Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The homes of the future will come with remarkably low heating bills. At least that's the hope of a Portland-based non-profit showcasing 13 super energy efficient homes in four Northwest states. The question is, can you afford to buy one of these houses? Correspondent Tom Banse has this report.

Pew Poll Finds Support For Protecting O&C Forests

May 22, 2013

A majority of Oregon voters favor protections for the so called O and C forest lands in Western Oregon. That’s according to a new poll commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Ghost Fishing Nets Being Vanquished In Puget Sound

May 21, 2013

Fishing nets are designed to ensnare fish. But when those nets are lost or abandoned at sea, they don’t stop catching fish. Instead, they become ghost nets – floating death traps for the marine life that continue to get trapped in their mesh.

Crowdfunding Coal Science

May 21, 2013
Katie Campbell

Crowdfunding and kickstarter campaigns have become popular online tools to raise money for fledgling businesses and independent projects. Scientists are starting to use these sites to fund research as well.

State and federal agencies have begun the environmental review process for the two largest coal export terminals on the West coast. Now there are some scientists who are asking the public to chip in for studies about the impacts of exporting coal. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Study: Aquifers Draining Quickly, Less In Northwest

May 21, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

A new study says the nation’s aquifers are shrinking at an alarming rate The problem is not as bad in the Northwest, thanks to an abundance of rivers and streams. But even here, aquifers are shrinking. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

The people overseeing the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster are learning some valuable lessons from the long-running cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A Japanese government delegation recently toured some of the southeast Washington site.

In Japan, workers in gloves and masks are grinding down sidewalks and roads, wiping down rooftops and bagging contaminated soil. Now, the problem is where to put all that radioactive waste from Fukushima.

Here on the western coast of the U.S., we have a special connection to Japan. The ocean between us keeps bringing remnants from the massive tsunami there. It left more than 16,000 people dead. The debris is expensive to remove and can carry invasive species with it.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

The proposed clean up plan for the Duwamish River super fund site in Seattle is open for final public comment. The 305 million dollar plan would tackle 100 years of industrial pollution that have lead to high levels of contamination in the river. Ashley Ahearn reports the EPA is asking the public to weigh in.

Study Finds Urban Stresses Cause Birds To Abandon Eggs

May 14, 2013
Boise State University

A bird of prey can get so stressed out by city noise, it will abandon its nest – with eggs still in it. That's according to a new study by researchers at Boise State University. The study suggests human disturbances affect the American kestrel more than previously thought. Jessica Robinson reports.

Idaho Couple Takes Glass Recycling Into Their Own Hands

May 13, 2013

In Coeur d’Alene, residents can recycle paper, plastic, and aluminum. A new non-profit is chipping away at what they see as a problem: the city doesn’t recycle glass. Spokane Public Radio’s Paige Browning reports.

Study: Cheatgrass Severity Affected By Grazing

May 13, 2013

A new study out of Oregon State University suggests that overgrazing could be helping an invasive grass to flourish. That differs from previous studies that have found grazing can better manage that plant -- cheatgrass -- which threatens rangeland habitat. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

You may have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. So far this year, the region’s wind industry has faced a different story. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt explains what that means for emergency crews.

Portland Prepares For Fluoride Vote 

May 6, 2013
Michael Clapp / Oregon Public Broadcasting

This month, voters will decide whether to approve a plan to fluoridate Portland's water. Supporters say Portland children - especially in low-income families - suffer aggravated dental problems because the city has chosen not to add fluoride. Opponents say water fluoridation is the wrong way to address a public health problem. And so a battle that has played out before at the state level is now going on in Portland. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer reports.

For about seven years, many Western beekeepers have been plagued by unexplained die-offs in their hives. It happened recently to Mark Emrich.

"I was doing great until about five weeks ago," he says. "Then I came down and opened up the hives and I had five dead boxes of bees. That was a huge hit."

He lost one third of his production on his small farm near Olympia.

Oregon State University

A plan by the federal government to end protection for gray wolves received mixed reactions from environmental groups to ranchers. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz obtained a copy of that draft report and explains what it means for the Northwest.

Oregon State University

The federal government is preparing to stop protecting gray wolves in the lower 48 states, according to a draft document. The plan is drawing criticism from environmental groups. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz has more.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

If you use solar panels or wind turbines to generate your own power, you can sell the electricity you don’t use back to your utility. But one Northwest power company wants to stop sending checks to customers who are big energy producers. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Shell Oil had to postpone its Arctic drilling for a full year after one of its oil rigs ran aground off the Alaska coast this winter. But Shell’s efforts to open a new frontier of oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean continue in Puget Sound. The oil giant passed a key test with federal regulators last month in the waters off Anacortes, Washington. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

After 90 Years, A Southern Oregon Mill Closes

Apr 22, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

This week, Rough and Ready Lumber started shutting down its sawmill in the Southern Oregon town of Cave Junction. It’s a story that’s repeated itself in timber towns across the northwest. In 1980 there were 390 mills operating in Oregon. Today there are 103. EarthFix Reporter Amelia Templeton visited the Rough and Ready mill and has this profile.

Michael Werner

After breaking ground a year and a half ago, Seattle’s Bullitt Center is nearing completion and tenants have begun to move into what is being billed as the greenest office building in the world. The grand opening is set for Monday, which is Earth Day.

Joe David is standing beneath a sprawling ceiling made entirely of 2x6 wooden beams lying on edge like rows of popsicle sticks. And it’s all being held up by thick timber columns.

Controversial Dredge Mining Ban Advances in Oregon Senate

Apr 18, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

A bill that restricts motorized mining in salmon and trout streams advanced in the Oregon Senate Wednesday evening. Amelia Templeton from our EarthFix team reports.

American Rivers has named three Northwest streams among the most endangered in the United States this year. Two are remote creeks in Southwest Oregon. The conservation group says exploration for nickel could harm the creeks. Amelia Templeton reports.

Scientists are in the final weeks of preparation for the launch of the world’s largest underwater observatory.

It’s a 239 million dollar project that was funded by the National Science Foundation to better understand and monitor the depths of the Pacific Ocean – from volcanic eruptions to deep-sea earthquakes that could lead to tsunamis.

EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn visited with the team and has this update.

Zumwalt Prairie Named National Natural Landmark

Apr 17, 2013
oregon ducatisti / Flickr Creative Commons

The largest prairie in the Pacific Northwest has been named a National Natural Landmark. Northeast Oregon’s Zumwalt Prairie is the largest bunch grassland in the U.S. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

canopic / Flickr

Host Intro: The harvesting of a giant Pacific octopus near Alki Beach in Seattle last October prompted a public outcry. Now the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering new protections for octopuses. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

A massive landslide that pushed 200,000 cubic yards of earth down the west side of Whidbey Island grabbed national headlines in March. Landslides have also caused numerous delays in passenger and freight rail along Puget Sound.

The Port of Grays Harbor near Aberdeen has announced an agreement to lease property for a crude oil unloading and storage facility. The oil would arrive by train and then be loaded on to barges bound for refineries on the West coast. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

President Obama’s pick for energy secretary can expect a lot of questions about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation at a confirmation hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden chairs the committee considering physicist Ernest Moniz to head the sprawling federal agency.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers wants to dredge a deeper channel for barges in the waters behind southeastern Washington’s Lower Granite Dam. Idaho’s Port of Lewiston says the work is important to keep the local economy moving. But as EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains, some environmental groups opposed to the plan.