EarthFix

News Fixed on the Environment.

EarthFix is a public media partnership of KLCC, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Idaho Public Television, KCTS9 Seattle, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, Northwest Public Radio and Television, Jefferson Public Radio, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

A federal judge in Medford, Oregon, ruled Tuesday that several environmental groups can intervene in a lawsuit aimed at preventing the expansion the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

During his final days in office, President Obama expanded the national monument by about 48,000 acres. The monument was first established by President Clinton.

The judge’s ruling means Oregon Wild, the Wilderness Society, the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and other groups will be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Murphy Timber Investments.

Lawmakers in Oregon are once again pushing bills to increase the state’s oversight of oil trains, ten months after a Union Pacific train derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

House Bill 2131 would give Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality oversight of railroads’ plans for responding to spills — an authority it has over other forms of oil transport and storage — and assess a fee on railroads to pay for.

The Portland Water Bureau plans to resume using the Bull Run watershed as its drinking water source this week.

The bureau stopped using Bull Run water in February and switched to its backup source, water from the Columbia South Shore Well Field after it repeatedly detected small amounts of a single-celled parasite called cryptosporidium.

Tests over the past month have continued to detect cryptosporidium in the water, in low concentrations. Thirteen out of 47 samples have tested positive for cryptosporidium.

How Traffic Is Drowning Out Frogs' Mating Calls

Mar 13, 2017

Chances are you’ve heard the Pacific chorus frogs’ call before. Its classic “rib-bit” is featured in basically any movie that needs frog noise.

The Pacific chorus frogs’ call is ubiquitous in the Northwest. But the amphibians are having more and more trouble hearing themselves.

Traffic is drowning them out.

During mating season the chorus of “rib-bit” “rib-bit” “rib-bit” attracts the females to ponds where they mate.

One of the three boilers at King County’s West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant is back on line, heating water to the ideal temperature for the microorganisms that digest Seattle’s sewage. That’s an improvement since February, when an electrical outage followed by a mechanical failure caused massive flooding inside the plant.

There are nights when a phone call wakes Elizabeth Sanchey out of a dead sleep. At the other end, a voice alerts her to a snowy wreck with a semi-truck leaking oil or a logging truck that’s crashed on the Yakama Nation Reservation in Washington's Columbia River Basin.

And even through the fog of sleep, she knows this call is important. When gasoline or oil gets spilled, it needs to be cleaned up — and her hazmat crew is the one to do it.

Oregon’s backlog of expired water quality permits is among the worst in the country, meaning the state has let facilities discharge pollutants at levels that may violate current protections for the state’s waterways.

That's the argument of a lawsuit filed in Multnomah County today by two environmental groups seeking to force the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to update hundreds of old permits.

Port Of Vancouver Extends Oil Terminal Lease

Mar 7, 2017

A Vancouver project to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country will continue for now. After a contentious meeting Tuesday filled with passionate testimony, Port of Vancouver commissioners approved a lease extension for the controversial project.

The standing-room-only meeting went on for more than three hours. People lined up as early as 8:30 in the morning to sign up for public comment. Many sat in an overflow room, waiting to testify.

King County Releases Findings On Sewage Plant Failure

Mar 7, 2017

King County released preliminary findings Tuesday of what went wrong at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. This February, an electrical failure there caused flooding and a massive dump of sewage into Puget Sound.

First, an electrical failure shut down the pumps that move treated wastewater into the sound. While electricians were trying to fix that, devices that measure how much raw sewage is in the plant also failed. Tanks filled up, and the plant flooded.

Eastern Oregon Wolf Recovery Enters Next Phase

Mar 7, 2017

There’s good news and bad news for wolves in eastern Oregon. The good news: they just hit another population milestone, showing the recovery effort is working.

The bad news for the predators? It’s getting a little bit easier for humans to kill them.

Oregon wildlife officials have counted at least seven breeding pairs of wolves for three straight years in the eastern part of the state. This indicates a degree of stability in that wolf population. It also triggers a change to how wolves are managed in the region.

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