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.

How Salmon Sex Shapes Landscapes And Watersheds

Oct 20, 2017

It may have taken millions of years, but researchers have found that the way salmon reproduce has shaped our watersheds and landscapes.

When salmon spawn, the female digs a big hole in the stream bed. She then swishes around — that movement can send fairly large pieces of gravel downstream.

These tiny movements can add up to big changes.

Oregon regulators are proposing new air pollution rules that would limit the total health risk a polluter can impose on its neighbors.

On Friday, the state will start taking public comments on its proposed rules under the Cleaner Air Oregon program Gov. Kate Brown launched last year.

For the first time, scientists have found a deadly plant disease infecting fir trees in the Pacific Northwest.

The so-called “European” strain of sudden oak death showed up in southwest Oregon a few years back. It was known to spread to fir trees in Europe, but that hadn’t been seen in the state.

Flash Flood Watch In Effect For Chetco Bar Fire Area

Oct 18, 2017

A flash flood watch is in effect Thursday for the Chetco Bar Fire area, 16 miles west of Selma, Oregon.

Damaged soil, loosened vegetation and heavy rain in the forecast has increased the risk of landslides in recently burned areas ­— a threat that can last months and even years after a fire has burned out.

With less than three weeks before the November election, the two candidates for Vancouver Port Commissioner District 1 are getting big checks.

This week Kris Greene accepted $140,000 from Tesoro Savage. The oil companies are behind an effort to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal at the port.

Usually the parking lot at Brookings’ harbor is filled with boat trailers, rusty pickup trucks and tourists. 

But this day in late August is not a usual day. There’s a wildfire burning five miles from town – and the vehicles coming through are much, much larger.

Jesse Dubuque, a resource advisor for the Chetco Bar Fire, directs the driver of a fire truck to a large shallow pool, about 6-inches deep with metal tracks leading in and out.

“Vehicles that have been up on the fire or going up to the fire, they come and they drive up on to it,” she says.

 

As the cannabis industry expands in Oregon, more people are paying attention to the environmental impact of its cultivation, like energy and water use. We speak with Jesce Horton, the owner of Panacea Valley Gardens and a board member for Oregon’s Resource Innovation Institute, about moves towards environmental sustainability in Oregon's cannabis industry.

 

The Pacific Northwest was once a coal mining powerhouse.

In the late 1800s, The area around Oregon’s Coos Bay had over 70 coal mines. Later, Washington’s biggest coal mine in Centralia supplied the Bonneville Power Administration with electricity.

Oregon’s six Democrats and its sole Republican in Congress sent a letter Monday urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with cleanup plans for the Portland Harbor polluted Superfund site.

In their letter, they reminded the agency that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested in the plans to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The race for a Port of Vancouver commissioner seat has become highly personal in recent days, leading candidate Kris Greene to seek legal protection.

On Friday, Greene served a temporary protection order from harassment against his former campaign strategist and volunteer Robert Sabo.

Oregon regulators have received more than a dozen requests from companies that want to throw recyclable materials into landfills, and they're expecting more as China cracks down on waste imports from the U.S.

Oregonians love to recycle, so it makes sense that we're still putting paper and plastic into our recycling bins week after week.

A bill sponsored by several U.S. House members from the Northwest aims to overturn two recent court decisions on Columbia and Snake river dams.

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon rejected the federal plan for managing dams to protect salmon in the Columbia River Basin.

Fire crews in Oregon are heading to Northern California where fast-moving blazes ripping through the region's iconic wine country continue to threaten thousands of homes and have killed at least 21 people.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal's office is deploying 10 strike teams totaling about 200 people. On Monday, the Oregon Department of Forestry sent four engines manned by nine people from the department's Medford, Klamath Falls and Grants Pass units. Cal Fire says about 21 wildfires have burned 162,000 acres in Northern California so far.

When I met Dave Rank he was just a normal guy on a road trip with his wife in a used Subaru. But not long before that, Rank had a very important job.

Washington’s cannabis is a bit more potent than the national average. And the state’s teens are more likely to smoke marijuana than young people nationwide.

Although we have the same problems with marijuana as we do with liquor abuse, no blockbuster conclusions came from a recent report on Washington’s marijuana universe.

Could The Chetco Bar Fire Have Been Prevented?

Oct 9, 2017

The Chetco Bar Fire, near Brookings on Oregon’s south coast, simmered for weeks in the scars of previous fires in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness before breaking out in mid-August. As the fire raced across the landscape, driven by high winds, the firefighting effort came under growing criticism.

The Trump administration has a new plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site that Oregon officials say could reverse progress toward cleaning up toxic pollution in the Willamette River.

Oregon environmental regulators and officials with the city of Portland have sent letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing their concerns about a draft agreement between the EPA and some of the companies responsible for cleaning up the site.

Oregon Gets $350K For Coastal Community Tsunami Preparedness

Oct 6, 2017

Oregon’s been awarded $350,000 by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program to increase resilience in coastal communities.

The money will be used to add 100 'Tsunami Hazard Zone’ signs along Highway 101 and to improve evacuation routes — so people can get to high ground quickly in the event of a tsunami.

Jonathan Allan with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries said they will also to use the money to model what happens to ships and fishing boats when a tsunami hits the Columbia River.

Big money is pouring into the Port of Vancouver commissioner race from backers of a proposed oil terminal.

On Monday, state election filings showed Vancouver Energy has put an additional $150,000 into the race. It’s the largest single contribution made to any candidate running for office in the state of Washington this cycle. 

Apparently, we haven’t been doing a very good job of sorting our trash from our recycling — and the Chinese government has noticed.

China doesn't want loads of our paper and plastic waste that often have contaminants like dirty diapers inside.

So, the government is cracking down on the shipment of recyclable material from the U.S. By the end of the year, much of the mixed plastic and paper in our recycling bins will be banned from China.

 

A new report from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows that despite previous protections, the marbled murrelet is still in trouble.

And now, the state is considering whether to list the sea bird as “endangered” under the state’s endangered species act.

Environmental groups are suing Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality over its regulation of stormwater pollution from over 900 industrial sites like lumber yards, scrap metal yards and truck depots.

Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center claim the state’s permit for stormwater pollution allows for pollution levels that violate the Clean Water Act and imperil public health and salmon.

Nearly 300 different species have crossed the Pacific Ocean on debris washed out to sea during the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

Most of tsunami debris, and the organisms that hitched a ride, have washed up in Oregon and Washington. 

A new analysis by scientists from Portland State University, Oregon State University, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston and other institutions shows even six years after the disaster, new species continue to be detected.  

A hard fought compromise to protect greater sage grouse could be rewritten — according to information from The New York Times. The upcoming decision has upset many Northwest conservationists, ranchers, and lawmakers.

The City of Portland and Port of Portland can proceed with lawsuits against Monsanto, but a judge has dismissed several of the city’s claims over chemical contamination of the city’s waterways.

Portland is one of eight West Coast cities, including Seattle and Spokane, with pending lawsuits against the agrochemical corporation. The suits focus on lasting contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a now-banned group of chemicals widely used decades ago, often as coolants or lubricants in electrical equipment.

The Washington Department of Ecology on Monday denied a permit for a proposal to build North America’s largest coal export terminal in Longview, Wash, citing a raft of concerns about impacts to the region’s environment, transportation and culture.

Millennium Bulk Terminals, the last standing of a half dozen proposals to export coal to Asia from terminals built in the Pacific Northwest, needed a water quality from Ecology to move forward with construction.

Orca researchers and conservationists are urging more steps to protect Puget Sound's endangered southern resident killer whales. The push comes in the wake of the death of a 2-year-old male orca known as J52.

The death, which researchers say was caused by malnutrition, brought the population to a 30-year low.

The economic expansion in Asia during the 2010s ramped up that region’s demand for coal. And the energy resource is in abundance in the Powder River Basin that straddles the Montana-Wyoming border.

But how to get it from the Rocky Mountain heartland of North America to factories and power plants in China, Japan, South Korea?

That’s where proposed coal export terminals came in.

Gold And Copper Mining In The Rainy Shadow Of A Volcano

Sep 21, 2017

Mining operations almost always touch off environmental opposition.

So, when there’s talk of an open-pit mine in the shadow of one of America’s most active volcanoes, in a place where heavy rains can slough toxic mine waste into rivers, controversy is bound to tinge the conversation.

The University of Washington’s Julian Marshall joins us to explain the significance of a 10-year air pollution study that found that air quality improved overall, but was worse for people of color, regardless of income.

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