environment

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.

EPA Requiring Dredge Mining Permits in Idaho

Apr 5, 2013

Anyone who wants to mine gold in Idaho streams with a suction dredge will need to get a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bonnie Stewart / EarthFix

Five coal export terminals have been proposed for the Northwest. Trains would bring coal in from Wyoming and Montana. The route they would travel already is congested in many areas. Congestion means trains hit bottlenecks. Cars get stuck at railroad crossings.

Lamont Granquist

The debate over exporting Wyoming and Montana coal through terminals on the Northwest coast has been heating up in recent months. Those who support exporting coal say the terminals will create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the state. Opponents of coal exports have raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of coal. Some of them are taking matters into their own hands. Ashley Ahearn reports.

SALEM, Ore. - Depending on who you ask, raccoons are either cute little woodland critters or a menace to pets and humans alike. There’s certainly no consensus on that question in the Oregon legislature. One measure in Salem would ban the feeding of raccoons. It’s an idea that’s proven to be surprisingly controversial.

Kristy Neubo has a small dog. She calls it "Baby. She's a little five-pound shih-tzu yorkie mix.

Moving 'Heirloom Chemicals' Out Of Farmers' Fields

Mar 26, 2013
Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Year after year many pesticides farmers use expire or are banned. Often these chemicals pile up in barns and storage sheds until farmers can find a safe way to dispose of them. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt visited a pesticide collection center in Wenatchee to find out what exactly happens to the chemicals.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

There are several hundred derelict and abandoned vessels dotting the waterways of Washington and Oregon. They can block navigation and pollute the environment. And they can also be very expensive to remove.

Bills to fund the clean up and prevention of derelict vessels have now been passed in the Washington house and senate, but Ashley Ahearn reports, no permanent sources of funding for large vessel removal have been identified.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Washington Governor Jay Inslee continue to push for a tougher federal review of proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest. Monday the governors sent a letter to the President’s top environmental advisors, asking them to consider the impact of coal exports on the climate. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court today decided in favor of the timber industry in a case about the regulation of muddy waters that flow off logging roads. In a surprising move, one of the court’s conservative justices dissented, and sided with the environmentalists.

masmediaspace / Flickr

Climate change will affect different regions of the country in different ways. In the Southwest it may get warmer and drier. In the Northwest, however, climate models predict it getting warmer and wetter.

Trails Of Trouble On Wild Lands

Mar 13, 2013
Jay Krajic

Some federal budget cuts can be found in places you might not be looking -- deep in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. As EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains, for hikers and horse packers, frustration is mounting over the state of disrepair of recreational trails on public land.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It would be easier to kill gray wolves that attack livestock or pets under a bill that passed the Washington Senate Friday. Currently, ranchers and property owners can’t kill protected animals, like wolves, without the permission of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bill sparked heated debate in the Senate.

Republican state Sen. John Smith said the measure would allow people to defend their animals, including the dog his son loves.

Voices Of Coal: Rail Town Mayor

Mar 8, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Idaho Adopts New State Water Plan

Mar 8, 2013
Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Idaho has a new water plan -- the first update since 1996 to the state’s principles for how water in streams, lakes and aquifers should be divided among users and how it should be conserved for fish and wildlife. The new plan goes into effect Friday. But not everyone is happy about it. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Photo by Anna King

It may take two to four years to even begin clearing radioactive waste from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Wednesday. Correspondent Anna King was on that bus tour and has more.

Voices Of Coal: Local Business Owners

Mar 7, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Today we hear from Richard and Tanya Burkholder, business owners who depend on tourism at the Oregon Dunes National Monument, not far from a proposed coal export terminal in Coos Bay.

Voices Of Coal: Tribal Fisherman

Mar 6, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Voices Of Coal: Columbia River Pilot

Mar 5, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Hundreds of sawmill representatives gathered in Portland Monday for a trade association meeting. Thanks to a recovering housing market, the U.S. demand for lumber is increasing. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix has more.

Voices Of Coal: Coal Country Rancher

Mar 4, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Today we visit with a rancher who runs cows near the epicenter of open pit mining in America - the Powder River Basin near Gillette, Wyoming.

A new report from the Multnomah County Health Department finds there's not enough industry data to say for sure what the health effects would be if trains begin to haul coal to export terminals in the Northwest.

Shell Cancels Arctic Oil Drilling

Feb 28, 2013
Photo by Sara Francis / US Coast Guard

Shell Oil has put Arctic drilling on hold. The company announced Wednesday that it will not attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean this year. The announcement comes after a year of accidents and setbacks for Shell’s Arctic drilling efforts. KUOW’s John Ryan reports from Seattle.

Environmental groups want the Forest Service to reconsider a proposed timber sale just west of Crater Lake National Park. EarthFix reporter Amelia Templeton has more.

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