WASHINGTON DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Olympia Seeks Answers - And Maybe A Ban - On Atlantic Salmon Farms

Officials with the company that spilled nearly 160,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound in August say there has been no evidence the spill has done damage to the sound. State officials agreed with that assessment at a legislative hearing in Olympia.

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LA GRANDE, Ore. – In an age of hyper-partisan politics, alienating the party base can be political suicide for a lawmaker. Oregon Republicans predicted a voter backlash from a pair of budget-balancing tax hikes last year. But the first to feel the heat aren't Democratic state lawmakers. Instead, two eastern Oregon Republicans face challengers from within their own party after voting in favor of raising taxes. 

Oregon Republican Party Chair Bob Tiernan isn't known for mincing words.

Oil refiner Tesoro is investigating the deadly Friday morning explosion in Anacortes. But the company does not yet have an explanation for the incident. The blast at the oil refinery killed four Tesoro workers and gravely injured three others. Senior Vice President Lynn Westfall said in a press conference Friday that the explosion occurred near a heating and cooling area. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Legislature has passed and sent to the governor a measure to increase the tax on phone bills. The extra money raised will go to pay for 911 system upgrades. The increase amounts to 25 cents per line per month split between the state and individual counties. During the Washington House debate, Republican Representative Ed Orcutt and Democrat Christopher Hurst disagreed over the wisdom of the tax hike. 

The National Park Service, community leaders, and a Northwest Washington Indian tribe marked a major milestone Friday toward removing two dams on the Elwha River. They're on the north Olympic Peninsula.

The US Department of Energy is planning how and to what extent to clean up Hanford's leaking storage tanks, treat radioactive waste and deal with a contaminated reactor. The current preferred alternatives don't call for a full clean up of the site.

Twenty community members testified. Many, like Marilyn Cohen, also spoke out against having any further waste shipped to Hanford for storage and processing.

Air pollution from oceangoing ships will be dramatically reduced under new rules agreed to by shipping companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international regulators. The pollution rules affect container ships, cruise lines and oil tankers calling on West Coast ports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington's Secretary of Corrections will make the case Wednesday for permanent changes to the interstate compact on parolees. This stems from the murders of four Lakewood police officers last November by Arkansas parolee Maurice Clemmons.

The Idaho legislature adjourned for the year last night. Lawmakers spent much of the final day on a last-minute attempt to ban texting while driving. But in a surprise, the bill failed.

Supporters of a texting ban thought they had a compromise that would satisfy members of the House and the Senate. Each chamber had easily approved a bill that would have set fines at 50-dollars for the first texting ticket and 100-dollars for each subsequent one.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Starting June 10th, police officers in Washington will be able to pull over drivers who've got a cell phone pressed to their ear. Same goes for people who text while behind the wheel. Governor Chris Gregoire [today] Friday signed legislation making it a primary offense.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

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