Environment

Environment & Planning

Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the U-S Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s clean fuel law. Supporters of the law – and of similar efforts in Oregon and Washington – say the high court’s decision clears the way for the West Coast to take the lead in reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But opponents in the petroleum industry say the law is still a bad idea.

Cascadia Forest Defenders

Updated: 7:20pm

Three people were arrested at a protest yesterday at the Seneca-Jones Biomass plant in north Eugene.  The Lane County Sheriff's Office says about 100 people gathered outside the facility to oppose the bio-mass operation and the company's plans to log old growth trees in southwest Oregon.  

Michael Werner

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.
Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail. More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

Much of the West is entering a second straight summer of drought. In Southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin, ranchers are once again watching their pastureland go dry for a lack of water. That has them preparing to sell their livestock earlier – and for lower prices – than they’d like.

Those ranchers are part of an unlikely alliance that could lead to a historic solution to the region’s long-standing water wars.

Watermaster Scott White has a difficult job. He’s the one who tells ranchers to turn off the water they use for cattle and crops.

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

On the west coast sea stars, or starfish, are dying by the millions. Scientists have called the disease Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, and it’s decimated populations from Mexico to Alaska. But scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the die-off. This spring, the epidemic has spread into Oregon, and now, Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands in Washington.

The village of Eastsound on Orcas Island draws thousands of tourists in the summer months. They come to see whales, bald eagles… and for avid beach combers -- sea stars.

Courtney Flatt

When you think of grapes in the Northwest, wine is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But Concord juice grapes actually are Washington’s most widely planted grape. It turns out, juice grapes are more susceptible to warming weather than their wine grape cousins.

The sun beats down as researcher Markus Keller leans in to inspect his experimental concord grape vineyard.

Keller: “As you can see here, there’s a lot of flowers forming on the different shoots.”

The grape leaves hang down like a curtain over the rows of vines. This year’s crop looks to be strong.

Beyond Toxics

After bee die-offs this month in Eugene and Beaverton, the Oregon Agriculture Department is placing a 6 month ban on pesticides containing two active ingredients that are dangerous to the insects. 

 

Rachael McDonald

The McKenzie River Trust is embarking on a project to turn gravel beds into native fish habitat on its Green Island property north of Eugene. The project brings together two unexpected partners: conservationists and the gravel industry.

The Coburg Aggregate Reclamation Project, or CARP, is at a place along the historic McKenzie River channel where gravel was mined for many years. Now, three ponds are the remnants of that mining operation. Joe Moll is Executive Director of McKenzie River Trust.

Rachael McDonald

A national report released Wednesday finds that half of the plants sold at major retailers as "bee friendly" are actually poisonous to bees. The plants are pre-treated with pesticides that are harmful to pollinators according to the study by Friends of the Earth.

Neonicotinoids are pesticides that kill bees and other pollinators. Lisa Arkin is with Eugene-based Beyond Toxics. She says retailers don't label plants to indicate whether they've been treated with these chemicals.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Rogue River in Southern Oregon welcomes a busy summer season of rafters, kayakers and fishers.

For EarthFix, Devan Schwartz reports on a proposed expansion of the Rogue Wilderness — and why it’s taking so long to become a reality.

The Rogue is one of the West’s most iconic rivers. And many conservationists are calling for Congress to expand the wilderness area surrounding it.

Robyn Janssen is with Rogue Riverkeeper. She helped organize a recent trip down the Rogue to highlight the river’s environmental issues.

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