Oregon | KUOW News and Information


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.

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.

Oregon Bottle Deposit Set To Double Next Year

Jul 22, 2016

The bottle deposit rate in Oregon will double next year from 5 to 10 cents. Officials are trying to boost return rates, which have been slowly falling since Oregon became the first state to pass a bottle bill in 1971.

The law required a 5-cent deposit on certain drink containers, which is returned when people bring back containers. The results were immediate. Oregon achieved a 90 percent return rate, reducing litter and the number of containers in landfills significantly.

Three days after its launch, BIKETOWN, Portland's new bike share program sponsored by Nike, had 1,381 people sign up for annual memberships and 2,237 people buy a day pass or single ride users.

Both of these numbers have exceeded expectations for the first few days of the program, said Dani Simons, director of communications and external affairs for Motivate, BIKETOWN's operating company.

Oregonians will vote on an initiative that aims to increase the state's high school graduation rate. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Thursday that supporters of IP 65 had gathered enough valid signatures for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out a subpoena that would have given the FBI access to personal emails sent by former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. A three-judge panel ruled Wednesday that the subpoena was "unreasonably overbroad."

Some Oregon corporations will likely change their structure and behavior to lessen the impact of a tax hike headed for the November ballot. That's according to a report from revenue analysts at the Oregon Legislature.

Court documents show the timber industry is footing the bill for Linn County’s $1.4 billion lawsuit over logging in Oregon state forests.

The county is suing the state on the grounds it has failed to maximize revenue from state-owned forestland.

The lawsuit claims the state is contractually required to allow more logging on state forestland to ensure funding for counties that deeded the land over to the state more than 70 years ago.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says it found no evidence of chemical drift after responding to an exposure complaint from a former member of the state’s Board of Forestry.

The agency opened an investigation after Peter Hayes of Washington County forest company Hyla Woods complained he and workers were exposed to weed killer sprayed on a nearby tree farm operated by Stimson Lumber.

Vegetation samples on Hyla Woods property taken by state investigators showed no evidence that chemicals had drifted from Stimson’s tree farm, which is more than a half-mile away.

The National Transportation Safety Board has responded to letter from Oregon’s senators about why it did not investigate last month’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, saying its limited staff likely would not have gleaned any new safety recommendations from examining the incident.

The federal agency provided a 50-page response to Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, saying it “recognizes the impact of this accident on your constituents and understands the concerns of those affected.”

Oregon voters may get the chance to ban the sale of items made from certain wildlife species this November. Backers of an initiative that would do just that submitted signatures Thursday in an attempt to get their measure on the November ballot.

Several Portland factories are in the public eye this month as Oregon regulators take public comment on new rules for making art glass.

Their process involves some heavy metals. Untill now, those emissions have gone mostly unfiltered.

While the state Department of Environmental Quality is working out a permanent system of rules, there’s still a long list of people with unanswered questions about the art glass business and human health.

One of the names at the top of that list is Jess Beebe. She got some unwelcome news from the lab this spring.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act in response to the Wassen Pond Fire in Wasco County.

The fire has burned about 300 acres and is threatening nearby homes and structures.

A level-2 pre-evacuation notice was issued Monday to some residents.

The emergency declaration will allow additional resources to support the effort to contain the fire.

Tens of thousands of Oregonians will get a raise Friday when the state's minimum wage goes up for the first time in 18 months.

 Oregon lawmakers will try once again next year to round up support for a major transportation funding package. Their most recent attempt got sidelined amid a dispute over a separate bill. As part of the effort to craft a new next version, a legislative committee is touring the state to try to figure out what to include.

More than a dozen organizations are calling on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to stop renewing air pollution permits until a new set of rules are in place.

The state is in the process of setting new limits on air pollution to protect human health after testing revealed numerous toxic hot spots around Portland – including unhealthy levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead near the Bullseye Glass facility.

Water loving willows hug the edges of the shore. Lost Lake, at its peak, is around 79 acres. Right now, it is draining away.

About half way around from the lake entrance, a sharp eye might spot a footpath leading out onto the grassy, muddy lake bed. Follow that and soon the sound of rushing water is audible.

Then, there it is. The hole.

Dave Kretzing has a pretty good grasp on the mystery of Lost Lake. He's a retired hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service and he's spent years thinking about what happens here and why.

A newly released report from the left-leaning Oregon Center for Public Policy has found that Oregon corporations today are paying a smaller portion of the state's income and property taxes than they did 40 years ago.

Oregon lawmakers continued to debate the future of the state's Department of Energy on Monday, when a special legislative panel grilled the leader of that agency against the backdrop of a potential criminal investigation.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she won't debate her Republican challenger until September at the earliest. The incumbent Democrat's announcement Wednesday came days after she turned down an appearance at the traditional opening debate of the campaign season.

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.

Oregon is getting some federal aid to help pay for damages sustained during a series of strong winter storms. The severe weather included strong winds and heavy rains that triggered flooding and mudslides over the course of two weeks last December.

The old adage that every vote counts was especially true in Oregon this year. A tie in the Independent Party primary for a suburban Portland seat in the Oregon House was broken Friday with a roll of the dice.

In an unusual sign of tension between two of Oregon’s most powerful Democratic officeholders, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio wrote a blistering letter to Gov. Kate Brown saying she appeared to mislead him on a controversial environmental issue.

DeFazio is a key congressional champion of recovering wolf populations that were once hunted to the point of extinction. In his June 9 letter, he criticized Brown and her staff for the way they handled a bill in the Oregon Legislature that could weaken protections for wolves.

Four county governments in Oregon are still struggling enough that the state should continue to monitor their financial condition. That's according to a state audit released Tuesday.

It’s been an unseasonably warm June week at Oregon’s Diamond Lake.

This makes for some lovely fishing weather, but it’s not ideal for fish stocking. And that’s what a small group of employees with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are here for.

“As soon as Greg gives me the word, I’ll dump ‘em in,” says the fish deliveryman.

The thousands of fish traveled via small trailer through the night from a hatchery in Utah. The driver arrived about two hours early in an attempt to beat the heat.

Eugene Schools Find Lead In Water

Jun 14, 2016

The Eugene School District said Monday it found elevated lead levels in the water at four separate schools.

The elevated lead was found in one or more water faucets at Kennedy Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Sheldon High School and the district office.

According to the district, it announced the initial test results for Kennedy Middle School last week, but the lead level results for other campuses are new.

An environmental testing firm is confirming the results.

Oregon lawmakers are hitting the road Monday to get a first-hand look at the state's traffic chokepoints. It's part of an effort to develop a transportation funding package for a vote in next year's legislative session.

The number of people in Portland testing their water for lead has spiked dramatically this month.

In a typical year, the Portland Water Bureau sends out about 3,000 kits to customers who want to test their drinking water for lead. But in the first nine days of June alone, the water bureau has received 1,500 requests for test kits. And that’s on top of roughly 2,900 kits the water agency sent between January and May.

“It’s been quiet a significant increase for us this year," said Scott Bradway, who manages lead hazard reduction efforts at the Portland Water Bureau.

A 1,900 acre fire near Lake Billy Chinook continues to threaten more than 900 homes. Officials said the fire is 30 percent contained.

The Akawana fire is within a few miles of a subdivision northeast of Sisters in Jefferson County, and it's triggered a preliminary evacuation notice for residents. Residents in the area have been asked to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The lighting-caused blaze is currently burning in heavy brush and ponderosa pine on state forestland.