Associated Press reported that phytophthora root disease is killing Christmas trees across the country.

Environmental regulators have approved an air pollution permit for a proposed biomass power plant in the southern Oregon town of Lakeview - despite skepticism in this remote community where wood stove smoke is already making it hard to meet clean air standards.

According to a revised permit issued last week, the biomass cogeneration plant that energy company Iberdrola wants to build will be allowed to emit up to 32 tons of fine particulate pollution a year.

The Cost Of Energy Efficient Windows

Dec 4, 2013

RICHLAND, Wash. -- If you’re looking to keep out the winter cold, triple-paned windows will do the trick. But Northwest researchers have found have found it can take decades before savings from these highly insulated windows pay you back.

Researchers are using two identical homes to test some of the latest advances in energy efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, and most recently, windows.

If urbanites’ behavior is any indication, American workers are driving less and biking more. A new transportation study of the biggest U.S. urban areas shows a decline in driving and an increase in biking to work.

Timber industry and environmental groups will make a stab at collaboration to boost both logging and habitat restoration in the Olympic National Forest.

Olympic National Forest was ground zero for some of the hottest conflicts of the timber wars of the 1990's. Periodically, local environmental groups still file lawsuits and current timber harvest rates are a fraction of historic levels.

Now, the office of Congressman Derek Kilmer has convinced sometimes antagonistic groups to focus on areas where they can agree.

Weather Delays Megaload Shipment In Eastern Oregon

Dec 4, 2013

A blast of winter weather blanketed Eastern Oregon roads in snow and ice Tuesday, once again delaying movement of the megaload convoy bound for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

The controversial shipment of massive refinery equipment left the Port of Umatilla Monday night, arriving at its first extended parking turnout off Highway 395 just south of Pendleton. It will remain there until conditions improve, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

But that's what's in the works for Wednesday morning, when U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Gov. John Kitzhaber will all converge on Klamath Falls to hail the almost-done deal for dividing up scarce water in a thirsty corner of the Northwest.

A massive load of oil equipment is on its way to Canada, along a winding route that began near Hermiston, in northeast Oregon.

Protesters tried to stop the shipment by getting in the way. But the so-called megaload rumbled forward, on its journey through Oregon and Idaho.

About two-dozen protesters held signs and blew horns while police kept them away from the truck and trailer. The megaload takes up two lanes and stretches 380 feet.

In the late 1800s, when dams were first built around the Northwest, salmon and steelhead stocks began to decline. Fish hatcheries were put forth as a solution. Wild fish were taken from Northwest rivers and spawned in captivity, ensuring future generations of fish could be released back into the wild every season.

Idaho Company Pushes 'Poop' Compost In Super Bowl Ad Contest

Nov 29, 2013

A small Northwest compost company is one of four finalists vying for a free 30-second Super Bowl ad.

Displaced By Development, Urban Goat Herd Needs A New Home

Nov 27, 2013

A dozen goats tromp around on their very own playground while traffic zooms by in Southeast Portland's industrial district.

Here, on the city's so-called "goat block," bike tours and families with children stop to visit the goat herd outside a chain-link fence. Each goat has a name and a "friendliness" rating posted outside the fence and once a day, a caretaker walks one of the friendly goats around the neighborhood for people to pet.

New Hope For An Endangered Deer

Nov 26, 2013

Washington's Columbian white-tailed deer have had a rough time surviving. In fact, their population fell so much they were once thought to be extinct.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a bill that sets the stage for sweeping changes in the management of 2.1 million acres of federal forest in Western Oregon.

Coal Ships And Tribal Fishing Grounds

Nov 26, 2013

This is the second installment of a two-part series. Read part one here.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Dozens upon dozens of crab pot buoys dot the waters around Jay Julius’ fishing boat as he points the bow towards Cherry Point. The spit of land juts into northern Puget Sound.