environment

Oregon says it is in line to receive $85 million from Volkswagen as part of the German automaker's emissions fraud settlement. With more than 13,000 affected residents, the state has the highest per capita ownership of the affected VW cars in the nation.

Neighboring Washington state announced it will receive $129 million from VW as part of the car manufacture’s settlement over deceptive marketing of its diesel cars. More than 22,000 Washingtonians are affected by the settlement.

President Obama and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico are preparing to unveil an ambitious new goal for generating carbon-free power when they meet this week in Ottawa.

The three leaders are expected to set a target for North America to get 50 percent of its electricity from nonpolluting sources by 2025. That's up from about 37 percent last year.

Aides acknowledge that's a "stretch goal," requiring commitments over and above what the three countries agreed to as part of the Paris climate agreement.

A federal appeals court panel sided with 21 Native American tribes Monday, ruling the state of Washington must continue to repair culverts that prevent salmon from freely moving along waterways.

Culverts are structures that allow water to move under roadways. But when they’re too small, too high or blocked with debris, they can prevent salmon from passing.

Tribes argued successfully more than a decade ago in the case's first hearing that the state’s culverts hurt salmon populations, violating their fishing rights.

Washington state begins its public review Monday of what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country, slated to be built at the Port of Vancouver.

The hearings are one of the final steps in determining whether the project gets built.

The state will use five weeks of hearings to determine how to move forward with the Vancouver Energy Project, a joint venture backed by companies Tesoro and Savage.

Portland Bans Demolition Of Old Homes

Jun 25, 2016

Portland is the first city in the country to ban the demolition of its oldest homes.

The city will require that homes built in 1916 or before are deconstructed, so the materials inside can be salvaged.

The city council passed a resolution in favor of the demolition ban this winter. They’re set to review changes to the city code next Wednesday, with a vote likely following in early July.

About 20 percent of the waste in landfills comes from building construction and demolition, according to the mayor's office.

Just as the U.S. is battling diet-related diseases, obesity and climate change, so, too, is China.

And among the proposed strategies to combat these problems is this: Eat less meat.

Seven companies have filed a legal dispute with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the plans to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The companies, including Chevron, Gunderson, NW Natural, Union Pacific Railroad, Evraz Inc., Arkema and TOC Holdings Co., are all members of the Lower Willamette Group. The group has agreed to accept responsibility for some of the pollution in the highly contaminated 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River and work with the EPA on the cleanup.

It’s Union Pacific’s fault. That’s the basic thrust of a preliminary report from federal railroad regulators on Thursday. It investigates why a nearly 100-car oil train partially derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge on June 3.

OPB's Kate Davidson spoke to Sarah Feinberg, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration to learn more. The following exchange has been edited for clarity and brevity.

You can hear their full conversation by clicking play on the audio player at the top of the article.

During his daily bus commute in the bustling Indian city of Hyderabad, there was something that really bothered Narayana Peesapaty.

"Everybody was eating something on their way to work," says Peesapaty, who was working as a sustainable farming researcher for a nonprofit organization at the time. But it wasn't his fellow bus riders' snacking habits that troubled him. It was their plastic cutlery.

A new report from the Federal Railroad Administration released Thursday said Union Pacific is solely responsible for an oil train derailment earlier this month in the Columbia River Gorge.

The federal rail agency said in its preliminary findings that the derailment was caused by broken lag bolts that the railroad failed to maintain, which led to a widened track that caused the 16-car derailment.

“When it comes down to it, it’s Union Pacific’s failure to maintain its track led to this incident," said Sarah Feinberg, who heads up the Federal Rail Administration.

If you want to know how our relationship with wildlife has changed, consider how two different Seattle aquariums provided their visitors up-close encounters with one of the world’s largest predatory sharks.

In the 2000s, the Seattle Aquarium used underwater cameras so guests could watch sixgill sharks glide through the waters of Elliott Bay.

Colorful acrylic paintings on red and gray rock formations and profiles of people smoking cigarettes, signed with a repetitive "Creepytings," caused an uproar on Reddit more than a year ago. Now, the uproar is calming.

After spending a month drawing and painting on the rocks in seven national parks, Casey Nocket, 23, of San Diego, was banned this month from national parks and other federally administered lands, according to the National Park Service.

Union Pacific Locomotive Spills Fuel Near Troutdale

Jun 22, 2016

A 92-car Union Pacific train heading east spilled an undetermined amount of diesel fuel near Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday night.

The diesel leaked out of the locomotive. The cause was a fuel filter ring that failed, according to Justin Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific.

The railroad has moved the locomotive to a location where officials can get a better sense of the amount of diesel that spilled.

Despite state and local calls for a moratorium, Union Pacific officials say they plan to resume sending crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge this week.

These would be the first trains carrying crude oil to pass on the Oregon side of the Gorge since the June 3 derailment in Mosier where 16 cars carrying crude oil left the tracks. The derailment spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil and caused a fire that forced 100 people to evacuate their homes. The crash closed Interstate 84 for hours and left a small oil sheen on the Columbia River.

California’s prolonged drought has led to millions of dead trees that could make tinder boxes of huge swaths of the state as it heads into fire season. But the American West isn’t the only place coming to grips with chronic drought.

The World Resources Institute mapped water stress around the world and found major regions of every inhabited continent have serious issues with water. Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd gets an overview of drought crises around the world from Betsy Otto, director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Water Program.

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