environment

Crews Say Drones Hamper Firefighting Efforts

Aug 1, 2016

A wildfire in southeast Washington has grown to 70,000 acres between Yakima and the Tri-Cities. More than 100 crew members are working to keep the Range 12 Fire from spreading.

But they say something could slow that work down: drones.

Since floods closed a rail line through the Coast Range in 2007, people have looked to build a trail — spanning from Banks in Washington County to the city of Tillamook — in its place.

A board of state, county and tribal officials is tackling the costs, land ownership and other issues before the so-called Salmonberry Trail can be completed and opened.

A Portland company has received state backing to perfect using a solar technology to clean farm and factory pollution.

State research investors with Oregon BEST believe Portland-based Focal Technologies has a promising technology based on using the sun's rays to clean up contaminated water.

The idea is not new, according to commercialization director at Oregon BEST, Ken Vaughn. He said scientists have long worked to use solar energy to purify water.

Thick black smoke that spewed from a derailed oil train burning in Mosier, Oregon, was not the visual Vancouver Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver wanted in people’s minds.

“It was unfortunate for the community," Oliver said. "It’s also unfortunate because it gives a tremendous black eye to anything related to fossil fuels.”

Oliver has been a vocal supporter of what would be the largest oil-by-trail terminal in the country, known as the Vancouver Energy Project. It’s controversial, to the point Oliver said he’s even lost friends over his stance.

Wildfire Season Blazes Into The Northwest

Jul 31, 2016

Several wildfires have broken out throughout Washington and Oregon this weekend after high heat, low humidity, and strong winds picked up.

Organic blueberries are really hard to grow west of the Cascades -- too many bugs and too much disease. And east of the mountains, growers must battle the desert. But one company growing blueberries in south central Washington state may have a solution.

Giant tents.

Washington state regulators have issued a $176 million fine against Volkswagen for violating air quality laws by equipping diesel cars with software programmed to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen deceived more than 21,000 customers in Washington and 13,000 in Oregon who bought vehicles made from 2009-16 that emitted high levels of air pollutants linked with asthma attacks and premature death from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

For the last five weeks, Washington’s energy council has conducted a trial-like review of the Vancouver Energy Project. Those proceedings end with a public hearing Friday.

A judge has presided over what's known as the adjudicative portion of the energy council's review process. Proponents have been able to make their case for the oil terminal, while opponents have made their arguments too. There’s even been cross examinations as both sides have strived to depict the dangers or benefits of the oil terminal.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, warning that “we are the last generation” that can combat climate change, is featured in a video produced by filmmaker James Cameron for airing Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention.

The 5 1/2-minute video portrays climate change as a slow-moving disaster movie, replete with scenes of devastation from hurricanes, floods, drought and wildfires.

After last month's fiery oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, federal regulators put the blame on Union Pacific Road for failing to maintain its track.

Soon questions arose about the railroad's safety record. Watchdog groups compared Union Pacific's track maintenance standards to those employed by BNSF Railway, the West's other major carrier, which also runs oil trains through the Columbia Gorge. (BNSF's tracks run along the Washington side of the river.)

Wild Horse Advocates Sue BLM Over Spay Procedures

Jul 26, 2016

An advocacy organization has announced it will sue the Bureau of Land Management over proposed spaying procedures for wild horses in eastern Oregon.

Spokane’s City Council Monday voted on a November ballot initiative that would make the shipment of oil or coal by rail through the city a civil infraction. If it passes, every rail car carrying oil or uncovered coal will generate a $261 fine.

America has more than 560 wildlife refuges. Most of them are what you’d expect: remote, untrammeled places where humans are visitors.

It was hot at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., this weekend. Really hot. The iPhone weather app displayed a sweltering 100 degrees.

"It feels like a million degrees," says Tammy Long, who was visiting from Pennsylvania with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. "It's sweltering out here."

Parents and kids crowd under what look like giant shower heads throughout the park. Cool mist covers them from head to toe.

Families camp out in the shade, many with ice cream in their hands. Craig Saffoe says this works for the lions and tigers, too.

Oregon Timber Harvest Slips For 2nd Consecutive Year

Jul 25, 2016

Oregon’s timber harvest dropped 8 percent last year.

Before the great recession, Oregon was producing about 4 billion board feet of lumber a year. That dropped after the recession as people stopped building houses.

But it’s been climbing and for the last few years it’s been above 4 billion board feet again, thanks in part to a strong Chinese economy.

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