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energy

Bats May Mistake Wind Turbines For Trees, Study Warns

Oct 3, 2014

An unprecedented number of bats are being killed by wind turbine blades. A new report has found bats may be mistaking wind turbines for trees.

Bats are often looking for a place to roost when the moon is bright and winds are low. That’s when the conditions can be the deadliest for bats flying near wind turbines.

A long-awaited tidal energy project in Puget Sound has come to halt. The project was set to generate electricity and connect it to the grid – the first project of its kind in the world. But it just got too expensive.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District had hoped to install two underwater turbines in Admiralty Inlet near Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island. The pilot turbines would have generated enough power for about 200 homes and stayed in the water up to five years.

The U.S. Department of Energy says the Bonneville Power Administration can be in charge of hiring new employees again.

Why The Northwest Is the New Frontier For Geothermal Energy

Sep 29, 2014

PORTLAND -- The Geothermal Energy Association chose to hold its annual meeting in Portland this year, and leaders say that's in part because they see the Pacific Northwest as a new frontier for the industry.

The coast has generally been considered the area of the Northwest most at risk for a catastrophic oil spill. But the rise in oil moving through the region by rail has raised the stakes for some inland areas.

A new report by public safety agencies highlights several weaknesses in Seattle's ability to respond to an oil train accident.

The report to the Seattle City Council was complied by the Seattle Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

At the top of the report's list of concerns: the 100 year old tunnel that runs through the middle of downtown Seattle. The report said that the lack of safety systems in the Great Northern tunnel will present significant challenges to first responders.

Flickr Photo/James St. John (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Susan Petty, president and chief technology officer at Altarock, about the prospects for geothermal energy.

Northwest Researchers Work To Boost Geothermal Power

Aug 25, 2014

There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth’s surface to provide a steady, renewable source of energy. But the sector has been slow to take off, even though the U.S. is the world's top producer of geothermal energy.

With help from federal grants, several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the technology forward.

Courtesy of Gordon Janz

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its four-year criminal investigation into whether environmental and worker safety laws were broken leading up to the fatal Tesoro refinery blast.

PORTLAND -- Three oil trains roll through the city each week en route to a shipping terminal down the Columbia River near Clatskanie, Oregon.

If one of them were to derail, Portland firefighters say they're not equipped for a major spill, fire, or explosion along the lines of last year's Lac-Megantic explosion in Quebec, Canada.

Portland Fire and Rescue Lt. Dave Keller says the city's fire department could only adequately respond to a smaller-scale derailment -- maybe one car leaking fuel or one car on fire.

5 Safety Concerns With Shipping Oil By Water

Aug 1, 2014

While many Northwest communities are focused on the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail, a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: oil by water.

Across the country, more and more domestically produced oil is being shipped by barges and tankers as pipelines fill up to capacity. The report, by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, concludes: "This rather sudden shift in transportation patterns raises concerns about the safety and efficiency of oil tankers and barges."

A proposed liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria, Oregon, received the U.S. Department of Energy’s blessing Thursday to export to all overseas markets. It's a necessary approval to make the controversial project pencil out, but many hurdles remain.

Since the spring, a run of workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have needed medical attention from exposure to chemical vapors. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Energy led a bus load of journalists to points across the site to show off what they’re doing to keep workers safe.

A large swath of the Atlantic Ocean could soon be used to generate electricity, as a U.S. agency proposes opening more than 1,000 square miles of ocean to wind energy projects. The area is off the coast of Massachusetts, which has been working on the proposal with federal officials.

  Washington state and the U.S. Department of Energy just gave themselves a 40-day deadline. They need a clear cleanup plan for leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

How Crowdfunding May Help Build Solar Roadways

Jun 12, 2014

You’re moving slowly through rush hour traffic. Instead of asphalt, your car is driving on top of specially designed solar panels. That’s the vision of one Northern Idaho couple. It’s a vision that’s coming closer to reality thanks to their successful crowdfunding campaign.

For nearly 10 years, engineer Scott Brusaw has been chipping away at his idea to change the nation’s roadways.

SEATTLE -- Under the new rules released by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, each state has a specific percentage by which it has to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

The average of all the individual state-level cuts will be CO2 emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels.

"It’s a goal that we can, should and will meet, in part because we’ve already taken early action in our state," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told EarthFix.

BNSF Railway said Friday it will comply with Saturday's federal deadline to provide states with information about the frequency and routes of oil trains from North Dakota and Montana.

SEATTLE -- The Obama administration’s new rules to cut carbon emissions fueled energy sector leaders' conversations about the future of coal in the West during their gathering here this week.

The Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners on Wednesday wrapped up its conference -- a gathering of the people who decide where the region's power comes from and how to regulate it.

This week is the deadline for the State of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The two sides can’t agree on a timeline.

Hundreds gathered at the Hilton Vancouver Convention Center and stayed late into the night Monday for a Vancouver City Council hearing on a resolution opposing what would be the Northwest's largest oil-by-rail shipping facility.

More than 140 people signed up to testify at the hearing. At 11 p.m., more than four hours after the hearing began, the council voted to extend the meeting even later to take additional testimony.

BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. -- Environmentalists have launched a full-on offensive against coal export terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon, but they might want to take a look closer to home.

A small open pit coal mine just outside of Seattle is looking to get back in business.

The John Henry Mine, formerly the Black Diamond Mine, has been in operation on and off since the late 1800s, but it closed down in 1999.

Nearly 30 percent of the gas released during crude oil production in the Bakken oil fields is flared off – burned into the air and essentially wasted.

This week, a Houston-based company proposed building a terminal in Longview, Wash. that would collect some of those gases and export them.

Oregon Wave Energy Project Sinks

Apr 11, 2014

Plans to deploy Oregon’s first commercial wave energy project have been formally dropped by the company.

After spending millions on the project off the coast of Reedsport, Ore., Ocean Power Technologies pulled the plug and will focus on another project in Australia.

Kevin Watkins, a company representative, said this would have actually been the first such project in the Western Hemisphere — but they had trouble securing adequate funds.

U.S. Coast Guard

A US Coast Guard investigation blames Shell Oil's complacency and risk-taking for an oil rig running aground on a remote Alaskan Island on New Year's Eve 2012.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Puget Sound tides may soon be generating power. A proposal for the world’s first grid-connected tidal energy project received a federal license Thursday. The project has been almost eight years in the making.

Every year, Americans send millions of tons of food to the landfill. What if you could use all of those pizza crusts and rotten vegetables to heat your home? That's already happening in one unlikely laboratory: the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn.

January 1 is the end of the era of your standard, soft white Edison-designed incandescent bulb in the United States. Or at least, in theory.

Electric water heaters eat up a lot of power -- and can take up about a fifth of your electricity bill. But there’s a hot new thing in the water heater world.

Aaron Leitz Photography

At the forefront of energy saving home construction is movement called Passive House. Passive houses are so air tight, builders say they can be heated with a hair dryer.

Buildings consume an estimated 42 percent of America’s energy – more than any other sector. Moving to a more sustainable future compels more energy efficiency in new building construction

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