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.

West Coast energy regulators met Tuesday in Seattle to renew their pledge to join forces in reducing the region's shared carbon footprint.

The chairs of the Washington, Oregon and California utility commissions cited as one of their goals the improved integration of the West Coast's power grids.

Washington's peak energy draw happens when people turn up their thermostats in the winter. Meanwhile, Californians' heavy reliance power is during the summer, when air conditioners are running, said Dave Danner, chair of the Utilities Commission of Washington.

For the fiscal year ending this June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has spent $28 million on Puget Sound restoration and monitoring. It has channeled those funds through tribes, nonprofits and local governments, which carry out the on-the-ground work.

Next year, that would drop to $2 million under the White House proposal revealed this week.

Many other EPA programs would be reduced or eliminated. Overall, the agency's funding would drop from to $6.16 billion next year from $8.24 billion this fiscal year. (That's down from a 2010 high of $10.3 billion).

What's the best way for Oregon to reduce its contributions to climate change? Supporters and opponents weighed in Wednesday at a legislative hearing on five bills that aim to reduce Oregon's carbon emissions.

A tiny brown bat wriggles about John Huckabee’s gloved hands, voicing its displeasure with a high-pitched series of screeches and squawks.

The wildlife biologist expertly grasps one of the bat's wings and unfolds it. Bending close, he searches for telltale signs of infection.

“There are a few small deep pigmented areas of scarring,” Huckabee said, turning the bat over in his hands. “But overall looks like he’s in very good shape.”

Three top elected officials in Oregon are now embroiled in a messy political struggle over whether to privatize an 82,500-acre state forest near Coos Bay.

The infighting among Gov. Kate Brown, Treasurer Tobias Read and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson — the three members of the State Land Board — is highly unusual in a state dominated by Democratic officials who tend to prize cooperation over confrontation.

State fishery managers on the West Coast are releasing ocean salmon forecasts this week. And things aren’t looking good – especially for fishermen off the coasts of Oregon and Northern California.

“I would generally characterize it as a very poor season for both coho and chinook," said Eric Schindler of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

He said things are looking especially bad for salmon returning to the Klamath River and its tributaries. The Klamath is the most important river for Oregon’s ocean chinook fishery.

President Trump on Tuesday issued an executive order that will start to rollback clean water rules. In the Northwest, environmentalists say that could be bad news for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. Farm and industry groups are lauding the order.

Advocates say the rule protects countless headwater streams and wetlands in the Pacific Northwest; if ununprotected they could eventually be developed with roads, housing, or more logging operations.

Cowlitz County has approved a key permit for a controversial methanol plant proposed on the Columbia River in the port city of Kalama.

The county’s hearing examiner Mark Scheibmeir concluded on Monday that the $1.8 billion project may proceed – provided developer NW Innovation Works complies with a long list of shoreline development permit conditions that require environmental and safety protections.

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson on Saturday criticized Gov. Kate Brown for reversing her position on privatizing the 83,000-acre Elliott State Forest.

Richardson — who last year became the first Republican elected to statewide office in Oregon since 2002 — spotlighted the controversial proposal to sell the forest during a speech to more than 1,500 social conservatives gathered in Portland. They were at the Oregon Convention Center for an annual event known as the Freedom Rally.

If there's one thing that's clear from Wilbur Ross's financial disclosure forms, it's that the billionaire nominee for secretary of commerce lives in a world most Americans can only fantasize about.

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