environment

Grand Coulee Dam
9:46 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Tribes Push To Restore Salmon To Upper Columbia River

A pre-conference tour of Grand Coulee Dam on Monday kicked off a conversation about restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia Basin.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:00 pm

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam over a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

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Animal Rights
5:04 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Lawsuits Charge 'Ag-Gag' Laws Violate Free Speech

The group Mercy for Animals released video in 2012 of workers at Bettencourt Dairy in Idaho abusing cows. The incident led Idaho lawmakers to outlaw surreptitious video at farms.
Mercy for Animals

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 4:47 pm

A lawsuit led by the ACLU is challenging Idaho's brand new, so-called “ag-gag” law aimed at stopping undercover animal rights activists from making videos of abuse at farms and slaughter houses.

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EarthFix Reports
5:04 am
Wed March 19, 2014

How Industry Specs And A Federal Loophole Allow Railroads To Avoid Response Planning Oversight

Unlike marine vessels, pipelines and terminal facilities, railroads are not required to file response plans for trains of tanker cars.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Neither states nor the federal government have oversight over how railroads plan for responding to spills from trains carrying crude oil, meaning environmental regulators cannot identify gaps in the plans or verify a railroad’s abilities to carry them out.

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River Ports
9:08 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Oregon Says Coal Export Project Will Need To Lease More Land

A project to transfer coal from trains to Columbia River barges and eventually to ocean-going ships will require additional permits, Oregon regulators recently decided.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:55 pm

Developers of the Morrow Pacific coal export project on the Columbia River already have land leases with the Port of St. Helens and the Port of Morrow.

But according to the Oregon Department of State Lands, they're going to need a couple more.

In Oregon, the state owns all the land submerged in water -– including riverbeds.

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Fish Populations
7:08 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Judge Reduces Hatchery Releases On Sandy River

A federal judge has ruled an Oregon state fish hatchery must limit the number of hatchery-bred fish it releases. The goal is to protect wild salmon and steelhead stocks, which could interbreed with the hatchery fish.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:18 pm

A new court decision reduces the number of hatchery fish releases into Oregon's Sandy River this year.

The Sandy River Hatchery will be allowed to release 200,000 coho salmon this year. That's less than the 300,000 coho hatchery managers were planning to release.

Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said in a statement that the reduction won't harm sport fishers.

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EarthFix Reports
8:50 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Lost Season For An Oregon Ski Area

The Mt. Ashland ski area in Southern Oregon will not open this season due to a regional drought and a lack of snow. Here's what it looked like in early 2013, when the slopes were open for business.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 12:45 pm

Oregon’s southernmost ski resort, Mt. Ashland, announced Friday that it will not open due to lack of snow. That’s the first non-opening in the mountain’s fifty-year history.

A snowpack of less than 20 inches and forecasts for March temperatures in the 60s weighed in the final decision, said Kim Clark, general manager of the non-profit ski resort.

“The daffodils are up and the trees are blooming down here, and people are starting to think about springtime activities unfortunately,” Clark said.

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EarthFix Reports
5:15 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Ladder To Help Lamprey Swim Upstream

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Dam on the Columbia River. The Army Corps of Engineers has installed new lamprey passage system – the first of its kind for lamprey.
Flickr Creative Commons: USFWS Pacific

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:02 pm

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Lock and Dam on the Columbia River. Dam managers have installed new lamprey passage system -– the first of its kind for the toothy, eel-like fish.

Pacific lamprey numbers have dropped dramatically in the past 25 years. No one is really sure why – but fish biologists suspect difficulty swimming upstream is partly to blame.

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Public Utilities
5:13 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Canada, U.S. Disagree Over Value of Columbia River Treaty Benefits

File photo of the Columbia River's Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport, Washington. The dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 7:12 pm

British Columbia has staked out a negotiating position on a cross-border water treaty that puts it at odds with public utilities and ratepayers in the U.S. Northwest.

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EarthFix Reports
5:02 am
Mon March 17, 2014

You Know Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency. What About Your House?

This home's energy performance score is 37. Pretty good, considering the scale runs from zero to 200, and zero is the best score you can get.
Credit Courtesy of Vintage Real Estate

The first month’s electric bill at my new house was a shocker: $348. Granted, the house has electric heat, and the bill was for February when it got pretty darn cold in Portland. But still – yikes!

So, when I heard that Portland homeowner Brooks Shephard cut his monthly electric bills from $280 to $100, I had a vested interest in learning more.

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Cracked Dam
8:01 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Wanapum Dam River Drawdown Churns Up More Old Bones

Washington State officials are worried over the safety of newly-found human remains and artifacts on miles of newly-exposed Columbia River shoreline.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 2:04 pm

State officials are reporting the discovery of a second set of human remains near the cracked Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington state.

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EarthFix Reports
9:06 am
Thu March 13, 2014

EarthFix Conversation: Using Environmental Law To Combat Climate Change

Mary Wood is the founder of the University of Oregon's Environment and Natural Resources Law Program.
Credit Courtesy of University of Oregon

Can environmental laws protect the planet from climate change? They haven't so far, according to University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood. But she says one day they could.

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News From Canada
4:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Quebec's Media Mogul, South Korean Trade Pact, And Victoria's Sewage Plan

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and South Korean President Park Geun-hye reach a historic free trade agreement.
Flickr Photo/Stephen Harper (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Canadian media mogul, Pierre Karl Péladeau, throwing in his lot with the separatists. Canada also signs free trade agreement with South Korea, and Palmer updates us on Victoria’s latest plan to build its sewage treatment plant.

Ski Resort Damages
8:46 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Intentional Avalanche Destroys Crystal Mountain Chairlift

The remains of a slab avalanche at Crystal Mountain.
Crystal Mountain Resort

An avalanche destroyed a chairlift at the Crystal Mountain resort near Mount Rainier on Monday afternoon when the resort was closed. The avalanche was intentionally set off by the resort's ski patrol and no one was hurt.

Despite the destruction, patrollers say they have no regrets.

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Hanford Site
8:38 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Hanford Whistleblowers: Senate Hearing Forces Few Answers Into The Open

File photo of Hanford whistlerblower Walt Tamosaitis testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight in 2011.
US Senate

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:17 pm

In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.

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Wanapum Dam
8:35 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Old Questions About Newly-Exposed Bones On Columbia River Shore

Newly exposed riverbank sprawls out upstream on the Columbia River from Wanapum Dam
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 6:17 pm

Grant County officials and Native Americans are patrolling round the clock to keep sacred and sensitive sites protected on miles of exposed Columbia River shoreline.

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